Confessions of a serial pillow plumper

You know how our little idiosyncrasies tell others more about ourselves than we would normally care to clue them in on? Well, I've kind of always wondered what the addictive sport of pillow plumping says about me. After reading this last sentence, you'll probably be wondering what I actually mean by the term addictive in reference to pillows but, before I get to explaining this to you in luxurious detail, a few simple facts.

This house, within its eight main rooms, has a grand total of (cue the drum roll please) 33 pillows or cushions (I use the terms interchangeably) scattered over the surfaces of chairs, sofas, armchairs, beds and floors.

This number, does not take into consideration normal sleeping pillows. That particular number is in upwards of 12 or more as I firmly believe that most decently raised people need at least two pillows per person to get a good night's rest though three, would be eminently preferable. All together then, we've got on or around 45 pillowy appendages in this house. According to my husband, that's 44 too many but, the purpose of this post is not to illuminate you on the vagaries of my husband's cushion preferences but to explain my own obsession with them. I love cushions and I bet you are more willing to believe this truth now that I've brought you up to speed on the hows and wherefores of our cushion-minded existence.

To continue then, the sum total mentioned above does not even include the cushions stored away in closets and hidden in the nooks and crannies that I like to believe my husband knows nothing about. You see, every once in a while, I like to rotate my cushions. I live by the credo that cushion rotating not only preserves the life and shape of the cushion but that it also renews the visual interest of the furniture we own. In my book, a good pillow is like a good shoe and no sofa or chair is complete without it. Please see the A little bit about me post to better understand my shoe philosophy and how shoes parallel the cushion matter.

OK, we're finally getting to the pillow plumping part but first, I have to clear in your head whatever mental image you are forming. No, we are not chintzy people. No, we have no rose or flower prints anywhere here and no, this place is neither decorated in a harem style nor in a nomadic-tent-like fashion. Also, we are not tripping over the darned things all the time. My husband might dispute this last statement but he is dead wrong. I happen to believe that my cushions are tastefully and strategically placed and what I think is what truly matters in the end, don't you?

Anyway, here's the plumping bit. Should you find yourself here in my home at any time in the future, be prepared to live with the fact that as pleased as I am to have you sit or lie anywhere in this place, I will almost invariably (and automatically) plump any cushion your erstwhile sitting bottom or reclining back has had the pleasure to un-plump. Yes, in my book, un-plumping is an action verb.

This compulsion of mine has become sort of a running joke amongst the dwellers and visitors to my place. I can live with that because I recognize that plumping must be done in a particular way. My way to be exact. The zippers must be hidden, the corners should be perky, all patterns must face correctly and last but most important of all, a perfectly eye-balled karate chop indentation has to run straight-down-the-middle of the cushion. I can't stress enough how terribly important this last point is, an indentation made askew totally ruins the neatness factor no matter if all the other list points have been keenly observed. You see, there's a science to this and I am very good at it. Everyone else here fails miserably at the task because no one has a love for the art of pillow plumping like I do. My husband is not only indifferent to the whole issue, he would happily see all my beautiful pillows consigned to a burning fire but then, decorating and color are not his forte. I have forgiven him this and so should you!

Note to the infidel who does not worship at the holy altar of pillows and their perfectly plumped existence: Please, spare me the eyeball rolling at this post. I care for the inviting look of my sit-upon furniture as well as your back comfort even if you, do not. I think this concern says only nice (nutty my husband clarifies) things about me.


Veni, audivi, locuti / I came, I heard, I spoke

I get this often from family members while in the midst of an attempted conversation - you're interrupting me! -

It's funny really that I never look upon my additional two cents worth as an interruption. If anything, I'm the one who is being interrupted when I obviously have something of importance to say - else I'd not be opening my mouth.

What I truly do - and this I admit freely - is talk over others. This can, upon occasion, be misconstrued as an interruption but, to be purely technical and, in the spirit of hair splitting, what I am doing is not interrupting per say, but adding. You could also call it building upon or even aggregating. Should you have a musical bent, you could look at it this way, my bit is like another chord in the existing harmony. If you are in a cooking frame of mind, look upon it as another ingredient going into the simmering pot. Are you getting my drift? Catching the gist? Comprendes?

Strictly speaking, it is never my intention to interrupt therefore, cut me some slack. You do it too. You are from the same progeny/family/ culture/sister-culture as mine and you do the EXACT SAME THING to me. We ALL speak over each other. Would we be us if it were otherwise? Have you ever known it to be any different? Live with it! Go ahead, fight for your space of the verbal territory, get a word in! edgewise or else...


My dearest child:

For if you ever wonder how I feel about you now...

