Saturday, April 28, 2007

Just another day at work

It's funny how a moment can stop you in your tracks. How you can turn perfectly still and just know that something really extraordinary is happening. This is a picture of my dad. We both went to Tinian for work last Wednesday. He was going to be deliberating on a bill with the Senate and I was going to be pleading for that same bill's passage. I am an educator and my father is a lawmaker. He has seen me do what I love many times as I grew professionally; always encouraging, always cheering, always beaming. Until last Wednesday, I had never really seen him at work.

Sitting in the Tinian courthouse I was struck with emotion as I watched my father. He was speaking, but I was slowly drifting off in my thoughts, forgetting for a moment what I was supposed to be doing there. He talked. He said he was the only legislator without a formal education, not even an Associate's degree. He said that a nation could only be great if it invested in it's children's education. I had heard him say these things many times, but that day was markedly different. I knew it would be etched in the corners of my memory, only to be coaxed out one day by a word, or the sound of paper rattling, or a microphone being tapped. It's a spectacular thing, the birth of a memory.

One day I will tell my children the story about the day grandpa and I went to work together.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Da Plane! Da Plane! Dat's da plane?

This is the plane that takes you to Tinian. If I put wings on my Highlander it would feel exactly like driving down the runway in this plane, except my Highlander has more room.

This is the sign taped to the little six seater Freedom Air plane that takes you to Tinian. You can't see it, but the fourth sentence says:

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Blogger Stew

Bloggers met last night. Gus played the uke and took a picture of me taking a picture of him. I got to see Bubbles in person and Bree (with no Dough). I met Arin. She's a lawyer, no a writer. No, an author. I can't wait to buy her book! Gus played his uke. Did I say that already? My son Tony said he rocked. EJ, my hero showed up. She's my hero because I party vicariously through her blog. Angelo found my site meter and taught me how to add something called meta data on my html thing-a-ma-jiggy. That's like data about data, or in Chamorro - stuffs about stuffs. Jeff ate ribs with rose colored glasses on. Which is good, because then he talked politics. Walt listened and smiled and Cinta smiled and talked. Ed took pictures. He's like a celebrity now. I know because the radio said so. Dr. Khorram the blogger interviewed bloggers to write about blogs they write. Captain Carl talked pugua in India. Bloggers met last night! Where were you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I've Gone Out To Find Myself

If I should return before I get back,
Don't let me leave!

My husband started his own business recently. AMG Consulting was built from the ground up in a humble little home in the middle of Papago. He does these pre-employment screenings, reference checks and background investigations. No, he's not a private eye and doesn't hang out in dark alleys taping secret liasons - as far as I know. But, last night he did do this awesome check for me, on myself. I just wanted to know if anyone had ever stolen my identity. It happens to more people than we think, you know? Thankfully we found nothing except my maiden name and nickname. It was kind of sweet reminiscing about where we'd been before moving here, we saw the little one bedroom studio I had before we got married and our first apartment in El Cajon. Anyway, if you've ever wondered about this kind of stuff, give him a call. Sure, this post is blatantly neptotistic, but I know the owner and I can get you a really good discount! (wink)

"No Little Mogwai!"

Rule #2: Never get them wet

Monday, April 23, 2007

Oh, For Crying Out Loud! What now?

We are completely missing the point here when it comes to PSS' funding problems. It goes beyond who is essential and non-essential, and surpasses any arguments about who should be spared a pay cut or not. PSS is not saying we are any more special, any more necessary than public health and public safety agencies. We are saying, for crying out loud, that if you take 6 million dollars away from us right now, you will be carving a death warrant into our branches.

Every single time this government has lowered it's budgetary ax on agencies, PSS has not only been resourceful, but proactive in it's response. In the early 90's, we didn't whine and bitch about our problems, we went mult-track to accommodate the needs of students who relied on us for their education. In the late 90's, when Dr. Rita Inos took her seat as Commissioner, another crisis came along. Our budget cuts forced us to do away with such programs as art, music and computer labs. We lost our P.E. teachers. What did we do? Our teachers absorbed the added responsibility and took on the challenge of integrating these subjects. They lost their prep-times and had to pay more out of pocket costs for classroom materials like glue and crayons.

