Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Color: Race or Culture?

Last week, I watched CNN's Black America. During the second part of the special, I realized that I couldn't tell most of the people were black. I mean, CNN was telling me they were black, and they were talking about their experiences as black men/women. But, if I had just seen them on the street, I wouldn't have thought "oh, they're black."

I'm not trying to say I'm color blind. I don't think anyone can truly look at a person and not see any color. But realizing that I couldn't tell who was black without someone telling me made me realize a few things. First, CNN was interviewing a lot of successful people, and they were mostly light-skinned. That's a whole issue in itself, and not where I'm going. Second, it made me really realize there are some people who are very obviously white and some who are very obviously black, and a whole lot of people somewhere in the middle. This led me to one question: how much of someone's color, whether we consider them black or white, is their race and how much is their culture.

Another part of my beginning to think about this came from something that happened to me during my recent visit to Texas. I was at the Dallas Fort Worth airport a few hours before my flight, scrounging for some food. I entered one of the little general stores that had sandwiches on display. The gentleman working at the counter asked if I needed any help. I asked him if they had any sandwiches less than $10. I don't like expensive sandwiches. He pointed me toward some cheaper chicken salad sandwiches. As I was deciding which bowl of fruit to get, instead of the dead chickens, he asked, "are you mixed?" Just like that, just out of the blue.

I was caught of guard, a bit taken aback, yet happy. He was surprised when I told him no. But somehow, I felt like I had achieved something. He was black, and he thought I was, partly, too. It was like a strange acceptance, like whatever I was, it was good enough to be claimed and accepted.

When I told one of my friends about the gentleman's comment, her first question was "do you have braids?" Yes, I do, but I've had them before, and no one's ever said something like that. More often I get, "wow, we don't usually see a white girl with braids." So what's different this time. Maybe it's Texas, or maybe it's something else. Maybe it's what my outside suggested about my culture. mixed me short

I had on a white T with a white bandana, light jeans, giant hot pink earrings, gold high-heeled tennis shoes and my stunna shades. Had I been wearing khakis and a polo shirt with some of those obnoxious rubber/plastic shoes, would he have still asked?

There are a few people at school who are mixed. Some are friends of mine, some just acquaintances. They are generally viewed as either black or white, depending on how others feel they have associated themselves. For example, there are two girls, both in BLSA, both close to the same color. One is a member of a divine nine sorority, takes on major duties within BLSA, and generally hangs out with the other BLSA members. The other doesn't come to a whole lot of BLSA events even though she's a member, is usually found hanging out with her white friends, and, so I've heard, listens to more rock than rap. The first girl is usually just grouped in with the black students. The second girl is often dismissed with the phrase "yeah, but she's white."

I've heard other stories from mixed children, or their families, about society wanting to put them in a box, one race or the other, and how this can cause confusion and frustration. How neither society will fully accept them.

I can't say I know how they feel, I can't say I know about anyone's experiences other than my own. But I'm starting to feel like I've made myself mixed - culturally. It's not like society is trying to figure out where to put me, it knows where it wants me to be, what I'm supposed to identify with. I just won't listen. I'm not sure when that started, maybe in Africa, or maybe when I discovered I like hip hop, or maybe after lots of little things like that came together. Now, I often feel like neither society will accept me. One would if it were deaf, the other might if it were blind.

Trying to have conversations at work or where I live, I often find myself trying to explain things like stunna shades, Bubb Rubb, the Boondocks, or Madame CJ Walker. It often feels like there's a real cultural disconnect, especially when they start talking about bands I've only heard of because my little sister listens to them. Sometimes this disconnect comes up at home too, with my family or old friends. With family, I can chalk it up to us all growing up and finding our own interests. We still have so much in common that the slight disconnects that do exist don't do a whole lot of damage. But with some of my friends, things are a little different. It's hard. A group of friends will start talking about how the problems of the inner city are because families aren't raising their children. How these people just need to be responsible and raise their kids, they can't possibly all be at work all the time. Or about how they all just need to stop having kids underage or out of wedlock. It's such a monoscopic view of the whole situation. I have to bite my tongue to stop myself from getting into embroiled arguments. I don't like to argue with my friends.

Then there's the other side. At school, I can hang out with a lot of people who share some of the same interests I do, and a few people who share a lot of my same interests. It's really nice to have conversations about our opinions and ideas without constantly having to explain what it is we're talking about. However, when I hang out with my friends at school, most of whom are black, there inevitably comes a point in nearly every conversation where I am told I just can't understand because I'm not black. Occasionally, I'm asked to represent and give the opinion of the entire white race on a certain topic. Luckily, this is rare because most of my friends have been on the flip side of this.

Caught in the middle, between my interests and my skin. Sort of between my inside and my outside. It makes me feel the way Ba Lenix described me when he painted the door of my hut with white and black stripes, "it's you, Nchimunya, half Tonga, half mukuwa."

But I'm not mixed. My parents are of German and Polish decent, as far as we know. I'm as white as they come, well after my translucent sister. And I'm not ashamed of my heritage. Bring on the pierogies, polka and sauerkraut. But Polish pride usually revolves around jokes about how backwards Poles are, hanging their Christmas trees upside-down or such. When you do something goofy or wrong, it's the Polish way. And German pride is beer, heavy, fattening foods and lederhosen. It was sort of nice to be identified, for a split second, with a culture full of immense pride, a sort of closed off brotherhood that seeks out its members and welcomes them in with open arms. And for a brief moment, to have someone's perception of my outside match my inside.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Recommendations

Steve Maloney is so smart that his blog is usually way over my head.  Today he has posted an entry that shares something really wonderful.  I strongly urge you to visit his blog and take an hour to watch the excellent video there.  You'll be glad you did.

I also recommend CNN's Black in America, which aired earlier this week.  If you didn't catch it then, CNN is showing it again tonight.

Government Action

I'm generally for state's rights. If the Constitution doesn't directly address the issue, then the states should be able to do with as they like. Abortion, marriage, speed limits, those sorts of things should be decided by the citizens of each state, not the federal government. However, there is one place where I think the federal government really needs to step in and regulate. We need standardization of milk colors!

I left work early today, not feeling well, and stopped at the store for some medicine on my way home. I decided to also pick up some milk and brown sugar so I could have cream of wheat when I got home. In a sort of dizzy, please just get me to bed, mood, I went to the milk coolers and grabbed a gallon with the familiar dark blue label and cap. It wasn't until I reached home that I realized the milk had a sort of yellowish tint to it. I looked at it closely, a bit concerned and then, with horror, realized where I'd seen something like that before. I looked at the pretty dark blue label, "Fat Free Milk." Fat free! I might as well have bought a gallon of water.

