Leaping Thought Wednesdays

I've decided I quite like the exercise of letting my mind wander out loud. I got so many nice mails after I posted 40 bits and some confessions that from now on (until I get tired of it) I will try to do something similar every Wednesday. There's a thread linking one point to the next no matter if it is not (even to me) outwardly obvious.

Presenting then,

1. I dislike the fashion of wearing chipped nail polish. It gives me an impression of general body disarray (even though the rest of a person might look neat enough) that seems very trollop-like. Nail polish remover can be bought for as cheap as 99 cents a bottle. If you had money to buy the nail polish then you can certainly afford buying remover too. Unless you are going for the trollop-y look. In which case just ignore me. They're your hands after all.

2. My home is in tatters. After a couple of weeks of intense entertaining, I just have no energy for putting to rights the increasing mess my little boy makes by leaving trails of crumbs, toys and unidentifiable somethings everywhere. Tomorrow I will clean. Feel a bit like Scarlett saying that- no matter what the tone, she did not believe in that tomorrow either.

3. Earlier today I went out to our garden with my son to scatter breadcrumbs for the birds. This is the first time we've done this and I just could not resist his request to share his bread. Lord knows where he got the idea to feed the pallallitos (that's pajaritos) as he calls them but now that he's becoming more articulate, he often surprises me by saying things that demonstrate an inclination towards generosity. Not one to refuse him exercising such nobility of spirit, I hurried him outside and together we blanketed a large swath of grass with nearly half a loaf of bread. I cannot convey to you how lovely he looked throwing that bread everywhere his little hands could fling it to. Pa-lla-lli-to comer? (little bird eat?) Yes love, the little birds will eat. Unfortunately, the gluttony squirrels got to most of it first. The kid was beside himself with anxiety. Don't have a water gun, but I'm thinking I'm gonna go and get me one of those.

4. This morning while my son and I snuggled tightly together in bed, we heard an unseen plane cut through the airspace over our home. With serious eyes, my little boy looked at me and whispered abuelita. I knew what he was saying - mhhmm I replied, grandma is getting on a plane tomorrow and she will be leaving us to go back home. Abuelita he said again and resolving to do something in that little head of his, he next scampered down from my bed, went to her room, threw open the door and yelled at the top of his lungs - Abueliiiiiii-taaaaaa, waaaake uuuup! No time to lose it seems.

5. I just do not know what I'm going to do once my mother is gone again. I always feel like this after she goes back home. Abandoned, orphaned. I'll be in the suds for the next couple of days. Count on it. The husband has called me three times this morning. HE who can go by the whole day utterly lost in his work to the degree that unless I call him myself he also forgets ME, knows I'll need some hand-holding in the days to come. How sweet is that?

6. I still can't get over the music to the movie Once. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. The kinds of melodies that stick in your head in a nice way if you know what I mean. The kind that flow from your insides to your lips and next thing you know you're humming them because there's no way you cannot hum them. Totally different feeling from when some horrid tune just parks its sorry existence between your ears and nothing makes it go away.

7. John Edwards is dropping out of the race. Now why, for pity's sake, did people not see what a great candidate he was? I knew his campaign was totally gasping for air and everything in me that rouses for the underdog, grabbed for the oxygen tank. Too late. Elizabeth, I like your husband. John, I would have voted for you had I been a US citizen. Now to decide between Barack and Hillary. Who do I give my uncounted vote to?

8. I just was not meant to exercise. I've signed up for a gym and as I was putting my name on the dotted line on that 300 page corset-like contract, I knew how the story was going to end. My excuses for not going are flowing fast and furious. Galvanize me into action someone... please... I'm not getting any younger and this body of mine is starting to feel like a droopy object born of Salvador Dali's paintbrush.

Photo by M Domondon

9. I must go, I'm trying my hand at cooking a new chicken recipe for dinner this evening. Hopefully, everything will turn out alright but I have to get going or there will be nothing to sit down to. I'll try not to cry into my wine tonight nor crush my mother in my effort to squeeze her into me before she manages to leave tomorrow. I've always loved my mother but until I had my son, I'd never appreciated her as she truly deserved. Safe trip home mami. The grandchild and I will miss you more than anything.