Every year that we have been affected by our government's lack of concern for education's needs (not luxuries), PSS has bounced. We even continue to pay into the retirement fund despite our meager resources!

This time is different. Six million dollars translates into 970 locally hired employees. Principals, vice principals, teachers, aides, support staff, central office staff, you name it! There are no delineations here between these folks.

I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to think that we're being punished for being resourceful. It's like telling the kid who never gives you any trouble that he can't have that new book you promised him because some other kid who can't stop whining won't leave you alone. The good kid doesn't complain and tries even harder to gain your approval while your attention is focused on keeping the naughty one from driving you nuts. I'm not saying other agencies are doing this. I am saying that something is pre-occupying our government and preventing them from prioritizing. I don't know what it is, and I feel safe in saying they haven't figured it out either.

During the House session, I was so perturbed at the terminology used over and over again when referring to PSS. I heard the words, "find money for PSS" , "help PSS" and the worst one yet, "bail PSS out". Hold on a minute! Bail PSS out? Pardon me, but don't you have to commit a crime in order to get bailed out? So, what was our crime?

I don't know Zaldy Dan Dan from Dan Dan Market, and I'm sure he's a nice guy, but he seems to think that I'm opposed to a pay cut. I'll tell you what I'm opposed to. It really irks me when something unfounded is said about me. You know what "essential" means in my profession? It means that during the tsunami alert, you are the last one out of the campus and the first one likely to get swept into the ocean. It means that when everyone else is home with their children, you are locking up or cleaning up. It means that you stand back and watch others reap the fruits of your collective labor without expecting to be recognized for any of your contributions. It means you do all of this voluntarily, because, like Justo assumes, that's what you get the big bucks for!

Our legislators made it a point to exclaim that PSS isn't the only agency hurting. Duh! Did I miss something here? Isn't our job to educate and their job to provide the resources we need to do so? The last time I looked, PSS wasn't campaigning for votes.

No. You got it all wrong. I'm not against a pay cut, I'm against the ignorance that turns it's back on the mandate we have to serve every child in our community. It would be very interesting to find out how much other countries and territories invest in their public schools. I would be willing to bet it isn't as miniscule an amount as we expect our own system to survive on.

Anyway, my posts are getting too serious. Stay tuned next time for more stuff that goes through my head when my brain isn't paying attention.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I hate to sound like a typical book review, but...

My must read pick of the week is Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See. It's a heartwarming story of two Chinese sames and the struggles they overcame as they learned to be women of value only to their husbands, mothers-in-law, and later, their sons. I never knew there were things such as laotong. I never knew you could fry up sweet potato and make it pop in sugar!


Thanks for sharing the 1st Anniversary clip with us! Even though GES wasn't on it, the NJHS, and several students learned a great deal about being responsible stewards of our environment. BeautifyCNMI! has been a wonderful role model!!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Help put an end to "notenoughtimetogetherosis"

For only a couple of hours a weekend, you can help rid the world of "notenoughtimetogetherosis". Couples just like Tony and Boni suffer needlessly every weekend because of the unavailability of adequate sitters in our nation. Just this last Friday night, these two undeserving victims fell prey to the unfortunate lack of a sitter and were forced to go to bed at 9:00 pm!

A mere two, three (or on a good night) four hours of your time could mean the difference between sitting on the couch, watching re-runs of House and sipping margaritas while looking whistfully into each others' eyes. How many times have you passed couples on the street and never given them a second thought? This travesty is happenig day after day in our country, to them and millions of other couples you know. Don't let another day go by before you decide to help.

But seriously: If you are a teenager between 16 and 18, love kids and are kind to them, please call Boni and Tony for an interview. Grandparents encouraged to apply, but will be compensated in sloppy kisses (from kids- unless we get home past midnight, then...) . All others: cash. We're in the book.

Aw, daddy!

