Archive | April, 2010

I Have a Thought. Non-Grandma Related. It Happens.

30 Apr

Sooooo, Arizona. Wow. That law, in this country, is unbelievable. The possibility and probability of racial profiling, alarming. I will state right now that I believe in amnesty for each and every person who is currently within our borders. Today. Right now. No matter where you’re from, if you’ve committed no crime other than being undocumented, come on in, take off your coat, get a legal job and stay a while. Stay forever.

Now that being said, I don’t feel that documentation in all forms is necessarily a personal invasion. We accept it in many ways in our daily lives. When I drive my car, I must have my license. When I write a check, I must provide acceptable ID. I have a Social Security number. Uncle Sam pretty much knows where to find me at any time. At my job, I was required to carry an ID pass and for fuck’s sake, even my grocery store has me carrying a card that identifies what I buy, when I buy it and in what quantities.

My thought is on my European experience. We have the very convenient visa-waiver program. I can come and go as I please, to a whole host of countries, as long as I don’t stay over 30 days or take a job there. Pretty cool, right? And I can say, if it is possible to embody the American poster person, I am it. Blond, blue eyes, denim-wearing, maybe with Keds and even more probably with a Tommy Hilfiger sweater tossed casually over my shoulders. But I was never racially profiled. Even though by French law I would be required to produce my passport if asked, I never was by the police. Of course, that being said, it’s impossible to discount the inherent privilege of that appearance, what I am pointing to next, are the reasonable measures in place to ensure that I was there legally, as they pertained to everyone.

There are and were other means to ensure that I was not there illegally. When I wanted to change money, a passport was required. They didn’t rely on the validity of my North Carolina’s drivers license, although, ironically, the local Parisian Hertz did. When I wanted to rent a hotel room, same thing. If I’d wanted to open a bank account, sign a lease, execute any sort of document, the French would rely on my passport, visa or lack thereof, in the decision-making and approval process.

Of course, France has long grappled with immigration issues and amnesty efforts. 1996, 97 and 98 were incredible years. Les Bleus won the World Cup in 1998 with the aid of their Captain, one very not-French-sounding, Zinadine Zidane. The son of Algerian immigrants, born in Marseille, it was his face that was projected onto the Arc de Triomphe. An Arab face. A national hero.

I think, what I am saying, in one ginormous, bloggy reach-around, is this:

We have an historic opportunity to change the lives of millions. Amnesty is key to achieving this goal. We can, after amnesty has been extended, require a national ID. It’s certainly not unheard of, and only un-American if we don’t apply it to everyone. So to Arizona, if you really feel this is the solution, make yourselves a state ID card and issue it to all. Because we’ll certainly need to see it when you visit our states.

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Time to Talk Politics and I Hate Richard Burr

29 Apr

* not this time....

Grandma is about the best political barometer there is. She is genius in her ability to be as uninformed as the American public in general, only occasionally focusing on a select issue of interest to her. Since coming to my house, I have all but blocked Fox Nooz from her television, put her on a firm diet of MSNBC and allowed but a sprinkle of CNN. She loves Rick Sanchez, much to my chagrin. She flatly refuses to watch Rachel Maddow, having nothing to do with her personally, she simply can’t understand her. Seriously, I’ll watch with her for about five minutes and at minute six, on cue, she will turn to me and say, “what in the HELL is she talking about? She talks so damn fast.” Grandma can only absorb sound bites. Like I said, genius.

Not to say that Grandma isn’t her own brand of smart, and Lord knows she could manipulate the Devil himself into getting her own way, but given an opportunity to opine, she will regurgitate a Republican talking point with alarming precision. She will mangle an issue to the point that it is unrecognizable. She likes Sarah Palin.

Let’s take the Affordable Care Act, as a perfect example of why the Dems are in a shit load of trouble come November. Grandma was against it from the start. First just because it was change. As I have said many, many times before, Change is never welcome. She wasn’t against it with a Tea Partier fervor, but the issue came up regularly at breakfast. “If they pass that bill, I guess I’ll have to go to the poor house.”

Each and every time we talked, I told her about all the really good things the law would do. I’ll not outline them here, but I framed everything in the way that it would help me personally. I thought she’d for sure fall in line if she just understood what I stood to benefit.

Nope. She threw me under the bus. “Well, that’s all fine and good, but they’re going to cut Medicare.”

Sigh.

I knew Obama would win the Presidency when Grandma decided to vote for him, despite running on a platform of the dreaded CHANGE. And now, after listening to her politics (or her mangled version of someone’s politics) I know that the Democrats are thoroughly fucked come November. Grandma is so completely confused that she is prepared to vote against her beloved party. Although I would kill her before I’d allow her to vote for Richard Burr. Richard Burr himself would have to show up here to take her to the polls.

So as of today, I have resigned myself to having that absolute waste of breath, smug, total asshole, go back to Washington. For now. I’ll continue to monitor the political landscape through the Grandma lens and update if there is any change in Grandma’s perspective. One thing to know, Grandma is never wrong. Now, how do I book her on Maddow?

The Belle Isle Docks and San Fran Rocks

29 Apr

So. We have Grandma, 5′ 8″, auburn hair rolled and pinned. Fresh from a long weekend with Aunt Cad at Miss Henie’s.  A crisp cotton skirt, a white blouse with ruffles at the neck, and Dad, tiny, in a Navy uniform. The Belle Isle groaned and made her way to the dock. The sailors lined up on the deck, most not having seen their wives and children for a year and a half.