You have me. You have me completely in the palm of your sharp-nailed, softer than silk, little hand. I am yours, no one doubts it.

All my days, even the difficult ones, are somehow made remarkable by your kisses, by your smiles. When my voice calms you, when my nonsense words take your hurt away, when the circle of my arms is the only shelter you seek, I feel miraculous, empowered, mother-full. You embody the best, most brightest feeling in the world for me. Please know that your happiness, safety and peace are my daily goals.

Two places - the warm, baby fragrant hollow on the back of your neck, and the little velvety spot underneath your chin have no true rivals, save your father's lips, as my favorite places to plant a kiss and few sensations, fill me as completely as knowing that you are mine.

Of the many qualities I have discovered myself singularly capable of since I first held you in my arms, I thank you most for the gift of patience. I have reaped exceptional rewards in exercising it with you and perhaps, this would not have been the case had you not come into my life.

For when you are grown and need the reminder...

You have me. You still have me in the palm of your no longer velvety, no longer little, hand. I am yours. No one doubts it still.

All my days, especially the difficult ones, are somehow made remarkable by your kisses, by any smiles of yours headed my way. Should you need my voice to calm you, any nonsense or perhaps something that makes sense to listen to. I give it freely. Your pain I will take away however I can. Your happiness, safety and peace are still my daily concerns.

Because you are older and no longer allow me to kiss the back of your neck or that delicious spot beneath your chin, I will settle for the stubbly cheek. Your father's lips it seems, still have their rival, though I miss these tender acts more than you will ever know.

To the many qualities I have discovered myself singularly capable of with you besides patience, I add restraint and silence. I hope you appreciate this last for the gift it is. I find it harder to exercise than you could possibly think.

One final thing, it overflows me totally to know that you are mine. My pride in this knowledge recognizes no bounds, no limits. I created you but you have made yourself into who you are. I am grounded in the recognition that my life is fuller because you are a part of it. I remain lovingly your mother, no matter what.


Follow the progression part 3

...while the concert lasted, at those moments when I wasn't paying attention to the music, I darted what I thought were surreptitious looks at him. It was somewhat discombobulating to make the mental leap between a fictitious character on a television series and the flesh and blood person that was seated next to me. I had met famous people before. In my father's line of work I puffed on a cigar at the age of 12 with an ousted Bolivian President who patted my back when I choked, and told me that was the reason one should never smoke. I had spied an exiled Shah of Iran morose and sick as he sat wheelchair-bound so far away from the land he and his family had dynastically ruled. I had shaken hands with two sitting US Presidents and learned that adults, for the most part, tended to give children with something interesting to say the time of day even as I took shameful advantage of that knowledge. Unlike most other kids, I had grown up with an opportunity to learn that well-known people act just like not well-known people do. Everybody looks bad at one time or another and everyone eats, sleeps and poops no matter the mantle of fame they wear in the outside world and yet, in spite of this, I had never in my life been star struck. Initially, I kept on wanting to see the other side of his profile so I could spy the Chakotay tattoo. Can you believe that?

Somewhere in the time it took for the concert to end though, I stopped thinking of him that way. I realized that to cause any impression, some impression, hopefully a good impression, I would have to learn him for who he was and not for whom he played.

After the final applause and encore, we went to the restaurant. My memory does not tell me any more whether we walked or took a taxi there but next thing I remember, we were being seated by a waiter in a very nice but not over the top restaurant. It was kind of small and cosy and was quite obviously a better than average eating establishment. I felt flattered that he had taken me there.

We ordered dinner. I cannot remember either what we ate but I do know that we talked a lot. More of Napoleon, more about his family. I listened as I had been taught to do. He talked with an open reservedness. Does this make sense? He was trying to tell me things but he seemed to be weighing beforehand what to say and how to say it. I can understand this. I could be anybody. He was somebody. To encourage him I told him more of myself.

Somewhere in the night, we became less guarded with each other and went onto discuss more diverse topics. Amongst them, we spoke of children with learning disabilities. Don't ask me how specifically we got there but suffice it to say that once we did, he asked me a pointed question. He said, what would you do if you ever found out you were carrying a child with Down's syndrome? In the haziness of a moment long gone, I remember answering that perhaps, if told about the disability in time, I might not carry the child to term.

Many years later, after becoming the person I am now but still wasn't then, I can tell you that I wish I had thought to answer differently. It doesn't really matter any more for what it's worth to my current life but If I could, I would add this moment in time to my ever increasing do-over list. And this is why: In the ignorance of non-motherhood, of the process and joy of watching my belly swell with the seed of life, I do not believe I could answer the same in this, my present time.

