Thursday, September 30, 2004

Thomas Concannon

In loving memory of Papaw...

I took this picture the day we met.
He was the person that made the biggest impact on me since I arrived to this country. He had lots of books and loved poetry and art.
His ancestor were Irish and he would always celebrate that. In fact you still can see both, USA and Ireland flags outside his house.
We could spend hours talking about literature, philosophy or politics.
He had a wonderful humor and loved telling jokes, bad jokes.
One of his favorite hobbies was writting quotes in small bussiness cards and in every visit he would make you read them. He never stoped teaching.
He loved music and used to say that music was the only form of comunication that could reach human souls clearly without being limited by the different languages, that even if a song was sang in an unknown idiom we could still get the message.
His favorite show was "West Wing" and he was proud that Martin Shean was from Dayton.
He loved Joan Baez voice and songs.
He knew every little bird and could tell you without mistake the name of any of them.
While he had enough air in his lungs he wouldn't let me go home without singing to me:

Come in the evening, or come in the morning;
Come when you’re look’d for, or come without warning:
Kisses and welcome you ’ll find here before you,
And the oftener you come here the more I ’ll adore you

When we met he told me: " I don't know what your intentions are here, but let me tell you one thing, I would love it if you became part of my family".
But most important of all: He always told me that he loved me and I was his favorite girl.
I will miss him so much, and I will need him yet more.

The autumn leaves

It’s finally here. I like this season because of the colors. The trees are going red, yellow and brown.
Temperature is good enough and I like the cracking noises of leaves under my feet.
The other day I went to a store to buy a few pots for my African Violets and all I could see was the stupid Halloween things all over the place.
I used to like holidays and that kind of stuff but everyday I like them less.
My husband says that these kind of holidays are boring and senseless for me because I don’t have a background or memories associated to them. He seems to be right. It’s just that I wish I would have some sort of memories that could make me fond of these things. In the beginning I was really curious about them. But all of them turned out to be flaps.
July 4th I don’t even remember how was it. Memorial day is not something I would like to celebrate. Halloween had everything but children because parents are too afraid to send them for candy door to door. Thanksgiving was something like “Ah, ok, go to kitchen and help yourself”. Christmas in winter meant to be indoors all the time, putting up with silly emotional crap about a fake tree instead of a real one, a newly widower going hysterical if somebody left a plate in an angle different from what it was originally; etc. New Years Eve was as boring as watching American football while playing trivia… and that was exactly what we did.
It’s sort of funny got shopping in this season. Everywhere they sell seasonal decorations. If I’d live with a mom that changes decoration for each season and puts coordinated stuff in my bathroom, table, kitchen, bedroom etc, I would be scared to death. Do you imagine Halloween theme in you curtain shower, towels, soap dish, silverware and dinnerware and even in your bed comforter?
THAT would be a scary Halloween.
One thing I love with all my heart about this season: Pumpkin Pie. And if it’s from Mamaw, my husband’s grandmother, it becomes beyond this world.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

I could have danced all night, and even ask for more... Well, Maybe not.

Today I had the most bizarre idea… or dream… or vision… I don’t know. I imagined myself bringing my guitar to work and playing a song in Spanish. Maybe the song I’m listening to right now. Something with rhythm, that makes people dance. But of course there is something completely wrong about my illusion and it’s that nobody here would dance. Music doesn’t flow in their veins like it does in mine. I hear music and I have a hard time stopping myself of dancing. When I was at home my sister put some salsa and asked me to dance with her. I almost cried when I noticed that I got tired after 2 minutes of dancing. I almost didn’t make it for the whole song. Me!!! I was the one that would go to dance and from midnight until 5:00 am I wouldn’t stop more than once to have something to drink and then come back to dance. I would come back home at 6:00 and get up again at 7:00 to go to work. And that was just 2 years ago! What happened to me? Simple, I got fat and lazy. I don’t want to be like that. I had such a hard time taking the stairs for the subway and keeping up with the rest when walking.
So on Monday I started to stop this madness and made a bunch of abs. Yesterday I went swimming and today I plan to do the same. I need to go back to what once I was. A healthy and beautiful woman and the next time I visit my country I will dance all night long like I used to.
I promise!!!