A crossroad, a meme and a post in between

Photo by paulmoseleyphotos

While attending the university, I was once asked to join a faculty represented panel in order to help choose a candidate for a tenured position. Five well regarded applicants were vying for the post and the already tenured professors wanted my opinion on which one could better engage a student's interest. I did not need to be told twice what my purpose there was. I'd been brought in to point out the kind of teacher who could make me sit up and pay attention while he shared his expertise for my benefit. That is why my enthusiastic vote went to the guy that said this during his mock lecture - I want you to leave my class everyday having relearned for the better what you think you already know. I want you to leave me everyday with something new in your pocket of information.

As you can see, I still remember quite clearly what he said, especially those ending words - my pocket of information. Visually, it made sense to think of my stored accumulation of learning as a pocket from which I could pull out something that would be useful to me or that I could apply somewhere. Intellectually, the idea of viewing from a different angle what I thought I knew, was exactly what I wanted from my schooling because, to this day, I view most new knowledge that I bring into the fold of my existing one as an extension of what was already there. I had the building blocks to most everything I have learned in life by the time I left high school. The rest then, has just been a polishing of those same blocks. An upwards, sometimes downwards, more often than not lateral reinterpretation of my knowns. All this to say that I love- belay that- I really adore learning. It makes me feel good to go to bed at night with some new little treasure in my pocket, something relearned for the better as that teacher, who eventually won the position, said so long ago.

This has probably happened to you - you learn the meaning to a new word that suddenly, and only after you've discovered it, appears to crop up everywhere. Well, chances are that the word was always there. You, just started paying attention to it once its meaning became clear. Do you find this to be true?

Here's one new word I learned a couple of days ago: The meaning of meme. Before you groan as many of you seem to do when faced with the possibility of having to continue one, I want you to know that I personally believe (now that I've understood what it stands for) that memes have gotten a bad rap. Its very popularity has been detrimental to its purpose and made it a sort of pariah amongst some of you who now tend to view memes with disdain. I can tell you what I discovered after I sheepishly had to ask my new friend Melissa at Melissa the Mouth to explain to me what exactly I was supposed to do after she tagged me for a "no-pressure" (her words) meme.

Indeed, the answer to my question came partly via Melissa who explained how a meme propagates itself from blogger to blogger through a chain of questions which are answered and then passed on, or tagged to, someone else. When her reply came, I began to understand the subtext behind her 'no-pressure' comment. It turns out I'd been reading about but not really processing the underlying backlash against memes within the blogosphere. I also remembered that a few days prior I'd read a simply superb post by that guru of blogging, Brian Clark. Mister Copyblogger himself, spent the better part of one of the best blog posts it has ever been my pleasure to read explaining, how looking for an intersection or crossroads of ideas can help us to tap into a wellspring of creativity that can lead to exceptional content in our writing. If you want to better understand what I'm talking about check out The Content Crossroads: Supernatural Success at the Intersection of Ideas. But I'm deviating from my true purpose here which is to tell you, what I learned about the origin of memes from this section of his post.

An Example Every Blogger Understands

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. In 1976 he wrote a book titled The Selfish Gene that moved his field of expertise sharply ahead, thanks to his assertion that evolution occurred at a purely genetic level, irrespective of species and organisms.

In the midst of making his point, he went off on a tangent, and that tangent is what he’s most well known for. Essentially, Dawkins equated the way genes propagate throughout the gene pool—jumping from organism to organism through reproduction—to the way ideas spread from brain to brain.

In short, Dawkins coined a term that demonstrates the natural selection process for ideas.

He called an idea that spreads from brain to brain a meme. You may have heard of those.

Dawkin’s insight about the way ideas spread sprang from the intersection of genetics, social psychology, and cognitive science. The meme of the “meme” has hugely influenced marketers, historians, sociologists and bloggers, and it helped Malcolm Gladwell reach his Tipping Point.

, you see? Now you know not only know what a meme is, but who coined the term, how it came about and what the practical applications of such a concept have given the world. Don't you like memes better now?

I hope you do, because next up is my response to the meme for which Melissa the mouth tagged Lulu Fabulous, Erin, Robyn from the Mommy Esquire Diaries and myself. This will be my first, though perhaps not the only meme I will be asked to participate in. You can skip to my conclusion if you are not interested in all the fabulous bits of information that I'm about to impart here.

How long have you been blogging?