Please don't jump to the conclusion that I am a pro-lifer as pro-lifers are understood to be. I believe that I personally could not go through with a pregnancy termination but that doesn't mean that I do not believe in a woman's right to choose. I think of myself as a pro-choicer for life but pro-choice nonetheless. As pertained to me in that one specific moment with Mr. Beltran, I regret the answer because the tenor of our conversation changed after that. We talked of other things but the tenuous connection we'd initially established, fizzled and died I think. Around midnight (like Cinderella), I told him I had to leave. The choir had hired a bus to transport them to Nancy and we were all supposed to leave early the next morning. I would be tired enough as it was that I did not wish to stay longer. He seemed regretful, but that might be my romantic head replaying the scene differently. Outside he hailed a cab for me and like the perfect gentleman he had been all evening, he handed me into it and kissed me chastely on the cheek while he told me goodbye. That was the last I ever saw of him in person.

A day later, while in Nancy, I walked into a Virgin Music store and without meaning to, I headed straight to the Classical music section. In my passable French I asked an attendant to find me the EMI recordings of Pablo Casals' Bach Cello Concertos and now, if you have read my "A Little Bit About Me" post prior to starting on this one, you finally know what triggered my memory into this long, three day narrative I've been regaling you with. During dinner he had confessed to never having heard them. The store had just the one CD set. Several others with Rostropovich and Yo-Yo Ma, but only the one Casals. I purchased it on the spot, wrote a note, and posted it at the first post office I saw addressed via next-day courier to a Mr. Robert Beltran at the Royal Monceau, Paris.

Because I still had his phone number, I called his hotel the next day to make sure that the package had arrived and to my surprise, I was connected to Robert who gratifyingly seemed happy to hear my voice while he thanked me for my gift. He then asked me whether I had returned to Paris. I said no, I was still in Nancy and would remain there for the next few days. He would be leaving soon for other European parts he told me and he expressed regret that we would not get an opportunity to see each other again. We did the polite closing of the conversation chit chat, wished each other well and I promised to continue watching him on Voyager. That was the last time I ever spoke to him.

That's it. Kind of anti-climactic the whole ending I know, but anything else was simply not meant to be. That's not to say that I got nothing of value out of the whole experience. On the contrary. For one night, in Paris no less, I went to a concert and dinner with Robert Beltran the person, not the actor. And, I lived on to have this lovely, wistful memory of my encounter with him. He was something else alright. I hope that should he still have the Casals, that every time he listens to it he would spare a thought for me. But that's just because I am a romantic, as well as a gypsy, at heart.

And now, to assuage my husband's slightly wounded ego after he read the first initial post of this story. Yes honey. I know we have had romantic nights together, in Paris no less and in even more romantic places than Paris. I know and treasure each and every one. The mementos of those places where you and I have had our own moments I know exactly where I keep. As opposed to others. Remember Aqua Pazza? I still have the card. You might not be Chakotay love, you are definitely not Robert Beltran. You are you, wonderful in every way and, I wouldn't trade you for anyone or anything. Mine to love with all my heart and might. This, is just a memory. You are not. Thank God for that.

Goodbye everyone. Until the next post.


Follow the progression part 2

... when we arrived at the hotel about an hour later there was already a message waiting for me. Robert Beltran had called and left the phone number of his Hotel, he was staying at Le Royal Monceau. Could I please call him back at my earliest convenience? Thanks, Robert.

Ball on my side of the court.

Okay, I'll admit it. I squealed. Wouldn't you have? Had you been me?

All three of us got into the elevator and we went up to my room. Pow-wow time yielded the following: I had a barely cobbled together outfit. I really had not traveled with anything fancy because in chorale concerts, unless you are part of the choir, most any choice of wardrobe is okay. Of my outfit, the best part was a beautiful pair of Calvin Klein high-heeled sling-backs in black leather which I had newly splurged on prior to my travel and, a curve hugging, over the knee, black pencil thin skirt. What I was wearing as a top I really don't remember, but did you notice how I can tell you now, exactly, what I had on my feet? In any case, it would have to do as there was no time for shopping, but I worried about the dress code for the concert. Would it be too fancy for my ensemble? Not being able to do more on that front, we went on to discuss again the risks of my meeting with a perfect stranger (even a well-known one) in Paris. I'll confess that the discussion was moot at this point. I was going to go. I knew this, the twins knew it too. All that was left was to try and settle the how of my going in advance.

In my country we have a saying about how a person makes you feel when you meet them for the first time. You either get "una buena vibra or una mala vibra." Here in the US there is the almost exact same expression, someone gives you either a good or a bad vibe. I had gotten nothing but a good vibe from Robert Beltran and that is why, having decided then to trust my instincts unless otherwise shown, I pushed the twins out the door and made my call. I was nervous enough as it was about speaking again to Robert that an audience wouldn't help me at all.

