Mom’s Birthday

Do you know my mom? You should. Everyone should. She’s great. She’s been great all her life, and she’ll probably keep being great, because once you’re great, there’s no point in stopping. I don’t think she’d even know how to stop.

This is my mom:

Young Mom

Super cute, right? I don’t know how old she is in the photo, but I’ll guess late teens or early 20s.

Here’s a photo of mom and me. I like the way she appears to be adoring me:

Wedding day

But today isn’t about me; it’s about my mom. Today’s my mom’s birthday. She was born in the Philippines in a tiny town in the middle of the 20th century. After 8 siblings. She was 9th out of 10 children total.

I am taller than my mom. This shows how unselfish she is, how she doesn’t have to be at the forefront of every situation. I really admire how my mom knew to stand back and let me be taller.

Just because I’m taller does not mean that I am stronger. My mom has amazing upper body strength. And since she watched a lot of Bruce Lee movies while I was growing up, I know that she can use her compact body to force a thunderous fist to send me crashing through a wall if I ever provoked her. My mom has worked hard her whole life, and the result of that is a wonderful balance of brute strength and endearing gentleness.

My mom also pounded rice when she was a kid. My brother and I attribute most of her strength to this traditional chore. Here is a short video of some villagers pounding rice. I don’t know if this is the way my mom did it. I remember a bowl carved in a log and then the poles you see in the video are used to pound the rice.

Of course she’ll give you what you deserve. She won’t let you walk all over her or disrespect her. She won’t hesitate to lecture you if you’re being a jerk. She’s learning Spanish, and one of her favorite phrases is to tell you to kiss her butt.

And if you deserve a hug, she’ll give you one. If you need a hug, she can tell and will give you one. And even if you don’t feel like you’re doing anything to deserve it, she will raise you with your best interests in mind and make sacrifices so that you can have wonderful opportunities and encourage you in every way to be happy. She will love you with more energy and effort than you think is possible coming from any one person. Which is what she has done for me.

Happy birthday, Mom.

Nay, Neigh

About a month ago, I finished Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. I’ve never seen the movie; the only McCarthy movie adaptation I’ve seen is No Country for Old Men, which I thought did a terrific job. I do know that Pretty Horses stars Matt Damon and Penelope Cruz, and I wonder if I could let myself believe that Damon’s character is 16/17 years old. I’d probably be okay with it, only because I adore Matt Damon. But I don’t know if I could accept Billy Bob Thornton making a movie from a Cormac McCarthy novel, only because I just don’t know about that guy. He creeps me out.

The movie also stars Henry Thomas, who takes me back to E.T. and especially Cloak & Dagger. I guess I can understand casting men in their late 20s (or so) in a movie meant to portray young men in their late teens aged and roughed up by the Wild West. But since I didn’t see All the Pretty Horses, instead of imagining Matt Damon and Henry Thomas, I actually used my imagination.

Of course, McCarthy’s language gets to me every single time. His integration of Spanish in this novel feels perfectly natural, and the lexicon referring to ranching in Mexico helped keep me engaged.  On my Kindle, I can put my finger on a word, and its definition pops up. That tool is pretty nifty. With some of the words in this novel, however, a few of them made it into the English dictionary, but most of them did not. I was okay with that.

One of my favorite excerpts:

The world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity and that in this headlong deficit the blood of multitudes might ultimately be exacted for the vision of a single flower.

Right? How about that contrast and almost palpable effect? Here’s another:

They stood and watched him pass and watched him vanish upon that landscape solely because he was passing. Solely because he would vanish.

For me, this captures the entire tone of the novel. Vanishing points provide lengthen a field, deepen perspective, and create a little pocket of time-space to help us grasp the present before it becomes the past.

And, finally:

Sweeter for the larceny of time and flesh, sweeter for the betrayal.

When I first came across this phrase (which comes earlier than the previous excerpts), I looked around on the train and wondered if any of the other passengers felt the sheer power of the combination of these words. Larceny of time! Larceny of flesh! Could a word be so perfect, just so utterly perfect?

What should I read next?

A Dream about Lunch

Morgan Freeman was in my dream last night. He was homeless in Salt Lake City. I ate lunch with him every day. We didn’t eat by ourselves, though. About 6 other strangers ate lunch with me and Morgan Freeman. We passed around buckets of chicken and ice cream while we sat on a curb somewhere near the Gateway shopping center.

It took about a week in my dream to realize that I was eating lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City. Did the others know? Did they care? Once I knew that I was eating lunch with Morgan Freeman, I wanted to ask him all sorts of questions about his acting career. But no one else seemed interested in Morgan Freeman. They just seemed to enjoy sitting together at the same time every day to share lunch.

I don’t know where the food came from. It was fried chicken and ice cream every single time. And they came in large buckets. Not fried chicken buckets, but large industrial-sized plastic buckets with a metal handle. I don’t remember tasting the food in my dream. I do remember using a large metal serving spoon to scoop melted ice cream onto a thin paper plate.

No one talked during our lunches. The dream itself might have been completely without sound. Frustrating. Why have homeless Morgan Freeman in my dream if I can’t hear his distinguished Morgan Freeman voice?

During this dream, I couldn’t wait to go home and blog about having lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman. This dream was one of those moments that felt real, that felt like I was fully conscious.

So you can imagine as I emerged from deep sleep and broke the surface of wakefulness how disappointed I was that I didn’t really eat lunch with homeless Morgan Freeman. Think of the decreasing likelihood of the combination of these factors becoming a reality:

  • Homeless Morgan Freeman
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman in Salt Lake City having lunch with moi
  • Homeless Morgan Freeman and I sharing giant buckets of chicken and ice cream on a SLC curb near the Gateway Mall

Virtually possible, but otherwise impossible.

Which is why it was just a dream.