Sunday, January 31, 2010

Mississippi On My Mind: taking the message of equality home

Three things came together in the past two weeks that had me reflecting on the human spirit in a big way.  The Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities at the American Memorial Park, The Pacific Equity Academy Mtg. in Honolulu and reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett.  They are very separate events that became woven together perfectly to reinforce the beauty and strength that people in adversity have in spite of their circumstances and all the reasons we should continue promoting equality in all aspects of our lives.  I have to do some backtracking to make this understandable because I'm still trying to piece together myself how these three things would be brought into my life with such force of meaning in such short span of time. 
MLK Jr. Day:  We went to the amphitheater to listen to the presentations because Wayne was going to introduce some of the contributions Empty Vessel has made and because we wanted the girls to be a part of honoring Dr. King and his work.  In the past, Hope and Tony have come with me to marches.  Sommer hadn't heard of Dr. King yet, but Peyton shared his " I have a dream" speech with us at the kitchen table.  We talked about segregation and what it was like for people like Rosa Parks and Ruby Bridges
About how scary it must have been to walk to an empty school with armed guards knowing no one wanted you to be there and how courageous Ruby was day after day.  It was important that they heard about the bravery of African American people in the Civil Rights Movement, the sit ins, the peaceful protests, the history of the struggle for fairness.  We owe such an enormous debt of gratitude to Dr. King and the men and women who gave their lives so that everyone could realize it isn't right to treat others unkindly because of the color of their skin, the God they worship, the people they choose to love, etc. 
I was prepared to listen to a tribute to the great MLK Jr.  on that day, but what we saw was a different kind of testimony to Dr. King's dream that "one day all children join hands and walk together as brothers and sisters".  We heard personal stories from Filipinos, Koreans and Carolinians about what it is like to live in a multi-cultural household and the ugliness of racism right here in the CNMI;we saw dances from Palauans and there were more messages against domestic violence.  It was Dr. King's day, but we all were a part of it, because we are not excluded from the wrongs of discrimination.  I walked away thinking how beautiful it was to pay homage to a great man by recognizing the dreams of every man, how fitting it was to represent the many faces of our diverse island in order to advance human rights.  I thought he would have been proud to see it.  On the way home I thought about our children and prayed that they would embrace the richness of their cultures, that they would treasure the tapestry of their heritages, and that they would look upon others with more than just tolerance, but with appreciation for what they bring to the whole of our community. 
The Help: I started reading The Help, right before I left to PEA.  It is the story of Southern Maids in Jackson, Mississippi and the white women they worked for in the 1960's.  I can't give too much away, except to say that there was one powerful recurring theme, at least to me, in it's message. In Chapter one Aibeleen is asked a question that we all ask ourselves at least once in our lives, "do you ever wish you could change things?"  The story is about courage in the face of certain death, the choices we make when faced with opportunities and the suffering black men and women endured that we can never ever fully grasp; that no story, not even this one can accurately convey.  I thought about Thelma who has worked for me for 13 years and asked myself how many times she's shaken her head in dismay as she watched me make foolish choices.  I questioned whether or not I have treated her kindly and with respect, and if I ever really thanked her for being a part of our family.  I laughed thinking of all the times I ever did some downright idiotic and wondered if it was hard for her to watch, if she ever wanted to just smack me upside the head.  I know that my children will have the same depth of love for her when they recall moments in their childhood as they do for me, and surprisingly, I am not jealous.  I hope that I have been as good to her as she has to me. 
More to come...after I stop crying.

What's make you an expert?