When I called the Royal Monceau they put me through and he answered the phone immediately. Good, I had gotten his message then. Was I still interested in going to the concert with him? I took a deep breath and said something along the following: Yes I was, but I had a question for him. The invitation was for a concert and nothing more, correct? Baldly stated and no beating around the bush as you can see. I felt more than heard the pause at the other end of the line. He said, no. The invitation was not only for a concert but also for dinner should I care to accept. Charming of him, I'll admit, but still not enough of an answer for me. So, I rephrased my question. He had, I hoped, no expectations for anything further than the pleasure of my company right? At this there was a true pause. And then he answered along these lines: Listen, I met you by chance crossing a street in Paris, you seemed like a nice, interesting girl. You told me you like music, I like music, my friends really did ditch me. Do you, or do you not want to join me for a concert and dinner afterwards?

Fair enough. I realized at this point that I shouldn't push it further if I wanted to go. I would just have to take him at his word. I told him I'd be delighted to spend my evening in his company. He said great, and that he would come by my hotel to pick me up in a taxi at around 5:30 as the concert was to be at seven or thereabouts and perhaps we'd like to go for an apéritif before it started?

When he told me he would pick me up, I truly panicked. Having been to Paris before, I knew about Le Royal Monceau like one knows about the Ritz no matter what world city one travels to. A stone's throw away from the Arc de Triomphe and other high profile landmarks, it was old world luxury personified in an ultra swanky Paris setting and I, was staying in anything but. If you've ever traveled with a large group like a choir, you can bet that on the scale, the accommodations weigh more towards the cheap and bare minimum. My hotel, was quite obviously not the 600 count Frette sheets environment that Robert seemed to be enjoying. I felt like the girl from the wrong side of the tracks so I told him I'd meet him at his hotel. Was I sure? it would be no trouble at all to pick me up... Absolutely not I said, I would rather meet him. Okay, he'd see me in about an hour then. Fine, I replied.

The next hour passed me in a blur and what next I remember is being handed out of a taxi by a hotel attendant as Robert walked out to meet me. How nice to see me again, he was glad I had decided to accept his invitation. I looked lovely he said. Did I care to walk a bit and take in the sights on our way to the concert hall? So we walked for a while and when the opportunity arose to sit at an outdoor cafe, we ordered something to drink and did as Parisians do. We watched people walk by as we chatted and got to know each other. No, he was not of Native American Indian descent. He was of Mexican extraction. His parents or grandparents (can't remember which) had emigrated to the United States and he was one of many brothers (at least 6 or more) born to them here. He had grown up in the US and he currently lived in California. He had a famous musician brother, Louie Cruz Beltran of whom, like the rest of his large family, he spoke of with love and pride. He was in Paris because his show was on a recording hiatus and until they started shooting again for their next season, he was there for some R&R and to research the life of Napoleon Bonaparte for a play he had the possibility in mind to write. He thought of Napoleon as an incredibly charismatic and interesting historical figure and I could tell he was clearly fascinated by the man's life and death.

How about myself? So I told him about how I lived and worked in DC as a video producer and digital editor and elaborated further on the reasons why I had decided to travel with the choir for my vacation. I told him about my own family and that I was one of two daughters born to diplomat parents which was one of the reasons why I could speak some French. My parents had always encouraged me to learn languages, and just plain learn. I was not married, and was not currently dating and so far so good on that front. I apologized for having accosted him out on the streets of the Quartier Latin and asked him if he was exposed to that kind of behavior regularly by his fans to which he replied that sometimes, though less in places like Paris where he could pass by more anonymously.

Soon enough, it was time to start walking again and we arrived at the concert hall (which one I cannot remember) though I am sure that somewhere amongst my old things I have kept the program. Our seats were superb. We were not in the orchestra section but on the first row of a balcony slightly off to the left side of the stage. Visually and acoustically I could not have asked for better as I had a perfect view of the conductor and all of the orchestra players. When the lights went down we settled to the joy of listening and it was indeed a very good concert. They played some Mozart, I definitely remember that and something by Haendel and then a more contemporary piece I think. At the interval he displayed more knowledge of music than I had imagined him capable of and impressed me beyond what I had already been impressed. He was a thoughtful, engaging, twinkle in the eye, half-smile-upon-the-lips kind of guy and I thought what a disservice the television did him as he was more attractive in person than anyone can ever imagine an actor viewed only through a screen could be.

Pause. I'm sorry to do this to you once more but I've got the dinner to cook and a poopy child to tend to. I will conclude this tomorrow hopefully. Again, until then.