Now, if the federal government standardized the milk colors, this never would have happened. Part of the problem is, the milk out here has the exact same colors as the milk back home, they're just on different kinds of milk. I see red, I think whole milk. Dark blue, 2%. The light blue, pink, and any other color, I know I don't want, and that's enough. This putting fat free milk in a 2% milk color is just evil. Prevent others from suffering as I will for the next 3 days, write your senator! Demand milk color standardization!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Raisins to the Rescue!

I have lost more pairs of stockings this summer than I can count. Whether from the velcro on my bag, a tough fall, or my pesky desk, runs and tears have claimed more of my lingerie than I care to admit.

Today, the desk claimed another pair. Our cubicle desks are designed with this nifty little pullout tray for the keyboards. Once it's pulled out, the user can raise the tray to a desired level, up to the height of the desk itself. When finished, the user tucks the tray back under the desk, out of sight and out of the way.

This tray is connected to its moving mechanism by a metal plate on its underside. This plate is held in place by six screws. Those screws are the bane of my existence. My legs do not fit under tables and desks as it is. The mechanism for the tray takes up valuable room. Instead of being banged up against the underside of the desk, they are banged up against this mechanism. One wrong move and the bottom of any of those six screws tears into my stockings like a lion into a fresh zebra. It's the end of the zebra and my stockings.

Today, I finally had it. I had to find a way to stop this insanity. Without shortening my legs, and without sitting sideways. Luckily, the last time I was home, my mommy gave me a bag of candy raisins. Six candy raisins to the rescue!

There are no longer any screws sticking out on the bottom of my tray. They are nicely covered in a soft pillowy bed of goo, firm on the outside, sticky on the inside. Hooray for no more ruined stockings. And hooray for Mommy!

Stone Mountain Daughter

Yesterday I posted an entry about, as my mother put it, the customer disservice at the fabric store. However, the sales lady did become a little more helpful later. Her eventual helpfulness came in the form of taking the sample I had brought in and leaving it for the inventory person with a note about what I needed. Today, the inventory person called me back. Here is the entirety of her message:

Yes, Hi this is a message for ------. This is Ann at Stone Mountain Daughter in Berkeley, California, I'm sorry to say that the sample you gave me was part of a lot from Italy and we have no way of reordering it. They come in, and ... um... we buy them. But we can't reorder them. They're small cuts of miscellaneous leftovers from suiting factories, and we have no idea who the suiting factory is. So, I'm afraid ...um ...there is no hope on this one. Thanks for your inquiry. Buh-bye.

No hope, huh? No way to know which suiting factory, huh? Well, I'm glad I'm smarter than Ann. I looked at the words woven into the salvage of fabric and stamped on the back. "SUPERFINE ALL WOOL IMPORTED FABRIC EXCLUSIVELY FOR GLADSON LIMITED A RELIANCE PRODUCT." Why what'd ya know! That looks like the name of the company that makes the fabric and the suiting factory that buys it! No idea who the suiting factory is, huh?

So I googled the words on the fabric and found the contact for gladson ltd. I sent an email explaining my situation with a jpg scan of the fabric. Today, I received a nice email from the place saying they could match the fabric, but couldn't see the scan well. They asked for me to send the fabric swatch and gave me their New Jersey address. (A lot from Italy, huh?) With any luck, I'll know in a few days if I can get anymore!

And Stone Mountain Daughter, they won't be seeing me anymore. There is no reason they couldn't have done what I did. I am so glad the new Jo-Ann opened in El Cerrito plaza. They'll be seeing lots of me.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Insons Fino a Provato ... Ater

One of the beautiful things about blogs is the sharing. Not just the sharing in the posts, but also the sharing through other features. For example, on my blog there's a list of other blogs I like to read. (Look, it's there on your left.) This list is here partly to make it easier for me to see when people have updated and partly in the hopes that you, my readers, will try out these as well. Many of my friends have these blog rolls on their blogs. One of my friends even has two, he has one with his friends (like me!) and one with other people with whom he has something in common.

I read a post on one of these extra blogs the other day that made me shudder. To sum it up in the impression it gave me, a girl insisted criminal defense attorneys are the scum of the earth and should all die. Now, none of the language is actually in there. What she really claims is that there's a fundamental difference between these horrible people and good people like her, and she can't understand how they sleep at night and can't wait to punish them personally in court. But what really struck me was my first thought. I read this post of hers and immediately thought "well you certainly aren't black."

Tonight I watched CNN's Black in America. In some ways it reinforced the reaction I had. Tonight's episode discussed women and families. Tomorrow's will discuss men. Tomorrow will probably bring it home even more - why that was my reaction, I mean.

On the post, the girl says, "it takes a special kind of scum to defend rapists, drug dealers, and murders." I don't know what upsets me more, that she thinks all these people are automatically scum, or that she assumes they're all guilty. (And she wants to be an attorney!)

The CNN show covered a lot of different families, with a lot of different stories. Many of them highlighted the difficult situations in which people can find themselves. A single father working to raise his two kids gets evicted because the landlord is switching the property from apartments to a single family home. At the end of the segment, he's looking for a new place, but it's possible he and his two sons may need to go back to the homeless shelter. His son may have to start 5th grade at his 5th school. Stories like this play themselves out everyday in our country. And when a young boy grows up a bit and finds himself dealing drugs because it's the only way his family can get some money, or in a gang because it's the only way he can walk to school without getting shot, is he scum?

Sometimes people make poor choices, sometimes people act rashly in a flash of emotions, and sometimes people just wind up (being the wrong color) in the wrong place at the wrong time. None of this makes them scum. Are there some cold-hearted scummy people out there? Yes, I'll nominate Scott Peterson for one. But I will not nominate the drug dealers that I know are just down Telegraph. I will not nominate the confused young man whose culture has taught him to hear one thing and think it means another. And I certainly will not nominate the defense attorneys.

Scum or not, everyone deserves a fair trial with representation. It may not happen often, but if even the attorneys don't believe in it, goodness! we're all vampired.

(If you'd like to see the original post, it's here. But be forewarned, the author doesn't always post comments if she disagrees with them.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Customer Service

A conversation between me and the sales lady at a fabric shop:

Do you work here?
Yes
I'm looking for more of this wool.
Yea?
And I can't find it.
Yea?
I got it from here.
Well that doesn't mean anything.


