Sunday, May 15, 2011


Dear all,
I've been away for some time and APOLOGIES!!! I guess working, taking care of Adele and trying to keep up with the madness of living in the city caught up me.

Now, I am VERY pregnant, with only a couple months left until another little one joins our family. I am finishing off the year, completely uncomfortable, but marveling in the fact that it is spring here! I love the city when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, it's not a sweltering 90 degrees with humidity or 15 degrees with snow. I love that inbetween stage called spring.

I have a ton of friends/family who are having babies this year....It seems to be a fruitful time for the year of the rabbit. Go rabbits! My sister is having her first, two of my best friends just gave birth, and there are countless others. I feel as though spring brings out all the pregnant ladies that are hibernating in NYC winter.

My husband has the opportunity to switch jobs, a smart move for his career, but it would mean us relocating to SOUTH CAROLINA!!!!! Ah! I always thought our next move would be to California, where I'm from, or Europe, where I would like to spend more time. It's such a good opportunity for him, and he's sacrificed for much for our family, that I feel obligated to go. I guess I never truly realized how much a I prize my independence and how reluctant I am to let go of a field that has been truly rewarding. I love my job. I love working with kids and helping their families navigate the crazy world we call education.

I can't help but wonder if I am making a huge mistake if I move and leave all my career connections here. I am hesitant to supplant myself and my family in a foreign community at a time when we are adjusting to a new baby.

If I really face the music, I know that part of my fear stems from my pride, my ridiculous belief that I can do it all. If I am truly honest, I have to admit that the last two years of working and juggling taking care of Adele has been difficult. I am constantly feeling torn between the two and I can't imagine what it will be like with a third.

That said, it's still hard to give up what you know, what's familiar and routine for you.

We're still negotiating terms and we still need to fly out to see if I can imagine myself living there. It's a huge change, but I am thankful for the possibility even if we end up turning it down. Here's to a very eventful year, full of crying babies and imminent change!

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Joys of Divorce

My eight-year-old student tells me that she's moving to England next year, but that she'll be moving back for school the year after. She fails to mention that her parents are getting divorced.

I'm not sure if she knows, but I'm thinking she has to suspect something. Divorce doesn't often come without signs and trauma of some sort. Screaming fights, chilling silence, frightening absences, something to indicate that all is not well in Pleasantville.

I love this girl; she is imaginative, sincere, sweet, a regular cupcake in the world of tutoring. I couldn't ask for a better student. Except...she has a tendency to make things up so I can never quite gauge the truth about whether she did ALL her reading, or why the vocab cards are tossed over the ledge, which is not surprising given that her years of living are still in single digit range.

Some of her lies are great:

"I see fairies in my country home. Real life fairies."

"A lot of boys like me at school. Here are some cards...Rosanna and April, those are boy names."

"My brother's girlfriend makes edible jewelry, all out of gummy candy....No, it doesn't melt because she smushes them to make them hard."

There are so many more. I have to resist the urge to laugh.

I wasn't laughing, though, when she described her upcoming move as "fun, no big deal" because I know her abilities for myth-making, and stretching her reality to fit her needs.

Today, I took her to the park to meet Adele after the tutoring session. I care for both these girls in very different ways while realizing that they have such contrasting lives. Stella, comes from a family of money that coats just about everything they touch, a family that can provide her with every material happiness imaginable. Adele will, most likely, never have such a luxury, but she will be loved in a secure home with endless attention from her parents.

Only in New York City can two completely different girls meet and play for an afternoon in Central Park.

I wish Stella the best and will sorely miss her.

This afternoon, she asked, 'What's the meaning of your daughter's name?'
'Pretty. My name means star.'
'Very pretty too.'
'They go together!' she yells. 'Starlight.'
With that, I smiled at her and squeezed her hand.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another NON flight from Hell

We were scheduled to be in Mexico today, vacationing under the hot, sweltering sun, but no, instead, we find ourselves caccooned in the great blizzard of 2010. This is AFTER the hell of yesterday.