Follow the progression

Yesterday's post reminded me of a bit of trivia that has always stayed in my head. Did you know that three great Pablos died in the same year? I'm speaking of Pablo Picasso, Pablo Neruda and Pablo Casals. Casals I mentioned previously because I was telling you that his recordings of the Bach Cello Concertos are at the top of my musical love list. Well, all three died in 1973 in the months of April, September and October respectively. See? Now you too know a bit of useless information that will probably stay with you the same way that this bit has stayed with me. The strangeness of the mind - we remember the least helpful stuff sometimes.

Thinking of Casals also reminded me of one of the most romantic stories I can ever relate having happened to me. Unfortunately, it didn't include my husband but that is neither here nor there. What makes it romantic is the interrupted and one-time aspect of the encounter I'm about to relate. Think of Andersen's fairytale the Little Mermaid. Would the story be as memorable if the Mermaid and the Prince had lived happily ever after? Of course not. That's what makes the tale poignant. She dies (gulp), he marries another. Not that my story is anything as long-winded and tragic as this at all.

Anyway, I'm getting off track here. What I wanted to tell you was that in 2000, a long time after I had left the choir I used to sing with, I found out that they were traveling to France to participate in the Nancy International Chorale Competition and they very kindly extended me an invitation to travel with them though, not as a singer because I hadn't trained with them for years but, more as a translator as I happen to get by in French. I was up for vacation at work and I thought it would be a great opportunity to catch up with my old singing mates so I accepted and found myself in Paris where they were to start their concerts before traveling on to Nancy.

Two of my good friends in the choir were the tall and good looking twins, Elsie and Esther. They'd never been to Paris before and being young and curious they wanted to take advantage of their free time to explore. I got roped into giving them a mini tour of what I knew, as I'd been to Paris a couple of times before with my family. After indulging in some wonderful crêpes in the Quartier Latin, we went for a walk and crossing the street, I see an extremely good-looking man about to cross from the other side. He was Robert Beltran. For all you non-Star Trek fans out there, Beltran played the first officer character Chakotay in Star Trek Voyager. I was and still am, a great Star Trek The Next Generation fan and later, became an equally great Voyager fan. Needless to say, I recognized him immediately and totally lost it.

As my two friends described it later, one minute I was next to them about to cross the street and then, I was accosting a man on the other side of it. I remember repeatedly pointing at him almost to his face and saying (as if he didn't know already) "you're Chakotay, you're Chakotay!" To his credit he was very calm about the whole experience of having a midget-sized woman (I'm short) jumping him excitedly and blocking his way.

He very clearly said to me, "Actually, my name is Robert Beltran" to which I replied that of course I knew that this was his real name, and that I had an uncle whose first name is Beltran (which is totally true, I swear, he's my mother's brother) and I also told him, though I should have stopped right there and then, that I used to have an advanced calculus professor whose last name was, of all things - Beltran! Professor Beltran! I'm sure he was just dying to know all that. I sounded addled but, in my defense, he was the addling type of handsome.

While I babbled and made an absolute cake of myself, I noticed that he had the nicest kind of crooked smile on his face and his gaze, conveyed the indulgence a well-known actor might show a rabid fan for no reason other than him being personally kind. He handled me with the aplomb that only having experienced encounters with people like me can possibly afford someone like him.

That is surely the only explanation for why he heard my incoherent rambling through and then politely replied how nice that must be for me as he took a hold of my elbow and pulled me onto the sidewalk next to him. Cars had been waiting to move on while I'd been talking.

Am I conveying to you how simply moronic I must have looked? There's no other way to describe it really. Silly, gauche, inarticulate. In plainer words, dumb, dumb, dumb. I'm probably blushing as I write for you what I remember of that moment. In an extremely short span of time, I went from being the poised woman I believed myself to be and morphed into some crazy stalker bothering someone famous on a Paris street no less!

By this time, my friends had crossed over and they had no idea who this man was. Having grown up in Latin America, they'd never watched a single Star Trek or Star Trek franchise episode in their lives and so, to prolong the awkwardness of this encounter I found myself introducing them to Mr. Beltran and explaining what he did for a living. Caught in between us, he played the graciously recognized actor, and asked us what we were doing in Paris addressing the question to all three of us. I bulldozed my friends and piped in that we were singing in Paris though, as you well know, I was doing nothing of the sort. At this, he looked a mite more interested and asked us what type of singing, to which I again replied for my friends and told him that our repertoire included madrigals, and music by Monteverdi and Scarlatti and so on and so forth.

In an attempt to assuage my later guilt at sidelining them, my friends told me that it was clear from the start that he was addressing his questions mostly to me and that they enjoyed their roles as spectators in our verbal tennis match too much, to take umbrage at my monopolization of the encounter.