Oh gee, that's great. Thank you so much for being a little boutique instead of the big fabric store I wanted but couldn't find out here.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's a Hard Knock Life

Sorry folks, I know this isn't what my blog is for, but I'm having a Babs moment, and I need to bitch, I mean vampire, sorry Mommy. (and please excuse the run-on sentence with poorly placed prepositions.) In atonement for wasting your eyes on my current crabbiness, I shall give you my humble complaints in an amusing manner. (now I must apologize to Dtrizzle, whose intellect is hurt when I write in this manner.)

Annie and her friends had to mop the floors and do the laundry and all sorts of difficult chores in their orphanage, so I guess I shouldn't be too upset about mine, but right now I am. Come to think of it I have to do laundry and mop the floors and cook meals, too. At least it's only my own, and there's no mean Ms. Hannigan yelling at me with a bottle in her hand. (Though I really like her slippers.)

My orphanage is different than Annie's in a bunch of ways. First, most of us get farmed out during the day. Me and 6 of the others, have to leave during the day. We've been assigned to other places to go do work for big people, instead of for the orphanage or something. We leave in the morning for big people places and come back at night to start our chores.

It's also different cuz one of the orphans here is part cow. He has big brown eyes, eats a lot of cheese, and loves grass. He doesn't go anywhere. Maybe he's scared he'll accidentally start mooing if he tries to talk to people. I know sometimes I talk like the people I was raised around and other people laugh. If I was raised around cows or pigs, I'd be really scared of being laughed at. Apparently, he made some sort of deal where he still has to do work for big people, but he gets to do it from the orphanage.

Since he's part cow, he hasn't yet learned how to do the stuff the rest of us do, like wash dishes or do laundry. He tries, but he seems really forgetful. Lots of times when people go to do laundry, his stuff is just sitting in the washer or dryer. The machines will have been off for a long time, and he won't be around, but his stuff is there. He also forgets to do his dishes a lot.

He was gone for 3 weeks once, maybe touring state fairs or something. (He did come back with a lot of candy.) Those weeks, there were no dirty dishes on the stove; there was no gigantic pile of dishes in the sink, and we never ran out of dishes because people washed them and put them away. It was very nice. One time, I heard one of the other orphans trying to explain to him that without a Ms. Hannigan to tell us what to do when, we all had to do our own dishes and stuff. He got really mad and started mooing at her. He told her she couldn't have her plant in the kitchen (it's a food plant) and all sorts of other stuff. I was really scared. Mad cows frighten me. I wanted to hide under my bed, but there's no "under," so I hid in it.

He's very noisy even when not mooing at people. He has these goofy little white tags on his ears that are attached to some sort of box on his collar. The tags put sounds in his ears all day. The sounds are loud and anyone standing within 5 feet can hear them, too. I didn't know cows were so hard of hearing. Sometimes he talks to the cable connecting the tags to his box for hours on end. Sometimes he just moos along with the sounds. If he's sitting by something, he may kick that to make extra noise to go with the sounds.

He rarely ever goes to his room. It must be different than mine. Mine has a big window that opens with a crank. I hung green curtains on it to make it pretty. Maybe the orphanage people wanted to make him feel more at home and made his room like a stall, with no windows. I think it must not have a window cuz he's always downstairs with the big kitchen doors open. He opens it even when he's not going out it, even when he's not downstairs, even when he's outside! Maybe it reminds him of his barn when he was a baby.

The doors stay open all day long. It is cold here during the day, usually 50s or 60s. Good outdoor temperature, bad indoor temperature. But since he has the door open all the time, the whole house gets that cold. If he had a window in his room, he'd stay in his room with his window open, making his room cold, instead of the whole house. At least that's what a reasonable person would do. Maybe being part cow makes him unreasonable.

I've gotten sick a couple times because of the cold. It gives me a sore throat, which turns into a nasty cough and stuff. I shiver when I get out of the shower. When I try to cook or eat, my nose runs from the cold. I leave my door closed all the time, and spend as much time as I can in my room, but it can even get cold in there. He's got lots of fur and stuff, so maybe it doesn't bother him as much. I know some of the other kids who have been at this orphanage longer don't like it either, but they gave up on talking to him long ago. It's hard to reason with someone who just keeps mooing back.

He's leaving soon. Going to a different orphanage or something. So am I. Maybe the people who move him will give him a really nice barn with other cows, instead of another orphanage where he'll get more kids sick. When I leave, I'm going on an adventure to find my parents. I think it will take me about 3 days.

Monday, July 21, 2008

"Hateful and Discriminatory Rhetoric"

*note: anything discussed in this post is already public record, except for the opinions. Mine I claim as only my own. Others, I left vague and unattributed for the sake of the holders' anonymity.

A few days ago, I mentioned that I was at the Ninth Circuit courthouse. I was there, along with a whole hoard of other interns, to watch one of the best litigators in the city attempt to defend a resolution made by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Several people are sure he won, some even believe the City's position is right. I cannot agree with the second, and as to the first, I can only hope they are wrong.

Mr. Chhabria did an excellent job of arguing before the three-judge panel. I was amazed at how calm and collected he remained, no matter how hard any judge challenged him. His first sentence was deliberative and stern, yet not aggressive. My hope that he lost has nothing to do with his legal skills, rather it is about the issue.

In 2003, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a document called "Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons. (This is a high-level Church office, previously held by the current Pope and once know as the Office of the Inquisition. It is responsible for spreading the doctrine of the Church.) The Church stated that it believed allowing same-sex couples to adopt children would "do violence to the children," as the Church believes same sex unions to be "gravely immoral." This document also informed Catholic politicians that their beliefs and moral duty as members of the Catholic Church required them to vote against any policies allowing same sex unions/marriages.

In 2006, the Catholic Church issued a directive to the Archdiocese of San Francisco declaring that "Catholic agencies should not place children for adoption in homosexual households." This directive was delivered through Cardinal Levada (former Archbishop of San Francisco). The Archdiocese of San Francisco followed the directive, and its Catholic Charities agency stopped allowing same sex couples to adopt children.

The Catholic Charities agency is by no means the only adoption service in the City of San Francisco. The government does not have any sort of agreement with the Catholic Charities agency regarding adoption, nor did it receive any government funds for its adoption services. It is a private, religious run organization.

