Making polvoron was as much a part of my childhood as Mama’s absence was. It was a tradition, then a rite of passage made more poignant by my mother’s brief visits home. With each return came the knowledge of a new step in the polvoron process, and with each new step came the promise of my mother’s permanent return – her homecoming.
From the outside, there appear to be two kinds of single parents. You can do it all, strive for perfection, and pull it off. Or you can barely get by, almost fall apart, and struggle for breath. For me, though, it has always been both. Strength and struggle seem to go hand in hand.
WHERE ARE MY JAMMIES
sir they're right where you left them
THOSE ARE MY CIGAR JAMMIES
I WANT MY WHISKEY JAMMIES
I ONLY WEAR THE CIGAR JAMMIES WHEN I'M SMOKING CIGARS
here they are, sir
ARE YOU BLIND
THOSE ARE MY UNDERSECRETARY JAMMIES
I HAVEN'T WORN THOSE SINCE THE BOER WAR
Listen, as a father of daughters, I'm really against this kind of behavior, this kind of treatment of women. The kind where they get hurt or they can't vote or we don't give any money to them. You know the kind I'm talking about. The kind I don't want my daughters to experience, and then I just sort of extrapolate out from there. It didn't always used to be this way. I used to only…
I miss the ritual of taping songs off the radio: looking for a fresh blank tape, not finding one and having to choose which cassette to sacrifice to the cause, Scotch-taping over the holes along the top to render it able to record again, and situating myself in front of the radio, waiting waiting waiting for the DJ to play my favorite songs so I could record them to listen to later.
When my family and I light joss sticks, prepare food offerings, and burn paper gifts (mostly replicas of clothes, houses, and cars) for our ancestors in return for blessings such as wealth and good health, it has always seemed to me that what we do approaches worship not so much as it does a highly pragmatic, reciprocal relationship tempered by remembered bonds of love and affection.
My parents owned a prosperous little movie theatre in a village in southern Ontario; that is, until 1953 when two things happened: television arrived, and the booming post-war economy allowed people to buy cars and drive the short distances to nearby cities where first-run movies played in nice theatres with indoor bathrooms. Overnight our audiences dwindled almost to nothing.
There is a home video, made when you were about nine. You watch your nine-year-old self lead your aunt (behind the camera) off into the house, blithely walking past your mother as she sits on the couch. Stop, you want to tell the girl onscreen. Reach out and touch her!