I imagine Grandpa straining to pick Grandma out of the crowd. I also imagine him failing. When Dad was born, she was 19. We are late bloomers, us Sharp girls. If you blink, we’ll become women where a gangly girl once stood. We’ll stun you with our change and shame a butterfly with our ability to morph into beauty.

As he disembarked and began to pass her by, thinking surely this beauty can’t be mine, she grasped his hand as Dad stood stoically by her side. He turned and saw her anew, and his son, dressed in a miniature Naval uniform, not the baby dressed as a girl, as was the custom of the time, but a tiny version of himself, from his visage to his clothes. And it all began again. The song played, the skate began, and she fell again before him. And he again, picked her up.

They left the dock hand in hand, Dad on his hip. They found a place to stay for the night and again sealed their love.

No guilt cards proffered or needed. Sometimes all you need is a sailor suit.

Grandma

A Sailor Suit and an Ice Queen

28 Apr

* dressing your baby as a sailor will work every time

 About a year and a half into Grandpa’s service, Grandma decided she’d received just about enough Guilt Cards and packed up and headed to San Francisco. The only nights she’d spent away from her childhood home were in her marital bed. The only countryside she’d seen was continually filled with corn. But as we all do, she had a plan, and a connection. 

* we all know someone worth knowing, don't we?

This lovely skating beauty is Sonja Henie, ice princess extraordinaire, a true star of her time. Grandma’s Aunt Cad, and aside, I love that I had an Aunt named Cad….was her cook. She travelled with her everywhere and would sometimes send Grandma a momento from her travels. When Grandma thought of San Francisco, she naturally thought of Aunt Cad. Who wouldn’t? 

She packed herself and Dad into a coach car and spent three days travelling farther and farther than she’d ever travelled in her whole life. Since it was war-time, the train was filled with sailors, Navy men, returning to port. She had ample time to reflect on her trip and plan her moves, with the sailors, missing their own kids back home, keeping constant watch on my Dad and giving her frequent breaks. 

I love the thought of a time long since passed, when one could without a second thought, hand over care of a child to a fellow passenger and never even consider that they’d not be returned safe and sound, as well as full of candy and soda. A common enemy and will to thrive makes a safe haven of any situation. Are we always at our best when forcibly bound by circumstance? Hopefully I’ll never know the answer to that, but that was the case then. 

The country girl/wife stepped off the train and into a limousine, courtesy of Sonja Henie. They were whisked away to the servants quarters of Miss Henie’s home. The crystal glittered, the bone china gleamed. They dined and talked and drank. She never thought of home for even a moment. Her parents or anything that came before that moment. She was a star. 

She’d see Grandpa soon.

Guilt Cards and Other Things Revealed

27 Apr

*or, an easy, socially acceptable way to leave your wife

Huh. Sometimes you just never know the direction a Grandma chat is going to go. We were in the kitchen and talking about Grandpa and her trip to San Francisco. He had joined the Navy in 1942 when my Dad was just a year old. I wondered why he had not joined earlier, or what drove his decision to join at that time, having that far avoided the draft and the general pressure to enlist.

Can a wife and baby be a worse fate than death at the hands of the Japanese? Turns out that the simple answer is yes. He’d not yet been called up, but things were so bad on the homefront, both domestically and Domestically, that he made the decision to enlist. Grandma said, without a hint of emotion, “I think he wanted to leave me.”  And off he went, on the U.S.S. Belle Isle to Okinawa and Wakayama, to repair ships after battle. He was trained as a welder and pipe fitter, skills much needed to repair our injured fleet.

*maybe on deck, protecting his country and evading his wife

I asked Grandma casually, “so do you think Grandpa ever had a taste of some of the Asian girls?”

“Oh Hell yes!” she said. “I knew every single time I received a card professing his undying love and how he couldn’t wait to have me in his arms again, that is was total bullshit. I called them Guilt Cards. I kept them for a while, but eventually threw them out. I didn’t need a record with a postal stamp of every date that he had messed around….”

Oh Shit.

I uncovered something good here, but must proceed with extreme caution.

“So how did that make you feel Grandma?”

“Cheated on, dummy.” Oh yeah, right. Times change. Feelings don’t.

“So what’d you do?”

“I took your Daddy on the train and rode for three days to California to drag his ass back home.”

To be continued.

Today in Grandma Torture

24 Apr

Bruschetta.

Yes.

I had a stale-ish baguette. I wanted to use it. I had six tomatoes. I mentioned casually to Grandma that I was going to make some bruschetta to nibble on in place of dinner.

Her spine stiffened. Her jaw was set. “I don’t want any of that.”

Of course not. My bad. I should have known to call it tomato salsa on toasted French bread, but I fucked up. I get tired. It happens.

There was no recovery from the original description. It was foreign and therefore, possibly poisonous.

Just wait until I whip up a Blanquette de Veau.

Holy Mother of Maude.

I took her two topped slices and left them in her room. Came back in 10 minutes to check. Yep. Gone.

Bruschetta. Old People Poison.

Lunch!

22 Apr

Q: What do exceedingly spoiled 90 year-olds each for lunch?

A: This.

man she can eat!