Friday, April 29, 2016

Taking the Understatement High Road

My granddaughter Sequoia is three years old, at this writing. Most children of this age, when presented with a less-than-desirable proposal, like steamed broccoli or an ill-timed bath, would un-apologetically scream in protest: 
"I don't like it!" 
"I. Don't. Want. To." 
"I hate broccoli!" 

Not long ago, while her mom and dad took a long weekend in California for a wedding, I watched Sequioa and her brother, Phoenix. On our first night, the dinner choices were many but the most direct path to full bellies, without having to pack the kiddles in the car, was to order a pizza. 

After Sequioa gave the pizza delivery guy the stink-eye and he was on his way, she looked at the box in my hands with blatant contempt. 
"Pizza!" I said, enthusiastically, thinking that single word would fix both her hunger and suspicion. Her eyes narrowed. 
"Pizza," I repeated, opening the box with a flourish, thinking the visual would bring her around. 
She crossed her arms over her chest and calmly stated, "Pizza is not my favorite!" 

I love this girl and think she may have a future as a diplomat. We should all re-frame our statements of preference. Instead of all the hating we Tweet, Facebook and otherwise inflict upon each other, we should take the understatement high-road and simply say "It isn't my favorite." 

It might sound like this: "Trump is not my favorite." "Hillary is not my favorite." "Tweekers are not my favorite." "Starbucks is not my favorite." "The Patriots are not my favorite." "Cookie dough ice cream is not my favorite." 

And for me, I happen to agree with Sequoia. Pizza is not my favorite. 

More on that later. 

For a a moment, let me share, in no specific order, just a few more pictures and a couple short tales of: 
Barbie's Adventures in Panama

My year. My make/model and my exact tint job. 
Identical, in fact, down to the condensation in the tail light housing. 
Maybe that's factory?

Our last evening in Panama.

Might should have veered right.

The black spots in this shot are Capybaras. Jackie was fascinated by these animals. She wanted to get closer, make friends.

I passed on that. Turns out (according to Wikipedia), they are the world's largest rodent.
Capybaras looks like the lovechild of a guinea pig and a hippo.
Not the cutest creature ever.

Not all businesses in Panama are air conditioned. 
But when you walk out of one that is, your glasses do this. 
And so does your camera lens.

Putting babies to sleep is but one of my superpowers. 

Traffic alert that there's an accident up ahead....? 

And speaking of accidents....
Late one night we were traveling back home to the 'compound,' on what Ciara and Ephraim referred to as The Jungle Road. 
It was long and dark and curvy. Lined on either side, by what could only be called the jungle. And there may have been an official speed limit for this road, but it didn't appear to be widely known. Or, just as parlay, maybe more of a guideline.
On this night, we were flying along when we came up to abruptly stopped traffic. We sat there for a long time without moving at all. It was pitch black except for headlights. And whatever the blockage, it was far ahead and around a corner. A couple cars made u-turns but we decided to wait it out. 
At some point, Ephraim walked up the Jungle Road to see what the problem was. Apparently a coconut tree had fallen across the road. But it's okay, says Ephraim. A couple guys pulled machetes out of their cars and were working to get it out of the way. Wait, what? 
Yeah, I guess it's like the Panamanian equivalent to the Pacific Northwest, chainsaw in every jacked-up truck on the road. You just never know when you might need one.

We ordered this almost every where we went: ceviche. Quasi-cooked fish or seafood. Before the trip to Panama, I had never seen it on a menu or in any store in the United States. Now it's everywhere.

It fills a lot of space here, but honestly these pictures and little stories are just a smattering. 
I never even got to the tale of the Widow-maker shower head in Ciara & Eph's apartment bathroom. Or the poor, underpaid woman at the Panama airport, scanning my passport, who felt so bad for me as I stood crying in front of everyone, having to fly away from Ciara. 

Throughout the writing of the New Things, I've tried to slant toward the lighthearted in each adventure. Not wanting to take myself too seriously. Deliberately searching out and celebrating the humor of each situation. Overall, I'm happy with the results.

It would be great to tie up the Panama trip with a pretty red ribbon. Wrap it up, nice and neat and smiley. But, 'Panama,' as it turns out is not just a spot on the atlas. Everything about it was a big deal. And the writing did not just trip me up. It fucking kicked my ass. I cannot adequately explain it to myself, much less to you. I just have no idea, so don't ask me. Can you hear the self-flagellation from where you sit? What the fuck!

I could, quite accurately, title this post: Panama - 50 New Things Speed-Bump.

Before Ciara informed me that she and Ephraim and their six-month old grand daughter, Sequoia were moving to Panama, I had recently been witness to another set of parents reacting badly when given similar news:
"Mom, Dad, I'm quitting my job to follow my heart."
This bombshell did not go over well. And I suspect caused some lasting damage, although I would not know first-hand.
But at the time of Ciara's news, their reaction was a fresh memory. Those parents pitched a fucking fit! They begged and pleaded.
"Don't go!"
"Where did we go wrong?!?"
"Why do you hate us?"
I will always be grateful to these two people. It was the perfect display of HOW NOT TO DO IT!

Sitting upstairs at Gibson's Frozen Yogurt when she told me they would be moving, my heart broke. But I believe I said something like: "Okay, how can we make this happen?" "What can I do to help?"

So .... about Ciara and Ephraim's collective heart for missions and Peace Corps-esque adventures: Intellectually, I get it. I do not share their passion but I respect it and support it as well as I can. That being said, helping them plan, prepare and pack for their move ..... then watching Ciara fly away to Panama with Sequoia in her arms was one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do. And I had to do it. I had no choice. I could only stand by and weep.

No matter how I turn it over in my hand. 
No matter from which angle it looks most shiny. 
Panama is not my favorite. 


  1. Barbie how many moons until you document your parasailing adventure in Tacoma? You may remember me suiting you up. Captain Brad and I say hi!

  2. Barbie how many moons until you document your parasailing adventure in Tacoma? You may remember me suiting you up. Captain Brad and I say hi!