That's Peyton's "you gotta be pulling my leg" smile. Tony took this picture last summer in Australia. We did a tour of an orchard, and caught sight of the illusive black-spotted dingo. We ate iba, star-fruit, mansanita, tangerines and basically the same fruits we have here on Saipan. Every family should take a trip to Cairns, it's worth the money and packed with awesome eco-tours.

Stuff that goes through my head when my brain isn't paying attention

  • I must be the most neurotic person I know- other than myself.
  • If the CUC rates keep going up, I won't be able to afford my hot flashes anymore.
  • I'm tired. I need something to do.
  • What the heck does that have to do with the price of kelaguin in Papago?
  • What's worse than a brain fart? A butt burp!
  • "You're preaching to the cryer!"
  • They should change PMS to MCD (Mad Cow Disease)

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I need everyone's help here. I'm doing a piece on betelnut chewing. I need to find out true history, people's views, experiences and opinions on the subject. Here are a couple of questions that you can answer for me, but please feel free to add comments. Share your jokes too!

1. If you chew, how did you get started?
2. What's your mix of choice?
3. Do you chew hard betelnut or soft? Why?
4. What's your overall view of chewers?

Thanks a lot! If you know any elders, chewers, historians I can talk to, please let me know.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

"I saw angels in the marble and I carved until I set them free" (Michelangelo)

This is one of the quotes used by Dr. Carlos Cortes in his Keynote Address at the 2005 OELA Conference in D.C. There is mention of the late Guy Gabaldon, and a focus on what educators must do to ensure the English Language Learners are given the same opportunities as all our children. Since it is an educational piece, I posted in on the Mallard Pond. Please visit the pond for more on ELL/Dr. Cortes.

What is your song?

A bird sings not because it has an answer.
It sings because it has a song.
-Chinese Proverb

I heard this proverb at the beginning of a seminar that I had already decided was a complete waste of my time. While our esteemed presenter shared numerous bits of wisdom about being passionately in love with your job, I was busy writing a list of all the things I'd done at work BEFORE I made it to the meeting. I got 9 things done in 45 minutes, and I resented having to leave my school to listen to someone tell me that I had better love my job or leave it. I thought, "Who does this guy think he is, really!" It was not his fault, no matter how charming he was, I wanted to be at my school.

Then he said something that I couldn't shake off of me no matter how stubborn and negative I was determined to be. He quoted the proverb that would haunt me to this hour. I always try to avoid this kind of intense self-reflection, but stuff like this sticks to me like rice on a serving spoon. Soon as he said it I thought, "NO! Don't do that! Don't make me second guess every decision I made from the minute I left my classroom. Don't force me to make a decision about why I'm singing". But, there was no going back, it started and since that moment I've been asking myself if I'm singing at all. What song is it? Am I dancing? Who is leading?

This is an insane segway into the political climate of our islands, but for me it is a crucial piece. Our government does not value education enough to protect it. There - I said it and I'm not taking it back. There is nothing that convinces me otherwise right now. Educators are a resilient bunch, always able to create from scratch what cannot be afforded to them. We are trained to survive. For so long, our leaders have relied on the resourcefulness of educators because we sing.

They take for granted that we sing.

I am an administrator and I have to make tough choices, this I am prepared to do. What I want to know is why our legislators, why our government, cannot do the same. Where is the ownership in what happens to our children and how it impacts their learning?

Who owns this song?

Does the PSS? The Board? Does the Governor? The legislature? Stand up and be men and women of integrity and forget that elections are around the corner. There will always be someone to pressure you, someone to con and bribe and intimidate and threaten and judge and blackmail you! But, they will be adults who should know better, not children who rely on you to protect their rights. Do the right thing by them next week when you meet to discuss how to save some money. Put the politicking aside and forget about one-upping each other with fancy-schmancy anecdotes and quips. Save that for the pocket meetings. It goes better with free food and beer.

