Saturday, October 21, 2017

Citizen Yaj

Hooray, Mama!

And, in a flash, that was that. With the pledge of allegiance and the gift of a small American flag, Ya-Jhu was officially an American. This was the end of a 10-year process, during which she had visas and green cards galore. Every time she had to re-enter the country over the years, she panicked at the thought of possibly being separated from husband Sheridan, three year old Aiden and baby Peter, US-born citizens all. Studying for her citizenship test at the dinner table, we all learned more than we’d ever known before about our history and our system of government. Yaj aced every question we asked her. She brought Aiden downtown for the ceremony as the rest of us were working, and she truly didn’t want to make a huge deal of this. But I know she was happy to bring this chapter of her life to a conclusion, and begin the next.

But here’s the thing: Ya-Jhu opted for dual citizenship (USA and her native Taiwan). She deeply loves her homeland and wanted to retain her citizenship there as well. So she is, truly, a citizen of the world.

In this distressing time of rabid nationalism, I find it both refreshing and encouraging that there are so many Ya-Jhus out there who belong to two nations, both paying tribute to the land of their birth, and joyfully joining the ranks of their country of residence. Because what are borders but the lines arbitrarily drawn by the powers that be? Look at Germany, Italy, Russia, much of Africa—areas were named and renamed, claimed and reclaimed. It seems to me so foolish that people vilify the citizens of other countries, and deny their refugees entrance in a time of war and hardship. What, I ask them, would have become of THEIR ancestors when they came to the United States, had they been summarily turned away? And I recall with shame the way we brutally took over this country, that our Native brothers and sisters had lived in for thousands of years. We have a lot to face, guys.

How I wish we could all be just international citizens! It is a big, beautiful, amazing world, and I feel so sad that artificial barriers keep us apart. When you think of it, we are each a melting pot unto ourselves, a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. Whether we claim dual citizenship or not, we all have roots in other countries. So as we officially welcome Ya-Jhu Yang, American, into our midst, let us salute Ya-Jhu Yang of Taipei, Taiwan. Let us love our country without elevating it to sainthood. Let us wave our American flags, as well as the flags of all nations.  


I look at the picture Yaj snapped of my darling grandson Aiden at the ceremony, Aiden who is half American, half Taiwanese. He is the precious product of two distinct and wonderful cultures, now merging with his amazing mother, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Friday, September 22, 2017

Blah Blah Blog

There are countless folks blogging these days, it seems. Some, like me, merely want to write for an audience and sharpen their skills as wordsmiths; if my readers share my posts, or buy my books, so much the better! But I truly went into this blog thing in November of 2011 as kind of a writing lark. I never dreamed I’d keep it up this long, though I’m really glad I have.

When I first blogged, Sher and Yaj were not yet married, Evan was still in the Navy; Rose was just back from Seattle. PJ had yet to graduate from Millersville, and Julie was a high school junior. Needless to say, Aiden and Peter had not made their appearances on the world stage yet. And that’s just the changes in MY life in the past 6 years! Think about how the world has changed!!

Actually, I won’t think about it—on my blog, anyway. There are more than enough blog voices on both sides of the political aisle—I don’t feel the need to add to the cacophony at this point. Plus I am very thin-skinned and hate to contemplate the chorus of negativity that would inevitably follow whatever my opinion happened to be.

Peter's Birthday Cake! Notice the Chocolate Ganache! Don't notice the debris behind it!

 There are so many other types of blogs that I also do not feel compelled to emulate—the Food Blog, for example. The successful Food Blogger has an engaging but breezy writing style, an arsenal of super-duper recipes, and—perhaps most importantly—an A # 1 camera to capture all those delicious souffles and frittatas. But even THEN, the nay-sayers have to chime in: “The cake batter overflowed the pan! I had to clean my oven for the very first time! Horrific experience!!!!” “I can’t eat eggs. Why are there so many eggs in your egg recipes??”

And I cannot forget the “money-making” bloggers, who boast of raking in thousands of bucks per month. What do they do? Far as I can tell, they all have tons of unsightly pop-ups and ads on their blogs; content wise, they all seem to just post about teaching courses (for $$$) on How to Make Money with Your Blog. What am I missing here?


After years of threatening to do it, I think Rose is finally serious about starting her blog. For those who enjoy her hilariously snarky and really well-written Facebook posts, I think we all have a treat in store. As for me, I will probably continue on the quiet, well-worn path of gentle humor, sentimental reminiscence and non-controversial observations that have marked my first 225 posts. Does that make me a Blah Blogger? Perhaps. But, unless I suddenly become a different person, one who opines boldly about things governmental, or posts mouth-watering snapshots of the goodies in her kitchen (and that’s another thing—I’d have to borrow someone else’s kitchen. Ours is a disaster!), my faithful readers can expect just more of the same from me in the posts to come. You have been warned!

Bloggers?



Saturday, September 9, 2017

Back to School

It’s back-to-school time! So many happy memories! Having a tug-of-war with another crazed mom in the aisle at Staples over the last 4” binder in the tri-state area! The chore of attempting (and attempting, and attempting) to waken my grouchy kids after a sleep-in summer! Filling out endless paperwork for all my little students the morning everything was due (I always hastily listed my nicest neighbor’s information as our “emergency contact”—figuring I’d ask her permission later)!

Oh, wait. HAPPY memories?

Never mind.

My First Day of 8th Grade--check out the anxious face!
Seriously, though, September always produces intense anxiety in me. As a child, I dreaded always having to getting used to a new classroom, and a new teacher. I would have fared much better as a resident of The Little House on the Prairie, with the same predictable schoolmarm for eight straight years. Instead, as soon as I learned the ways of my fourth grade teacher, a sweet 19- year-old Irish nun named Sister Mary Brendan, it was time to acclimate myself to the stern and forbidding Miss Hibbert in fifth. As we moved around a lot, First Day of School got tougher and tougher. I had to meet, then bid farewell to, a dizzying succession of instructors. In college, I would haunt the halls hoping to say hi to my really nice German teacher—while steering clear of my brilliant philosophy professor (I still have nightmares about the assignment: “Discuss Anselm’s ontological argument, then present your own proof of the existence of God.” Hey, Anselm was a good guy! Why couldn’t I just take his word for it?)

But these days, I do try to calm myself and count my autumn blessings—no one in our house is applying to college this year, for example. Nobody is bringing home a jam-packed “Friday folder” with the week’s math tests and spelling papers for me to look over and sign either. I haven’t packed a school lunch in years—no more running out of string cheese and peanut butter and that horrible yogurt you squeeze from a tube. No more time consuming and “clever” book report assignments (in third grade, the teacher fad was Book Report in a Can: empty aluminum cans that had to be covered with paper, then decorated with scenes from The Indian in the Cupboard. SO much work! And the kids even did a little bit of it too!)

Next week, maybe I’ll drive over to Jarrettown Elementary at dismissal and just sit in the car pool line for a while, for old times’ sake. I may shed a tear as I remember my children, who used to clamber into the back seat, talking eagerly and breathlessly about what happened at recess. But after that, I will dry my eyes and give thanks that we all got through those crazy, exhausting years. And as I do, maybe I’ll finally let go of my anxiety, which after all never did anyone any good, and learn at last to enjoy September.

Not going anywhere NEAR Staples, though.

Julie's First Day of Nursery School