Thursday, June 30, 2016

Orange is the New Black

Oprah July 2016
Taystee looks so happy here. Taystee is, of course, the character that Danielle Brooks plays on "Orange is the New Black," a Netflix series based on the experience of Piper Kerman, who spent a year in a minimum security prison for crimes that she committed earlier in her life. My niece turned me on to the show two years ago. I had seen it advertised, but I thought ... do I really want to watch a show about a women's prison? She was excited that season two was beginning and was more than happy to go through season one with me to be able to go on to two. It only took one episode and it became TV heroin.

A couple of weeks ago, season four was released. I didn't get to it on the date, but I did manage to get one in before school let out because I promised a student that I would watch it. She is a sixteen year old African American lesbian, and the show means a lot to her because it has black, lesbian characters on the show. That's messed up. Not her, but for the fact that she has to watch a show set in prison to find characters that she identifies with on television. The thing is ... even though the show is set in prison and the reality is that each and everyone of them are there for a reason, whether it was their doing or someone elses prompting, the series is more about women. What television or film truly focuses on women, not a woman, but in numbers. Though they are in prison, their characters tell the story of everyday women, not champions or super heroes or beauty queens. It uncovers fears, motivations, and how each navigates the world that is racist and sexist and any other -ist that you can think of that women face every day.

I finished season four yesterday. I will not divulge any plot lines or events for the fact that you may not have seen it. I will tell you that this season was extremely difficult to watch. It raised issues and mirrored events that are very real this year, last year. The show took a social turn and became more about the product of the worst of what our America is than only the relationships between the women who are incarcerated. It was absolutely brutal. The women who are the characters are phenomenal. I don't think that the show would be as successful if it weren't for them because they bring humanity and dimension to even the smallest part. And without telling you why, when Taystee fell to the ground and let out her mother's cry, I lost it. I happened to be on the floor already, so I didn't have to fall to it, but I wept her cry. One event can change everything. Losing someone can mean losing part of oneself.

And now that I have watched all 13 episodes, I must wait until next June for the next installment. Did I say TV heroin? Yeah, well I will be jonesing for the date it is to be released.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Rolling Stone July 1, 2016
Caption: "At Napa's BottleRock fest, Metallica's Robert Trujillo shredded along with his 11-year-old son Tye's band, Helmets."

Man, this kid looks like he can shred, too. Check out his power stance and how his hair is rippin' with what must be the sound. I love it!

Not a huge fan of Metallica, but "Enter The Sandman" would be my signature stripper song ... that is if I were ever a stripper. It is a train barreling down a track, which would be great for the long stretches of runway ... and it slows down just enough to get a good ... grind in. I love to dance and this is a song that I can dance to abandon to.

Hush little baby ...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

All That Glitters: Vogue Pins It

Just having cleaned out my jewelry box, I ran across a few of the old broaches that I had found in my grandmother's jewelry box many years ago. When I was definitely more new wave than punk in college, I wore them on an old checkered sports jacket that was one that my father couldn't wear anymore because his beer belly had gotten too big ... sorry, Dad. I would wear not only the broaches, but her crystal earrings and her long strands of costume pearls. I definitely had a feminine menswear look going on, along with a semi-shaved head and black streaks through my strawberry blond hair. I wore my Dad's old skinny ties too. As I moved on from that to what was next, I put them away. I have started to put a few pins on my winter coat just like Queen Elizabeth does for every coat that she wears. Mine aren't vintage, or real, ... but they are made to look like it.

