25 October 2011

I would rather drown as put "What's in a Name?" up here in the title field.

I chose Asa as my son's given name. I considered a lot of names, maybe, oh, 8-10 thousand-- and everyone seems really happy with that one, as does Asa. 

Since then, I've thought off and on about how there are names we give our children that, well, they just aren't much to live up to. You have to look at common names afresh to see what I'm talking about. Take Matt. As in... Wipe your shoes on that mat. See what I mean?

How about Mark? Who made this mark here? Get in here and clean it up right now!

It happens with girls' names. Dot. Pat. Here's one -- Midge. Now that's almost too obvious. Surely a parent would think better of that along the way.

What about Ali? Sheesh, we can only hope the Katz family sees the folly in that.

And imagine you name your kid Guy. If you're French and into Karate, sure, you could say it was the name of your Karate bathrobe thing. But if it's plain old American Guy, it's like you're offering up to the world the bare minimum. Who's your son? Oh, just some guy.

One I really snicker about is Nat. I know Nat's parents didn't think about it. If I were Nat, I'd start spelling it Gnat in college. And then I would use this for my avatar:
Fungus Gnat - Adult

There are a few names that should have fallen out of circulation naturally: Fanny. Now come on. John, Dick, Peter. These need no further explication.

There are so many more -- I know because I once made a big long list of Names That Aren't Much to Live Up To when I was particularly bored.

Right now, I'm not that bored. And you'll run across more. You'll think of it when you meet someone named, say, Tad.

22 October 2011

Overheard at Home

When I asked Asa if he wanted to go to a movie, he said:

In a real theater? Or in a "space"? Where they charge, like, $20?

21 October 2011

Takes a Village, #5

         La Familia Guatemalteca

Qué lindos, ¿no?

This is Brian, and this is Josi. They are in our Guate family, as we've come to call it. Their Mami Flor was Asa's nana for 10 years (in the US). A few times, we all flew to Guatemala with Flor to stay with her family. And they became ours.

Sarita, Poppa Cornu, María
They've lived on this finca their entire lives. We took Sarita
to a carnival and she went on all the rides. Twice!

Brian and Josi live on the finca where their family has lived for generations. The other people who live there full time are the very elderly Poppa Cornu (called, unavoidably, "Pop-o-corno" by Asa); Flor's two sisters, Sarita and María; and la Chinita, Ruth, who got her nickname because she looks Chinese. At least that's what Flor says. Ruth is Flor's daughter. Flor's son, Juan Carlos, lives with Flor in the projects in Boston. They both send money back for the family.

So what is a finca? It's hard to translate -- the dictionary says "estate," but these fincas, outside Guatemala City, are not the "estates" of U. S. English. Finca isn't exactly "farm," either. That's granja. Anyway... I like the word finca. 

This is when Sarita introduced Asa to the Joy of Pigs. Well, to pigs anyway.

Below is the central courtyard of the finca. You can see how estate

doesn't really describe it. The door on the right leads into the kitchen.

Notice how things are held up? It's just natural tree trunks, not finished boards. I think it's pretty.

Turning around, you see a small table and two more chairs. Nothing else is in the room. It's all out in the courtyard.

The stove (yep, that's what that is) is made of flat rocks set on top a concrete base. To cook, you build fires inside the base and then find a hot spot to set your pot, pan, kettle on.

I am pretty sure this is not good for the lungs. Especially if the lungs spend a lifetime in here.

Oh, look. Here's la Chinita now. Does she look Chinese to you? Ruth is la mamí of Brian and Josi. She is Mayan Indian and Latina. La Chinita is so beautiful; and she is the most serene person I have ever met.

At this point, she hadn't seen her husband, Gustavo, in more than two years. He was working in the US and sending money back. Ruth and Josi were handling it pretty well. Brian, not so well, I'm afraid. He seemed sad a lot.

I took the photo below of Josi in the courtyard. On this trip we brought toy knight armor and swords for Brian and Asa; for Josey, the accoutrement of a princess. We were wise to the fact that little Guatemalan girls had jumped on the American Princess bandwagon, too. I don't know what Josey is thinking here, but I hope it's not that every little girl can't be a princess. That's what I always think when I see all the Princess stuff on every single little girl at the mall.

Our Mayan Princess.
She always looks like she's on a downer
when I take her picture.


Thus ends the series, Takes a Village. I used to hear that and go, "Oh, that's nice." I've since thought a lot about the expression.

All humans work together to perpetuate and advance the species (in the long run), and to bring up the next generation (in the short run). What are the practical implications?

I'm thinking that when people who aren't parents gripe about how the parents in the office get to work at home on school holidays, or take the day off on snow days, we can all consider the extra work and time put in to be a contribution to raising the village's children. We would all want parents to be with their children to care for them when needed.

Adoption, foster care, hosting exchange students are ways to give to the village. On a smaller scale, you can take a kid whose parent died, to shop for a holiday gift for the other parent. Who else is going to take them? Offer to show up after ESL class and talk casually with the students. It gives them more conversational practice. I'm thinking 15 minutes, that's all.

Give blood. Babies in particular need their specific blood types. If you can give platelets, consider getting into the apheresis program. They won't make you spell it. Hell, they won't even make you say it.

I know this whole thing sounds preachy. And it went on a long time. And I don't care. ~tapu

14 October 2011

Therapy Comes to 1950s Hollywood, #3 in a series

Now wouldn't that have been a good idea?


It seems that talking about your father upsets you. Why don't we take just a moment for you to feel those feelings?

I hear you saying that people don't like you. I would ask, Do you like yourself?


You've probably heard of "binge eating."
Does that resonate with you?


Let's imagine for a moment that you
are not Baby Jane Hudson.


Oh, Rock

 These feelings are about men in general, 
or about a special friend?