In the next few weeks you will decide, because others who should refuse to, the course our educational system will take. Please remember one thing: the boys and girls in our public school system have worked so hard over the last decade to raise their level of academic proficiency and are now competing successfully with their private school counterparts. The children no longer walk into competitions with dread and uncertainty. They are champions, challengers, comrades and equal in ability and worth. We are proud to have been a part of bringing them to this point. Aren't you?

A bird sings not because it has an answer, but because it has a song.

What will be your song?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hookt on fonics rilly werks!

I think the bottom says "crew", but I can't figure out the what the top is supposed to mean. All joking aside, this kind of vandalism really irritates me because it's pretty safe to say kids are doing this and KIDS all go to SCHOOL, and I WORK at a SCHOOL, AND WE DON'T TEACH OUR KIDS TO BE IRRESPONSIBLE! IT JUST ISN'T ANYWHERE IN OUR E.S.L.R.S OR MEGASKILLS!

Now, I know we may not have enough money for writing paper, but this is ridiculous. It's all over the island now. It makes me wonder where these kids' parents were and who bought the spray paint. Aren't retail stores not supposed to sell spray paint to minors?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I got word of an old classmate who is in Iraq yesterday. In his letter he wrote:

"Good Friday turned into bloody Friday for us over here. I lost a couple of good and brave Sailors and Soldiers. It’s getting harder and harder to deal with losses."
I felt so overwhelmed and frankly, I don't even know how to feel about this. While we were at our brunches, hanging out with loved ones and enjoying the holidays, there were brave men and women sacrificing their lives so that we could live ours in freedom. He also wrote:

"Over here a Soldier wakes up and worries if he or she will make it through the day or not. I was watching CNN (it’s the only channel we could get on a Satellite Dish) and the headline story was about pet food. The media spends a lot of time and effort in publicizing about pet food ... I just had to yell out, “What the f*&@?” Daily Soldiers die and get injured protecting freedom and Americans safety ... I get pissed when things like this are emphasize and Soldiers sacrifice take a back seat. Let me change gears here before I bust a blood vessel."
What do we wake up worrying about? I woke up this morning wondering what to wear and if I'd get a chance to eat a decent lunch. If I had to think about my mortality I don't know where I would begin. But, I do know that I would probably have time to prepare. Hey, when you wake up tomorrow morning, and when you go to bed tonight, will you take some time to say a prayer for our men and women out there? Each of us knows someone who has come back or not, who is already fighting, or who is on their way to war. They won't ever know about this prayer chain because it won't be on CNN, but I in lieu of a vote, I can't think of anything else that they would need more than our thoughts.

Are you a poet? Do you know it?

I know I should be telling you that I'm
A rubai - but perhaps some other time.
It sounds like work, and anyway, it's late -
Unless I sleep, I'll be too tired to rhyme.

Besides, there's plates to clear and cups to clink,
And when that's done I have to sit and think,
Since then it won't be long before I need
To sleep again and eat again and drink.
What Poetry Form Are You?
Thanks Saipan Writer! I tried it and was surprised
about how accurate this actually is. Now I'm embarrassed
to share any of my own poetry :0 It was fun though.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Every Educator Must Heed

The hen that I am wishes it could speak as fervently as this hawk: please read more on Vice Speaker Quitugua.

Jerry Springer...

A woman sits in a busy food court. She overhears two people talking about Saipan.

Hello, I heard you talking about Saipan. My daughter lives on Saipan.
Hi, we're just here for the weekend. So your daughter works on Saipan?
Yeah, she works for PSS. At Garapan Elementary School.
Oh wow! My daughter works at Garapan School too, what a small world!
Maybe she knows my daughter.
She probably does, my daughter is the principal.
My daughter is the principal.
My daughter's name is Boni.
My daughter's name is Boni.

More Poems I Love

Yesterday I Cried

I came home, went straight to my room,

sat on the edge of my bed,
kicked off my shoes,
unhooked my bra,
and I had myself a good cry.

I'm telling you,
I cried until my nose was running all over
the silk blouse I got on sale.
I cried until my ears were hot.
I cried until my head was hurting so bad
that I could hardly see the pile of
soiled tissues lying on the floor at my feet.