The City didn't like the Catholic Church's position. And so, the Board of Supervisors decided to tell them so. In a very not nice way:

Resolution No. 168-06

Resolution urging Cardinal William Levada, in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.

WHEREAS, It is an insult to all San Franciscans when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great City's existing and established customs and traditions such as the right of same-sex couples to adopt and care for children in need; and

WHEREAS, The statements of Cardinal Levada and the Vatican that "Catholic agencies should not place children for adoption in homosexual households," and "Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children" are absolutely unacceptable to the citizenry of San Francisco; and,

WHEREAS, Such hateful and discriminatory rhetoric is both insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors; and

WHEREAS, Same-sex couples are just as qualified to be parents as are heterosexual couples; and

WHEREAS, Cardinal Levada is a decidedly unqualified representative of his former home city, and the people of San Francisco and the values they hold dear; and

WHEREAS, The Board of Supervisors urges Archbishop Niederauer and the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to defy all discriminatory directives of Cardinal Levada; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the Board of Supervisors urges Cardinal William Levada, in his capacity as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican (formerly known as the Holy Office of the Inquisition), to withdraw his discriminatory and defamatory directive that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco stop placing children in need of adoption with homosexual households.

One of my friends was actually very glad about the City's resolution and said, "The Catholic Church has persecuted people for hundreds of years. Now it's their turn to be persecuted. So what?" But it doesn't work like that. Anyone else can say whatever they want about the Catholic Church; that's called the First Amendment. But the government cannot; that's called the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause.

The issue here is not about who persecuted who first. It is not about anyone's position on gay rights. It is about a City government taking an official position against a specific religion and admonishing its believers, to the point of telling them to subvert the doctrine of their faith.

This resolution is nothing more than San Francisco doing what the Bay Area does best. It says, "You must love and accept everyone. Be open minded and let people do what they want to do even if you think it's morally wrong. And if you disagree with us, you're an ignoramus and we will find some way to get you, to fix you, so you think like us." The City doesn't like the Church's morals, and has declared the Church ignorant, insensitive, callous and insulting. So what does the City do? The City callously and insensitively declares its own moral view obviously correct. It's hypocritical hogwash. And in this case, it's illegal.

(Now we'll wait a few months and see if the court agrees.)

You can listen to the oral arguments here. I'm sorry there's no direct link. It is file No. 06-17328 and is the only one that is 8.00MB.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?

One of my good friends and I are going through a similar sort of experience right now, and it's kind of strange.  I'm not sure I've been at this point in my life before.  Have you ever had a friend that you've been friends with for a really long time, and then one day, for some reason, you realize you're only friends with them because you have been for so long?  If you met them today, you probably wouldn't be friends with them?  Maybe they did something, or you suddenly spent more time with them than you've spent in a long time.  Whatever the initial impetus, the realization hits you in the face like a high-speed frisbee.  It's sudden, you didn't see it coming, and it hurts.

I don't really know what you do with this friendship.  Do you keep holding on to it because it's lasted so long?  Sort of live in the past?  Focus on the little bit that you do still have in common or still like about each other?  Just let it drift apart like so many other relationships, until the friend becomes one of those fondly remembered people you haven't spoken to in years?  Do you "break-up"?  Actually talk about what's wrong, what bothers you, either to end the friendship or to try to fix it?  Or maybe, you just walk away, and hope that the foreseeable next few months of usual minimal contact will return things to the way they were before, a state of blissful ignorance.

I have to admit, right now, I'm leaning toward the last one.  It seems less painful, less evil, less deliberate, less permanent, and, well, easier.  Yet, I think if I were to stay here more time, I would simply explode.  The underlying churning caused by the things which served as my own impetus would cause me to burst at the seams, spewing forth a mountain of slanderous, hot-headed rhetoric.  Most of which I probably wouldn't actually mean.  Yes, it is good I am going home soon.  But still, what does one do with this sort of  friendship?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Built to the Glory of Our god?

The few hushed whispers had died down.  As we sat silently in the long wooden pews, I looked around.  The high arched ceiling rose above me, light filtering in through the stained glass windows.  Winged cherubs looked down on us, their white marble bodies reflecting light from the small light bulbs above.  Separating the pews and the raised platform in the front of the room, a long brass rail, supported by beautiful redwood panels.  Intricate mosaics decorated one wall.  But this was no church.  This was not built to the glory of God.  No, this was built to the glory of man and his government.  Specifically, to the Ninth Circuit.

Looking around the room, at all it's decadence, I thought about one of my friends who became a Jehovah's Witness during college.  I remember her telling me about the issue Jehovah's Witnesses have with American flags, the Pledge of Allegiance, and all patriotic symbols.  Something made me feel like I sort of understood.  The way the room was designed, with all its splendor, the way it was supposed to make you stand in awe at its grandeur and the power of the Federal government, it seemed almost blasphemous.

"Are there any Jehovah Witness attorneys?" I wondered to myself, considering calling my friend to ask.  Somehow, I couldn't seem to reconcile their position on symbolism and idols with the procedures in court or the structure of the court house.  I didn't have much more time to wonder, the cases were beginning.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to Not be Graceful in Twenty Dollar Shoes

My ankles are still throbbing, my knees still burn, as I sit in abject humiliation on the BART train.  Torn stockings for everyone to see.  Holes in the knees, a run up to the thigh, gashes across the ankle.  When other people fall, they can get up and brush themselves off.  When I fall, my scarred clothing betrays my folly.  I cannot hide the evidence that I totally just scrubbed.

Up until about five minutes ago, I thought I looked great today.  Grey suit, taken in by moi last night so that it actually fits well, black dress shirt, black stockings with seams up the back, fabulously long hair, stunna shades and those sexy, yet sophisticated, black patent mary-janes with 4" heels .

Then, those sexy, but sophisticated, black patent mary-janes with the 4" heels broke, and I fell down the stairs.  The hard rock stairs with rough tread on them, so people don't slip.  That outfit that was perfect for struttin', is absolutely horrible for stumbling.  Stunna shades inside, high heels on stairs, and it certainly didn't help I was on my cell phone.  Might as well have had a sign that read "laugh at me, please!"

The guy behind me tried to catch me, and then helped me up.  It was very nice of him.  But the only thing that really made the torn stockings, broken shoes, and burning pain any better, was the genuine concern in my friend's voice when I found my phone and apologized for disappearing, explaining I had fallen down the stairs.  Somehow, that really made me less concerned with anyone else around me, or with my destroyed clothing.

