Archive for May, 2010
A popular film has caused many to consider their “bucket lists” asking themselves what they’d like to do before they die.
If you should consider and construct such a list, cross fingers you’ll live long enough to cross everything off it. With luck, when you cross over to the other side, you’ll have done everything you’d hoped.
My list isn’t very long, but no matter how long I’m around, there will be one thing I’ll wish I’d experienced. I will die regretting I never served in this country’s armed forces. I will die without knowing what it’s like to be tested by extreme physical challenges, long deployments or the breath-stopping fear of enemy fire. I will always wonder if Uncle Sam could have succeeded in turning me into someone like the fine individuals who serves our country.
Then again, if I had been a G.I. Jane, I might not live long enough to make a “bucket list”.
WWI, WWII, Korea, VietNam, Afghanistan, members of my extended family served. Now, another generation of military men & women have come of age. I have an uncomfortable understanding of what that means, but even without my family’s military tradition, my city keeps me ever-mindful of military sacrifice.
Routinely, I watch neighbors & friends leaving loved ones and sacrificing the comfort of their homes as they go off on long deployments. Those left behind pray that the time will pass quickly and that their parent, spouse, or child will return safe and well. Our troops do more than march, they surrender their autonomy & freedom to preserve ours. Their willingness to sacrifice, to serve, and to risk humbles me. That is why as I ponder Memorial Day, my head and heart are full of gratitude and admiration.
Memorial Day has traditionally been a day to remember the dead–as we all should, but what good are flowers to those who can’t smell them or wreaths to those who can’t see them? Laurels are for the living.
Remember the dead. Pay homage to what they’ve given and what their families have lost–but also consider the men and women who leave the people they love, to serve people they don‘t know. Remember the dead, but don’t forget the living–the families who give up sisters, brothers, mothers & fathers to preserve your family‘s safety and liberty.
May the benevolent God watch over every member of our armed forces at home or abroad. May he care for their families and preserve our country.
Because I am forever a girl, Memorial Day is special to me. When I was little, it was the day after which it became acceptable for women to wear white clothes & shoes–only one of many freedoms it brought. Days spent playing in the sprinklers, late afternoon-air filled with the smell of meat cooked over charcoal and late evenings best spent out doors–summer has never been finer. The unofficial start of the summer vacation season, with longer days and warmer temperatures, is as exhilarating to me now, as it was when summer was three months of freedom.
Memorial Day will never feel the same to my children–because they’ve always attended year-round schools. They’ve never known long lazy summers like the ones I used to enjoy. Neither will they experience the melancholy which afflicts me after Labor Day, when the summer season winds down until the next year.
It’s been ages since I was a schoolgirl, looking forward to those seemingly endless summers, but the carefree innocence of those days is one of many things lost. Days in the town square with trips to the candy store for a Sno-Cone and evenings eating ice cream while watching softball games are among many youthful pleasures long gone, but fondly remembered.
Memorial Day is a good time to remember. While most holidays celebrate good things, Memorial Day is about sad things–remembering things lost.
This year, I’ll spend Memorial Day in the old hometown with family & friends. My brother and I will take time to go visit the graves of family members we’ve lost. I’ll spend time with my crew of cousins–the Brown-eyed Girls. I’ll take time to enjoy a long slow cigar with one of my oldest girlfriends.
I’m not a cigar smoker, but I make an exception for her. The night my father was buried, we watched the sunset over his grave and smoked a cigar. The talk and the closeness to one with whom it’s too late to be guarded, shored up my spirit as I did my best to reconcile my father’s body in the ground and the loss of his presence in my life.
Now, the cigar is symbolic of how long we’ve been friends, because that same girlfriend is one with whom, I whiled away many days of those summer vacations of years gone-by. Our days were filled with dolls, forts, first boyfriends–eventually husbands replaced boyfriends, children replaced dolls and houses replaced tree-forts. I can think of no better way to begin summer than remembering and celebrating an enduring friendship.
Life and the things we look forward to are over too soon. Things like childhood, graduations, weddings, holidays and life come and go too quickly. Once the graduations and June weddings begin, the pace of summer will be too fast for a kid like me. That’s why this weekend I’ll take it easy. As I enjoy the company of some of my favorite people, I’ll be remembering how long summer used to be.
