After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.
Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian 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 four hours late and she
I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?
The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.
She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,
Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell 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 2 hours.
She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
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 traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.
And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade 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 traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.
And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.
Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has 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."
— Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.” (via awelltraveledwoman)
Amelia Gray was awesome enough to answer a few questions about a very serious matter.
Would you consider yourself an adventurous or a picky eater?
I’m adventurous with a caveat that if some unpleasant element of the food sneaks into my mind, I have to immediately stop. For example: my partner and I, dining on a plate of whole baby squid at our local Thai place, ink squirting, all of it fine, until he says, This tastes like Corpus Christi, which is his hometown and not a compliment. I think it put me off all ink-based foods, maybe forever.
I am truly sorry to hear that you have, or potentially have, sworn off ink-based foods. For the sake of my (legion) readers I need you to clarify: is Corpus Christi the worst tasting town in the gulf coast region? Please tell me b/c Glen Campbell seems to think that Galveston is pretty good. I trust Glen Campbell’s taste buds.
I can’t speak to the Florida coast, and I suspect Tampa gives it a run for its money, but Corpus has this sheen of gulf oil. It would be unkind but not fully untrue to suggest it is America’s Grease Trap. I had a good hamburger in Galveston once.
I have a friend who ate a placenta and I think he’s one of the coolest guys in the world. Would you eat a placenta? If so, would you have any stipulations? I would like to say that I would eat the placenta of my first born but I think it’s tough to say because I have limited access to placenta and I am easily intimidated by placenta. Do you think a cooked placenta would taste more like an eggplant or the cheese/pepperoni scab on a cafeteria pizza?
Did your friend become one of the coolest guys in the world only after he ate the placenta? This is important to answering the question. I’ve seen powdered placenta in capsules, which I’d be fine with if the health benefits were proven or whatever. But otherwise yes, I think if it’s going to be in a moist scenario I would prefer if it came out of my own body first, and recently. I feel like it probably tastes like any organ meat, like liver, which I am also not a huge fan of, and probably won’t have an opportunity to eat my own. So kind of heavy sponge-like and gamey, pairing with a strong red wine, like a sangiovese.
He was already cool! But I think he got cooler b/c I think of most his family was mad at him on facebook. Like, “ARG, why did you do that? Why did you eat that old fetus sleeping bag?” Classic case of credentials earned via digital hardships. Would you accept a placenta that was meant to be sprinkled on a pasta?
If it was placenta mixed with parmesan and there was no other parmesan around I’d do it in a pinch. I think that says more about my relationship with cheese than it does about my thoughts on placenta. I would eat anything served to me by whoever used the phrase “fetus sleeping bag.”
If you had to go to a food store (not a restaurant) that only stocked one kind and one brand of food but you had to eat there everyday, what kind of food would you want the food to be? Hint: you are not allowed to work at the food store. Stipulation: the food store can not be a Pizza Hut!
Like, a grocery store? And it has to be a packaged thing and not a fresh thing? This is tough. It’s probably also kind of cheating to say I’d eat only the Kraft family of products, for that is a large branded family indeed, including but not limited to Jell-O, Oscar Meyer, Crystal Light, A1, Nilla, Planters, DiGiorno, okay forget it, I’m going Kraft. If I had to pick one brand among it it would probably be Lunchables, to live out my days with crackers and cheese and see how much plastic is in my body after I die.
It seems like what you just said was very powerful and timely b/c they are saying that most birds die b/c they eat Lunchables. (Not my picture. )
Would your Lunchables store offer the canonical Lunchables only or would they offer if given the opportunity, non-canonical Lunchables such as pizza, tacos or burgers?
Non-canonical Lunchables can go the way of the fetus sleeping bag; in powder form, over my cracker layered with ham and American cheese.
What would you do to attract attention to opening day at the Lunchables store? Eddie Money concert? Or just the classic balloons over the entryway?
I’m going to digress here for a second and say that, when I had to go to the dentist as a kid, my mom would take me after to the Entenmann’s Bakery Outlet. It was a fantastic treat that made up for all the teeth they had to pull out of my head—maybe five or six teeth throughout my childhood—but then I could go pick out whatever I wanted. I usually picked the cheese danish.
Let’s say: piñata full of Lunchables, Eddie Money appearing with a guy playing cassette tapes of The Platters, coupons for free Lunchables, eating contest, safety demonstrations by local law enforcement, balloon animals, cake walk, coloring contest.
Speaking of Kraft Foods, what do you think about Velveeta? Did you grow up in a Velveeta household? Are we going to see the end of the oil cheese era in our life-time? Can this be prevented?
My mom and dad, who met in Dallas, would sometimes make queso on New Year’s Eve in the Texas style, which involves half a big brick of Velveeta. As it happens I had guests in town this weekend and have a brick of Velveeta still in my fridge, along with a gelatinized bowl of queso, which I am happy to bring to the Lunchables opening on short notice. I say if there’s any worry we’re going to run low on oil cheese, we can simply scoop some up from the beach in South Texas.
cambod asked: YOU ARE UNFAIR. YOU BUILT THIS UNFAIR WORLD. YOU ARE UNFAIRNESS GODDESS.
Be positive, learn to like others. we belong to each other Ambodia.
(Please play this song while reading this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGWgZH41CVY).
My friends, there is trouble in Bucktown.
Two years ago, we lost a community leader in Marie Wuczynski. Now, we may lose the institution which she built. Legal costs, anachronistic laws, and a douchebag relative threaten Bucktown’s very way of life…or at least its way of life after 3 am.
It is an unfortunate commentary on our current economic situation that this is not an uncommon story. All too often, it feels like the Fates themselves conspire to destroy the bulwarks that sustain and support our communities. But the line must be drawn somewhere. At some point, we must rise up and say enough, no further.
Let that time be now. Let that place be Marie’s Rip Tide. Let us take up the mantle of our fathers and their fathers and do battle against those forces that seek to diminish us. For now is the time for American heroes.