Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

January 22nd, 2018

I recently finished reading the novel Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. The book tells the story of Soli, an undocumented woman from Mexico who is jailed and loses custody of her son, Ignacio, fostered by Kavya and Rishi, first-generation Americans who live in Berkeley, CA. Kavya and Rishi wish to adopt Ignacio while Soli fights for her son from prison.

In an interview, Shanthi Sekaran says she was inspired by the real-life news reports of Encarnacion Bail Romero. (You may remember Bail Romero, from Guatemala, living in the US, who was jailed in a raid; relatives kept her son, then placed him in foster care, where he was adopted by US citizens, the Mosers. A prolonged court case ensued; Bail lost custody permanently and, I believe, was deported.)

I loved the novel, as did the other students in my Antioch MFA cohort who read it. Well-written and plotted. Believable characters, realistic settings. Lots to discuss for book clubs.~

Lucky Boy by Shanti Sekaran.

Photo: Internet images

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Happy birthday, Rigoberta Menchu

January 9th, 2018

Happy 59th birthday to 1993 Nobel Peace Prize winner and K’iche’ activist Rigoberta Menchu. Today is a good day to post a clip from the 1983 documentary she narrated, When the Mountains Tremble. Menchu’s voice throughout is riveting, beginning with these opening sentences–”My name is Rigoberta Menchu… I’m going to tell you my story, which is the story of all Guatemalan people.”

My family owns the DVD, but the film is probably available elsewhere on line.

When the Mountains Tremble is directed by Pamela Yates, who continues to make important documentaries about Guatemalan history, including Granito and 500 Years.

 

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My mother, the Rockette, photo

January 7th, 2018

Esquire posted 25 iconic photos of NYC at Christmas from the early century until now. One dated 1950 shows a bevy of Rockettes backstage, including my mother, looking gorgeous in fur as she peeks over a friend’s shoulder. My mother would have loved it. (Have I mentioned she was a Rockette? At Radio City Music Hall?)
Thanks, NJ neighbor Mary Beth C. for sharing the Esquire link. xoxox

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Gayle Bradeis essay

January 5th, 2018

I’m sharing a beautiful essay by Gayle Brandeis, a teacher in my Antioch MFA program who read the piece during our December residency. The title, “My Shadow Son,” refers to a young man who, for 14 years, believed Gayle was his birth mother. The essay speaks to the strong drive felt by many people who are adopted to connect with blood family.

On Gayle’s public FB page, she identified the young man and shared his comments, including this paragraph: “[T]he real moral of this story is that in finding the history of my own birth family and in meeting my biological sister I have come to feel even more kinship with my true family (the one that adopted me). I could never have anticipated that revelation since I have already loved them with my whole heart since the day I was born, but it has been the most powerful revelation of my 32 years on this planet.”

Gayle’s YA novel, My Life with the Lincolns, is my son Mateo’s favorite book. Her latest is a memoir on my list to read, The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide.

 

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New Year 2018

January 1st, 2018

I have so few photos of our family–all 4 of us–that I feel compelled to share this one, at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego. (Mateo figured out how to use the camera timer.) I’m (over)dressed for the Arctic, while Olivia’s in shorts. The other photo is of us with my youngest sister, Deanna, in front of the fountain in Balboa Park.

And Olivia and Mateo.

Happy 2018!

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Reunion in China

December 14th, 2017

This BBC video about a 20-year-old woman, Kati Pohler, born in China and adopted by a family in Michigan has been out for a while, but I just got around to watching it tonight. Titled Meet Me at the Bridge, it’s powerful, powerful. What struck me most: the stark bigness of the emotions. Fear. Love. Bewilderment. Belonging.

Because that is truth.

Description from BBC:

When Kati Pohler was three days old she was left at a market in China. She was later adopted by an American family.

When she was 20, Kati discovered her birth parents had left her a note, and that every year on the same day, they waited for her on a famous bridge in Hangzhou.

Filmed and directed by Changfu Chang.

Photo above: Facebook

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Antioch MFA

December 11th, 2017

It’s not the most picturesque campus, but oh how I love my low-residency MFA at Antioch LA. I’m here until Saturday, absorbing wisdom and fellowship. My idea of heaven.

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The Ventura fires

December 6th, 2017

Fires along the 101, where I was this morning, driving from Santa Barbara to LA. Only a few yards from the freeway and dozens of them burning. I was alone and taking photos out the window, one hand on the steering wheel, the other holding up the camera, foot pressed hard on the gas pedal.

Long story, but I spent the night in a hotel where all the other guests had been evacuated. After dinner, they gathered around the pool with plastic cups and bottles of wine and I heard one of them say: “Less house, more home.” Which made sense, in all its terrible and profound truth. Everyone so impressively brave.

I made it to LA for school in record time. The 405 eerily deserted. California in flames.

 

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Kallie and Maya

December 4th, 2017

We met Kallie and her daughter Maya in 2003, as we like to say “on the calle” in Antigua, when Maya and my daughter Olivia were babies in arms and Kallie and I each had moved to Guatemala to finish their adoptions.

Now teenagers, Maya and Olivia remain close friends–”oldest” friends, in fact–and Kallie and I share a bond that’s forever. Our families met up this weekend and remembered those days, and our other dear friends who fostered. xoxo

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Road trip

November 25th, 2017

The Friday after Thanksgiving we drove up the California coast from San Diego, destination Santa Barbara. We planned to see the exhibition Guatemala from 33,000 km: Contemporary Art, 1960-Present. I had checked the SB Museum of Contemporary Art website to confirm the museum was closed Thanksgiving Day; however, in my enthusiasm, I may have missed it was closed the Friday after, as well.

The photo above shows us standing outside the locked doors.

But the day was not lost. Santa Barbara is a gorgeous city and the kids loved shopping in the Black Friday mix. We also toured the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, a National Historic Landmark, and surely one of the most beautiful public buildings in the U.S. Meanwhile, we continued up the coast as planned, through Solvang and to Cambria. Today, we toured Hearst Castle.

Thankful. ~

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