So, Mr. Beltran said, we were there to sing were we? Well, he was himself a great lover of Medieval and Baroque music. At this point I felt compelled to clarify that I used to sing and at his somewhat crestfallen look I further explained that I loved music so much that this was the reason I found myself in Paris even though I wasn't going to be doing any singing. Looking at me (I remember this quite clearly) while generally addressing the question to the three of us, he then said that some friends of his had left him high and dry for a Classical music concert he was supposed to attend that very evening and would we be interested in joining him in their stead. What do you think I did?

Had I shown a little bit more enthusiasm, I would have ended up knocking the man to the ground. Of course I said YES! The twins mumbled something about how sick they were of all the music and how they'd rather explore some more so thank you very much, but they'd pass. At which point, Robert Beltran and I went on to exchange hotel names and he promised to call mine to tell me at what time he would pick me up for the concert that evening and we parted ways after my friends took the requisite photograph and he had signed an autograph for them.

When we started walking again, my friends peppered me with all kinds of questions and I was just in a stupor. Robert Beltran had asked ME out. My friends were really kind when they agreed that they could tell he had asked the question of joining him for the concert specifically for my benefit. And that their decision to forgo the experience was not in any way a loss for them as they'd be listening to more Classical music than anybody would care to in the upcoming weeks of their tour plus, they said, they had NO CLUE who he was so there was no excitement factor in it for them and that they couldn't be more pleased for me about my having accepted. Did I deserve such good friends?

Walking back to the hotel I started to have some misgivings about the whole thing. What if, I thought, the invitation was not as above board as it seemed. I had no intention of acting like a groupie if that is what was really behind the asking and I expressed my already growing concerns to my friends. Esther's answer to this was: "He likes Monteverdi, what kind of ax-murderer does?"

Now I know what you are thinking because I was thinking it too -- ah... Hannibal Lecter would. I had visions of Chianti served with dinner and a Monteverdi madrigal in the background let me tell you. But really, excitement at the prospect of going to a concert with Robert Beltran was foremost in my mind and I tried to temper that by admitting that the odds were that he had forgotten about me the moment he had turned around and, that there would be no call to our hotel to cement plans for the evening. The twins agreed gravely that this might be the case and concluded that I was probably right in thinking that he was just acting politely. Nevertheless, should he truly call they said, I just had to go through with it because I'd regret it otherwise, Hannibal Lecter or not. When we arrived at the hotel about an hour later there was already a message awaiting me.

Sorry to interrupt but my fingers are getting really tired plus I've been neglecting my son to write this much so, I will continue with this tomorrow but, before I go, I hope you join me in wishing Mr. Robert Beltran a Happy Birthday. While looking up the link for his name when I mentioned him above, the official Star Trek website mentioned that today, of ALL DAYS, was his actual birthday. Could anything be more coincidental and apropos? You see why I tell you that I believe in things like serendipity and destiny? I had no idea that I would write about this man, whom I once had the pleasure to meet, in my newly minted Blog on the day of his birthday but, there you have it. It was meant to be, like so many other things in my life have also.

Until tomorrow then.


A little bit about me

This entry is only because I finally wrote something in the About Me section of this blog but, I didn't have enough space to tell you as much as I wanted so, here is the extended version in no pre-meditated order.