In the antique/junk stores that I like to shop in, I see tables full of the old broaches. Sometimes, they are cheap, cheap, cheap. Other times, they are locked up in cases because they are Eisenberg or some other such vintage designer that made good costume jewelry back in the day. I'm always tempted to rummage through to buy a few, but I usually always end of putting them down. Then in California last summer, I saw something that made me really excited to look through bins of costume jewelry at the antique stores again. At one store, the owner had taken tree shaped, styrofoam forms and pinned a collection of bin jewelry to them to create lovely, sparkly Christmas trees. I decided to give it a try and right before Christmas, I pulled out the bag of Grandma's old jewelry I had given to a friend to make jewelry with for me. She made me a lovely re-worked necklace and earrings from one of the strands of beads that were in my grandmother's collection. I took the balance, and with pearl studded stick pins, I created a tree that was quite pretty. I had bought two smaller styrofoam forms to make those as well, but I didn't get the chance. In my latest cleanse, I found even more jewels to work with and will before I put out decorations in December. I may just have to rifle through a few more bins so that I can make an entire forest of twinkling pines.

On the pages here, I love how they models are styled- a modern vintage. The hair and the clothes are pretty and romantic. The bugs on the teal green collar remind me of the Victorians and their penchant for pinning bugs to fabric and hanging them in the parlor. It's in T.S. Eliot's "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" where the man who unsuccessful navigates a society of ladies says:" And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,/ When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,/ Then how should I begin." All eyes were on him in a not so pleasant gaze, but for this, the society is excellent. I will take the challenge and try to pin it more. It's a wonderful look.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Florence Welch

Harper's Bazaar June 2016
Florence  Welch is the new face for Gucci jewelry ... lucky girl.

Sexy Santa at Bronner's
Five years ago, I saw Florence and the Machine for the first time and was blown away by her voice and presence.  A friend and I did a tour of the Great Lakes area-ish Midwest at the beginning of our summer break. We drove through 'antique alley' in central Indiana, moved up through Ohio and up to Frankenmuth, Michigan to visit the 'largest Christmas store in the world:' Bronner's. Before becoming teachers we both worked at Marshall Field's where Christmas, particularly at the time that we worked there, was magical ... at least it was for me. And both of us had strong ties to Christmas past, so we headed off to tinsel town. En route, we heard on the radio that U2 tickets were still available for that day's show at Michigan State University. My friend said, 'do you want to go?' Did I want to go? That's like asking a kid if they want some candy. Please. We pulled over to a Starbucks for some WIFI and sure enough, we found tickets. And not just any tickets ... we scored general admission tickets, which are the best ones to get because you can get right up to the stage to get a look at the band and they are the least expensive.

We had some time before we had to drive to East Lansing, so we took our time at Bronner's, the Christmas wonderland. The store was full of a lot of ... things that I wouldn't buy. I was, however, amazed at their displays of Santa Clauses. I love Santa ... and there, I found my pick. When my niece was young, she told me that I should marry Santa Claus because when he dies ... I get all of the toys. And seeing all of the sexy Santas like the one pictured, I thought that maybe her idea wasn't such a bad one after all. Frankenmuth was a sweet, touristy town. One of the specialties at the restaurants was the fried chicken dinner. Of course, we had to indulge. We were sat at a table for two in a cheery room and what was delivered to us was more than any two people could eat in a couple of days, let alone an afternoon luncheon. But it was good ... and we gave it a girls scout try to clean our plates.

Florence at Michigan State
When we arrived in East Lansing, it was nearly time for the show to start. We pulled right in to the parking lot at the front of the stadium. We took turns changing into jeans in the back of the car and headed in. I had never been on the campus of Michigan State. Walking right out onto the football field was amazing. It is a huge stadium compared to the one at my college, and this was before I had visited another friend and attended an LSU game ... which was even bigger. It wasn't until this point that I realized that I was going to an unscheduled U2 concert ... brilliant ....and it would be the first concert that I had ever attended without one beer or mai tai or something as college football stadiums do not sell alcohol ... imagine that? We pushed through the crowd towards the front. The sun was just beginning to set when the opening act came on ... Florence and the Machine. I had heard some of their music on the radio, but that was the extent of my exposure. I was in for a treat. Florence cast her spell on me. She floated in her silk chiffon and bare feet across the stage and in circles singing like an angel. She has been someone for me to watch since that time.
Larry and the Edge
I would be remiss if I didn't also report that U2 was awesome. I can never get enough of my boys ... and on this warm summer night in Michigan on an evening I didn't expect to see them, I was that much more excited. And look, I picked a picture that I took of Larry and the Edge, not Bono. Yes, I understand that he's not the only one in the band. What a great day ... Michigan, chicken, Christmas, an angel, and Bono. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Oprah and Arianna Huffington: In Bed