I want you to understand,
I had myself a really good cry yesterday.

Yesterday, I cried,
for all the days that I was too busy,
or too tired,
or too mad to cry.

I cried for all the days, and all the ways,
and all the times I had dishonored,
disrespected, and
disconnected my Self from myself,
only to have it reflected back to me
in the ways others did to me
the same things I had already done to myself.

I cried for all the things I had given,
only to have them stolen;
for all the things I had asked for that
had yet to show up;
for all the things I had accomplished,
only to give them away,
to people in circumstances,
which left me feeling empty,
and battered and plain old used.

I cried because there really does
come a time when the only thing left
for you to do is cry.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because little boys get
left by their daddies;
and little girls get forgotten by their mommies;
and daddies don't know what to do, so they leave;
and mommies get left, so they get mad.

I cried because I had a little boy,
and because I was a little girl,
and because I was a mommy
who didn't know what to do,
and because I wanted my daddy to be there
for me so badly until I ached.

Yesterday, I cried.
I cried because I hurt.
I cried because I was hurt.
I cried because hurt has no place to go
except deeper into the pain that
caused it in the first place,
and when it gets there,
the hurt wakes you up.

I cried because it was too late.
I cried because it was time.

I cried because my soul knew that I didn't know
that my soul knew everything I needed to know.

I cried a soulful cry yesterday,
and it felt so good.

It felt so very, very bad.

In the midst of my crying,
I felt my freedom coming,
Because Yesterday,
I cried with an agenda.
-Iyanla Vanzant


Borja exempts principals, vice principals from pay cut. I take no offense in Congressman Quitugua's assertion that administrators should share in the crusade to save our government much needed funding by taking a voluntary pay cut. In fact, I have made suggestions during our princpals' meetings that administrators be included in the austerity efforts and that support staff be exempted. While it is important to have someone on campus to ensure that operations run effectively and efficiently, this week has been an eye opener for me. Spring break is a time, like in all homes, for schools to do some much needed cleaning up. I have learned to do many things in the 13 years that I've been at GES, but operating the riding mower and servicing the air-conditioners is not one of them. Sparing the support staff would greatly increase morale and provide the much needed services to our facilities that are required to keep a school running safely and orderly. It would cost the PSS the same amount of money too.

Getting back to the article however, I have to argue that this austerity holiday plan has become a major nightmare, and that it is not just in the PSS that there is so much confusion as to who is vital or not, who is exempted or not. If our CNMI is going to band together and work in unison, then for crying out loud, let's ALL take a cut together. ALL of us!

What the exemptions have done is pit people against one another and cause such a feeling of animosity between agencies and colleagues that it becomes detrimental to the proper functioning of any organization. What this plan has also done is decrease the effectiveness of the government as a whole. NO ONE CAN GET ANYTHING DONE NOWADAYS. If austerity holiday falls on Friday, Thursday is off too? Give me a break. Oh wait, you did. Twice. The essential public services we rely on are anything but dependable anymore. Is the idea to save money at all cost? Even productivity? Even our reputation?

I must also air my own vehemently frustrated opinion about Congressman Quitugua's statement that "principals and vice principals are highly paid and they should join other personnel in this sacrifice". Has the good congressman ever reviewed the PSS pay scale? There is about a three thousand dollar difference between a Highly Qualified Teacher's pay at the top of the scale and a principal's salary. Not to mention the number of working days (teachers get breaks) and the opportunity that teachers have to earn extra pay. I have much respect for teachers, especially having been one myself. Teachers who receive HQT salaries deserve them, there is no question. Administrators in the CNMI make 25 grand less than the average principal on the mainland. I have stood before the PTA and said things like, "spend quality time with your children...only 30 minutes a day reading to your child...your role as a parent is crucial to your child's development..." and wondered if my own children had eaten dinner yet, how my daughter was doing on her school project, when the last time I read to my 2 year old was. My vice principal is making the same amount of money, like others I know, than he could in the classroom. The same salary, minus the intersessions and vacations. The same salary, plus the extra time he has to spend away from his family. But/and, like the teachers, both of us have been diligently working towards (administrators') certificates, spending our "big bucks" on classes that begin as soon as the work week ends and continue into Saturday morning. And yes, we both hold valid teaching certificates and have passed Praxis I and II.