I had the guts to put up my first post on October 17th, 2007. That makes 3 months and 11 days since I've been blogging and in this respect I am much like a mother with her new baby. It took me almost a whole year to reply in months rather than numbered days whenever somebody would ask me how long it had been since my son had arrived on this earth. Blogging inspires the same mindset.

What inspired you to start your blog, and who are your mentors?

I actually read a news piece about the mother of six children who had auctioned off a dirty and used baseball on ebay. She managed this feat by attaching a supremely funny story explaining why she wanted to get rid of it. 220,000 unique visitors later having read her anecdote and $1125 richer after someone actually bought the used baseball, she was asked to write a book but instead, decided to blog.

I'll confess that initially I had visions of an equally witty and smashing success for myself as this lady had even though, I had no used baseball to sell. But that vision has changed. More on this later.

My mentors - hmmm... I suppose I could go the established route and list teachers or people I've met who have meant something to me in terms of inspiring personal growth but, I'll be somewhat unconventional and say that books are my mentors. I've learned more through books and reading than any two people combined have been able to teach me. I therefore thank for mentoring me the biographies, histories, cookbooks, poems, fictions, romances, fantasies, mysteries and all the other lovely genres I've left out only for the sake of word economy. They have furthered me to points beyond those which the people who have had a hand in shaping me, ever imagined I could be furthered.

Are you trying to make money on-line, or are you just doing it for fun?

Both. Though the fun part of this endeavor holds a stronger appeal than the money making. I subscribe to the mindset that when you are enjoying what you do, the money is almost certain to follow. That being said, if it shouldn't, I am also OK with this outcome. For the moment, what is important to me is this unfurling of my thoughts that I'm engaging in. It takes effort to sound moderately coherent. I am getting more pleasure than I thought possible from forcing myself to be rational, sequential and articulate. Blogging is also helping me in ways too numerous (or too private) to explain here. Further, I would like you to know that discovering all of you out there has fed something in me I didn't know needed the nourishment. Thank you for that.

What 3 things do you love about being on-line?

My absolute #1 is discovery. The internet for me has been like an outwardly aimed funnel through which I explore uncountable worlds. Being on-line is like walking through the door of infinity. Door after door after door opened via the key of my laptop. How incredible this is for me. Blogging has only added positively to this on-going exploration.

#2 - Can I say shopping? There's no dressing and no going out (I'm Latin American and we do not leave the house unless we are gussied up). Some days, I just do not wish to get all gussied up. There is also a symphony of offerings to recommend it, an anonymous selection of products (meaning you have no salespeople hanging over your shoulder) and best of all, you get instant service (when you are ready to purchase, all you do is check out).

#3 - A sense of community.
Like me, there are other stay-at-home mothers with children, people seeking to express the world of parenthood, learn from it, understand what it's about and humbly share the inspiring and the not so inspiring. I am enjoying the still untapped benefits of joining this unique club, of carving out my own little niche within it. I almost forgot to say that I love visiting your spaces and feel flattered that you visit mine. This last part is truly gratifying.

What 3 things do you struggle with on-line?

- Like Robyn who was tagged before me, I too struggle with knowing when to stop editing what I write. You didn't know this but I rewrite published posts continually. Not major stuff, just little things. I like the tweaking.

- Finding the time to be on-line without having it interfere with the more immediate and physical requirements that my days demand. Namely, the care and raising of my child or the sharing of couple time with my husband.

- Last but most important, resisting the impulse to remain awake long after I should be in bed. I'm getting better at this, but it has been a bit of a struggle. The computer screen is seductive. My keyboard keys do beckon. The on-line world really sings to me like a siren. It is therefore easy to lose track of the time I spend surfing when I find the time for it which, is mostly at night after everyone has gone to bed. My mother has been putting the fear of wrinkles into me. Lack of sleep, makes for wrinkles deep. If you didn't know that one before, now you do.