I rushed onto my waiting train, grabbed the first seat, and began inspecting.  Both straps broke on my left shoe.  I love these shoes. I taped a completely different part of them together this morning with electrical tape so I could wear them.  Luckily for me, one strap broke off on the inside and one broke off with the buckle on the outside.  I just tied the straps together like shoe strings.  At least it the shoe will stay on my foot.  When I get home, I think I'll need some good soapy water and a lot of bandaids.  Good thing I drove to the BART station today!  Ouch!after scrubbin cropped for blog

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Little Things

It's amazing how much little things can really matter, how the smallest showing of kindness or happiness can turn a day around.

I was having one of those days, and it wasn't even 8 am. Alarm didn't go off, clothing just wasn't working for me, iron mussed up my white shirt. Running late, I tore out of the house and off to the BART station. On the way, grumble, grumble. My tummy reminded me I forgot to eat. I was late, hungry, tired and grumpy. But then, it all changed. As I neared work, my phone rang. It was one of my friends calling to share some exciting news! That call completely altered my whole day. The grumpiness that had tried to control my morning couldn't overpower the warm fuzzies I was left with after my friend's call.

A call like that from a friend may be one of the best ways to turn a day around, but it's not the only one. A few weeks ago I had a similar morning, turned around in a simple instant: a stranger smiled at me on the subway. That's all it took. It forced me to smile back. And once I smiled, I just couldn't stay grumpy.

There's a guy I see everyday who seems to really understand this. He panhandles at one of the entrances to the BART station. "Anything you can give, even a smile." And he smiles back. Greets everyone nicely; the cup in this hand seems like an accessory, as though his real purpose there is just to brighten the day for all of us. I look forward to seeing him each day.

A smile, a phone call, a simple hello. So easy to give, and so powerful.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Half Full, Half Empty, or Twice as Big as It Needs to Be

In keeping with my recent topic of how different people have different perspectives (see How People See Others), I would like to offer for your comparison, two different discourses by two different people on the same topic. Feel free to read in either order.

First, my entry on a friend who missed his own birthday party. At the time of writing this, I had not yet learned that he had gone home to take a nap and just didn't wake up 'til about 10:30 the next morning. A Different Kind of Surprise Party.

Second, his entry on people's reactions. Thin Ice.

I am very interested to hear other people's take on the differences in perspective, so please leave a little indian below.

[Other discussions about different points of view:
Looking Through Rose-Colored Glasses or Tinted Windows
Do Those Boxes have a Purpose
An Outsider's Perspective after 1 Week in the East Bay]

Friday, July 11, 2008

How People See Others

Today, my friend sent me a map called "How Californians See America."

funny-graphs-californians

Other Californians have verified that this is pretty accurate.

Here's my response: How the Rest of America Sees California

(I have concurrence on this, too.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Owe My Life to: Beer

It's true. Though not in the way you might think. I am not the result of beer goggles or such related exercises. It is not because either of my parents were particularly indulgent with the beverage that made Milwaukee famous, but rather that one of their friends happened to desire the foamy treat. Let me explain.

First, I seem to always mess up some details when I try to tell stories for which I was not actually present (or from when I was very little). Check the little indians section for corrections from Mommy. And now, as I remember it being told to me, the story of why my sisters and I owe our lives to beer.

Mommy grew up at attending a Catholic church and school in Bay View called St. Augustine's. Like all good South-side Catholic churches, St. Augustine's had a festival every summer. Auggie's Fest attracted people from all over the neighborhood for food, beer, and I assume some bingo. Thus, it would not be unusual for people to run into other people they knew.

It was a few short years after high school; Mommy and Daddy hadn't seen each other in a long time, and she was wandering around at Auggie's Fest. She ran into Frank, a friend of hers from high school, who noticed she looked a bit down. She told him there was someone she'd like to see. Frank said, "I bet I can get him here." Mommy didn't think he could, so she made the bet - two pitchers or beer if Frank could get him there. Frank went to use a phone (no cell phones back in the day).

Some blocks away, Daddy was heading out the door of his house. The phone rang. He stopped and went back inside to get it. Frank told Daddy he was at Auggie's Fest and said, "there's someone here who wants to see you." Daddy didn't even need to ask who. He just headed to the festival.

And then...

Mommy walked away with Daddy; Daddy walked away with Mommy, and Frank walked away with his two pitchers of beer!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Announcing the Winners for the "Random Mail of the Week" Award

First Runner Up goes to USPS.

Yes, that's right folks, the United States Postal Service itself. About a month ago one Depositor attempted to deposit several checks at her bank. Little did she know (thanks to the utter incompetence in her bank's customer service department), the bank did not have a mail box. Said Depositor waited over a month, during which time she learned that her envelope containing the checks should be returned to her like any returned mail. By the end of this month-plus Depositor gave up on the waiting game and filed a missing mail report. She also contacted the endorser of the largest check, a four-hundredth of a million dollars, to report the check lost. The endorser promptly put a stop on a lost check and issued a new one, due to arrive via mail in about a week. That day, when Depositor arrived home from work, she found a long envelope from an Indiana Post Office waiting for her. Inside were her checks, deposit slips and the original envelope, opened and empty...

And the Grand Prize for Random Mail of the Week goes to Daddy!

Yes folks, he's done it again. And this one takes the cake. How, you ask. How does one beat the random black and white photocopy of a picture of Mommy at 20 in her college dorm room? Ah, it's simple, you'll see.

That mail, like Daddy's usual mail, included a small typewritten note on a scrap of paper saying briefly what was included in the envelope and adding a few tid bits about home. This mail included no such letter. No little scrap saying "Love," without a signature. No, "Here's your mail. Dad." Nothing like that. Yet the Wisconsin Law Journal articles he had mentioned he was sending were accompanied by some sheet of paper, a very peculiar piece of paper.

On one side, a photocopy of a map of downtown Nashville, TN. From Daddy in Milwaukee, WI, sent to his daughter in Oakland, CA. On the other side, even more bizarre. A type-written multiple choice Wills & Trusts question! The answer to the question is explained. Why it was sent is not.

The only thing his daughter can figure is that he sent it because it highlights one difference between marital property law (like Wisconsin has) and communal property law (like California has). [From the problem, it appears that this difference is that when marital property and personally owned property are held mixed together in a bank account, the interest from the marital property is also marital property. However, had it been communal property instead, the interest from the communal property would be personally owned property with the rest of the interest from the account.]