Como Vai Voce

That is the title of a beautiful song. It’s in Portuguese but I still can understand most of what it says. The title means, “How are you?” and of course it’s a love song. The version I’m listening to it’s mostly acoustic guitar and some violins on the background. I can also hear some electronic sounds but I can barely notice them.
I love music from other countries. I love music in French, Portuguese, Italian and any other language. That is the way I learnt my English that although it’s not perfect, it’s not bad either.
One of the things that surprised me most of USA is the little that they know of world music. I mean, I grew up listening Rita Pavone, Edith Piaf, Salvatore Adamo, Nicola Di Bari, Charles Aznavour, etc. but here, in a place with 100 times more people than in my country, nobody seems to know who is any of those singers. It’s kind of sad because it’s hard to know what is going on in the rest of the world regarding to music if nobody is interested in anything but songs in English.
In my last visit to my native country my sisters made me catch up with a lot of international music that was really interesting. I bought a few CDs and one that I specially liked was from a French band called Holden. Down there you can hear all kind of diverse music on the radio. It’s not so limited like the radio stations in USA. Here you have a radio station for country music, other for pop, another for jazz and so on. Down there it doesn’t matter what radio station you are listening to. The only difference between selections might be that some radio stations only play vintage music in Spanish and others play music from any part of the planet without caring about the language as long as it is pop music.
I still find hard to believe that in a country so full of immigrants like this there is so little noise from other cultures.
Maybe it’s just this Midwest bubble that I’m lost in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Several days without a good sleep finally took its toll. Yesterday I wasn’t able to come to work. I was a wreck. Between the insomnia, sinus and depression there was nothing left from me. I don’t even remember very well what I said to my husband when he tried to wake me up. I think it was as simple as “I can’t”. He called my office and I just woke up about 1:30 PM with a horrible sensation of not being able to breathe.
I spent most of the afternoon watching daytime TV and brushing my cat’s hair. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I’m lucky that the husband I have is so understanding and good to me. He doesn’t demand anything from me.
I was giving some thought to those nightmares that keep me awake. Some of them are related to my family and most of them have to do with memories from my childhood. I guess I am very insecure about everything, and I guess that I am very scared about my future and about what am I going to do with my life. All I know is that I have to do something new soon and something rewarding. Something that could make me happy. Answering phones is not my idea of future. I don’t care very much about my job and that makes much harder coming back to USA.
In my country I don’t have all the commodities that I have here but I still feel more at ease. The only reason I’m not coming back is because down there they still have a lot of prejudices that I can’t bear and I don’t feel like asking for an opportunity. I will consolidate myself and then… maybe I’ll come back.

Monday, September 20, 2004

It's so nice to have you back where you... belong?

Back at home.
Every time is harder to come back. And this damned silence it’s driving me crazy!
I love my apartment and I love my husband and my cat, but I hate this town. I feel so desperately lonely that I feel like I need to scream with all the air that can fill my lungs.
Yesterday I did. Then I was scared that my neighbors could get worried about me, but nobody knocked at the door. Nobody cares here. Only my husband is there. Even for him is hard to ask and try to know more about human beings and their souls.
I turned on the TVs. I have 3. One is in my bedroom; other is in the living room and a very small b/w in my kitchen. That noise gives me the illusion of company, of people around. Even if I mute I still can hear that buzzing of the TV turned on.
I miss my sisters like if I had some part of my body missing. I just want to know that they are present in the same room. Even if they are somewhere else I feel so at peace knowing that they will come back home at night. It’s like the buzzing of a muted TV. You can’t hear the noises but you know it’s on, and that comforts you.
The truth is that nobody will come back to our apartment tonight with a new stupid, sad, happy, nonsense, important, mean, nice, or funny story to tell while having tea. I won’t hear the tick-tick-tack of my mom while she knits some sweater and I won’t laugh looking at my dad falling asleep in front of the TV. My youngest sister won’t scare a hell out of me with some nonsense fear of failing some test at the university, and I won’t see my other sister’s face to try to see through that mysterious sadness that keeps her so far away from everybody.Should I come back home? The answer is no. I can’t go back looking for another opportunity. That’s not an option and I can undo the path I’ve walked already. I can’t go back, I have to look forward and someday, when I don’t need to ask for another chance, I will take my husband, my cat, my guitar and my books and will look for a small house in MY land. Because I might have changed the address and I might be sleeping under a different sky, but my soul is still wondering and there nothing that can erase the birthmark of The Andes from it.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Freak Show

I hate to be social. I guess it´s just when it´s about being social with people that I like but I´m not really interested in.
Today was the obligatory BBQ for welcome and goodbye from my family ...and my family´s family.
I admit that I was crazy about meeting my aunts and eating some good food, but they came with one of my aunt´s husband and if it is true that he is a good guy, it´s also true that he is boring as hell.