So, you could say I've taken a roundabout and longish way to get to this point but I think I've accomplished my goal of presenting Brian's crossroads, answering a meme and squishing a blog post in between. If you've stuck with me and found it interesting so far, I thank you for that and pay tribute to Copyblogger for teaching me about the circular nature of creative thinking. All that is left to do now is continue the cycle. I tag Amy of You are a fly on my wall, Manda at Shamelessly Sassy, Victoria from Teachings of the Horse, and Zoloft mom. Like Melissa said to me, this is a no-pressure meme. Do not feel compelled to send it further on its way. All I wanted was for you, whom I have tagged, to know that I chose the four of you because lately, your blogs have been my therapy. I'm listening, learning and digesting. You add a little something to my pocket of information everyday and I would like to learn more about you even if these are not the questions I would have originally chosen to ask. To Zoloft mom in particular - I've only lurked at your site but you completely crack me up. I am working myself up to comment.

Have a lovely evening everyone and I'll see you at my next post.


A matter of importance

Day before yesterday, my son put those little hands of his on my cheek as I was writing a post. When he decided to take matters in hand so to speak, I had been futilely working for a while at getting some thoughts into this screen because I'd promised myself and you, that I would post every fourth day. First, he mashed our two noses together to the point where our eyeballs nearly touched and then, satisfied that he had my undivided attention, he spoke to me.

Mami, rrrmm rmmm, ca-rro, a-mión, chu-chu, ven? This is what I heard. My son's pidgin shorthand for come play with me. Ca-rro (car), a-mión (a mispronounced avión - airplane), chu-chu (train), ven (Come? Won't you play with me?). That is what I understood. I can tell you that he put a universe of longing into that ven.

I'll admit that for an instant, my impulse was to pass him off to my mother (who is here visiting) so that I could get back to the post. He wanted someone to play with - did it necessarily have to be me? Instead, when I saw the make or break look in his eyes, that microcosm of toddler comprehension, I realized that for other reasons, I had already done the same enough times in the last few days that by now, he knew what was coming. It cut me, that knowledge in his eyes.

So I changed my mind. With no regrets for the thoughts left unformed and unwritten, I answered: Sí, vamos, rrrmm rrmmm, carro, avión, tren! He heard and smiled. Forgiven I was, though with words he did not say so. Hand in hand, we left the kitchen for his bedroom full of toys and we played and played.

This is the reason I've left you for more days than I 'd promised. I thought you'd understand once I told you why.


Educating the palate

Photograph use by permission of Karen Walrond at Chookooloonks.com

Do me a favor, think back to the first time you experienced the superlative (as measures go) of something about whose quality until then, you'd never cared much about. For instance, you tasted a really good cup of coffee instead of that mud colored swill someone sold you as java or, you put on an item of clothing that was so well-made it fit you not only properly but comfortably. Though so far I've only mentioned two materially acquired things as examples, my question also applies to the immaterial acquisitions of life. How about the first time you listened to the kind of music that swept you away on an avalanche of emotion too impossible to describe? Or, how about the sensation you get when you go places you'd never thought you could get to, by following the road map someone has given you through their words on page?

You know, too often we tend to stagnate and we forget what it is to replenish the reservoirs we draw upon to survive our days, with the really . good . stuff.
I'm talking about the object, the understanding or the action we should stretch out to because, we've already covered the ground behind us and something new and foreign is what we really need to be moving towards. That experience is out there, waiting for us to chuck out our tried knowns, our comfortable truths.

Why we forget to explore in these new directions can be explained by one or both of the following: 1. You don't realize you haven't changed for a while
2. You over-estimate the effort it would take for you to change something about yourself or how you live your day to day. Either scenario is understandable. We are creatures wedded to our routines. Established ways do make life easier by absolving us from the responsibility we have to explore. Unfortunately, they also impede inner wisdom, and disguise the
full stop
we seem to have come to in the quest to further educate the palate of our existence. Why is it important that we not allow this to happen? In a nutshell, we have only the one life to live and it behooves us to improve its quality anyway we can.

How do we change course? We do that not only by making those major decisions we sometimes initiate ourselves though more often than not we are forced into, but also by acting upon the smaller epiphanies we regularly ignore. It can start with a good cup of coffee, some music that transports you, a phenomenal book you've read. You do not need to leave your home or everything you know to change yourself for the better. All you need do, is to not forget how curiosity propels us forward. How deserving we are of our self-betterment. We've got only this one life and days pass us by with nothing learned in them. Are you going to let it continue this way?


The thread of my yesterdays

The act of hoarding is one of my signature traits. I am one of those people who squirrels away bits and pieces for no reason other than a guiding impulse to preserve something of a day gone by. For me, the storing of the inconsequential, what others might deem a throw-away item, feels like a rescue mission. By my actions I reclaim the essence of something I would not remember or otherwise relive.