Deb’s Note: Lest the significance of Memorial Day is diminished by my nostalgic sentiments, Wednesday’s blog addresses what the holiday is really about.
I’ve always wondered about that. Most of us don’t look anything like our mind’s image of “God”, and if He looks anything like me, I’d have trouble taking him seriously. Then again, I don’t look much like my father, but to anyone who knew him, it is apparent I have many of his traits. That’s how I interpret the “in his image” thing. I believe most people have some traits in common with The Divine. For instance, we create.
Most people have some kind of creative outlet they enjoy. There are plenty of crafty little hobbies like quilting, fly-tying, model railroading, scrap booking or whatever. That’s creative, but it’s small-scale creation, using stuff to make other stuff.
The kind of creating I’m thinking about is the large-scale–the kind that is ex nihilo. That‘s the term the Bible uses to describe how God created the earth. Ex nihilo means out of nuthin’. Music, literature and art are created out of nothing. That’s profound.
I was thinking about this recently, because a special friend gave me my very first iPod. ( I’m always the last kid on the block to get the technology.) Loading the new iPod has me listening to tons of music–breathtaking, spellbinding and inspiring music. Man has been creating stuff like art & music since the beginning of time–yet there is always something else that‘s fresh & different.
I’d like to ask God how many songs have been written. It’s probably a number so high, they haven’t come up with a name for it yet, but man keeps increasing it. Same thing with other things people create . . .
You will never be at Borders or Barnes & Noble hearing the manager say, “People are running out of books to write, maybe it’s time we start thinking about selling mini-blinds.”
Agents in the music industry don’t scramble to find a talented person, they struggle to gain attention for the brilliant talent they represent in a sea of fierce competition. YouTube and shows like American Idol showcase artists at least as talented as those with contracts.
The radio continues to play love songs, though it would seem we have plenty. There are songs about perfect love, desirous love, unrequited love, love gone wrong, love done & gone–no matter the kind of love we fall in or out of, there will be another song expressing our emotions in a new way.
There are countless bloggers, yet the whole of them have yet to write everything people think or run out of ideas.
Science and industry rely on the ability of man continually come up with ideas that will improve and innovate.
Even ordinary department stores, like Penney’s and Target, continually entice us by filling their racks with clothing & products different from what we’ve seen before.
Eventually there won’t be anything else written–no more stories, no more poems, no more love songs, no more editorial columns, no more computer programs, no more blog posts. My prediction is it will happen about 14 days after the planet runs out of food & water, when the last person expires.
The world is an amazing place–made more amazing because of the creativity of the people who inhabit it.
Deb’s Note: In writing this piece I was reminded of how many brilliant friends I have . . artists, musicians, song writers, writers, thinkers, actors, and developers of various sorts of things. It would be my wish for each of them that their talents be recognized and rewarded. This piece is dedicated to all the “creators” and especially to my recently relocated-to-the-other-side niece and performance poet/artist Gabrielle Bouliane.
Massages put my eccentricity on display. Most people enjoy a massage for the relaxing qualities, but I prefer a massage that leaves me energized. I have trouble getting into the typical massage mentality–because I have trouble not-thinking. When I’m getting a massage, I’m thinking about stuff–stuff I need to do, stuff I’d like to do, and stuff of little importance–like the color of the room I’m in or how much I hate music with flutes and wind chimes..
This massage was unique for several reasons. First, it was through a spa, but not at a spa. This was sort of Spa-go or perhaps Spa a go-go. The massage was administered in a colorful room at a hotel–a sort of multi-purpose salon. (Salon in this case being a room for enjoying the company of others–not the kind where one might get a new hair-do. This particular salon was more speak-easy than spa–soffits with colored lighting, modern plastic furniture mixed with overstuffed velvet furniture, sculptural things on the walls.) No mistaking this for one of those Zen-zone places. Even with the lights dimmed the room was impossible to ignore–mostly because of a many-bulbed chandelier on the ceiling.
The setting would have guaranteed this massage wasn’t going to be like any other, but there was more to come.
Spas usually have music they prefer as accompaniment for massage. Such music usually bores me to the point of mild irritation and causes me to spend most of the massage wishing I’d could listen to something else. One of my last massages was almost spoiled, when I fixated on wanting to hear something with some rhythm–like maybe some Ozomotli.
