Monday, September 4, 2017

There's Always Room for H-e-l-l-o

Acapella ala Three Stooges:

Larry: Hello . . .

Curly: Hello-o . . .
Moe: Hello-o-o!


Did you hear? Wisconsin sent 17,000 pounds of cheese to Texans affected by Harvey in a relief effort . . . because "cheese is comfort food." There was butter too. I guess they aren't called cheese heads for nothing. I cannot help but wonder how much it cost to freight all those dairy products from there to here. There were wheels and wheels and boxes of cheese uploaded and offloaded and distributed.

J. J. Watt of the Texans raised over 17 million (last count) for relief efforts. He's a defensive end. And all this time I thought he was our quarterback.

Tyler Perry donated a million dollars. Louisiana's Cajun Navy brought boats. The list goes on and on, and it's not even a drop in the bucket of need. We've never seen so many young people volunteering. Students. No cell phones in sight. *grin* We won't talk about the Best Buy that gouged needy frightened people by charging $43 for a case of water. No we won't mention them because they're a blip on the Bad People Radar. We'll hiss at all the predators who think flooding us with scams though. I wish someone would invent an app that could zap the caller's phone dead every time the make a single robot call. The scales of justice always balance out.

We're cleaning up and out. We see piles of dead tree branches on curbs. Stores close early. Tempers flare for no good reason that I can imagine except outbursts are like release valves at work.  Pent up stress needs a release, right? That goes for me too, so this is what I did:

I went to Target to see what else we might buy to help some of those in need. Underwear for sure! And socks. 'Cause people in shelters can't do laundry. Right? I believe they should be washed because of the sizing in the fabrics, but I cannot wash all the pairs and get them back in their original packages. It sounds silly now that I'm trying to tell you about my dilemma. So I'll move on.

I wandered/drove to Barnes & Noble out of habit. Seeking comfort? Needing to know if my favorite booksellers were well and safe? Yes, yes, and yes. Sybil gives the best updates. 

I bought two new magazines and a novel. Shamefacedly so after promises to myself that I wouldn't. It's since been justified as my my end-of-summer-read. I didn't come up for air until page 75. That's when I took a good look at the cover too, and realized it isn't a painting at all, but a photo of a home viewed through a wet window. A sign! Right? Clearly a sign that this read was meant to be. *grin*

Promises not to dog ear this one were short-lived. It reads so true to life that it begged underscores and highlights too. If I could write this well . . . If I could tell a story so close to the bone . . . If I could write . . . Shucks. Jung Yun is a storyteller-writer-creator! And I don't know whether we should should feel sorry for Kyung, wrap him in sympathetic hugs, or shake him until he wakes up. He's beginning to stir by page 185, so there's hope on the horizon. 

Writing reviews is never easy because each reader comes to a story with individual and cultural luggage, but stories such as Shelter are loud universal truths. I want to tell you to read it but think I must wait until the end. Stories this good are something else. They're trans-culture. That explains how we're able to recognize the particular dysfunction. Reading Shelter is like driving past an accident and not being able to look away no matter how hard you try not to. 

Immigrants have some of the most . . . I don't know. Some of the same stories to tell that are differently disguised, that when shared, only reinforce how alike we are as humans being. Sorry. That's a tangled sentence but so are our life stories. The disguised differences are our languages, our surroundings, our exteriors, our neighborhoods, our socioeconomic standings . . . It doesn't matter which side of the glass we're looking through because we fit on either side. Reading Shelter is like taking the side of our fist and wiping away a circle of obscurity that's as thin as mist, and realizing . . . I know Kyung Cho.

Culture comforts and stifles. Being with others who are like you feels like home, where it's safe and familiar. You know the rules. You know your role, yet being expected to conform to the tribe and not step beyond its boundaries stifles who you might become beyond the perimeters of kinship and alikeness. I often wonder why some people want to live in a country that's so unlike their own, yet refuse to assimilate or even try to. Why try to recreate a community that's so like the country they couldn't wait to get away from in a place that allows them to be anyone and anything they can imagine being? I ask because some of my earliest memories are of people who were different but interestingly so. I see the young Hawaiian bride drying fish on the roof of their military housing. Her white shorts and red rain boots made her a beacon of "different" in a community of conformity. It wasn't raining that day.

I remember staring in awe from the back seat as my dad slowed down to watch, and Mama asking, "Roy, what's she doing on the roof of their house?" There was always something interesting going on in the house where the Hawaiian lived with her African American husband. They lived in the house my friend Danny and her family moved to after they left. Danny had a pair of white majorette boots with fringes. I never wanted anything as much as I wanted a pair just like them. She didn't have skinny stork legs like mine though. We were Brownie Scouts together and the boots weren't allowed with the uniform. We conformed in our brown ensembles but secretly I wished she'd been daring enough to wear them to at least one meeting. *grin* But anyway . . . 