This afternoon, I brought out a box - a memory box.
This is one of many I've assembled over the years and, I also took out a journal - one in which I would sometimes paste things into. Inside both there were treasures galore. I thought I'd share a few with you if you like.

First up is an incontrovertible bit of piggish logic which amu
sed me enough when I first saw it that I cut it out and kept it tacked to my office cork board for years.

What do you think? Is she or is she not 150% correct?


Next, is a photograph of my mother at nineteen years of age. Two years after this picture was taken, she and my father would see me born. How young she was when she had me!

The photo belo
w hers shows me. I was one year old in this one. My mother told me that the little pink overall had stripes (though you can't really tell by looking at the photo) and that she loved tying a ribbon around that little tuft of hair you see at the top of my head. Should I ever have a girl child, I am quite sure I will do the same to her. A little ribbon for a small tuft of hair.


Next item in line is the only photo I have of a baby I carried who was never to be born. I know the son I now have would not exist if I had carried this baby to term but, logic has still not carved itself a place into the memory of my loss. This was my 10 millimeter baby.


When I used to live in DC, I was an avid reader of the Washington Post. One of my favorite columnists in that paper was Caroline Hax. I read her not only because I consistently agreed with her sensible answers to the often tough questio
ns she was asked but also, because I admired her for the burden of responsibility she took by counseling others. Advice given is often a double edged sword. Words meant with the best of intentions can sometimes bring about unexpected consequences. The poor girl featured in this particular column attempted to follow some counsel previously given by Carolyn (whether that advice was specifically meant for her is not clear) and it backfired quite horribly on her. This is Carolyn Hax's response. I underlined the sections that I personally recognize as truths about and essentials for a successful relationship - a partner that has your back, who treats you with kindness, loves both your graces and faults and, supports you when or how you need it most. No one should settle for anything less when seeking a companion for life. If this cutout reminds you of how things should be, then I am glad I've kept it all these years. Without further ado, Carolyn Hax... (click to enlarge)


My sister-in-law has been planning her upcoming wedding celebration. By observing her go through her process, I have had the opportunity to revisit what I remember of mine which is unfortunately, quite little. The memory of the time and planning that led up to the actual marriage, I have mostly re-constructed through the mementos I had the presence of mind to keep, from the photographs that were taken plus the kind remembrances of those who shared the moment with my husband and I. I'm happy for example that I k
ept this menu of the meal for the wedding party because, though I put much effort in its selection I couldn't, to save my life, tell you what we ate. In fact, I tasted not a single morsel that whole evening. My husband and I spent our entire time circulating amongst the guests while a lifetime's worth of photos were being taken. Too bad, because on paper it looks as if it was delicious. Wish I had it all on a plate in front of me right now. I've told my sister-in-law that what most people will remember is a good party, any touching moments and bad food of course, everyone remembers if the food was bad. What do you remember most about your own wedding? The food, the music, the vows, the dancing?


Lastly, I'll leave you with the translation of one of the many letters I've written to my son since he was born. It comes from a journal I filled up more quickly than I imagined I could. My friend Michelle sent it to me as a gift after his birth with a note urging me to write letters to him for when he was grown. Nothing special in this entry, just some little thoughts on a day long gone. If it strikes you as overly sappy, keep in mind that this was originally written in Spanish. Few languages lend themselves to sappiness as my maternal one does.

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

My little boy:
You are fast asleep in your rocker. You look like an angel. Who would believe that until 20 minutes ago you were crying as if there was not another soul besides you in this world. What a temper tantrum you had. Your father placed you on some cushions in an effort to calm you but you kicked and screamed so much we were afraid you would choke so I took you into my arms and held you for a little before settling you into the rocker. That seemed to please you better.

You are so small love but you've got the temper of a man full grown. In our private moments, your father and I joke over whose disposition you've inherited, his or mine? I have to confess that I think you get this penchant for losing it from me. Even so, I know that your sweetness and your propensity for laughter, that these traits, you also get from me.

I have only to make eyes at you or a funny noise and you immediately start to chortle love. Tickling you brings about the most delicious sounding gurgles. The little ant that went up your tummy has become your favorite game. I walk with my fingers up your rounded belly...