So today when a masseuse, named Oak, entered the room with a iPod & dock, I decided he & I needed to talk. I asked him what he intended to play. He offered a choice of piano music or Bjork.
Oak, darling–not today.
Time to change it up.
The iPod wasn’t his, so when I suggested that we put it on random, he was reluctant. He reminded me there was no way to anticipate what we’d be subjected to, but with some trepidation, he agreed to let it roll. I don’t recommend this for any everyone, but I wasn’t really feeling very Bjork. This would be a good time to mention that since it was a couples massage, Beloved Soul Mate became lab rat in my experiment as well. Because he and I are both music lovers with eclectic tastes, he was more than sporting.
The first tunes were mellow–a couple ballads sang by females, something folk almost bluegrass, then a little Joe Walsh and Led Zeppelin. For some, Zeppelin would have been jarring, but when it started to play, both Oak and I agreed we needed to crank it–at least a little.
Rap, indie and even a P.C. emo Christmas carol flowed into the mix. I wouldn’t have put Frosty the Snowman on a massage mix, but in this case, it was just right. I never knew it could be like this. The music was as therapeutic to my psyche, as the massage was for my body.
The constantly changing play list was just what I needed to make an outstanding massage, perfect. There were a few songs Beloved Soul Mate & I would have edited from the play list, but the opportunity to absorb and become lost in music we don’t ordinarily listen to, was a welcome change.
It was the Un-Spa experience, but the brochure for the Unwind Spa, had lived up to the claim they would tailor their massage to individual client’s needs. I got what I needed.
Deb’s note: I love Christmas music, but I hate Christmas music clichés. At the top of my list of Christmas music I never care to hear again is Frosty the Snowman. Don’t like snow, don’t like the song–so yesterday when I heard a new take on that song, I had to find out more about the artist. I’m not convinced of global warming and frankly, I prefer my music politics-free, but this song might just make it into one of my off-beat Christmas play lists. Thank you Oak, thank you Tasha, thank you Unwind and special thanks to musician Angie Mattson (angiemattson.com) for providing the soundtrack that turned us on to the voice of Angela McCluskey.
Another video from the beautiful & talented Angie Mattson:
When I started de blog, I had intended to write an article a week. The people who know WAY more about blogs than I do, suggested one was too little. Decided that I’d try three a week. Three was okay, but 90 days in, I’ve realized I like two better! Bleach my hair and call me Goldilocks because this feels “just right”.
However, the post that should have run today isn’t here, because I’m being held hostage in a chi-chi little boutique hotel with hinky WiFi.
Last time I was in this city, I was seriously inconvenienced by the what-year-is-this???? BAD WiFi at the airport. Geeeeeez L.A., it’s 2010. Seriously, if it wasn’t for your basketball team . . . .
On the upside, I’m sitting in the business center of the hotel, watching people work-out in the fitness center. It’s great! They’re sweating, I’m enjoying Pan au Chocolat with a whole fat latte–things could be worse, but at a hotel called simply “O” the place is less equipped for business than pleasure. Who needs stupid WiFi? I’m going back to the room.
I love L.A. as long as I don’t have to live here.
Many women do not share my enthusiasm when it’s time for the dreaded trek to the mall to find the skimpy thing they’ll feel most comfortable wearing. There is nothing like racks of tiny tops & teensy bottoms to fuel one’s bodily insecurities. I have the opposite reaction to those racks–when I see dozens of brightly colored strings, maillots & bandeaus–I wish I were a senseless seventeen again. For me each year’s new suits provide a heady rush of excitement.
This is particularly ironic, because I’m not much of a swimmer and for me tanning is redundant. Nevertheless, I love swimsuits. So while for many the process of having to reconcile one’s winter body with the summer season causes others misgivings, it makes me absolutely giddy. This is in part, because I would NEVER try on a swimsuit in one of those dressing room cubicles with a three-way mirror. If it makes me look fat, I’d prefer not to know–striving for perfection would spoil the fun–and I’d never be able to convince myself that Sports Illustrated wants me on their cover if I were scrutinizing the backs of my thighs for flaws. Anyway, everyone knows Sports Illustrated uses airbrush, which is what I do. I use my mental airbrush to erase the flaws. If I didn’t, I’d be the one at the pool in a burka. When I see a swimsuit that makes me happy–it’s in the cart and headed to register.