See, Mama and I thought alike. The marvel wasn't the fish. Forget the fish! The real marvel was a woman on a roof! And she wasn't afraid at all. She was fearless! Of course neighbors complained and all that fish had to come down, but I like to think that had it been me, and the housing authority came by to make me comply, I'd have asked, "Why? What's wrong with fish on the roof? What? It never rained fish before?" To my  husband I'd declare, "Honey, it's a miracle!"  

I had my first Mexican food when I was in college. My friends and co-workers were multicultural students and young housewives, Jews, Baptists, Catholics and "other," but we were more alike than anything. We had the same dreams, the same problems, we hung out together, and on payday we'd pile into cars and drive to the one Mexican restaurant we could afford. The only time I heard the word "wet back" was the best reason to ask, "What's that?" The girl who'd said it explained, "It's a term we use to describe illegals who swim to America. My family is one of the first Spanish families to come here from Spain." She was as Hispanic as I wasn't. 

I used to think it was a term of endearment, like "homie" until another friend, Carmen explained things. My sister-in-law was the second Hispanic to use that term about others in her tribe. Decades later I heard it used for the third time by someone from the same tribe when we lived in Colorado. You couldn't pay me to use it. Hearing it doesn't mean I have the privilege to demean someone else that way by saying it. It demeans the user more than anything.

I also learned the meaning of the word "spic" then too. A young woman screamed it at a charge nurse. Poor dumb me asked her, "Why'd she call you that? What's a spic?" The lovely Miss Flores said, "It's a word some people call Puerto Ricans." Silly me again, "I didn't know that. I didn't know you were Puerto Rican either." I'd only heard of Spic and Span. See? Ugly is learned.  

I know some see fiction as beneath them but I learn as much from the genre as I do from any other. We tend to write what we know more often than not, and I've read some science fiction that makes me wonder, but when you recognize truth in a story, you know there's personal history involved. The author's either lived it or seen it. And while I don't want to live in a world where everyone is alike, I'd like to someday live around others who share more of my interests again. Learning about others around me who are like me yet different are some of the best surprises life gives up freely. Those who are so different that I cannot imagine what their lives might be like are like adventures to be experienced. But be warned. If I ever meet someone who's remotely like me . . . I'm gonna run.

So. Today was a day for clearing out the unwanted in the raised bed. I uprooted and broke down a bush that's taller than me. It's still too hot to do much yard work but the body knows when it's time. Mom Nature and I need to re-sync our rhythms again. Did everyone but me know today's Labor Day? Did I labor in the yard instinctively? Did you have the day off? Mom Nature and I are off by at least a month and a half. I packed a mail bag with every intention of going to the post office. Yesterday. Then again last night, to make mail today. I blame the eclipse.

My sleep cycle is still off too. Way off. No sweat. I blame the antihistamines and the eclipse. That's what pencil, paper, journals, markers and stationery are for. And books. Right? I answered several letters and switched markers when the Comics just opened up and color ran from the tips like rain from eaves. A backup is a backup.

Inspiration is a funny thing.

Here's where markers bled like I'd cut them over the paper. They never give you warning either. Waste not, want not. 

I decided to keep the rooster stamp seeing as how I'm not likely to have one any time soon. Roosters have lovely breasts, don't you think? People eat tome turkeys but not tom roosters. Why? Mr. Tucker had bantams and he'd lure my sister and me to the back yard just to watch the meanest one attack us. Mrs. Tucker always knew to keep an eye on him when we were around, and she managed to catch  him every time. Silly me. I was a slow learner. *sigh* I liked the way those red orange feathers flashed like the birds were on fire when sunlight hit them just right. Mr. Tucker and that bantam rooster are two of the reasons why I halfway dislike Alabama to this very day.

I do like these stamps. I like the shipping labels too. The blue matches the color of our sky since the rain stopped. All blue and white with sunshine streaming down. Fingers crossed, hoping my offering won't be returned to this sender. 

One of two packages ready for tomorrow. 

One hot water bottle drawn while under the influence. Not much beats pencil and paper in a contest of wills with insomnia. 

And some things simply cannot be explained away. I do like the etchings my charm bracelets make on their own though. If they ever start writing whole sentences, I'm in trouble. I wonder if I should try sketching with a loose charm. Hmm.

So, this was hello. A long one to be sure but I like working in the yard during a change of seasons. Making up for missed postings is relaxing. Interesting things are happening, and specimens offer themselves for collecting and future tellings. It's like Hodor hollering, "Hodor! Hodor! Winter is coming!" You never know.

Be well.


  1. I'm so glad to see you are getting back to norm whatever norm is with mail right ? Oh my how people can just sling those derogatory remarks around concerning ones heritage huh ? so sad yes ugly is indeed a learned thing .well take care and what a lovely post . I watched a movie this morning called loving . Joel eggerton was lovely as well and the ladys part forget her name now but they had me crying . Oh well be well and stay well .

    1. Hey, and thanks for your thoughts. Life has so many surreal moments lately. Having to find my way back to center, so forgive my overall lax.

      I remember being so angry when I read their story several years ago. I thought it would be lost in shadows but the story would not die. Now it's being viewed by so many! You were moved by it too. :) There's hope for us yet.

      Be well.