There was a little ant

she went searching for her camp
she walked here
she walked there
and she tickles everywhere

I can tell by your face that you are learning to anticipate the ant and her efforts to find her place.You also love the song. Really, there is very little I have to do to keep you amused my baby. That's because those eyes of yours look out to the world with rose colored glasses. May you remain like that for as long as your growing up can be delayed. What a delight you are my R___ jan jan. I love you with everything in me. You are the most important piece of my heart.

Tu Mami que te quiere.


This post in 40 bits and some confessions

Yesterday I was reading a post titled 82 things at Shamelessly Sassy and I liked it so much I that I asked its author if she minded me stealing her idea. She replied that I was free to steal away! Here it goes...

Now you are in for it. This will be real proof as to why this blog is called The Leaping Thought...

1. I think Swedes are the most handsome looking people on the planet. How is it possible that they ended up with the choicest bit of the beauty pie?

2. Once I overflew the beautiful countryside of Shannon, Ireland. Up in my plane I felt such a connection to that impossibly green land that I wondered how I'd not been born Irish. That's why I was so disappointed when a friend told me its landscape is as boring as only boring can be. Her words went something along the line of: Driving by, you find the first castle turned pile of rocks, green pastures and herd of sheep, utterly divine. The second is of course picturesque but the divineness factor has tarnished somewhat... by the time you pass a third and fourth rubble pit or, the fifth and sixth herd of sheep, you start to wish them all to perdition and wonder why it has taken so long for time to turn the first to dust and obliterate the nuisance of the other. Well, I just will not believe a word of it. How could you could possibly get bored of such beauty? I will ignore what she said. Someday, I'll drive there myself and no longer wonder if her opinion could somehow, overrule that first feeling in my heart.

Photo by worak

3. Green is my favorite color. 7 my favorite number. My second favorite color is turquoise.

4. My entry hallway is painted turquoise. I had it painted while my husband was away so that he would not have the opportunity to object to the color choice. It didn't work. He had me take it off and chose a blood red in its stead. The new hue looked so awful that we went back to the original turquoise. I personally think the hallway looks like a little jewel box though my husband still asserts that only the interior of a pool should be painted this color.

5. Once, on a train trip headed towards Paris, I was so tired that I fell asleep with my head supported by a handsome stranger's shoulders. When I woke several hours later I was simply mortified. He saw my embarrassment and told me that he had enjoyed pillowing my head on his shoulder because my hair smelled very good. I still remember that compliment with pleasure.

6. Four of my oldest and dearest friends, the kind that have changed me for the better and always remain in my thoughts, have the same name. Abella, del Castillo, Santillana, hermana - you guys know what it is.

7. I hated my childhood nickname. Mili sounds like a name one calls a dachshund, an old maid or the last girl to be picked for the team. Today, though a few select people have extended rights to still address me as Mili, Mile (pronounced Me-lay) is the nickname by which I am referred to the most. It suits me better.

8. My mother's name means gift from the Gods in Greek. She absolutely lives up to its meaning.

9. If I were to wish it, I can recall exactly the scent of sun warmed sand at Coronado beach.

10. I once splurged on an exorbitantly expensive pair of Christian Lacroix shoes. Though they were not intended for this purpose, I used them to complete my marriage outfit. They looked the worse for wear after the shindig but I still think they are the most beautiful pair of shoes that I have ever owned.

11. When my husband gave me my engagement ring, I was so in love with how it looked on my finger that I couldn't take my eyes off of it. So a few days after I received it, I nearly got into the type of accident that could have ended everything because I'd been too busy observing the stone and not the road. What an idiotic way to go that would have been. Death by admiration.

12. When people ask me why my Spanish sounds like I'm from Spain and not from Panama, my standard explanation is that I worked amongst Spaniards for many years and lived too long outside of my own country which is why my accent is not all it should be. The truth of the matter is that years ago I deliberately adopted some of the rhythms and inflections that make Spanish from Spain sound like Spanish from Spain and since then, they've became so much a part of me that now I can't remember sounding like anything else.

13. A couple of years back I used to do voice-over and narration work and my voice could be heard in public service announcements and commercials that aired all over Latin America. It was the accent that kept getting me hired.

