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15 May 2013 @ 04:15 am
Gate A-4
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Wandering around the Albuquerque Airport Terminal, after learning
my flight had been delayed for four hours, I heard an announcement:
"If anyone in the vicinity of Gate A-4 understands any Arabic, please
come to the gate immediately."

Well--one pauses these days. Gate A-4 was my own gate. I went there.

An older woman in full traditional Palestinian embroidered dress, just
like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly. "Help,"
said the flight service person. "Talk to her. What is her problem? We
told her the flight was going to be late and she did this."

I stooped to put my arm around the woman and spoke to her haltingly.
"Shu-dow-a, Shu-bid-uck Habibti? Stani schway, Min fadlick, Shu-bit-
se-wee?" The minute she heard any words she knew, however poorly
used, she stopped crying. She thought the flight had been cancelled
entirely. She needed to be in El Paso for major medical treatment the
next day. I said, "No, we're fine, you'll get there, just later, who is
picking you up? Let's call him."

We called her son and I spoke with him in English. I told him I would
stay with his mother till we got on the plane and would ride next to
her--Southwest. She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just
for the fun of it. Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while
in Arabic and found out of course they had ten shared friends. Then I
thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian poets I know
and let them chat with her? This all took up about two hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life, patting my knee,
answering questions. She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool
cookies--little powdered sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and
nuts--out of her bag--and was offering them to all the women at the gate.
To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the mom from California, the
lovely woman from Laredo--we were all covered with the same powdered
sugar. And smiling. There is no better cookie.

And then the airline broke out free beverages from huge coolers and two
little girls from our flight ran around serving us all apple juice and they
were covered with powdered sugar, too. And I noticed my new best friend--
by now we were holding hands--had a potted plant poking out of her bag,
some medicinal thing, with green furry leaves. Such an old country tradi-
tion. Always carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and I thought, This
is the world I want to live in. The shared world. Not a single person in that
gate--once the crying of confusion stopped--seemed apprehensive about
any other person. They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other
women, too.

This can still happen anywhere. Not everything is lost.
10 May 2011 @ 02:52 pm

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

~Charles Reznikoff

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
11 December 2010 @ 01:12 pm

Three days ago my father died, after a long decline.  I'm sad.

In Memoriam

To Sleep I give my powers away;
    My will is bondsman to the dark;
    I sit within a helmless bark,
And with my heart I muse and say:

O heart, how fares it with thee now,
    That thou should fail from thy desire,
    Who scarcely darest to inquire,
"What is it makes me beat so low?"

Something it is which thou hast lost,
    Some pleasure from thine early years.
    Break thou deep vase of chilling tears,
That grief hath shaken into frost!

Such clouds of nameless trouble cross
    All night below the darkened eyes;
    With morning wakes the will, and cries,
"Thou shalt not be the fool of loss."

--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Current Mood: sadsad
16 September 2009 @ 12:18 pm
I'm in a pretty weird headspace right now.  I am trying to learn a new job (911 dispatch) in a high-stress, high-fail potential situation (ie if I flunk any of the tests in the 1st year I get fired) and I'm trying to figure out how to deal with a large group of new co-workers who don't know anything about me, my medical history and my "invisible disabilities."

I started at the end of July and it's taken me til now to figure out that I don't have any friends here yet or anyone who knows what is going on with me and that fact is stressing me.  Duh.

So this is the long way around to saying:  thank you LJ people!!  LJ is giving me places to connect with net-friends and places to hear others vent and to vent myself and not feel quite so alone.

You all totally rock.

(cross-posted to dot_gimp_snark )

Current Mood: contemplativecontemplative
18 August 2009 @ 11:21 am
So, in 911 academy:  I just learned the 4 (or more) boundary streets for each of 21 separate police and fire jurisdictions.  I say (or more) because, ferex, one specific boundary includes:  172nd Ave NE, 148th Ave NE, West Lake Sammamish Parkway NE AND SE, and 180th Ave SE.  That's one side of one jurisdiction.

This material is about one-fifth of the total info for this section of the class.  Each section has a test, if I fail any test, I'm fired.

My brain hurts.
Current Mood: anxiousanxious
18 August 2009 @ 11:19 am
"Don't worry, that potato salad hasn't had time to go bad!"
Current Mood: crankycranky
24 July 2009 @ 08:22 pm
Thanks to all of you lovely people who have been supportive during my last 4 months of panic over being laid off.

I got a job!!!

I'm now a budding 911 dispatcher.

I'm more relieved and happy than I can say.
Current Mood: giddygiddy


Terrifying, essential reading.
Current Mood: pissed offpissed off
06 February 2009 @ 01:09 pm

Title:  Choice
Author:   [info]wombathouse
Prompt:  The good face pain.  But the great -- they embrace it.
Word Count:  258
Rating:  G
Summary:  Bothari's memories



Read more...Collapse )
04 September 2008 @ 01:19 pm
A response to an excellent story by laleia written for the Fic Fest:

A Moment With Two Elenas


Elena Bothari and Elena Visconti's meeting on Escobar.


          “I’m sorry—she’s really fussy today, I don’t know why.”

          “Babies sense tension.  When my daughter—my other daughter.  Your half-sister...”  
          Elena Visconti cleared her throat, and pushed back her long black hair impatiently.

          “When your sister was a baby, she would cry for no apparent reason at all sometimes.  Just screaming, pure tantrum.  I finally figured out she only did that when I was upset.”

          “I never knew you had children.  Another child.  Did you—do I have any other siblings?”

          “My son is about eight years younger than you are.  My daughter—your sister was three when he was born.  Here...”  The older woman pulled out a holocube, flicked it on and handed it to Baz Jesek, standing next to his wife Elena Bothari-Jesek.  He looked at the holo of two beautiful black-haired young people standing arm in arm and smiled involuntarily.

          “They look very happy.  Here, Elena, give me the baby.”

          His wife traded him their six-month-old daughter for the holocube, pressing a kiss to the downy head in passing.  Her lovely eyes filled with an odd mix of hunger and apprehension as she looked at the portrait of her half-siblings.

          “I never... I don’t have any family now.  Well, there’s Miles, and Aunt Cordelia and Uncle Aral.  But it’s not the same as having a brother or sister.”

          “Cordelia and Aral?  The Vorkosigans, you mean.  You think of them as family?” 

          “Yes.  How could I not?  Cordelia was the only mother-figure I had—I’m sorry.  I don’t mean to—“

          “No, it’s all right.  I’m grateful to her.  She was there when I couldn’t be.”

          “When you—I don’t—I don’t understand.  The last time I saw you, you were so angry with me.  You could barely look at me.  And now you’ve asked us here, and you seem so—has something changed?”

          “I wouldn’t say changed, really.  I just don’t have to feel that way anymore.  I don’t have to be the way I was when we last saw each other.  Back then I was still a torture victim.  A victim of rape.”

          “Back then?  What are you now?”

          “Now I’m a survivor.”