We get to the airport to find that, yes, indeed Adele needs a passport, that the government travel website erred when it said a birth certificate would suffice. We missed our original flight (the one that would have safely taken us to our resort) and spent the entire day running around Manhattan trying to get stinky a passport. This morning, we woke up to a clear sky, but were ultimately dismayed when we saw CANCELLED in our flight status email.

Thank you Jet Blue for letting us know at 3am when you said you'd let us know by 4pm the previous day. We lost our hotel deposit (ghastly sum) and have no hope of retrieving it.

Tears would flood out of my tired, bloodshot, twitching eyes, but I'm beyond that now. I accept the fact that I cursed when it comes to flying.

Our honeymoon was supposed to be taking place right now, but instead, I am staring at what looks like sideways snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flight from HELL

I could write an entire book about flying with babies and the assholes that I come across during these endeavors.

This last trip was unbelievable because it taught me that while time passes and we age, not all people mature into reasonable human beings. No, there are exceptional people out there who defy the ability that experience and time usually perform; the shaping of an immature adolescent to a (mostly) rational, considerate adult. I digress.

The flight from Los Angeles to New York is about five hours which is an hour and a half shorter than the reverse trek, but this trip felt arduous, long, unbearable....for a few reasons.

First, I was peeved, not in a good mood, so irate you could sear tuna on my skin. We went through security and were questionned very thoroughly. Why? you may ask.....I will tell you why and this is the reason I was so pissed.

Security man (hereafter referred to as 'dude'): 'You packed your own bags?'
Alex: 'Yes.'
Dude: 'You're in big trouble.'
Alex looks over at me as I'm strolling the baby across the ten-by-ten square that now feels like a prison. He looks as though he's lost all color from his face.

Dude pulls out two long steak knives from an inner compartment.
Me (internally, suppressing the desire to scream this): What the fuck is that? I cannot believe he is stupid enough to pack knives? Wait....why would he do that? Shit! We might get cavity searched!
Alex: 'Those aren't mine.' He looks like someone just told him he won a beauty pageant. In other words, stunned.
Dude: 'How did they get in here then?'
Alex: 'I don't know. HONESTLY, I really don't know.'

He looks like he might cry and I think the guy takes pity on us, that is, after he pulls over his boss, the security chief and another woman. Surprisingly, they let us go.

In disbelief, as we're walking toward our gate, Alex remembers that we packed the knives in the inner compartment, the one he never checks, when we moved two years ago. What?! We flew ten times with those knives in our carry-on. Now, THAT is scary.

While waiting to board, he tells me that all the poo and pee in his body almost exploded out of his body when he saw the knives. I wanted to strangle Alex for not checking the bag's inner pockets, but then again, it was my bag, the one I bought in Geneva the summer I fell in love with him.

So, we get on the plane and all I want to do is sleep. I sit in my seat as Alex puts away our bags. A woman crawls over me to get to her window seat and tells me, 'I hope you're staying in that aisle seat. I really don't want to be next to a baby.' Wow. Bitch.

Me: 'Well, I'm sorry. That's not possible. My husband and I will both be carrying the baby.' I wanted to flip her off, but seeing how we were to spend the next five hours together, I shut up.

She kept sighing like it was her job...'OOOOh, ugh, oooough.' You know those sighs, the ones that sound like they're being wrenched from the body. That coupled with the mumbled bitter comments.... I wanted to tell her to shut the fuck up, but I was too busy consoling Adele as it was nearing her bedtime.

Her behavior was so egregious that the flight attendant came to our row, signaled to her and said, 'Excuse me, I'm going to have to move you.'
'Why?' she asked
'Frankly, I'm tired of hearing you complaining. I'm a mom too and I don't appreciate it.'
She moved this woman, a mid thirties, obviously single, bitter sorry excuse of a person to a different row where she could torment her new victims and torment, she did. I overheard her asking a man to switch seats so she could be next to the window. I'm glad the man said, 'No, who do you think you are?' which finally shut her up.

