Familiarly Unfamiliar

Home. It once was. It still is. Or is it?

It fits like an old sweater. Comfortable. Like muscle memory, it all falls into place. Right here, left there. Memories like yesterday; places I once went; people I once knew. Good times. Other times. Real times, three decades yet almost two decades past. 

Put the kettle on and let’s reminisce about the good old days.

It’s different now. A bit shiny and new in places, blurry in others. What was once familiar is altered. Recognizable. It’s bigger and stranger yet also smaller and authentic and just around the corner.

Curiosity piqued, I’m compelled to immerse myself in it anew. See if I can expose what was once there, unbury memories from behind those new glassy facades. Travel along paths that had existed all along but were eclipsed. Maybe discover something to change my perspective. Reframe the past. Recast my future. 

There are other places I call home and that call me home right back. Is it okay to have so many homes? Geographies that make you feel as if you never left but which are foreign all at once. They stick to you like Velcro tabs; the fibres snap together as if they were always destined to but when ripped apart, they breathe a sigh of relief and blessed independence.

You were home to who I was back then. We’re both different now but the DNA remains. I feel the Velcro pull, London Town. 

  

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10 Pieces of Advice for My 11 Year-Old Son

Dear Gabriel,

Welcome to 11 and your pre-teen years! This is the impressionable time when the world comes into sharper focus, when your character (and body) begins to mold from child to teen. It’s also the year when you’ll graduate from elementary to middle school. When you’ll go to sleep-away camp for the first time, take formal art classes at an art museum, and stay home alone more. (It won’t be the year when you get a phone, sorry.)

There’s so much to look forward to in the 12 months ahead, and your papa and I will be here for you every step of the way. But, knowing that your desire to let us physically hold your hand is waning every day, we want to share the following advice to help steer you through the year ahead.

  1. Be yourself:You are the one and only ever you,” says one of my favorite books On The Night You Were Born. There will be days when you will feel down or when criticism from teachers or your peers might make you doubt yourself. But know that you are special, an individual, and hold your head high.
  2. Slow down: Your default mode is fast! Please try to pace yourself so that you can savor all the good times that are coming your way. (Related: don’t race though your homework, please take the time to review and check your work!)
  3. Be kind everyday: You never know how someone else is feeling. Be quick to offer to help, or to listen. Know that your smile or a few words of encouragement can make someone’s day.
  4. Ask questions: Lots of them. Always be curious. There are so many resources to fill in the gaps in your knowledge and even spark new interests.
  5. Be a good friend: Friendship is so much more than a playdate or being in each other’s Minecraft worlds. It means being there for your friends in good times and bad. Listening to them. Sharing with them. Making their needs your priority.
  6. Pursue your passions: While it’s important to try new things, knowing what excites and motivates you is important. Let it guide you.
  7. Try to make good choices (see #2): You already know right from wrong. But silliness, peer pressure and hormones can cloud any pre-teen’s judgement. You are a good, smart kid — so, please, use your head.
  8. Make mistakes: Yes you read that right. We’re going to let you make lots of them. It’s going to suck. But it’s one of the best ways to learn.
  9. Be grateful: Remember that you are extremely fortunate. Don’t take it for granted.
  10. Be satisfied with what you have (see #9): More doesn’t always mean better.

Happy 11th birthday Gabriel – we love you!

Mama and papa

355 Mass Shootings in 2015: America, You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself

I’m ashamed of you.

I’m disgusted. I’m sad. I’m mad. I’m weeping as I write this.

This is not a civilized society. We freely (and easily) arm our population so that we can turn and gun each other down with mind-numbing frequency.

This is not a democracy. This is not liberty.

America, you think you are so great. But take a good look at yourself. How can you be a proud nation, and yet so impotent to do what needs to be done? Politicians, you talk a good talk but where’s the conviction, where’s the action? Where are your balls? It’s shameful.

Last year I became an American citizen. After living here for 15 years, and raising a family here, I decided I need a vote. I believed that maybe, just maybe, my vote might make a difference.

Today I’m not so sure. Today I told my husband I don’t want to live in a country that just sits by and lets these godawful things happen to good people.

Screw “thoughts and prayers.” Those are empty words.

Yes, I’m emotional. Yes, I know this is a divisive issue. But this I also know. I cannot stomach it any more.

So I am seriously considering packing my bags and leaving. Because I don’t want to live in a country that has no respect left.

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