Oprah Magazine May 2016
At the end of the year school picnic, I walked over to a group of teachers who always sit as far away as possible from the kids playing. I circle around and have a chat with all of the groups: kids and adults alike. At this stop, the conversation moved to pajamas. One teacher said that she goes to bed wearing whatever it was that she put on when she got in the door- usually sweat pants and almost always, a bra. I thought to myself, good lord, that's why I hear you complain about never being able to sleep.

When I was kid, I shared a room with my two younger sisters. The one drawer in our shared dresser that I vividly remember is the pajama drawer. I never had to be asked twice to get ready for bed. I'd go right to that drawer and put on an outfit usually made of cotton that had been washed so many times that it was beyond soft to greet sleep in. One of my favorites was my baby doll pajamas. The little top was so sweet with its smocking and maybe even little ribbons. The bottoms were shorty bloomers that puffed out like dandelion seed blooms.  I thought that some of my pajama tops were so pretty that I could wear them to school. Once, I convinced my mother that it was quite appropriate to wear my pj's out, and she didn't argue with me. That day, I think that I had my best day. Anything that got in my way was okay because I was ready to stick it into my subconscious to deal with later in dreams when I went to bed. When I went off to college, my mother sewed a beautiful flannel bathrobe and nightgown for me. It was patterned with little purple flowers just like my favorite blouse when I was 5. I think that I was the only girl on my dorm room floor who had proper sleepwear. It's no wonder that when I graduated, one of my first jobs was as Intimate Apparel manager for Marshall Field's.

I don't know if it was the pajamas or good DNA, but I don't ever have trouble sleeping. I'm from a family of sleepers. When I reached high school and had a strong interest in journalism, my parents told me that I could stay up to watch the 10 o'clock news report. I did it because they offered it to me, and it seemed important, but ... I would rather go to bed. I could read the newspaper in the morning. And that is still my mantra ... oh! I can stay up until the cows come home if I'm having fun, but if I'm just sitting in front of a television or something else as non-engaging, I'll always pick bed. It is not unusual for me to be sound asleep by 9 p.m., sometimes 8,  on a school night. And when I say sound asleep, I mean sound asleep. Once, I was awoken by the sound of an angel singing. I have to tell you that with all of the sleep that I can do, I am also an active dreamer ... occasional nightmares and sleepwalking. For a long time, a friend lived in the same apartment building as I do still. When I told her that I awoke in the middle of the night to sound of an angel singing, she said, 'Carol, it was 10 o'clock and it was the girl across the hall.' Oh.

So here we have Arianna Huffington who realized that she suffered from exhaustion from lack of sleep when she passed out and cracked her head on the corner of her desk. The doctor told her, you don't get enough sleep. She took the hint and now has a routine and has written a book on the subject. Naturally, everything that she recommends, I already knew. It boils down to two important points in establishing a bedtime routine: turn off stupid (television, cell phone, computer) and wear some damn pajamas ... however you like to wear them ... nightgown, pj's, silk, cotton ... whatever. If you want to be your best, you need to reach for 8 hours of sleep. And you get there, like anything else, with planning and preparation. And pajamas.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mont Saint-Michel

Lonely Planet Summer 2016
"Lonely Planet" has been slipping into my mailbox lately. I'm still being held hostage by a locked mail box, but one accommodating mail carrier will pull everything out to put my mail on top of the boxes, which I appreciate. And I was rewarded this week with a magazine that I do not subscribe to and a lovely picture of Mont Saint-Michel, a place that I have visited before.