This is what I watch:
I'm a two reality TV show junkie. The Bachelor (this last bachelor really is the best one so far) and The Amazing Race. They are my Sunday and Monday night fix. I am also a one cooking and travel show addict - Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations. His show is hilarious and irreverent and you learn so much in an off-hand way.
This is what I buy:
I adore and I do mean ADORE shoes. I suscribe to the belief that a well-made pair of shoes can make any outfit seem stylish and that good shoes are an essential part of a polished ensemble. I used to be a purse addict also but that was before the child. Ditto for clothes but, I draw the line on giving up the shoes. Nope. No way.
This is what I do when I am by myself or with just my son:
Sing. Though I don't sing as much as I used to anymore unfortunately. A long time ago I sang and traveled with a professional chorale group. It was quite an experience. Some of my best memories and learning occasions are tied to my singing. You know, if I could choose any singing voice in the world, I'd have a hard time choosing between having Federica Von Stade's and Cecilia Bartoli's voice. They are both glorious for different reasons.
This is what I like to play:
Rummykub, it is simply addictive. Haven't played in a while because my husband is a backgammon guy and I just don't get that game but, with Rummykub, I'm virtually unbeatable on a good day. Also, Tickle-wrestling and Hide and Seek with my son.
This is something I have a masters degree in and yet do not consider myself to be:
Photography. I am unfortunately not a good photographer in spite of the nice diploma.
In this, I am so much like my mother:
I love cooking and cookbooks. Lord, don't get me started on cookbooks- I'm a cookbook lady of the night.
What I love looking at:
Besides my son asleep, awake or in any other state, I like looking at art and graphics and design magazines and fashion. I love looking at flowers, colors, a well-appointed room, my husband's eyes crinkling in laughter, a happy face, a happy child, my mother lovingly looking upon my son, a beautifully served meal, an empty plate (especially if it was previously filled with something I cooked).
What I listen to:
Music of almost any kind except rap. I'm always playing something but, if I had only one thing to listen to, I would chose the Bach Cello Suites (the Pablo Casals recordings which my sister introduced me to so long ago). It gives me everything I need no matter what the mood.
Here are the people I love above all else:
My child, my husband, my parents, my sister, the rest of my family (blood related and not). I am who I am because of them.
What I strive for always:
A fair and open mind, a quiet spirit, to find the laughter and being kind.
Things I love to do:
1. Watch movies in the movie theater. DVDs are a poor substitute.
2. Inhale books. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read. I cannot envision life without books. My idea of the best gift ever is money to buy books. I still have somewhere in an old journal a cutout from a 1980's magazine that shows the library I've always wanted. I could live within just two rooms, a library and a kitchen. Cook and read. Heaven.
What I can't stand seeing or reading about whether in real life or movies:
Children getting hurt.
Here's what I like to read:
I have a true bias for biographies, histories and cookbooks (we've talked about this), romances (don't sneer, romances are... necessary). Get your hands on a book by Georgette Heyer or Mary Balogh and then tell me you don't agree. I love novels set in Britain during the Georgian or Regency period, I gobble up children's books (there is great art there) and anything in the fantasy and fairy tale genre. Oh! I was forgetting short stories. Big Maupassant and Balzac fan. Have I told you about the poetry? Can't write it but love to read it.
Who I would like to be a little bit more like:
1. Martha Stewart. I want her craft room and I want to be as organized as her.
2. Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes. So much wisdom, such childhood zeal.
What I'd give so much to understand:
What my son is thinking sometimes when he looks out at the world through those eyes of his. All my pennies for his thoughts.
What I cannot understand:
Someone hurting a child. Bigotry, racism. All fighting born of religious differences.
Things I believe in:
1. Six degrees of separation.
2. Destiny.
3. Being grateful for everything I have.
4. My son was meant to be born to my husband and I and not, to anyone else.
What I hope to see 20 years from now:
1. My marriage still going strong.
2. My parents still healthy and alive.
3. My son, a well adjusted individual.
4. A healthy planet.
5. A Breguet watch on my husband's wrist. Shallow and materialistic I know, but I have my reasons.
6. Myself, a famous cook and romance novelist.
7. To have known the last 20 years of my life to be quietly happy and singularly peaceful.


Please help

You know, I had no idea that choosing our family holiday cards this year was going to turn into such a dilemma for me. Last year I ordered late so the choice was basically out of my hands, it was either/or. This year I've been good though and now I'm being punished. I've remembered that I had to do the ordering by mid-november in order to get my cards by the second week of december which, is a perfect time to start mailing them out. Don't you think? The problem is that there are too many choices: folded, flat-card, letterpress, thermal print, with photo, without photo, lined envelope, non-lined envelope, you name it.

On top of that, this year, for some reason, I've found a proliferation of websites with just the nicest offerings ranging in prices from the reasonable to the outrageous and I just cannot make up my mind. If you knew me better you'd realize that this is sometimes a malaise I suffer from. For the most part I get through my choices fairly quickly but every once in a while, I get royally stuck.

I've been on the issue of which card to choose for three days now. It's a problem because time is of the essence. For every day I dilly dally, I get set back three days more on the delivery date. At this rate, you'll be getting your holiday card from me in January. My husband would say of course that this is a typical woman thing and men don't have these kinds of problems - quick! Think of an obnoxious male voice as your read this - I have real problems to think about honey, they all look the same to me (that is NOT what I am asking!!!) and you are just throwing money away if you ask me (was I asking him this people?), they'll all end up in the trash anyway (subtext: be a doll and don't bother me with this, will ya?).

Be that as it may, I - WANT - MY - HOLIDAY - CARDS. Could you please be nicer than my husband and help me choose? These are the three finalists:

I've placed a poll at the top right corner of this blog so you can give me your opinion.

Should you want to check out some stationary and holiday card websites yourself, here are some good places to go to:


Update: Thanks for voting. I've closed the poll and ended up choosing the red card with the oriental motifs. I appreciate your help and all the new great card website recommendations.