14. I married in Spain. Sevilla to be exact. You should wonder how a Persian and a Panamanian ended up tying the knot there. It was an adventure let me tell you.

15. No, David! by David Shannon has become my son's favorite bedtime book. I smile at every turn of the page after David has of course done the unthinkably bad because, my boy calls it out in the cutest voice. It sounds like this: Nooooo Bay-bid! Nooooo!

16. I believe everything that has ever been said about the collective momentum engendered by people's feelings while in a crowd. I've lived it. When General Manuel Antonio Noriega had taken refuge at the Vatican Embassy in Panama, I was one in a group of thousands of protesters standing outside almost ready to storm the place. That's when I learned how possible it was to override my otherwise peaceable instincts. I've never forgotten what that lesson gave me.

17. I read everywhere and all the time: While I blow dry my hair with a hairpin holding the pages of my book open, as I enjoy my morning coffee, in the WC - aware that it is the most perfect place in terms of preventing interruptions or, standing in the supermarket line. I used to read while I walked on sidewalks but I had to end this particular practice after walking into a STOP sign post for the second time.

18. I met and befriended my in-laws before I ever met their son, now my husband.

19. I actually punched the nose of a boy who was in my first grade class because he had dared to kiss my best friend Suzy on the lips and she told me she hadn't liked it. He waited that afternoon and told my mother what I had done when she went to pick me up. I was grounded on the basis that well-mannered young ladies never ever resort to any type of physical violence. I should have whacked him harder. Little tattle-tale.

20. The most perfectly wonderful afternoon I ever spent by myself was on a trip to Stockholm. At an outdoor cafe in the main square of Gamla Stan, I ate a blueberry and frangipane tart swallowed down with a bowl (mind you it is served in small bowls, not cups) of piping hot chocolate. Heaven on earth that afternoon was.

Photo by lyng883

21. I've always secretly agreed with my aunt Lia who said that there was no way that anybody could have risked getting thrown out of the Garden of Eden for a measly apple. It had to have been a luscious mango what they took from that tree.

22. I love that word. Luscious. I insert it whenever, wherever I can.

23. Though Catholic by birth, I can say the Shabbat prayer in perfect Hebrew. My Jewish friends have always gotten a kick out of this.

24. My husband is a very liberal Muslim. Wish there were more like him.

25. What makes your religion so much better than mine that we must fight over their differences? I've always wondered why this question and its consequences must even exist.

26. I have the gift of making my son giggle and my husband laugh and smile. Rubies beyond price...

27. I've become somewhat obsessed by my blogging proclivities. Am currently taking drastic measures to curb the unnatural impulse to forgo sleep for blog surfing and post writing. Every fourth day, this is how I will post. Every second night, that is when I will stay up one hour later doing my blogging thing.

28. I was sorting through a bag of some old baby clothes of my son for donation purposes yesterday. Was he ever that little? Honestly, they look like they belong on a doll. So cute, even with the stains. I put most of them in the give away pile but a few I just had to hold back. It would kill me to let them go.

29. Certain smells seduce me but I will not tell you what they are. The appeal of seduction lies in its mystery. Remember that.

30. I wonder often about those of you who read me. Are you out there, anyone?

31. I repeat this phrase to myself at least once a day if not more - slowly for I must make haste. Napoleon supposedly said this. It came into my head via my father who loved repeating the saying to me. That's because I always hurry so much at what I am doing that my thumbs and legs and arms get tangled up from trying to do everything at the same time.

32. In that innermost, most private little place of my heart, I think I am superwoman. Can you hear the roar?

32. I don't know how to ride a bicycle. The few times I roller-skated my knees went skinless. The one time I tried a skateboard I smashed head first into a tree. I barely know how to drive. Wheels are not my thing.

33. Some years ago, a thief punched a hole into my rear car window and stole what he managed to grab. My gym bag. I took that as a sign from God. Never visited the gym again.

34. Finding new music I like gives me great joy. My sister and I have this sort of competitive little thing that flares up every once in a while - oh! you've never heard so and so sing... well that song is great... he-he I found him fiiiirst...