I blame my mother, she had major issues with swimsuits. The words she used to describe bikinis still bob around in my head like pool toys.
I wore the same swimsuit from the time I was in sixth grade until I was a freshman in high school. It was a two-piece with apron-like pieces of fabric to cover the torso between the top and the bottom. Mom was okay with it.
The summer of my junior year in high school, that I purchased two new swimsuits. They were both fabulous. The first was a sweet little royal blue bikini, the other a sizzling-hot red one-piece. Mother never said a word about either. She just made them disappear from my suitcase, as I was boarding the van for summer camp.
Poor mother, there was no way she could know how her issues would cause me to become a swimsuit freak. She meant well, but by her actions she inadvertently fueled a total unapologetic fondness for swimsuits. One would be more than I need, but I believe in my heart there is a perfect suit for every body and every body of water.
My honeymoon swimsuit was dangerously small–I know this because of the sunburn that resulted after spending too much time in it. (Word-up–nothing like a don’t-touch-me sunburn to put a damper on a honeymoon.)
My church retreat suit is a one which could offend no one.
My Mommy & Me suit was a suit which could intimidate no one–complete with ruffled skirt.
My swimming-with-people-I-don’t-know-well suit is particularly modest. Mom would approve.
I also have suits for the hot-tub at home, suits for the marina, and suits that would be great at the beach if I were to ever go there. (Of course then those suits would forever have sand in the elastic–which would give Itchy and Scratchy a context other than The Simpsons.
My collection includes everything but Dry Clean Only.
Many colors, many styles, varying amounts of fabric, with one thing in common. . . most of them will never be worn-out, because I don’t swim enough–I’m not sure Michael Phelps couldn’t wear-out this many. Speaking of wearing them out–almost without exception, every single one makes me self-conscious. Some of them so much so, they may never be worn “out”. That is why, in addition to an entire drawer devoted to swimsuits, I have an entire section of closet devoted to things for covering them up.
One would think that this would prevent me from buying more, but alas, there is no reforming me–in fact, I just bought the first of this season. It is so cute, I’m hoping that I will have the right opportunity and the necessary courage to wear it. At this point, I have enough suits to outfit the female cast of Bay Watch–and no plans to quit adding to the collection. In an attempt to justify my habit, this year I am resolved to spend more time in the water. Maybe this will be the year I become more swimmer than swimsuit mannequin, but not today. It’s cloudy out–I think I’ll head to the mall. I hear they just rolled out the new 2010 lines.
Hopefully this is good news. Once this is established, you will have most of nine months during which you hope only for more good news. The second bit of news you will get, is something you aren’t likely to accurately guess–when to expect the baby. Hopefully this is good news. Some dates are better than others.
I wouldn’t want to be told that the baby was due on April 15th or December 24th. Those dates would be particularly inconvenient. As would any date in the height of hurricane season, tornado season or blizzard season. was two months under the belt when the OB/GYN announced my due date of May the 9th. May is a nice-enough months. Lots of flowers blooming, not yet hot. The date seemed inconsequential. I was joyful and ready to be the mother of two.
Unfortunately, no matter how many times you’re pregnant, you never really know what to expect. The second pregnancy drug by slowly. Maybe it was the weariness of tending an active 3 1/2 year old, or maybe it was all the eager desire to see and hold the little being sequestered inside me.
May the ninth, was the second Sunday of the month . . Mother’s Day!
I’m not very picky about celebrations–and generally don’t care for much fuss, but as the day grew nearer, the hospital seemed a-less-than-perfect place to spend Mother’s Day. I didn’t want to be in stirrups while all the other moms I knew would be opening cards at champagne brunch. No matter. The first baby had been early, I was sure that this one would follow the example of his big brother, insuring I would be the mother at brunch with the beautiful newborn in my arms.
On Mother’s Day, my doctor was out of town–he probably went to visit his mother. Not that it mattered, I was still pregnant. This wasn’t what I’d planned–but that’s one of the inherent problems with pregnancy, most planning is theoretical.
May 9th came and went. I was still pregnant–one hundred and sixty-six pounds of more-than-ready. Like a fast-food meal deal, I’d been super-sized–and that was before brunch. As much as I had dreaded being in labor or the hospital on Mother’s Day, still being pregnant the Monday after seemed worse. I was tired of being pregnant. I was tired of waiting. I was tired of sporadic periods of contractions that came but never lasted long enough to get me to the hospital.