If you have any information that can explain this bizarre mail, please leave a little indian below. Thank you. And Daddy, congratulations on the award!

Monday, July 7, 2008

"The Greatest Thing You'll Ever Learn, Is Just to Love and be Loved in Return"

He took her purse and ran into the men's bathroom, sure she was too good a person to follow him in there. It sounds rather immature, but he was only a teenager after all. And he wasn't really trying to steal her purse, rather her heart. And it worked; today is their 29th Wedding Anniversary.My parents

Happy Anniversary Mommy and Daddy!!

When Daddy told his siblings he was engaged, they didn't believe him, they laughed. But he's the one who can laugh now, because he's been so happy for so long. And now, his family agrees Mommy's the best thing that ever happened to him, even if they still think she was crazy for marrying him. Daddy says Mommy is the most patient person he knows. I agree! And she's pretty :) Daddy loves Mommy so much, that he married her while he was in law school, just so he could get to see her!

Daddy likes to do lots of little special things for Mommy. He writes her poetry and sends her flowers for all sorts of random occasions, like his birthday or their 17th and a quarter anniversary. (Mommy got in trouble when she spent the quarter that came with those flowers, because Daddy looked really hard for a 1979 quarter!) Daddy also likes to take Mommy on surprise trips, like for an overnight getaway, or to Omaha to see Paul McCartney. Sometimes the surprises get ruined because Mommy pays the credit card bills and then she wants to know why Daddy's buying two plane tickets to some far off city.

Sometimes Daddy shows his affection too much, and he gets in trouble for it. (See the Infamous Chicken Dinner Story or For My Mommy's Birthday.)

Mommy loves Daddy a lot, too. After all, she's the one who got their friend to call Daddy so she could see him again when they were in college. (I could have sworn I had that story in here, but I can't find it; guess that'll be a future post!) She does lots of nice things for him too, like work so he can have insurance. And she pays the bills. She also makes him comfy pajamas and stuff. For Christmas this year she even made him a robe. Daddy might not even know some of the really nice things she's done for him, like telling us not to bother Daddy because he's sleeping, and then dealing with us noisy, rambunctious kids herself.

Of course, I think the really best part about Mommy and Daddy loving each other so much is that they also love us so much.

Mommy hugging Daddy

BART

Happy

All I Ask of You - Phantom of the Opera

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Different Kind of Surprise Party

I went to my friend's birthday party last night. It wasn't a surprise party for the birthday boy; it turned out to be a surprise for us. He knew about the party. He arranged the party. He invited the people. He was in charge of bringing the alcohol. But, surprise! He never came. Well, at least not by the time I left at midnight.

People warned me, people that have known him a lot longer than me. (Technically he's the best friend of my good friend, but I figure I've hung out with and talked to him enough to call him a friend.) The party was supposed to start at 8pm, so I was planning to go then. But my good friend warned me not to count on that. By twenty after six, no one had heard from the birthday boy, not even the girl who was hosting the party. At 7:30, a mass text:

"Sorry i haven't been in touch... Been a long day. Everything's on for tonight but i probably won't be there til after 9."

'That's a new one,' I thought, 'how you gonna be late to your own birthday party?' By 9:30, he still wasn't there. It's common for him to be late, and other people I know where starting to gather at the house, so I figured I'd head over anyway about 9:45. After a little trouble finding the place, I made an entrance to the sound of "Oh your not ----." Nope, I'm not. My good friend was already there, as well as some people I know from watching his basketball games and from the surprise birthday party he had for me last time I was in the Bay. It was all good, and I figured birthday boy would show up any moment.

Three entrances and several phone calls later, the party had grown. Still no birthday boy. No call, no text, nothing. His birthday pie was nearly gone. There was no alcohol, and the only food in the house was cereal. About half the group headed for Safeway. (You can buy alcohol here after 9pm.) My friend and I decided it was time to go. He has to study all day tomorrow, and I have church. The remaining people began playing some card games. It was the lamest birthday party I have ever been to. It may even have been worse than the pool party we had once where only 1 person came.

I think I have more patience than most when it comes to dealing with friends, with relying on them and having things fall through, with losing touch, with flake outs. But I'm already getting to a point where I don't want to bother, where I don't think it's worth my time to try calling or emailing him. I've only been here a month!

The worst part is, something really terrible could have happened to the birthday boy, and no one would know. Apparently, he does stuff like this all the time. Says he's going and shows two hours late, if at all. Disappears into the abyss of disconnected cell phones and no email. What do you do with someone like that?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I N D E P E N D E N T

"How are you going to celebrate the founding of our great nation?" my roommate's boyfriend asked the small group of us assembled in the kitchen.

"I'm going to get all dressed up in red, white and blue, and play marching music." It sounded ridiculous as soon as I said it. They must have thought I had just come up with the most absurd thing I could think of and sarcastically spewed it out. But I was dead serious.me on 4th cropped

A half hour later, accompanied by John Philip Sousa, I emerged from my bedroom in a blue and white checkered circle skirt (i.e. poodle-less poodle skirt) with red rick rack trim, a blue tanktop, stockings with red seams up the back, white earrings, blue shoes and a red ribbon in my hair. My glasses and undergarments were also blue, but they don't really count. Happy Fourth of July!

This is how I celebrate my third-favorite holiday, in all it's patriotic glory. I used to have these wonderful America-holiday shoes to go with my red, white and blue outfits. They were fabulous, blue glitter covered strappy sandals with little American flags and red, white and blue streamers in the front 3" clear platform, 7" stiletto heels in the back. I loved them. I even wore them to celebrate American holidays in Zambia (and for our Texas Trash party). They broke at school on Labor Day. So sad! This year, I had to settle for my shiny candy paint royal blue shoes, still fun.

All dolled-up, presidential campaign songs and 1776 playing in the background, I spent the rest of the day being a law student. At home, I'd spend the day going to a variety of parades, usually to watch my sisters march past, and then go home to swim in the pool until dinner time. After dinner, we'd gather our things for the fireworks. Pop Pop Pop, the popcorn bursts forth from the hot air popper and into the waiting brown paper bag. Calls of "where's the frisbee?" echo out of the back hall closet where some feet hanging outside remain the only evidence someone has ventured inside. "Did anyone count these cards?" the deck is picked up from next to the cribbage board and carefully gone through, "ace, two, three, four...." The old brownish blanket sits in a half-folded, half scrunched-up mess next to the cooler. We head out to the park as the sun looms low in the sky. After parking the car a few blocks away, we pick out a nice spot on the lush green grass and get ready to "ooooh" and "ahhhh." Oh well, when stuff's got to get done, it's got to get done.