Ten minutes later, the woman in front of me starts screaming, 'I need to get off the plane!'
(Mind you, we're about to take off.)
She is talking to her boyfriend on the phone, 'What do you want me to do? Get off the plane?! I can't!'
Alex whispers, 'Jersey, judging by the accent.'
The older couple sitting next to her, dressed in plaid, tries to pretend that a crazy woman is not sitting right beside them.
'Oh fuck! Shit! I need to get off' she motions to the stewardess. 'Get me off,' I can hear her fake nails clawing at the seat belt.
I whisper to Alex, 'All the crazies are on this plane tonight'. He laughs, but the dark circles under his eyes and the sweat that's accumulating on his brow makes me feel sorry for him.

This flight was absolutely chaotic, miserably seated with crankies, and had only just begun. No matter, I realized that being a parent requires patience, not for your child, but for all the insane, unstable people that surround you, sometimes for five hours, thousands of miles above the revolving earth.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Funny Things Heard in Central Park

Every morning, I stretch my limbs and take a nice stroll in the park. The number one reason for moving into our current abode has to do with the 843 acres right across the street. I love the fact that I can walk out the door and see green, not the green of Wall Street moolah, the the actual shrubbery, trees, foliage that exists abundantly in most other places.

There are definite crowds that mill around the park. There are the nannies (which I've mentioned here, here, and here), runners, tourists, lovers, born-and-bred NYers complete with accent, children, athletes, you name it, they all frequent the park at some point. I feel as though I could blog about each one of these groups on separate occasions, but one aspect links them all together; the incredibly bizarre things I hear.

During my daily walk, I always here the most unusual snippets of conversations. I am not one of those crazy skilled runners, the ones who tote four mini water bottles strapped onto their hip, or squeeze gel food into their mouths. I am the very casual walker who listens to music, not to pump up my energy, but to calm me down, to allow me to unwind from the day's chaos. I walk leisurely, with every bone in my body. Since just about everyone passes me, I cannot help but pick up on their dialogue. Sometimes, it's mild, 'Oh, did Janice tell you about the party?', or 'Billy thought he got an A. Wrong!' Other times, it's downright absurd or hilarious. It's most likely because it's taken out of context, but sometimes, I can't imagine how the word would make sense in any context. Here are a few examples that stand out;

'Get through that fucking hole! See it! Go!Go!Go!' (one bicyclist to another)
'Mom, you said I could pet the squirrel this time!!!' (a teenager to his mother, both tourists)
'I need to go back. He made my fucking breasts lopsided,' (One plastic woman says to another)
'Was that Elizabeth Hasselback?' (A woman says to her friend)...'You mean Hasselbitch? Yeah it is!' the friend replies. (The View host was actually there, strolling her newborn son.)

At other times, the conversation that gets injected into my daily walk seems too intimate, too vulnerable;
'So you gonna leave him? You should, you know. You can't keep letting him get away with that....Shit. Sleeping with other guys is not okay,' (a friend telling the woman to leave her closeted gay husband)

The thing I love about New York is that one any given day, there are crazy uninhibited personalities, conversations, dialogues, moments that filter through my life. Going for a simple walk across the street turns into a voyage into people's psyches; their insecurities, fears, and triumphs.

I always listen to music on these walks, even with the drone of conversation and occasional punctuated comments inbetween, so there is not much chance for someone to hear my thoughts, but oh....if they could listen to my head.

The thought of all the conversations with other people and the ones we carry out in our heads, all contributing to a symphony of voices, curses, laughter, and whispers makes me realize how lucky I am to be a part of it all.

Monday, November 2, 2009

To Rant or Not to Rant

I came home yesterday, fatigued, drained, spent from my job. I tutor as a profession. I am pretty damn good at what I do, but it leaves me extremely tired and sometimes irate. Never because of the children, but somehow the commuting and being away from Adele makes me more sensitive, much to the dismay of Alex waiting for me at home.