I also respect the Board and it's members, but come on! We don't make decisions in bubbles. I am so tired of directives coming down the mountain like they were sent down from heaven. Real, flesh and blood people are involved here. At least our commissioner has given us the opportunity to air our concerns and speak our minds. We don't always get what we want, but we get to bitch and moan about it and dig our teeth into things until we are satisfied or outright denied. But the legislature? The board? How many of you have set foot on my campus asking questions about how we're doing, getting to know us, asking for our input? Today, Congressman Dela Cruz's staff is cleaning our fence area, because our maintenance is on their austerity week. Sometimes, Congressman Waki's folks are cutting tree limbs and bush cutting. Senator Reyes (say what you will) and Congressman Yumul share their own limited funds with us so we can buy toilet paper that isn't in our budget! Lee Taitano has often cornered me and asked me some brain-crushingly hard questions. We don't always agree, but we agree that it's important to talk. If anything, these people are qualified to wag their fingers at me, they've atleast built relationships that earned them as much right.

Congressman Quitugua: tell principals and vice principals that it is our job to multi-task, that it is our responsibility to manage every aspect of school operations, even that the success of our system lies heavily on our shoulders. But, don't ever make the foolish and presumptuous mistake of flippantly telling us that, "that's what we get the big bucks" for! Especially until your all your colleagues walk the talk!

More Easter Photos

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter Everyone

Whether you're praying folk like us or just plain fans of candy and chocolate, here's to spending the day with loved ones! I would be at brunch with my husband and half of our kids right now, but I am sitting at home with the other half of our bunch waiting for my dad to bring us a goat. Yes, a goat. Some people get bunnies. We get goats. The goat is in the air as I type. It's coming from Tinian. Just one of the many reasons why we should one day be on The Jerry Springer Show.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Whatever happened to trust?

Me: Smile Hope
Hope: Why, so you can put it on your blog?
Me: Smile Ton
Tony Jr.: Mom, please don't write about me.
Me: Smile Pey!
Peyton: Am I gonna be on your computer?
Me: Smile Sommy Kalani
Sommer: Okay! I wanna see, I wanna see!
Tony Sr.: Careful kids, whatever you say and do can and will be used against you on mom's blog.

Dabudi Takung Ba!

Happy Birthday Tete!

This is my little sister Yvette with Peyton and Sommer. She is turning 29 tomorrow. When I was in high school she still had straps on her uniform. She would run to my classroom during recess, stand at the door and yell "Hi ate!". I didn't know it then, but she would become my best friend and I would have the privilege of pseudo-mothering her then watching her become a mommy herself. We've been through a lot and have the battle scars to prove it. I wish for our girls what we have.
Hey Betso - Happy Birthday!

Here's to all the habits we picked up from mom that we'll never be able to shake,
Hoping we never develop dad's dreaded bugged out eyes look that made us tremble so,
Always finishing each other's thoughts, never mind words, they are overrated,
And knowing no matter what comes, sisters will always be there.

My How They've Grown

It was almost four years ago Peyton gave up her binky. We had a Bye-bye Binky Party and retired her precious "binchy-ko" in a fitting tribute complete with song and a feast. Tony Jr. had his thumb. Hope, well Hope never had attachment issues as a child. It's a different story now that she's 11. With the advent of text messaging, we'll have to surgically remove her cell phone from her right palm. But, that's another story. Last night, we had a Bye-bye Baba party for Sommer, who is now 2 1/2 and a very big girl. It is probably my fault that she's had her bottle for so long. She is our last baby and somehow that gives me the mommy given right to keep her in diapers and prolong her baba attachment. Okay, so you're not buying it either. I surrender.