Ohhh, Rock

08 October 2011

Bored at Work?

I thought of another thing I've done to lift my spirits and staunch my boredom.  I don't work at this place anymore so I figure I can confess to this. (Like I wouldn't anyway.)


Not so long ago I had this job that absolutely stifled my little spirit. It was pure management and nowhere in the realm of creativity, where I've always fit best.

Our kitchen was much bigger than this. Also, the employees
wore much more casual clothing--not just on Friday either.
Some people wore shorts! (Not management.)
In the kitchen at this job, where probably a hundred people worked, I would hear everyone complain about not having enough flatware available if they took lunch too long after noon.

So I gradually started removing flatware from the kitchen until people were, like, practically screaming about the lack of spoons. I'd hear, "People are taking the forks to their desks and then just leaving them there and now the rest of us can't use them!!" and such.

Is there really a call for this
much specialization??
I had a pretty strong collection by about New Years so when we came back after the first, I started insinuating all the flatware back into the kitchen. I even gathered up an old set or two I had at home and added those in.

The whole office seemed happier within a week and I felt really happy and entertained, too.


I've had many opportunities over the years to doubt the wisdom in making me a manager. When it comes right down to it, I'm why we need management. But this time I think I can say that, ultimately, I had a very positive effect on the workplace.

06 October 2011

If You're Happy and You Know It... Well, You'd Have to Know It, Wouldn't You?

With summer falling away, fall settling in, and winter about to fall upon us, here are some of the things I do to lift myself out of sadness and up into laughter disproportionate to the events and my surroundings.

FAIL. Use key ringer to find... keys?

1. One thing I like to do is hide things around the house that I know people will need, such as their keys or wallets. Then when they start looking I say, "I'll help!" Then I find it almost immediately. It makes me feel good to have helped them out that way, you know?

Oh, don't feel sorry for him!
He's fine!

2. If I'm just at home by myself and don't want to go out or do anything special, I follow my dog around. Fairly closely, like he will me. Wherever he goes, there I am, right behind him.

He starts to get nervous pretty quickly and he's, like, looking around at me, left and right. Then his ears go down and he slinks around, trying to shake me. That just always cheers me up.

Nice costumes, boys.  I still win!

3. With Halloween coming up, I'll be getting ready for my annual act. I dress up like a Halloween dummy and sit outside with a bowl of candy on my lap that says "Just take two."  When the kids come up to get candy, I don't say a word--I just jerk a little and shove the bowl up to them.

One year, parents asked me to stop because a few kids were crying and one had done this impressive duck-and-cover to get away. But the whole idea was to cheer me so I started up again as soon as they left.

You can bet he'll be out there
pursuing his GED after the holidays.

4.  You know the day after Thanksgiving? When you go to stores, form mobs, crush other shoppers, get caught on video, and end up on CNN headline news? Well, that's the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year!

Yes, everyone knows already, but I think of the little people--the retail workers, biting their nails for 48 hours, not able to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner.

I don't shop that day; I ghost around the check-out counters and direct my question brightly to the clerks: This is the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year!  Didja know that?


05 October 2011

What were the writers thinking??

A new Muppet is introduced!  Her name is
Lily, and . . . wait for it . . . she lives in poverty.

This is the only picture I could find of Lily
where she did not look out-of-her-mind ecstatic.
Now is that because she's delirious from hunger,
or just because she's a Muppet?

Bert:        Yep, everybody is doing pretty well here on Sesame Street....
                 Oh! Except Lily. She lives in poverty.

Ernie:       So, like, if you don't have a house, that's where you live??

Grover:    Don't her parents work? What are they, lazy?

Bert:         Shh. Here she comes now. Ix-nay on the overty-pay.

Leave it to Sesame Street to put a positive spin on poverty.


Zero Tolerance? Ha, we laugh at Zero Tolerance!

Whenever my mom made me lunch to take to school, she wrapped up a can of pop (you know, soda) in tinfoil and put it in the bottom of my lunch sack.  One day at lunch I peeled off the tinfoil--happily anticipating my pop!--and there was a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

It was just the regular,
small one, there on the left. 
I was only 6!
As would any other fearful, freaked-out, believes-the-world-is-unpredictable-but-you-can-bet-it-will-be-bad 1st-grader, I hastily and with panic wrapped it all back up in the tinfoil and the sack and sat there stock-still and stricken until the end of the lunch hour.

I was afraid to carry it, afraid to throw it away. I knew that I would be caught with it. It was a matter of when and where. It would be somewhere that, when it happened, hundreds of people would be there when my unmasker plucked the can out of my sack, held it up high, and shouted, Jennifer has a beer!

I only vaguely understood why it was bad to have a can of beer, but I knew that it was so bad that the consequences would be searing. Would possibly take me down! Down where? I didn't know. Prison?

Finally, sitting in class, the can and I sweating, my nerves became too much for me and I abruptly rushed with my package up to the teacher who was--hello!--trying to teach, and showed it to her right where she stood at the board. She told me to put it in my desk again and take it home at the end of the day.

My classmates had seen, or been told what they missed by those who had seen, and so for a couple of days everyone treated me like I was really cool. See? The world is unpredictable. But not always so bad.

04 October 2011

Night, light.

Maybe if I turned this
thing off, I could sleep.

01 October 2011

Girl children are meaner.

Listening out the window, I heard Asa trying to join in playing "family camp-out" with Mariah and her friends.

In working out who would be who, they looked to Ivy, who always took charge, to confirm their roles.

Asa said brightly, "I want to be the dog!"

"We already have a dog," said Ivy.  "But you can be the tree the dog pees on."

As I comforted him afterwards, I snickered a little, and he said, "Mama, you wouldn't laugh if she said it to you!"