We were all sitting on the table enjoying the tea, and he was talking. I must have been distracted and all of the sudden it was just he and me. He started to tell me that old and boring story of how he became supervisor on his job, how he straightened up a group of lazy and irresponsable people, how the other guys dislike him becuse he is so responsible and honest, how he has been saving so much money to his managers and how well he did in seminar that he attended directed to supervisors of his company. It´s always the same. The rest is bad and lazy and he is the good hero. Everybody left me there with him and nobody came to save me. I didn´t know how to escape. I found the way to go to the kitchen but when I came back he was waiting for me to continue.
I feel bad because I understand that he is a very simple guy and very good too, and that maybe because of the same reason he doesn´t have more things to talk about. But I was so tired of all that.
I really appreciatte this guy, he has always been good to me and my family and I respect him, but I guess that the next time I will avoid this quality time that he gives me.

I got to talk with my aunts, which is great. We were enjoying some old pictures and, of course making jokes about every little thing in this less than serious world. They have a very peculiar and great sense of humor. I can´t imagine a moment with my aunts without laughing. And my aunt Olga, she is the greatest. She is funny and you can hear her laughs from out on the street. She makes fun of everyone, including herself. I still feel like a little child next to her and I still hug her like I was 5 years old. She is the kind of woman that every little child would dream as a fairy godmother. She is not pretty like one, but I´ve never met a child that doesn´t think that she is the funniest friend anyone can have.

I´m a little tired tonight. I miss my husband, however for everyday that passes so far away from him and so inmerse in my old life of daughter, niece, granddaughter, goddaughter and single woman, i feel yonger and younger. It´s so weird! It took me so much work to start feeling like a grown up woman and now everything is vanishing again. I feel happiness playing with the dogs and cats, brushing my sisters´hair, singing all over the place and going to my old church that for moments I find hard to believe that I have a completely different life at the other side of the world. I feel every second more like a child.
This morning I went to the church with my sisters and when I went to receive the communion I realized that the one that would give it to me was the director of my old school! And there she was, a little older but the same woman with italian accent. She said to me "The Body of Christ..." I said "Amen" and when I opened my mouth I was so impressed and happy that it was almost unbeareable. I wanted to hug her and tell her "Do you remember me sister Maria Luisa? I was one of those little deamons that you used to chase away from your convent!!". I didn´t say anything. I just felt like many years of memories of my childhood in that place came back to me, and I just looked directly in her eyes trying to find those memories there too. Maybe I wasn´t so wrong after all. She smiled at me and while placing the "Body of Christ" on my tongue she smiled back at me and... winked!.

Friday, September 03, 2004

My eyes hurt

I spend 80% of last night crying like a baby.
I went to visit my husband's grandfather. He is dying.
I refused to believe it until last Sunday. I saw it just bones and without being able to say more than a few monosyllables.
I got closer to his ear and I whispered "I love you". Then he opened his eyes with a lot of effort and whispered "I love you too". Just like 20 years ago did my own grandfather.

February 1985.
I was a child and I went to bed before everyone. They were talking in the kitchen. I was falling asleep and I heard him coughing. I got up and he was looking bad, and it was really thirsty so I picked a jar of plum juice that somebody left next to his bed and with a teaspoon I started giving him little sips until he seemed to feel a little better. He was just bones too, and in those days the anesthesia wasn't as good as these days and living with cancer in a rural area was close to hell. He didn't have flesh anymore and was so weak that passed more of his day in silence. His thorax was an empty space and you could almost see his spine from his front. And there I was, scared of not knowing if what I was doing was good, and happy of being able to be with him. As a child they tried to keep me out of his room as much as possible. He look at me, and with a strength that I don't know where it came from, he sat on his bed and huged me saying: "Mi nietecita!" which means "My little granddaughter". I was so happy that I didn't care of his dry skin smelling like the hospital, and I was so touch that I didn't want to leave him. I gave him some more juice and then my grandmother entered the room and sent me back to bed. She didn't know that he spent the little strength remaining in a hug for me. Next morning he had to got back to the hospital where a few weeks later he would die.

August 2004
Last night I was nervous. I didn't know what to tell Papaw. I didn't know if he would hear me or if he would understand me. I was talking to Mamaw, she also looks very tired. Then somebody called and I walked to Papaw's bed. He was watching TV and his arm, now showing every bone, was under his head. He looked a little better than last Sunday. I told him I wouldn't be able to be with him during the next two weeks so I didn't wanted him to do anything crazy during that period of time. He smiled and said a few words with extreme difficulty. He didn't want me stay far too long. And then Mamaw came and told me to leave. She wouldn't let me play with his hands like I used to do nor talk to him anymore. She said that he would get too excited and winded up and then would be terrible for his brain. He would have a terrible night with so much excitation. He didn't want me to leave and I didn't want to say goodbye, because I'm afraid that last night was the last time we could hold each other hands.