So I just get done with an equity conference and as always, I'm trying to apply what I've learned to everyday life because that's what you do when you learn.  Right?  So, I'm imbued with these new equity lenses and everything around me is fair game for scrutiny.  Like the new TSA screening lines.  I usually don't pay much attention to them; I know there's a family line and another line for the "casual traveler".  It's common sense that I'm traveling alone so I get in the casual traveler line even though I am not feeling very casual at the moment.  I am feeling rather high strung because you can't check in early anymore, you have to wait for exactly two hours before your flight departs to check in and by the time you get through TSA you have no time to eat or check out the shops, which defeats the whole purpose of having a food court and an airport shopping galleria in the first place!  No, I am feeling more disheveled and hungry by the minute, but I get in the casual traveler line and wait.  Then the inequalities pop out at me.  First, the family line is a total stereotype; there's a silhouette of a dad, mom, a little girl and a little boy.   Heller!  Is this not Polynesia??  We're in the Pacific Islands here, where's uncle and aunty and grandma? Maybe we could switch it up a little or have a collage of family placards.  I'm being facetious but completely serious at the same time.  Families are made up of all kinds of people: two daddies, two mommies, one mommy and two boys, one daddy, one grandma and one get the picture.  Then I peek at the casual traveler placard and while I'm looking for bias, I notice two people getting in yet a third line, one I've never seen before.  It is the "expert traveler" line.  Woa-ho!  Wait just one minute here, what is this?  I look at my fellow casual travelers and then at the experts.  There is almost no difference in our placards except that for the casual folks there are about three more posters of what not to bring and how to pack your stuff properly.  I feel totally offended.  I start to size these guys up.  I have one laptop bag and one rolling tote, and that's because i packed my purse in my luggage so that I could travel lighter and faster.  Mr. Expert has one man purse, one rolling tote with a small duffle bag attached to it (yeah, that totally qualifies as one) and a laptop bag.  Ahem, he is totally over the carry on limit, but what does TSA do? They let him in and they let him in ahead of about ten other people who packed more conscientiously (expertly) than he did!  I am tempted for a minute to get in the other line, but I don't want to look snobbish, so I bide my time and check out expert #2.  Ms. Expert has to be reminded that she cannot bring liquids past screening.  It goes on display at the see-what-these-dummies-who-don't-pay-attention-brought-today-table. I peruse my people, because they have become my people merely through this serendipitous journey, and notice that the couple in front of me are holding a ziplock bag with a Warm Vanilla Sugar mini hand sanitizer in it.  They are so prepared, they didn't have to be reminded of the oz. limitations and yet they didn't get to zip past everyone else.  We are in line at the X-Ray belt.  Ms. Expert is two travelers ahead of me and is standing there fidgeting with her bags when I've already got my laptop under my arm, shoes in my hand and I'm totally ready to get them on the conveyor belt without having to hold anyone else up.  Yo, TSA are you watching this? Which brings me to my point about equity and these delineations, these boundaries we draw for the world.  If you're going to put people in boxes, better make sure you take a good long look at the world around you and that you have enough boxes for everyone.  It's just about impossible, but if you're going to do it, then do it fairly and justly.  Furthermore, if you're going to give some people privileges which they did not earn and probably don't deserve, make sure you have a solid criteria for doing it.  See, most of us are like me at the TSA; stuck in a line watching other people get by with stuff or get away with stuff and we just don't question it because we're either too tired or we think it won't make a difference.  We surely don't question the folks who created those opportunities because they are authority and authority is supposed to know better. point is why not?  How long did it take Rosa Parks to figure out she was going to sit any damn where she wanted and no one was going to stop her?  I know, I still have to write my MLK Jr. Post.  I will.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The trouble with moms

The trouble with giving a mom peace and quiet is that when she gets it she has absolutely no clue what to do with it and wastes all her time trying to absorb it that she ends up falling asleep having taken advantage of nothing.  Moms on business trips are worse.  Instead of reveling in the fact that someone else is paid to clean up after her, what does she do? She arranges her clothes neatly in the closet and drawers, organizes her beauty products on the bathroom counter and makes everything pretty, like at home.  Take yours truly, for instance. I can finally spend all the time I want in the bathroom without little fists pounding on the door asking, "mommy are you peeing?"  And, I can finally lay in bed and read my book all night to if I want but I don't because the silence is killing me.  I can watch TV, anything at all and not have to flip it to iCarly to see the episode where Sam tells everyone what'shisname's never kissed a girl,  but I don't because everything on television is boring tonight.  Of all nights, the night I can watch anything I want to.  There's something inherently wrong with this picture.  My theory is that when we become mothers our "me" genes mutate and we're incapable of enjoying anything that doesn't include a thought directly linked to the well being of our children.  It's like that experiment with vicious dogs that get yanked by chains every time they try to lunge at something, and then after a while when the chains are removed they just sit there and stare like, "whatever". 
I got out of the conference today with plenty of time to do my prep for my presentation tomorrow, walk around the shops at the mall and eat a nice dinner.  I purposefully got back super early so that I could get online and say hello to my honey and then finish my book in utter tranquility.  That was the plan.  The plan was thwarted by this inability to even get myself psyched to read.  I am sitting on my hotel bed thinking about how quiet it is and how disquieting that feels.  Totally counterproductive! So here I sit, lamenting this serenity I don't deserve.   It's 10:00 pm and in about four hours, because in normal Saipan time I have insomnia, I will drift off to sleep without having swung from the chandelier even once. 

Monday, January 25, 2010

This is where I post my new favorite snack because its so good!