A few years ago, over a Thanksgiving week, I traveled to France with my sister to visit a friend who was studying in Caen, which is in Normandy. We spent a few days in Paris before driving out to Normandy, but the majority of the time was spent in this region that I have never visited before. We visited the invasion beaches, the cemetery, and the Nazi bunkers that are still intact this long after WW II.

We visited Mont Saint-Michel on Thanksgiving day, which in France is not a holiday. We climbed to the top of what once was an abbey and monastery. It is really as magical a place as I had conjured up during French class in high school when we would look at pictures of the various regions of France. The tide was out and a silky, intimidating sand circled the stone island. I would not be the one to run up on the place for fear of losing myself in the silt. For those of you who don't know the place, sitting on the beach of the ocean, at high tide, the water swells around the mount. When we were there, a fortified road pounded out of dirt and sand led to it. If I'm not mistaken, a modern road has been paved to access the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fortunately, because we were there in November, we didn't have to fight crowds of day-trippers on tour buses.

The island is said to have been founded by an Irish hermit in 8th Century A.D. It's old. And if one allows it, the past speaks. In the great halls, in particular, I felt a great sense of the time that had been spent within the stone walls. In November, the weather was cool and cloudy, which only leant to the 'spooky' appeal of the place. The views of the ocean are spectacular from the top. The line on the horizon this day was nearly invisible.

As it was Thanksgiving, we decided to have a festive lunch. I remember sitting in one of the small restaurants that are at the base of the monastery drinking french wine and enjoying wonderful mussels in buttery, garlic broth, which we sopped up with what the French do best after wine and perfume: baguettes. Good thing that we stopped for the meal after having climbed to the top because I wouldn't have made it after the 'oh, one more bottle ...' 

Ah, France.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Elizabeth Gilbert's Light Lesson

Oprah Magazine May 2016
Elizabeth Gilbert begins, "When the world feels cold and dark and lonely, take heart: Anybody can make their corner of it brighter."

This I know, in Oprah's language, for sure.

Just Friday, before going over to a friend's end of the school year party, I decided to run up Michigan Avenue to the shops to buy a new summer dress. It has been a long school year amidst the crumbling of a large district, broke city, and locked down state government. Only two days left to crawl through to get to the other side and summer vacation.

I found a dress. It took some time. The selling floor was a mess. The sales associates gossiped the entire time that I was in their area. And I wondered, again, how the universe made it possible for Macy's to take over what was once a great store, Marshall Field's. I try to avoid it at all costs, but I found street parking, and it was convenient. Sadly, convenience sometimes trumps principle.  I don't feel too bad ... I'm just talking about shopping here.

On my way out of the door, I saw the candy counter. Oh, boy. When I worked at Marshall Field's at the State Street flagship store, I discovered the malted milk ball. Every now and again, I'd sneak downstairs during a busy sale day and buy a dollar's worth of the round chocolatey goodness. If the candy counter was out, I'd ride the employee elevator to run into a candy maker. Yes, all of the candy, at that time, was made on the 13th floor of the State Street store. And if I said to one of them, hey! you're out of malted milk balls ... well, they'd be on the counter the next day. Or something like that.

How could I pass the candy counter up? The sales associate said, 'what can I get for you?' One dollar of malted milk balls, please. 'Bulk candy is 30% off, why not $2?' No, he didn't. He did a $1 suggestive sell in the bulk candy department. He was a man after my own heart. If you give a good suggestive sell, in honor of the ten years that I encouraged my staff of sales associates to do the same, I have to go with it. I said, 'sure.' He dipped his dipper into the container and weighed out one more dollar. Then, he held up the bag and said, 'this sure doesn't look like very much ... maybe one more dollar?' Who was this guy that Macy's probably only pays $8/hour to shovel out bulk candy? I love him! I said no to the one more dollar because I didn't need all of that chocolate. And I enjoyed those lovely balls that I hold on my tongue to let the chocolate melt in my mouth before I am rewarded with a malty inner joy of a crunch. But what he did for me  more than sell me candy was to lift the substantial weights that stacked on my shoulders like books from a hard school year. The song goes, it only takes a moment ... and this it did.

