Monday, August 30, 2010

What Not To Wear

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to shop. NOT. My idea of a shopping spree is using my Discover points to get LLBean discount cards and hit the Sale page for a new pair of jeans or more fleece of various thickness. I am not sad that I live an hour away from any kind of mall.

Now that we live in the NW, I fit right in. We're not in Sugar Land any more. Jeans work for 3 seasons, and cool evenings in summer. Sweatshirts and fleece jackets never get stored away. Keen makes great hiking shoes, boots and sandals. Who needs anything more?

Apparently, one of Keara's goals for her visit last week was to stage an intervention. After our Costco and Trader Joe run, we stopped at the Outlet Mall in Troutdale, where I thought she just wanted to pick up a few last minute things to wear for work. HA! We entered the Gap Outlet where she proceeded to choose clothes for ME! Try this on. This will look great with that. Your jeans are horrible, try these! Then she stood outside the dressing room door and awaited my appearance to thumbs up or down. I ended up walking out with a new pair of jeans, a pair of gray bermuda shorts, a pair of taupe colored dress pants, a short sleeved T and a long sleeved button down white shirt to wear under the purple cardigan and the turquoise shawl collared sweater, and a colorful sleeveless blouse. Then it was time to find an acceptable bag to replace my aging LLBean healthy back bag that has way too many hidden pockets. The Totes store had the answer. I had to promise to work on shoes. We ran out of time.

I went to work at Springhouse Cellars the next afternoon, in my new shorts, a pin striped white blouse that was hiding in my closet, and sandals. I had to sneak my Keen sandals into the car when she wasn't looking. I need those rubber protected toes! And I wore the new jeans, Tshirt and purple sweater to the airport when she left for Seoul on Saturday (above photo). Thanks, Keara. You were a great 'Stacey'...we didn't even need Clinton.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Hope for the Future

It's been busy in the 'hood. We just finished up working on the primary election, Jamba Marimba had its last scheduled gig of the summer, and my first daughter came home for a week. One week. To put the finishing touches on her preparations for her year teaching English overseas. So thoughts of 'home', our lives and the lives of many friends have been swirling around in my head.

For Keara, home is wherever we are. She spent the first 5+ years of her life in California (though my Texas friends will be proud to know she had her REAL beginning in TX). Her K-5 elementary years were spent in Lagos, Nigeria, where she learned and played with kids from 40 different countries. During those years, we visited at least 13 different countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. She went off on her own to the UK in 2002 for a 3 week program at Cambridge between soph and junior year in high school. She added several more European countries during her 6 months in Berlin during junior year at Brandeis. After college, she wanted to work, enjoy life in Boston beyond college, and figure out what to do next. A few mundane admin jobs later, she made a choice to get back out in the world for a new adventure, and prepare for what comes next (grad school, perhaps at UT?). Her advisor in college suggested she needed non European experience to reach her career goal of International Student/Study Abroad officer at a university. Asia was one place she hasn't been, so Asia it is.

South Korea, specifically. All her language study has been European, with 5 years of jr-sr high Spanish, a major in German, and exposure to French at school in Nigeria. Why not go someplace and do total immersion????? That's Keara. I am so grateful we had the years in Nigeria to give the kids a broader perspective. Our friend Joel, the admissions counselor at AIS-L, gave a talk on Third Culture Kids that I'll never forget. Kids who live outside their own culture and how the experience transforms them.

I think about our friends Barb and John, whose daughter Kelsey is in The Gambia with her husband in the Peace Corps, both of them fresh out of grad school. Kelsey lived in Indonesia as a kid. Our friends Tom and Mary's son Matt was a junior high student when we came to Nigeria. After law school, Matt went to Rwanda and started up Indego Africa, investing in long term skills for Rwandan women. Most of our overseas friends' kids have done semesters abroad. Tom and Leila's daughter Andrea, already fluent in Spanish, is getting some hospital nursing experience under her belt, and studying French, so she can join one of my favorite charities, MSF (Doctors Without Borders). My friend Hal's wonderful daughter Sara taught English in Egypt for several years. Other former expat friends, like Diana and Scott, have kids in the military serving overseas. I often wonder where all the kids that Keara went to elementary school with have ended up.

Some of our friends NEVER went overseas, but their kids are out there in the world doing good things, like my friend Janet's Kate, who has been working for a health care NGO in Rwanda the last several years. My cousin Steve's daughter Janna, who just finished a year teaching English in, coincidentally, S. Korea. Keara's wonderfully crazy friend Lucy from Louisiana, who just finished a year of working in Australia and traveling all over Asia, and now wants to apply for a job in S. Korea. My friend Avalon's daughter left this week for a 4 year PhD program in Dusseldorf. Others in and graduated from the service academies, all out serving us in the world.

These are only a few examples. There are more. But it gives me great hope during a time when so many Americans have gone so xenophobic that I am embarrassed for our country. We finally have a president, also a Third Culture Kid, who has restored some semblance of respect in the world but ironically, brought out the worst ugliness at home. As a second generation kid myself (my maternal grandparents came from Germany) I get very discouraged. Living in SW Houston neighborhood of 30 plus homes with only 3 Anglo American families, with neighbors from around the world. I worry how they are faring with this nonsense. I am concerned about my wonderful Muslim neighbors, who would invite us to celebrate the end of Ramadan with them. My Chinese neighbors who would bring tea for Chinese New Years. My Vietnamese neighbors who would stop by with freshly made spring rolls. Our house was bought by a Chinese family. There was only one Anglo American family left when we moved. That makes me sad.

Then I think of all these bright young people out there in the world, putting a great face on what Americans are REALLY like. It gives me hope. Have a great year, Keara. Show them what American looks like.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Best Email of the Day


Sorry I haven't been writing. I try to keep my political life out of my blog life. It's been difficult lately. There are so many things I want to write about. So I've spent a lot of time writing other places. I apologize, and will get back to local color when I'm done tilting windmills.

I got a lot of really annoying emails today. The most annoying was so aggravating, I responded with this.

But the best one was THIS one. I got an email from the Prez. Just because I signed his Birthday Card. Great manners. Really great.
Loretta --

I want to thank you for signing my birthday card.

Michelle told me that she was planning something a little different this year, and I was overwhelmed by the kind words I received from so many supporters like you.

This job has a way of offering humbling moments. And the support you have shown me, time and time again, has sustained me through any number of difficult days. It is more than any president deserves, and I could not be more grateful.

On my birthday, I spent some time considering what the year ahead will bring -- a new set of challenges and opportunities, some that we can foresee and some that we cannot.

If we continue to stand together, I know we will continue to move America forward and win these fights for change.

Thank you again for taking a moment to sign my card. As far as birthdays go, it is hard to imagine topping this one. But then again, Michelle always has a way of surprising me.


I find myself really rooting for this guy (even though I was a Hillary supporter-still am-she's a great Sec State). He's working his butt off, swimming upstream against obstructionist Republicans who demand concessions then vote no anyway. He gets disrespected at every turn, yet he's accomplished a lot more than the previous president, with no recognition for it. He's a good person, a good dad, and a good husband, by all indications. I don't understand the hatefulness of some of the people in this country. It totally embarrasses and concerns me.

Thanks, Barack, for send me an email. You made my day.