So, last night, we gathered at the dinner table, sang a "Happy No Baba" song, clapped to celebrate Sommy being a big girl now and ate ice cream. Get it? Sommy is a big girl now. Ice cream is not baba, but it is still dairy. Okay, only I get it. I made a speech about how Sommer didn't need her baba and Sommer clapped after every testament of her maturity. It was great.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

My Screen Saver

Some poor overworked urbanite sitting on his desk in a tower made of steel and glass is staring at a tropical island screen-saver right now. I feel so blessed.
In honor of National Poetry Month, I'd like to post one of my favorite poems. This one's by Kipling and it was read by last year's OELA (Office of English Language Acquisition) Keynote Speaker, and cultural consultant for Nickelodeon's Dora the Explorer: Dr. Carlos Cortes. Incidentally, Dr. Cortes also began his speech talking about a little island in Micronesia called Saipan, and the important role that second language played in the life of the late Guy Gabaldon during WWII. He spoke of honoring the pluribus and honoring the unum. He spoke not just of multi-culturalism, but of belonging. When I find my notes, I will post more about that remarkeable day. My colleagues and I sat there, among thousands of other participants with our heads held high, proud to have been associated with such a hero and to have been mentioned in the midst of the nation's leading educators.

We and They

FATHER, Mother, and Me
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But - would you believe it? - They look upon We
As only a sort of They !

We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They !

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

To whoever hit my car and just took off:

Look here buddy. I don't know you and maaaybe you don't know me, but what you did is just plain WRONG and I just want you to know that you should be ashamed of yourself.

Because of you, my car, which I just bought in October has been dinged and scratched. All this while I was innocently grocery shopping at Dan Dan Joeten with my daughter.

You could have at least come in and told me you scratched my car up. We could have worked something out, you know. I'm not that hard to talk to. But, NOOOOO, you backed into my car and drove away like the weekend was calling your name - without a care in the world about what you did. You know pretty darn well that my chances of finding you are slim and so do I. Just remember this my friend: God is not sleeping and what goes around always comes way back around and bites you in the butt so much harder and deeper than you could ever imagine fangs could dig!

Even after what you did, I don't wish anything horrible on you. Like me, you were probably short on cash and worried about how much it would cost. So, I forgive you even though we haven't met (because you didn't own up to your &*^&*)! I do hope that you have trouble sleeping at night sometimes. Next time, please have the decency to say you're sorry, even if you can't fix things. If by chance you didn't know you hit me (clearing my throat here), please do the respectable thing and call me. It's the honest good citizen thing to do, and who knows, I could even be wrong about you.

George? Is that you?

Cray-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-yay-zee Car!

I have three daughters. They used to argue over who got to play their DVDs first. It was a toss up between The Wiggles, Charlotte's Web and whatever movie had Hilary Duff in it. A mad rush to the machine and two minutes later there would be a scream of victory, tear stained cheeks and doors slamming. All of that has changed thanks to the Naked Brothers Band. Thanks to Nat and Alex, and the rest of the gang, all my little girls are happy.

The best part of this new phenomenon is that I have new songs to rock out to like "Crazy Car" and "Got No Mojo" and my personal favorite, "Hard Core Wrestlers With Inner Feelings". Now if only deciding what to make for dinner were that simple. This is also perfect because I get to embarrass all three girls at one time, thus sparing my mommy energy for the toughest kid to crack: my teenage son.

OOOH. OUCH. It feels like it was only yesterday I was hemming up my Mt. Carmel skirt above my knees and hiding from the nuns behind the dryers at Diego's Mart. Did I just say MY and TEENAGE in one breath? Holy camole. Next year, we will have one kid in High School, one in Jr. High, one in Elem. and one still at home. There should be something like Lending Tree for parents where schools compete over who gets to have all our kids. There's a funny commercial for that brewing in my head right now. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007


One night, while waiting for one of our millions of rosaries to end, my cousin John Boy (yes, I can't say John without the Boy part) and I decided that we'd run for political office (NOT!), just for the heck of it. If you know me, this is completely out of character, but hey, it served for some pretty good laughs. Please excuse the image of clam chowder, it is purely there to trigger some sort of conditioned response out of John Boy:)

Possible Campaign Slogans

#1- For all the non-Chamorros, let me explain. Mucus is literally translated into mucus, only Chamorros pronounce it MOO-KOOS (like you're such a moo-"woos"). Yes, it means snot or:
mu·cus n: the clear slimy lubricating substance consisting mostly of mucins and water that coats and protects mucous membranes

Knowing someone since mucus means knowing them since they were little and running around with snot running down their nose. It implies a family history, deep trust, and a close relationship. Whew!