Yum.  Olive oil and rosemary.  Yum.
Who says eating right has to be boring?
Some pepperjack cheese, a glass (emphasis on glass) of wine,
your honey by your side and a great movie to snuggle up to.  Did I say yum?
We're giving away some puppies.  I think we have enough to go around, but just in case here are some snapshots.  They're a quarter dobie, quarter rott, and half boonie, but then again, aren't we all?

Chi Chi and Haley

Sommer was the Kinder AM Student of the Week!  Yay Sommer!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nesting the blog

Relax, we're just "pregnant". It's a little shocking, but I knew it would happen eventually. I've been romancing the idea of change for a while now and finally, we're sharing the good news! My blog and I are expecting a new name.
"Because I Said So
" isn't exactly a timeless title and I have come to realize that things don't happen just because I say so. On the contrary, sometimes I say things vehemently, meaning for them to happen (and happen now!) and the universe in her wisdom kicks me straight to the curb. Because she says so! Besides, my husband does everything I say and more. Even things I only intend to say are magically taken care of. It takes all the fun out of my proclamation of authority. Sigh. So I need a change. I've fiddled with a few titles so far, but I need your help.

Take a look see:

In Vernacular

Bon D.O.C. (I fix boo-boos, chase away the boogie man and make things all better, see? I am Mom: Department of Corrections)

Bonfires Are Pretty

Is that covered, because I'm broke

Somewhat Bonnish, Mostly Mommish

And then it was bedtime

Sand In My Toes (that's how I like my weekends to end)

Ketchup...I'm always playing

Chop, Chop, Kaching! (the hastily written, random musings of a debatably ordinary mom)

Don't make me count to three!

As you can see, I went a little crazy with the titles. It could be that I'm just brilliant, but it's most likely because I'm exhausted. With a capital HAUSTED! I am willing to take your suggestions too, just in case all these stink and because I'm flexible like that. Yeah, that's how I roll. While you decide, I think I'll work on my new banner and mess with a brand spanking new template design. No telling when this baby is gonna pop. Gestationally speaking, this is called nesting. I'm nesting my blog.


So I'm not technically slacking because although I am at a meeting at work, I am also working through lunch. K, now that we have that cleared up let's talk about random nonsense like why spammers have infiltrated my blog. I mean, who really cares if you got an inheritance of millions of dollars. It's not mine and it's really not nice to brag. In addition, why did you put some of it in an account special for me? And, if you have so much money why do you need me to pay for the fees? What do you take me for, a crazy gecko? Take your money and leave me alone and stop spamming me. Spam is food, not fraud. Well, technically it is food.

Randomly nonsensically speaking, I read the online paper for the first time in a long time again. There is a lot of negativity and blamestorming going on there, no wonder why I stopped reading it. Nobody uses their real names when commenting so I don't know if I like them or not. That's because I base my decisions on real people who have names and not anonymous people who can only share their opinions behind a mask of pretend. I liked to pretend when I was eight. Now I'm older and if I have an opinion I'll give it to you.

I also perused...he he he...I mean lurked on blogs today. There are still a lot of really good bloggers in the CNMI even though most of us have kind of decided we'd rather do something other than spew our life stories to the world. The world of islands. The island. Maybe just to pooper scoopers. That's what one of my FB friends calls them, pooper scoopers. People who lurk on your page to collect the latest happenings then distort them for their purposes. Their purpose usually turns out to be full of shit. As I was saying, I found some new blogs (to me) that I liked, some old ones that I missed somehow and rekindled my love for my faves.

That song from the Eagles is stuck to my brain "...Well I'ma runnin' down the road tryin' to loosen my load, I got seven women on my mind..." except I have about four things on my mind, they aren't women and I don't know how I'll ever get them done before deadline. "Take it easy...take it easy...don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy..." I have decided that I need a red DONE button like the one in the Staples commercial, except that's an EASY button. I prefer done to easy because no matter the amount of effort I put into things I like to be eventually finished with them. This never pertains to dishes, laundry or cleaning, sadly.

Lots of people like to say "not ashame" a lot. It's like how "fer real" was popular before, remember? I want to say it too, but I never felt it was really appropriate until this morning when my friend told me a story about how some self-absorbed butt-head obnoxiously invited themselves to something and had people at the table wondering more appropriately, WTF? Not ashame! I didn't say it out loud though, but now that I'm blogging it, I wish I had. Names and details were omitted to protect the identity of everyone. Sorry that was so ambiguous.

The other morning my son said out of nowhere, "I think Peyton is the most beautiful out of all of us. I think Hope is most like you, that's why you fight so much." Just out of the blue, just like that. Then we talked about all sorts of things like why grandma is never wrong, why auntie Yvette is just like grandma and why I'll always be the best girl in his life. Ok so he didn't exactly say that, but as we were talking I got a vision of him at 6 years old saying, "mama you 0-ways be my bess girl." Sigh.