May 10th was a beautiful day. Perfect. As I was enjoying my coffee, I went out to the garden to admire the vibrant colors of the geraniums and irises. The irises were 4 feet high that year–much taller than my almost-four year old. Decided to putter in the garden a bit before seeing Beloved Soul-Mate off to work.
“Okay, Darling, have a good day. Wait . . don’t leave yet.”
It seemed it was finally time, but after so many teasing contractions, I was skeptical. I’m a restless sort–I wasn’t going to the hospital until I was sure–didn’t want to be held hostage for an in-depth study of ceiling tiles any longer than necessary.
Called my bestie girlfriend. Asked her if she could keep my son for the afternoon. Told her I’d be over in a couple hours.
Except that wasn’t what happened. Within about 45 minutes, I knew the birth was imminent.
We started off for my girlfriend’s house. As soon as we were in the car, I suggested The Beloved Soul Mate, drop me off first.
I wonder what it would be like to have a doctor deliver a baby. Never had that luxury, in fact I was lucky to have a nurse. The doctor didn’t arrive in time to see the birth, but Beloved Soul Mate was there in time for the big reveal.
It was only a matter of minutes before I was handed a swollen-faced, puffy-bodied boy. He didn’t have a name yet, but it was clear that Lauren Solange was not a perfect fit. As I held him to my breast, I studied him and wondered who he was.
For most first-time parents, to hold a newly born son or daughter is to discover a previously unknown kind of romance. The moment I saw my first baby, I was in love. I’d never seen a more beautiful child. His features were delicate. His full head of silky smooth hair was perfect. Holding his miniature fingers, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect baby–in fact as I felt sorry for the new mother in the bed next to me; her baby was homely by comparison.
That is why, as I looked at his new brother in my arms, I wondered if I could ever love this boy the same. His eyes were puffy, his skin was speckled. He was so large. It was just one more day of my continuing education as a mother.
I like to joke my first was born with looks, the second with personality.
There was no way to know how such a peculiar looking little being would bring such beauty to our lives.
Within a few days, the baby was cooing and giggling. I adored my firstborn, but the second-born was every bit the divinely-crafted gift his brother had been. With each day he added more joy and levity to our house. His lightness of spirit was a balm that made me a better person and a better mother. He never sapped my energy, he renewed it. He was a continually unfolding source of delight–an old soul with a uncanny sense of humor and wisdom. I am convinced if every baby were as easy to enjoy, the world would readily be overpopulated.
Not only that, but he was born on Mother’s Day–not the moveable American Mother’s Day but the fixed date of Mexican mother’s day. Over the years, I’ve received many very nice gifts in pretty paper, but there has never been a better Mother’s Day gift than the one I received that year. The Best Mother’s Day Gift Ever continues to enrich my life.
Deb’s Note: Every good and perfect gift is from above. I have two! The firstborn has already exceeded my highest expectations. He is a wonderful brother and son. I adore my second-born too. He was one a mother would keep in diapers forever, if she didn’t realize each day is better than the day before.
Like every other mother, I have watched them grow and change, wondering where the time went. I would start the clock all over again to relive every jubilant (or difficult) moment, but there is so much ahead to look forward to. Both of my sons are as miraculous to me as they were the first moment I held them. They encourage me, they stretch me, they teach me, they make me look forward to the future.
Today, I wish the fondest Happy Birthday to The Best Mother’s Day Gift Ever. If not for his insight, I would have never thought to find out how it feels to hit a sweet-spot smacker.
I love being a girl, but today it would be advantageous to be a guy. I’m thinking about sex and trying to figure out some stuff. Even if I get it right, I won’t know if what I believe to be true, holds true for a guy. Which means, I can 100% right for me and still be 50% wrong. So with more questions today than answers, I’m hoping that maybe the devoted gentlemen followers of de blog will help those of us with an X-chromosome figure it out.
Okay, so we’ve already established that I’m the happy holder of an x-chromosome, but right now I’m thinking about those born under the Y-chromosome. It all started the other night when I was in a nightclub. I wasn’t wearing a nun’s habit, but clearly, I was wearing more clothing & less make-up than any other female in the club. I was looking at the other women, based on what they were wearing, it’s clear they wanted to be viewed. Tight things, short things and revealing things, made me wonder is less always more?