#2- Do I really need to explain?

#3- OK, this one? You had to be there:)

Typhoon Hit NMI Today? more like pinched us, like Chamorro style pinch. Like, "eeh na cin-ute", which I am totally grateful for by the way. Usually a typhoon will make it's way towards us and I'll roll my eyes and ponder the inconvenience of it all. I am so clueless when it comes to getting ready. I grew up watching everyone get ready, but paying little attention.

So, last typhoon that hit us, we lost two new picnic tables and had to use my scented candles for lighting. My husband is from California, no typhoons there. Only earthquakes and fish tacos. We ended up sitting in the living room with the kids b*&ching about having no power, no water and no TV. And, staring across the street at the houses with generators, wondering if we shouldn't go over there with our puppy dog faces and beg to be let in so we can share the cool air space. Okay, that was all me.

This time, I actually prepared (a little). I went to the troop store and got some burgundy for the ambiance, real candles and pre-packaged food. Then I trecked up Capitol Hill for some typhoon food, you know, spam, sardines, junk food and bread. My dad and Glenn were at Sara Market the same time I was, so I also got some free propane for the portable stove, bread and a can of tuna. Chamorro parents always feel like they have to cut in line in front of you at stores and pay for your stuff too. Hear that? No one's complaining here. If I had known, I would've stocked my cart with brand named ketchup, cheese, expensive shampoo and that hallway mirror I always wanted to buy.

Childhood memory moment: I was tempted to buy navy biscuits. I actually stood in the hallway for a good minute or so and reminisced about how my grandma would give us navy biscuits with globs of butter on them and how good they tasted when I was eight years old. Never mind that they could be classified as weapons because they were so hard they could give someone a concussion. Then I remembered how she was so warm and huggable, and smelled so motherly and how I miss stealing her money from under the blanket she always put on the poker table. A dollar here, a dollar there. "Hayi suma'ke salape-hu?!" Okay, rambling...

The point is, I prepared. I even stood outside on the patio, with one hand on my hip and the other pointing strategically, instructing my 14 year old son where to place the potted plants. "There Tony", I said in my most convincing mommy-knows-best voice, "in the corner at the back of the house where there is less wind velocity". I even reminded my husband to be sure and switch off the breakers for the big appliances in case of a power outage. We were prepared for the air-conless night and the soba breakfast. I was proud and rightly so.

Last night, the power went out for a little while. My hubby switched off the breakers and we went back to sleep. When I got up, at 6am to get ready for work so I could take my typhoon shift at the office, the water in the bathroom sink trickled out and there was still no power. I very patiently brushed my teeth and debated if I should wash my hair or save water for the rest of my family who were still in bed. I cupped as much water as I could, making sure to get every drop. I took a shower, carefully turning the faucet on and off, using as little of the precious water coming out as I could. A good mother saves the best for her family, a good mother puts her family's hygiene above her own vanity. I dutifully skipped my Aveeno face wash. Today was an Oil of Olay soap kind of day and I would just have to sacrifice.

My bathroom was candlelit and I thought about how I must get into my car and go to work before the weather gets worse. Then... I opened the bedroom door, and there was my husband, drinking brewed coffee and scanning the morning newspaper on his computer with the gentle hum of the Toshiba split unit tenderly waking Sommer from her sleep. And, there I stood. Me and my non-blowdried hair, my non Aveeno-ed face, my two minute plastic Hard-Rock-kids-cupped showered body.

Oh well, at least I now know exactly how many cups of water I can ration myself with in the next typhoon. My typhoon survival skills are honed and ready. No shame in that.