A dictionary for my child

I realized the old adage about only mothers being able to understand their children was completely true the day my husband started asking me for clarifications as to what our son was saying. In this household we speak three languages to our kid and he hears a fourth, which is the common language my husband and I use as well, from that Almighty God, the TV.

Needless to say, this stewing pot of accents and multilingualism has resulted in a tongue tourniquet for our poor child. Now in the toddler stage, he understands most of everything that is said to him but he still can't put whole sentences together in any of them. This is normal for children of multilingual households and though eventually he will sort everything out in his head, we find ourselves jumping hoops sometimes trying to figure out what he wants to tell us.

A few samples of what we've deciphered:

A da poopoo: Look! I made pupu.

A da pipi:
You guessed it.

wicca da the pan
: Here's the break down on this one - Wicca da (English for "where is") the (self-explanatory) pan (spanish for bread). My husband's gotten good on this one. He just catches the pan and he knows the kid wants bread.

Oh no! da Baba
: Oh no! Where's Baba? Baba is Farsi for daddy.

No key-a-day!
No key-a-day!: Basically he's trying to say "no quiere" in Spanish which means: I don't wanna. I ain't gonna and you can't make... well... I'll have you know that this is under total duress - you're mean!

Hapu look! mama! grour grour!
: Mama run! there's a hapu (Farsi for woof woof or dog") and I want to talk to him, run!

Pa-que, stop! no! now! Pa-que!! stop!!! car!!
: Okay, the park is next to our library so, whenever we go to the library he sees the park. Pa-que is Parque or the word in Spanish for park. This whole sentence means - Look! The park! I want to go now! Stop the car! Park! Park!

: He-li-cop-ter. The final "o" is just for good measure.

: He's trying to say autobus in Spanish otherwise known as bus in English.

: Respectively, the word moon in Spanish, Turkish and English. He says it in all three languages because we're blind and can't even see it though, in all fairness, it's a cloudy night and we aren't blessed with his super x-ray vision.

I'm sorry to say that he's outgrowing all this charming gibberish. Everyday he pronounces clearer and is starting to string more words together in one language. I feel kind of sad for that. I can't deny that I enjoy being the go-to-girl for what my son wants to say. I keep telling myself I should record him speaking for posterity's sake but it would make me cry to hear that little voice speaking sometime in the future. I'd rather remember the childish nonsensicalness of it up here, in my head.


The things I do

It's late afternoon and besides a Chinese noodle soup I made from scratch and a home that, on the surface, does not appear to be falling apart at the seams, I really don't have much of anything tangible to show for it. I've been in this place many times before. Almost every day in fact since I became a mommy.
Ask me around 7pm what I've done during the day and I will draw an initial blank 99% of the times even though, I've spent all of the hours prior to that since 6:00 am (and yes, I do wake up everyday at this time) running around.
Breakfast and lunch for my husband to go, ironing of clothes for the kiddie, make bed, pick up things, clean off furniture, plump cushions, fluff pillows, return items to their correct places, sort clothes for washing, fold dry clothes, wake and bathe my son, get him dressed and ready for school, fix his school lunch, write his name on diapers, drop him off at school, back in the car, start my errands: dry cleaners, bank, return books at the library, grocery shop. Then go home, unload, put groceries away, start dinner, leave something cooking, go pick up my son, take him to the park, wrestle him out of there, stop by the library, get more books which later have to be returned, come home and play with him, give him a bath, sit him in front of the TV so I can finish cooking. The husband arrives, showers quickly, we corral the kid, drag him to the table, we try to eat dinner together, try to get our son to eat, no luck, the kid's trying for his best impersonation of a fakir living on air. Defeated, I pick up the table, the husband washes the dishes, now for the evening potty-training torture, no luck, no pee, no poo, diaper on, pick up toys, play some more, pick up toys again, try the eating thing again, he's determined to exist on nothing, give up. Put kiddie to sleep, shutting of eyes, not to mention mouth, seems beyond him. It's 9pm or whereabouts, finally he's out cold. Now for the dreaded question - you know it - what did you do today? my husband asks.
Nothing much hon. A lot, as you well know. Same as yesterday. Wish there was something new to tell you.
How about you? I ask back. Same as yesterday, documents and reams of more documents, I'm so tired. Don't want to go to work tomorrow.
Well, that makes two of us. We watch a movie together. He resists going to sleep (just like his son), I'm barely keeping my eyes open as I finish this blog entry, my unplanned and terrible effort at emulating Tim O'Brien. To bed with me. The hubby is already there, a sleepy kiss goodnight. A sleepy I Love you from me, a drunken sounding I love you back from him. Lights out till 6:00am and repeat.