It is true, not everyone is going to experience the same therapy from a candy counter sale. In Gilbert's article, it was a bus driver that changed the mood of a busload of people. The key here is that it was a stranger who made a human connection. Sometimes, friends and family try super hard to encourage happiness when grumpiness or tiredness is channeling through their loved one without success. But it's the reach in from outside that pulls us into the bigger world of humanity. What seems like our very big problems or feelings that those we know might be a part of are put into perspective on a larger canvas.  I know that we are taught as children to not talk to strangers, but as adults, I think, that sometimes that is exactly who we should talk to turn our lights back on.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Queen Elizabeth

Tatler May 2016

Queen Elizabeth and I share the same birth date. I am happy that this year, her 90th, she is celebrating early and very often ... June is her official birthday celebrations in England. Nearly two months of often. That's my girl!

The crown that she is wearing for this sitting is exquisite. I have seen the Crown Jewels in London on three different occasions. The last, just a couple of years ago, didn't have as many of the jewels as I had remembered from earlier visits. The tiaras, in particular, were the most beguiling. The stones are so large that they don't even seem real. This one is much more delicate than some of the others. I imagine that there is a name for it ... I see that whenever Princess Catherine wears one of the royal tiaras, it is named and aged. 

A tiara just pretties a girl up! I was invited to a disco party before Christmas and I wore a faux diamond necklace as a headband. Not quite a tiara, but it was sparkly! I was surprised that it was the host's 85 year old father who said, 'your headband is really great!' This brings to mind a Military Ball that I attended. The guest of the night's speaker was an older gentleman. I was sat next to him to chat him up. I had, for the evening, chose a small, pearl evening bag that had belonged to my grandmother. It doesn't fit more than a lipstick and a credit card, but what more does one need? After talking for a few minutes, he touched the bag which I set on the table and he said, 'oh, this is just like my wife's evening purse looked like. It's so nice to see it.' We were fast friends from that point on. It's interesting that two older men noticed very specific details of my attire. I suppose it's because they were each sort of throw backs to another time. I can remember after my grandmother died when I was in high school, I took a lot of the old bags, jewelry, and dressing gowns. I made a point of making it a part of my wardrobe. Of course, I didn't have many things. I always found my grandmother to be quite glamorous. By wearing her things, I felt that too. As I've been able to acquire my own wardrobe, my own jewels ... I suppose that I've gotten away from some of that creative styling. I should make a point of pulling more of it out and sprinkling it in. Hey, it gets the boys' attention.

Happy Birthday, Ma'am. Can I borrow your tiara for my next soiree?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Eric Clapton

Rolling Stone June 2, 2016
Last summer, I was on the West Coast visiting family and the cousins were talking smack about Eric Clapton. I sort of nodded ... uh huh, uh huh. It's what I do when I'm not listening. I, honestly, didn't have an opinion. And I'm not sure that their sources of information about his ... behavior, being, whatever they were talking about wasn't biased.

I had the "461 Ocean Boulevard" album when I was a kid. Who didn't? I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy ... And being a Beatles fanatic, I knew that he stole George Harrison's wife Patty, the girl George met while filming "A Hard Day's Night." Dirty bastard ... doing that to my George! But I haven't really kept up with him as I have others.

What stood out in this Q&A was, naturally, his process. I love it explained by the artist. The question is: "Do you plot out your solos before a take?" To which, Clapton responded: "No. I let my hands do the talking. Then my brain catches up. I'm hearing it after it happens. Then I go, "Oh, that wasn't very good. Try doing this." That happens, but the best bit is still the one before I actually thought about what I was going to do. My hands are in front of me a lot of the time."