Back in the day, the briefest glimpse of mammary flesh was enough to cause big thrills for those y-chromo-beings. With breasts on display like 4-H livestock, I was wondering if there is a point at which so many become passé. Seriously, is a breast really so much more attractive than a great shoulder or a long leg? Or is it only made more attractive because of the mystique of being kept under wraps?
Since I’m not a guy, I can’t answer that. Based on what I know of men, I doubt they’d tire of breasts if they were in a room with breast-wallpaper. But thinking so much about sex lately, I’m probably sounding a little like a guy–I assure you there is a good reason–which I’ll get to shortly. I just finished rereading a book that had a profound impact on me years ago. It had been so long since I’d read it, I decided to revisit it, to see if I felt the same about it now as I did then.
The book’s main assertion is that the sexual revolution ruined sex.
I have to think about that. The sexual revolution was well underway before I was, but as the mother of a young teen, I have good reason to wonder about the impact of too much exposure to all things sexual.
The whole point of the sexual revolution was to end the repression that kept people from being able to enjoy sex and free us all up to be more sexually fulfilled. The new morés of our culture suggested that we should all enjoy more liberty and variety in our sex lives. That’s when things started to get complicated.
Isn’t sex supposed to be about intimacy and isn’t intimacy about knowing the other person? So how much intimacy can we expect if we barely know who we’re with? Does the depersonalization of sex lessen the quality or just redefine it–like those income tax forms where if you don’t want to go through all the trouble you can opt for a shorter one. You might miss a few benefits, but with the simpler form, you’re done much quicker, and we all know how good it feels to be done.
My background in marketing causes me to always consider the trade-offs between quantity and quality. Call a focus group so we can get some numbers and determine how many people one can be truly intimate with. Is it one or two in a lifetime? or one or two a weekend? Without intimacy, sex becomes much less personal. If it’s less personal, it’s probably not as significant and the quality may suffer. In marketing terms we’re talking about user experience vs. user satisfaction. It’s a process vs. product thing.
So at it’s most basic sex is merging one’s physical being with that of another–oneness. I will assert that if sex is about becoming one with another, their pleasure should be our pleasure and vice versa, however if we don’t know them well enough to really care about them, how invested can we really be?
Traveling with a group of men awhile back, the subject of the hotel’s pay-per-view porn came up. As the younger men discussed the hotel’s offerings, an older man interrupted their conversation to share the following insight:
“Porn is great for awhile, but ultimately it will ruin sex for you”.
He says it with authority and I’m happier not knowing how he’s reached this conclusion–in fact, I’d be happier if I wasn’t having to listen to guys drool-talk about porn while I’m lunching on a B.L.T. Nevertheless, it starts me thinking.
Porn is about sex, but it isn’t real sex and though some people can’t get enough, it’s a flimsy substitute for the real thing. Despite this, porn is now widely available and becoming more mainstream–women, who used to object to porn because it objectified women, now constitute the fastest growing segment of an unapologetic market.
But, what if my friend was right? What if porn will ultimately ruin sex?
Having grown in in an age when everything was “dirty”, I’m not advocating for going backward. I feel bad about the days when we weren’t allowed to talk about things and didn’t know the names of the things we would have liked to have talked about–but I’m starting to miss the desire that came with that which was previously forbidden.
Which brings me back to the teen in my home. In this age, I can’t be the same kind of mother I had. There is simply no way to keep my son from being exposed to sex. I can talk to him, I can educate him and I can try to imbue him with my personal views, but I can’t shelter him. At his age, he’s probably seen more skin on TV, than my husband has in his entire adult life. In the media, sex is a product. Process is sacrificed to mass-produce what sells. If he or anyone else translates this to real life, sex is reduced to nothing more than “get ‘er done”. If it’s common, mass-produced and readily available, the quality has to suffer.
I’m not ready to go back to the era before the sexual revolution, but I wouldn’t mind turning back the clock while my boys grow up.
For those in the U.S. who will celebrate Cinco de Mayo today, sharing this seemed appropriate.