35. The best live concert I ever heard in my life transcends the barriers of genre, age and style of music. It was Ben Harper at Constitution Hall in Washington DC. That man and his music were on fire that night. My subsequent hearing loss from maxed out decibel levels was so totally worth it. Photo by Zach Klein

36. I can forgive. I find it so much harder to forget. How un-christian of me.

37. One time, I called the firemen to come to the retirement home down the street because I thought the building was burning. The smoke turned out to be the heater exhaust pumping air into cooler outside temperatures. No fire. Just little itty bitty dumb me. I nearly got fined.

38. I'm very fanciful. I've told you that. I can invent a whole life story for a stranger just walking past. I've always found it great fun to do that.

39. I love watching people. Best theatre in life.

40. I'm tired. The bits and confessions will have to stop here. Goodnight.


Gray in the afternoon

I've got two beautiful little Cornish game hens cooking in the oven. My kid, he's watching a Tom and Jerry movie. My husband, he's asleep catching up on the rest he normally doesn't get during the week because, he insists on staying up after a long day at work. The sleep deprivation, that's his self-sabotaging effort to squeeze out a moment that he can enjoy by himself.

I'm here writing to you, feeling kind of mellow. I just put into the blog the code for the music that describes how I feel today and all I want to do is play it over and over because the sky over my home is gray and Jehro's voice, well, it's just the perfect companion for a day like this.

From my window, the crowns of trees are swaying in silent undulations, dancing to the music of gray skies. A small squirrel newly startled, resumes his munching - there he goes, up into the tree. One tiny bit of gray lost into the grayness of another.

Years ago, Federico Cabrera, may he rest in peace, showed me a photograph he had taken of a lonely looking man sitting on a park bench. He had captured solitude, aloneness, separation. I never forgot it. That photograph he titled Gray in the Afternoon. Now you know where the title comes from. I feel somewhat like that today. My kitchen - a little island. My husband, my child - tenuous moorings for the thoughts floating in my head. Sometimes I enjoy moments like this, the perfect nothing of a nothing kind of afternoon.


The village of my heart

Both my husband and I come from extremely tight-knit families. Our immediate relatives are our parents, still together after 47 and 39 years of marriage respectively and our siblings (we have one apiece). To this nuclear group, we add an extended array of familial relations - aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins, grandparents etc.

Were this amount of relatives not enough already for most modern families, my own particular branches of the proverbial family tree are swelled further in numbers by the varied troupe of friends which my parents, sister and I, have had the good fortune to incorporate over the years. Many have become as dear to us as our relations connected by blood.

When Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's book "It Takes a Village" came out more than a decade ago, I never managed to read it but I remember thinking how amazingly clear the concept behind her title seemed. I understood the village part more than well. The woman who sits here before you writing this post is like a still in progress puzzle which is built of impossibly little pieces put together by events, by strangers, by actions but most importantly, by family and friends.

I am a product of my village and to continue the cycle, my village, itself a product, is something I continue to shape as it shapes me. Never did this obvious truth stand out so blindingly as when my son came into this world.

Few events can disengage us from the vanity of our self-love as having a child can. Few events can jerk us out of the selfishness of the me, as bringing a baby into life. All of a sudden, you care more for what is in the sphere of your existence because you know the power it has to equally affect your child.

In the last few weeks, because of the holidays, my husband, my son and I, have had the enormous good fortune to be inundated by visitors. Two sets of grandparents, plus an aunt and an uncle to my son have left their mark in more ways than my eyes and ears have been able to record. They have given of themselves to my little boy as only loving relatives can, and like a flower, truly, he has bloomed. While I rejoice in witnessing his burgeoning awareness to relationships other than that which he shares with his father and myself, my heart breaks for the interruption this invaluable experience will suffer at their eventual departure.

I consider my son's awakening to the loving family unit one of more important foundations that we, his parents, can provide him with in life and, for that reason I feel keenly how our geographical separation from our families impoverishes his existence. We are introducing him to the same family that forged us into who we are but I know that he will never experience that life-shaping link to the degree that we ourselves enjoyed.

Because of my son, I value my family more deeply than I thought myself capable of. Because of him, I honor my village and guard it so zealously now that some of its most important elements are not within immediate reach. In my moments of deep introspection - you could call it prayer - I thank everything under the stars for all I have even as I find myself wishing for more, not for me, but for him, my little boy who deserves all I can give, all that we can give to him. The very best village life can build. I wish that with my whole heart this New Year's day not only for my son, but for every child that comes into this world.

For an audio version of this post click here.