It was a fairly productive day, and I did get to see some fireworks! My friend took me to the Berkeley marina for the show. It was a lot different than back home, but still wonderfully 4th of July. The city closes down the street leading into the marina (but offers free valet bicycle parking), so we had to park really far away and walk. The only bad part of the walk was going up the bridge to cross the freeway. Mostly, it was a nice walk. We went all the way down to the shore and stood behind several rows of people sitting on the waterfront rocks. It was jam-packed!

While waiting for our show to begin, we could see the Marin fireworks off to our left and the Richmond fireworks behind us to the right. In front of us, bits and pieces of colored sparkle peaked out as the fog below radiated a pink glow. Those were the San Francisco fireworks.

Finally, our show began. It was a lot different than the shows back home. Ping, wssssh, pop. Pause. Ping, wssssh, pop. One at a time, the fireworks launched into the sky and quietly exploded. We were close enough to see the launch site at the end of the pier, but still didn't feel any booms. About 10 or 15 minutes into the show, they set off all the big booms at once. The force knocked into my chest and I wavered a bit. A big smile spread across my face. All of 5 seconds and it was done, back to Ping, wssssh, pop. I was still really happy to be at the fireworks and enjoying the show. As they continued to launch the singular fireworks, we began to see less and less sparkle and more and more rosy aura. Slowly, the fog continued rolling into the bay.

Though fireworks were still launching, the show was over. My friend and I turned to head back to the car. Half the crowd was already on its way. Holding tight to the sleeve of my puff coat, the rest of me huddled inside it, my friend led us through the crowd and back over the freeway. It was definitely the least climatic fireworks show I've ever seen, but I'm still glad I got to go. It was the Fourth of July after all!

Bed

Happy

Phone Home - Lil Wayne

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Office Celebrity

No it's not me.

The secretary that I used to sit next to, Saundra, came over to chat. "Is that a celebrity?" she exclaimed, looking at the framed picture on my desk?

"No. I said laughing. That's my friend at our law school formal. He just graduated from Vanderbilt Law School. He's studying for the Bar now, and he's gonna be an Assistant District Attorney." My voice was filled with pride (cuz he was my date for the formal).

The secretary was shocked. "Wow. Tell him I'm proud of him." She doesn't even know him. She just assumed from the picture that this was an extra big accomplishment. "I thought he was a rapper or something. He looks like one of them rappers." She looked back at the picture, "Is he from Oakland?" That easy to tell, huh? Well, Oakland and El Cerito, and everywhere in between. She grew up in Richmond, so maybe she has an eye for these things. (The city names might not mean much to anyone not from the Bay Area, but just google one and you'll get a pretty good idea.)

The next week, one of her friends from the mailroom was upstairs visiting us. She stopped by my desk. "Is that Dennis Rodman?!" The secretary and I both started laughing. Before I even had a chance, Saundra was going on about him as if it were her son. "Oh no, he's taking the bar. He's gonna be a DA!" This also seemed to astound the lady from the mailroom.

Saundra couldn't believe her friend had mistaken the picture for Dennis Rodman. "Dennis Rodman is light skinned," she says, as if that's the only difference between them! I thought the absence of large piercing's or funky colored hair was a better giveaway.

But beyond all, my absolute favorite was the new secretary I sit by, Dianne. She was looking at the picture from the formal and asked, "who's that?" So I told her. Then she says, "is that him, too?" and points at my poster of Lil' Wayne!

Rap star or basketball player - I wonder what else people will come up with before the end of summer. It's amazing what a big pair of sunglasses can do to your image. (...and a fitted hat, and a nice suit, and giant earrings, and a grill...)

Barristers Ball for background 034

Me with the "Celebrity".

Bed

Cheerful

Birds Chirping

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sometimes You Just Have to Move On

Saying goodbye is hard, especially when you've been together for several years. You know what to expect, and even the bad things seem sort of endearing, at least they're familiar. And as you contemplate actually leaving, you relive the past, both good and bad memories flood the mind; it's so hard to decide if this is the right thing to do. But there comes a point where you realize it's time to go, you've out grown this and you need to move on. I've reached that point. This is my transition.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm leaving livejournal. It was a tough decision, and I weighed several options, including staying, but in the end, my blogging has outgrown it. It's as simple as that. There are definitely things I will miss, primarily the cute little mice that display my emotions. However, the new journal has lots of great features for me and should make things easier for my readers as well.

New Title

In addition to moving my blog, I decided it was time for a new title. The blog is no longer "Why You Think I'm Weird: Stories from My Childhood," because it contains so much more than that. There are plenty of commentaries on other things, current events and stuff, as well as stories from my childhood. My new title is "Garter Skirts and Legos." I think it sums me up pretty well, and encompasses the grown-up aspects with the child-like playfulness.

It's All Still Here

Every single post from my livejournal is available on my new blog, thanks to the amazing blog2blog software. You'll now have an easier time finding old posts you want to re-read or that involve you. There's a side bar that sorts posts by date, but allows you to see the titles. At the bottom of the page, you'll find a list of all the tags. Depending on how much I like you, you might find your name at the bottom. Click any tag to see all the posts pertaining to that subject. Each post includes a link to the original live journal post, in case you want to see those mice. Each also has any extra information that was on the livejournal post, such as music playing, mood or location, and each post has copies of all the original comments.

Don't Miss Out

If you're worried about staying up to date with my new blog, have no fear. There are several options for keeping up to date with the new blog. First, the user name is the same. If you type the address into the browser, you only need to change one part. Where you used to type "livejournal", now type "blogspot". You can also add my blog to a reader. For those unfamiliar with readers, they're like a little elf that runs around the neighborhood purchasing all the newspapers you want to read and then puts them all on your kitchen table. You just tell the elf what papers you want and he keeps track of when new issues are out and which ones you've read. I suggest google reader, easy enough for novices, simple and useful. If you really don't want to do any work, my new blog can do it for you. Just email me or leave a comment here and I'll give your email address to the magic blog pixie. She'll automatically send you an email whenever there's a new post.