This little tune comes from a nice little gal from Minnesota–and/or Oaxaca. Lila Downs is on the top half of my list of favorite singers. (A nice American gal of Scottish & Mexican descent, like myself–a killer combo!)
This song is about the preparation of a mole–a dish made by grinding and mixing together many very different ingredients. One of the best known moles is the mole poblano that comes from Puebla–the site of the famous battle commemorated today, and one of the reasons this song is appropriate for today.
Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence day. The holiday commemorates a specific military victory–a “mouse that roared” victory. I am convinced Cinco de Mayo is at least as at least as popular in The United States, as it is in Mexico, which is ironic considering most Americans are more familiar with Cinco de Mayo, than with celebrations of our own significant military victories–such as Armistice day or VJ Day.
That aside, it is a good day to remember that we are one nation of many peoples. A mix–or a mole. This country often roasts and grinds the newly arrived, but eventually they become part of the mix.
Like all who drive this way, I see them each day. Some prefer not to see them, they avert their eyes as they pass. Others stare with contempt, because they are the illegals–the wetbacks. When I see them, I am reminded of all who believe America to be a land of achievable dreams. It is likely that these men will bring with them the next generation of Americans. Like millions before them, they have come here in search of a better life. They are intrepid individuals who have taken great risks, leaving the familiar for the unknown.
If we have contempt for the men of our own nation who refuse to support their families; how then can we then also have contempt for these men who risk everything to support theirs? They are fathers, sons and brothers doing whatever they can to provide money for their families at home.
We as smug Americans, seem to have forgotten our own stories. If we do not recognize the dignity of these men, it is because we have forgotten who we are. Waiting on a street corner, they have lost their identities. They are simply “illegals”, but each has a name and a story. Among their stories, you might remember your own.
When I see these men, I am reminded of my own immigrant ancestors. They came from many nations. Some came from Europe, others from Mexico. My grandfather would have been disdained as a “wetback”. He came to The United States fleeing the unrest of his country during The Mexican Revolution. I wonder what would have been said of him if he’d been standing on a corner hoping to earn a day’s wage.
His clothes were probably shabby, for he’d crossed states the size of Texas to enter this country. He, with his young bride and small child walked with all their belongings for days in hopes of finding a new life. His clothes would have given no clues to his identity. In his new town, he was just another “wetback”.
He probably wore a hat–one could hardly cross a harsh desert without a decent hat. In Mexico, he’d once owned a fine hat with his name in letters of pure silver. Seeing it, others thought perhaps he was a bandit to have a hat of such quality, but in fact it had been a gift to him from his boss at the silver mines. As a young man he had went to the mines seeking work, but because he was educated and industrious, he soon became a foreman. Even in that fine hat, he would have looked like a foreigner, it is unlikely anyone would have thought him worthy of esteem. He probably sold the hat to get money for the long trip north, because in his new home he wore no such hat.
Standing on a street corner, would have anyone have been able to know his morals or his values? In his church he was a deacon–a man devoted to religious study and prayer. In his community, he was known to be a fair and judicious man, for after leaving the mine, he was appointed a justice in his city. I suppose, if any had seen him on the street corner, they would have seen nothing more than a lawbreaker.
Coming to America did not mean an end to his struggles. He soon discovered the promised land sometimes has trouble making good on its’ promises. His quest for a better life in American yielded discrimination and poverty. He died before he was able to enjoy a better life–but he had not failed in making a better life for his family. In America his children were educated. They would grow up without fear of government oppression or civil unrest. In their lifetimes, they were able to achieve better lives than my grandfather could have ever hoped for.
For all his hardships, the generations that followed have reaped the benefits. This humbles me because I have gained all he never had. His story fills me with respect and admiration for any individual who sacrifices his wellbeing for the benefit of others. On the street corners where the men gather seeking work, others may see “wetbacks”, I see everything that is great about this country.
Deb’s Note: Our country faces a very controversial issue, because our state and federal governments have not succeeded in controlling our borders. Arizona has taken a measure to try to better deal with the problem that has caused its own citizens to be outraged by the implications. I believe in the sovereignty of this country, including our laws and borders. I also believe in the need for REAL law enforcement. I take no issue with Arizona’s policy nor the people who oppose it, but with immigration at the forefront of our political discussions, it is important we remember the dignity of some of the individuals in the mix.