Meeting's about to start up again and I have myriad thoughts running through my mind, especially about MLK Jr. and things not seemingly related him, but important nonetheless. That's another post I suppose because it's finally sunny outside and I want to be able to stand in it for at least ten minutes before I have to start thinking again. Thinking hard, like about the four things I have to get done that I have only recently started. Okay so I haven't started on them yet, but I'm thinking about it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Julia makes me want to be a better person. Ok not really, but I did make some bruschetta

I liked Julie & Julia more than I thought I would. Yes, I fell asleep the first night Wayne put it on, but while my eyelids were dropping I said to myself in my best Julia Child voice, "I really must finish this movie." Last night, after watching it all the way through I realized some things about life, eating and blogging.
One, we all need purpose in our lives. I'm always saying I want to be happy, like I just want to be happy, that's all. The truth is, I don't just want to be happy, I want to live my life with direction. Purpose doesn't have to be something that changes the world if you act carefully and with love; it can be anything that simply makes something else better. Each day is a unique chance to do something for ourselves and others, no matter how small, even if it's just resolving to keep a smile on your face.
Two, I realized that I love to cook. Funny, I always envied my friends who could cook because my meals were well, mediocre at best. Maybe it's because Wayne's such a good cook, or because I see how much my family enjoys my recipes, but I have been cooking quite a bit this past year. Know what? I'm pretty good at it!
Three, blogging isn't narcissistic, it's brave. It takes a lot of guts to open yourself up and let people watch your life. I'm not saying I'm brave. I still get to edit and click the publish button after I write, so how raw can that really be right? I'm just saying, I'm putting it out there and you can take it or not, but I'm still the one choosing to do it.
Okay, so these are not earth shattering, miraculous revelations, but what did you expect? Stigmata on my bruschetta?

Peyton and Sommer making sand sculptures

Smiling, it's not that easy but Wayne keeps one on all the time.

On our way to the beach, our favorite place on Sundays.

Hope and Akieva chatting away, in person

This is the life, I agree

Saturday, January 2, 2010


It's been a fuller year than what I've been able or willing to blog. This year, I got started rather cautiously because both my new life and new limitations were in the forefront. I think FB became safer because I felt better able to protect my privacy. You find when going through readjustment in your life, that people who never used to care about you are suddenly fascinated by your every move. On Saipan, the coconut wireless moves faster and considerably less accurate than CNN. I love to blog. I will always blog. I find my voice in my blog, reflections of life that appear clearer when written down, or in this case, posted.

While going through the year's posts I realize that I haven't really shared much, the posts are few and ambiguous. So, I resolve to kick my butt in gear and start writing the way I used to - unabashed. Well, maybe I'm a little bit wiser now, so I'll also be writing more conscientiously, but conscientiously unabashed. Oooh, I love compromise. So, here's my YIR (year in review). It's the third one I've done so far and yet my life has taken so many turns since I started blogging. Click on the month or italicized words to take you to the original posts.

January : Emmet Cullen R. Pangelinan joins the pack. Wayne has an affinity for dogs and Emmet is our 4th. He is now a daddy, a year after he came to us. He's getting much bigger now, as Doberman Rotts will get, but he's still acting like a pup.
February : Wayne got a crazy idea to run out in the jungle and cut down some bamboo to make candles for Valentines Day. I get home to see him and Tonton chopping away and Emma and the girls digging out wax from the old power outage candle jars. What a way to reduce, reuse, recycle and romance!
March : Deece made these absolutely wonderful Coconut Ylang Ylang soaps for our wedding bon voyage party. People still talk about them. Shhh...I still have some :)
April : We hosted the family Easter Egg Hunt at our place and it was nice to see most of the family again. I love it when everyone makes time to get together.
May : Hope graduates from Jr. High School. I remember her first day and how much it affected me. She and I have changed so much, we're still learning to get used to one another's new found sense of independence and freedom. Okay, I lied. I'm still getting used to Hope being not yet a woman, not quite a girl.
June : I decide to start blogging again. I mean really trying without editing my intent or watering down my posts.
August : Farewell Dr. Rita H. Inos, our beloved former Commissioner of Education and a truly irreplaceable person.
September : I change my mind about Gardasil after being so adamant about it.
November : Schools on lock down and the island is in shock.
December : Forgiveness, rebirth and an unexpected trip that reminds me there's not just a New Year coming up; there are 363 new days on their way!