I love the idea of this. Of course, the channeling is what is the art ... if thought, the spontaneity  is interrupted. Maybe, lost. He knows his guitar so well that I would imagine that he only has to put his hands on her, him, and go. I would love to hold an instrument and feel it talk to me like that. I wonder if it wouldn't do a better job of communicating than the words that come out of my mouth.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kate Moss

UK Vogue May 2016
Kate Moss is my favorite super model. She is just so damn cool. And she can take a photograph that is for sure. Sometimes, in photographs that are taken of her on the street, she looks quite ordinary. But give her an editorial and those cheeks come out and her mouth settles into the smoothest pout that I've ever seen. For this spread, she styled herself in some of the Rolling Stones' costume/tour collection on exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery ( in London, April to September 2016.

Bella Freud wrote the accompanying article to the photos. She has had a long history of loving the Rolling Stones and actually knowing them as well according to the piece. Her husband, James Fox, co-authored Keith Richard's autobiography, "Life." It's pretty much a love-fest in her admiration of the boys and their look .... er, sex. Freud writes: "Mick and Keith, though weren't like anybody else. They were both shocking in different ways. Mick was almost like Nureyev; he present himself in such an unapologetic and confrontational way. All the things one might try to disguise, he flaunted. Instead of wearing baggy things over his incredibly narrow, tiny hips he wore the tightest clothes, so all you could really look at was his cock. You didn't have to look at his cock, but you had to look at his cock. So much for it not being polite to stare - you couldn't take your eyes off him, and his body language directed you where to look."

Mick is like Nureyev when he is still, thin ... moody ... chiseled cheeks, but when is he ever that? The man just moves. I love too how Freud, the great granddaughter of Sigmund, liberally uses the word, 'cock.' It must be an English thing because I don't hear as many Americans use it as often. My ears picked up to it on David Bowie's "Blackstar" in the song, "Tis a Pity She Was a Whore." He sings, "Black struck the kiss, she kept my cock." What a fabulous line! And all I can think of when I am listening to it is that he was dying and he was thinking about his dick. Yeah, that's more American ... 'dick.' I love it. Bowie also was said to have as I have mentioned in this blog previously, a pendulous penis. It must be a qualification of the superstar, rockstar: must have a big cock.

What's amazing is to consider how tiny Mick Jagger must be in real life because Kate Moss is wearing his clothes. And the Stones costume manager has reportedly said that the boys only ever grew an inch in the waist from the late '60's to now. So, she also has 'narrow, tiny hips,' and a big cock, apparently. But Moss was never known for having a body. She was the first in a trend of waifs that floated in on the heels of more buxom beauties like Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. I appreciated them for that; however, hands down, Kate Moss has it over them for cool. She is definitely a four letter word that begins with an hard 'C.'

Monday, June 6, 2016


Several years ago, my sister and her kids were visiting grandma's house for our annual July rituals. Typically, we go into the city to visit museums or the zoo, but for this one day, my sister and I decided to take my nieces to the Indiana dunes and an experience with Lake Michigan that they hadn't ever seen except an a frame for sky scrapers. Myyounger niece was about 8 at the time. When we set up our spot on the hot, sandy shore of the lake, she exclaimed, 'you didn't tell me that there was an ocean here!'