He always cooks me dinner. Last night; an homage to my heritage, he cooked kimchi marinated tilapia, steamed kale, spicy squid, and rice. Some of you may have just gagged, but I love this stuff. I love how Korean food makes you TASTE, feel, sweat, and really experience food. Fortunately, so does Alex. He not only appreciates it, but he cooks it for me, following my dad's detailed instructions over the phone. I am blessed. Somehow, in this cosmos of amorous pairing, God paired me with a Southern Scots-Irish man who knows how to make kimchi infused anything.

Mid-meal, he casually tells me about his day, all the fun activities that the twosome did while I was gone. Most of the events were ordinary, but he said one thing that caught me off guard.

'So, a little girl went up to Adele today', Alex begins.
'At the park?' I mumble, my mouth ungracefully filled with food.
'Yeah,' he replies, apparently not disgusted at the sight of me ravaging my food.
'Did they play?' I prod.
'No. Guess what she said?' he says casually.
'What?' He's peaked my interest.
'She said, 'She has squinty eyes!' and pointed to Adele.'
'WHAT the fuck?' I say as I almost choke on my spicy kale.
'Are you serious?' I probe.
'Yeah, but she's just a kid.'
'I don't fucking care.' Fury emanates from my mouth.
'You should've said something,' I chide.
'What was I gonna say? Her dad was right there,' he defends himself.
'Oh my god, he wasn't mortified. He didn't say anything?!'
'No. I mean, we made eye contact. He was probably embarrassed.'
'I bet. He didn't say anything?' My liberal ass, California-raised self can't believe his nonchalance.
'Well, maybe he talked to her later,' Alex always gives people the benefit of a doubt which is nice but sometimes annoying.
'If you live in Manhattan, you better have that talk before the kid is school age,' I continue to fume.

I understand that it wasn't intended to be mean. I understand that the situation may have been awkward, but as a parent of a mixed-race child, I demand that parents wake up and clue their children in to the various differences that exist among us.

Growing up, I am haunted by a couple memories. Most of my childhood is filled with the usual warm, fuzzy feeling that one conjures when nostalgia overcomes them. All my haunted memories come from racism, usually from children. As we get older, we learn to either celebrate our differences or mask our intolerance. From my experience, children often imitate what they learn at home.

Racism at asians is usually directed at the eyes. There are plenty of psychologists and scientists who could point to why this is the case, but no matter, it's always directed there. Wake up world! Asian eyes are different, yes, but they are beautiful. Please put those fingers away, the fingers that stretch the corners of rounded eyes to mock the beautiful almond shape of much of the world.

If Adele were a little older, she would have known what was going on. She would have understood the connotations of the scene. For that, I am grateful. She has yet to delve into human habits of categorization and simple ignorance. For her sake, and for any other child who does not look like she walked out of the pages of Aryan Vogue, please educate your children, tell them what it means to be different, watch them grow into aware, kind, compassionate individuals who think before they say.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Say You're One of Them

The rays of sun fall upon Adelle as she swings in her baby chair at the park. I took this picture a couple months back, midsummer moment captured by my phone, a glimpse into daylight and beginnings.

I've been reading a book by Uwen Akpan, 'Say You're One of Them', a hit with the world since it was featured on Oprah's book club. I am always skeptical of reading mass bestsellers because I tend to be attracted to books that are less known, more complex in narrative and characterization. Essentially, I am a literary snob. Once in a while, I am humbled by something the public has chosen well.

I read on the train, in the midst of hustle and bustle, careening cars on rusty tracks, filled with people, often shoulder-to-shoulder with New York's 'finest', and trying to propel myself into a world that will take me away from the chaos of the city.

I find myself in a different chaos in this book. Every story is about tragedy, but there are seeds of triumph in most of them, a hope that lingers and allows the reader to want the best for that character, his or her world and the Africa that hosts them all. My favorite so far is Fattening for Gabon, a chilling tale of child slavery. What shakes me most is the betrayal that exists in this narrative, an uncle selling his niece and nephew, two children who were already victim to another tragedy; their parents' AIDS, and the continual redemption, remorse, and complexity that remains even after I read its last sentence.

Every night, I find myself climbing the subway steps to the street, making my way from one maze to another, and my hearts aches for these stories, these children who are now heard through the pages that leap into my heart.