Features for You

Aside from the fun features mentioned above, the new blog has a second side bar. This one lists other blogs that I read, in order of updated. You can check out what some of my other friends are up to, or the new sewing tips and trends. It's fun! And for those of you who are on my sidebar, I hope it's an incentive to keep updating. You don't want to be at the bottom of the list, now do you? This new blog also lets me put in pictures, without making me pay money. This is nice for my readers. Check out the last three posts; all have pictures in the new blog, whereas they couldn't on livejournal. The comment section allows you to put your name and your blog's address, email address or aim name. So if you're not using the same blog service as me, it doesn't matter! No more having to click anonymous and then signing your comments. By the way, comments are called "little indians" on my blog.

Features for Me

I now have some control over my comments. Ha ha, don't say anything mean; I might just delete it. I'm kidding. ...maybe. I can also track visits to my blog. That's really cool. In the few weeks it's taken me to setup the new blog, Google has sent several visitors to my site. One was from the UK, looking for Angela Nyirenda on i-tunes. Another was from Australia, looking for Cookie Monster garter skirts. Pretty neat! And I love that I can put pictures in now. Some day I'll be really cool and put in videos like my friend. The whole format is much easier to navigate and use.

Reflections on Moving

Moving the blog turned out to be really hard. Not logistically, but emotionally. To add the comments and fix some errors, I basically read every blog I've posted in my 5 years at livejournal. That's a lot of life, and 2007 is conspicuously missing. The hardest part was reading the posts from Zambia. As it got closer and closer to April 2006, I didn't want to keep reading. It was like when I near the end of Pride and Prejudice and don't want to finish the book because then there's no more Mr. Darcy. I didn't want to keep reading, because I knew if I did, I'd leave Africa. That made me sad all over again. It was also really hard to read all the comments. I started to feel the same anger I felt when I first got them. I remembered being so frustrated that by the middle of my second year some people were still only writing "I miss you. When are you coming home?" That infuriated me, couldn't they understand that Cheelo was home for now? And couldn't they see that it didn't matter when I was coming home, because nothing would be the same? Almost as bad were all the empty promises of writing letters, or the claims by some people who no longer talk to me that they would always be my good friends. At least the conversations between Mommy and me cheered me up a bit, though they were bittersweet.

Anyway, it's done now, and I'm excited about it. Tomorrow I will put up my first official new-blog-only post. I've been waiting a long time. Thanks for sticking with me!

NEW BLOG ADDRESS: http://goldenrail.blogspot.com

Sad

Bed

Hello Goodbye - The Beatles

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

36 Hours in Paradise

No matter where I'm coming from, no matter how long I've been gone, landing at General Mitchell International Airport always makes me cry. I'm just so happy to be home. The plane comes in low over the city. I look out the window down to the land and water below. There's the Hoan, and the Firstar building. We continue east out over lake Michigan and begin our turn towards the airport. As the plane descends, it seems as though we could just reach right out and touch the deep blue waves. A full 180 and the land comes into view again. There's my high school, and the football field. I can name the streets below like its a google map. There's Lake Shore Drive, and Packard, and Ramsey. There's my parent's house! And as we graze across the telephone poles on Pennsylvania, I know we'll soon be on the ground.
It wasn't any different this weekend. And also as usual, the trip felt far too short. But, it was absolutely wonderful! Before we were even in the out of the airport parking lot, before I could even ask, my sister piped up, "should we go home before we go to Leon's?" And that's how the weekend began, with frozen custard and my favorite people at 9:30 on a beautiful balmy night. And the weekend just kept getting better. The next day was Grandpa's surprise party! Where do we start? The gorgeous 80 degree weather, or the hundred-something relatives that came to my grandpa's birthday party? The weather speaks for itself. Even though it rained a bit twice, the sun quickly came back out and our spirits were not dampened.
By far, the best part of the weekend was sitting around listening to my grandpa's cousins, i.e. my first cousins thrice-removed!, talking about when they were younger, the relationships in the family and the cultural rivalries of their day. I was particularly amused that my great-grandparents were upset when my grandma and grandpa started dating because my grandpa is Polish and my grandma is German. Now it seems half the South Side is Polish/German! I certainly had plenty of friends growing-up who's mix included Polish and German. The really ironic part is that we're not quite sure what country some parts of the family are from because of constant wars and border shifts.
The old photos cousin Claudia brought were especially delightful. She even had the passports/entry documents from my great-great grandparents. These were my grandfather's maternal grandparents. The papers were from Ellis Island, dated 1918, and my relatives had marked the signature lines with their "x"s because they couldn't read or write. My great-great grandmother's had a picture in it. My great-great grandfather's did not. She looked to be a portly woman in her 50s or so, but I really have no idea on her age. Mommy tells me this is about as far back as we can trace this branch of our family. (I would like to point out, for my readers who may think that all "white" people can trace their families back super far and know where they've come from, that this date is only the beginning of the 20th century, we don't know exactly what the last name was because of spelling variations, and we're not actually sure what country they're from.)
Cousin Claudia's being there was in and of itself a very special treat for Grandpa. At first I didn't understand why Mommy introduced herself to Cousin Claudia and then took her around and introduced her to everyone and explained who they were. Then I found out, my grandfather's family had sort of split back when he was a kid. Her parents the the parents of the other cousins lost contact. Standing in the background, I listened to the cousins try to sort out what had happened.
One of the cousins was talking about how her parents always fought, and how her dad was only nice when he wasn't drinking, which wasn't often. Others had similar stories. Cousin Claudia figured that's why the family got split. She knew her mom didn't like all the drinking and stuff. It appeared Cousin Claudia had been quite young when the parts of the family lost contact, yet she still remembered some other relatives that the other cousins knew. It was neat to hear them exchange stories. It also turns out that Cousin Claudia knows all my grade school teachers (we moved when I was 10) and may have even served on the same committee as Mommy back in 1988!
Other excitement of the day included following around my adorable second cousins (my cousins' children), taking pictures of them; eating cheese, snaps and shampoo raisins; and answering questions with things like "yes, I'm the one that was in Africa," "no, I'm not the one that just got back from China, that's Katrina, she's over there."
After getting home from the party, Mommy, Wendy, Katrina, Nathan and I played games! We were up 'til past midnight. Nathan does a very good Elmer Fudd, and Mommy does a great Mae West.
The next morning, it was off to the airport. Far too soon. As we soared higher and higher into the sky, I watched the familiar places shrink away from me. Goodbye Daddy's office, goodbye 794, goodbye church, goodbye home.
(Original Post)
Bed
Cheerful
Lena Horne - The Lady is a Tramp (especially the part that says "hates California, it's cold and it's damp)