It was a wavy day at the beach. And the three of us, my sister, older niece, and I, had a hard time keeping up with the little one. She just didn't tire of the waves. When finally I was able to get her out to make her eat, one eye of hers was on the water and she whispered, 'it's calling me.' Of course it did! Being a creature that is half Puerto Rican, one who actually lives on the island, and a strong Irish American spirit, she is drawn to the water. At the time, I wrote a poem for her:

Island Girl
I stuck a sandwich in her mouth.
She swam every wave
that crashed against
the shore of Lake Michigan
that sizzling summer day.
Gulping the turkey down,
happy to replace some of the
calorie lost in the movement
of water and sand,
she turned an eye to
the continued maelstrom
that was the day’s condition.
‘the waves are calling me,’
she whispered to it,
not me who was insistent
that she stay 15 more minutes
on the towel to settle the
slug of food and drink,
but the lake entranced her
and called her home-
island girl that she is.
Standing, her little suit stretched
tight across an Irish derriere,
her Puerto Rican stamp,
sun darkened, nut-brown.
‘the waves are calling me.’
Fearless, not afraid to call back
the tide whether in the darkness
of the North Atlantic or
crystal blue light of the Caribbean,
she walked into it with conviction,
her sweater, her skin, marked
with both tribes that let
it be perfectly known that
the sea, the water, could not drag her under.
‘The waves are calling me,’
and she pulled me up from the sands
to ride across and through any danger
she sensed. Island girl:
as happy on land as in the sea.
Selke, her seal coat water resistant
and protective of current and drag.
The waves call her, home.
Well, here she's at it again, this time with a mermaid's tale. While I was in Puerto Rico for my nephew's graduation, she talked to me about this tale. Sadly, it arrived after I had left, so I have to be content with the moment that an IPhone could send to me.
She is, indeed, an island girl.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Being Bored

Combate Beach, Puerto Rico
I spent the weekend in Puerto Rico with my sister and her family as my nephew graduated from high school. The weekend was wonderful ... hot, fun, and some time was spent at the beach. I took this picture when I went up to the cooler to refresh the cerveza supply. We spent the afternoon lazing in a the Caribbean, drinking Corona, and leaving everything to wait.

My nephew and G-ma hit the dance floor.
Prom in Puerto Rico is much different that what I'm used to having planned many proms for the students that I teach. For my students it may be the biggest fancy event of their lives, sadly. I suffer all of their planning as I'm trying to teach them how to write an essay ... they want fancy: Rolls Royce, diamond tipped nails, hotel suites, and god only knows what else. I supposed that there is fun in the planning, but the prom itself is usually, in my estimation, a bore. Most students show up late, urn their noses up at any food served to them because hot sauce is not supplied, and move on to what could not possiblly live up to their KK (Kim Kardashian)-dreams.

In Puerto Rico, it is a party for all. Mami and Papi ... little sisters ... and even titi Carol and G-ma were invited. It starts at 7 p.m. and ends when the last man is standing. I think that we finally left at 2:30 a.m. because little sister was falling asleep, and G-ma and I had to go home the next day. The evening began with a papi/daughter dance then a mami/son dance. My nephew danced with his mother, then G-ma. One band played, then a DJ spinned, then another band came on, and another band moved the evening along. And the dance floor was full of the generations. Everyone danced. Everyone partied. And everyone had a good time. Dinner was served. And when it was time, nibbles were passed around to make sure that everyone had the energy to dance some more. What a wonderful celebration of high school.

My nephew will go off of the island to college next year, and it will be good for him. The island gave him his tongue and pride, but his mind is meant to open much wider than the opportunities available for him there. His speech was not chosen to be given at graduation. With a gringo mami and a papi, who is definitely his own man in his hometown where men live the island life, his message was not ... understood by his peers. At our at-home graduation soiree with good champagne and the horn of plenty, we convinced the graduate to give his speech to us. Naturally, I am biased and love the words that were so easy for him to pull from his memory, but I think that he has something here ... I am rarely bored, but when I am ... with this in mind, I have a new perspective. When I am feeling ... bored or restless, it is time for me to set new goals. On his graduation, I think that he was in this place where ... it's been great! But I need to move along. And for that, I am proud of him. And I worry for my own students who don't have the confidence or place or support to understand that right here ... this time of 18 is just the beginning of what could be, if treated as such, the beginning of a beautiful relationship with ... life.