Endings and Beginnings

Hello again from about 34,000 feet.

We are on our way East, jetting along from Phoenix to Philadelphia. The five-day trip to Eldorado County is now an experience gained for Melissa and Jordan and another chapter in the 7 years of episodes to a place I find the most relaxing on earth. I am so richly blessed to have met Marco almost 8 years ago on a Saturday afternoon as I went to visit Miraflores the first time. Little did I realize that the following summer I would return for an extended stay and that my life would be permanently changed because of this Renaissance man. Not in my wildest of dreams might I have imagined that I would bring two young people who have also become so significant to me that I have been even more changed and blessed.

I am hoping that in spite of the three hour time difference, which made the days seem longer and the sleep schedule more tenuous, they will both remember this trip as an experience that was well worth the time, even though the turn around before classes begin is ridiculously short. From the first night when Melissa inadvertently “face-timed” me to Jordan’s arachnophobia and their marveling at the difference in landscape, I have my own memories. I was pleased that they both met some of my closest friends and that Melissa might have created some long-range options for herself.

As noted it is the place I am most able to let go. I am not sure if it is the terroir or something more. It is certainly the ability to gaze across the hills and valleys of the vineyards and to feel the sun beat down and warm every inch of my being. It is the gentle morning breezes and the quietness of the vineyards as the sun makes it’s ascent to a midday zenith. Perhaps it is even the memories of that first summer. The reacquainting with a person from that first summer was certainly unexpected. It was both extremely pleasant and exceedingly sad. Ann is still beautiful and caring; she also continues to live a life so much less than deserved, but that is because of choices made or not made. I am hoping both through conversation and encouragement, she will find the strength to do what she should; what she must. It is the end to living in a manner in which one is the victim and the beginning of working toward living, not merely existing.

I think that is the most important lesson I have learned this past year. I have begun to take much better care of myself. I have begin to realize that much of what I professed in my words and believed in my head, I was not practicing with my heart. The very thing I have told others about giving to yourself before always giving to others, I could not seem to put into practice. I felt, and at moments still do feel, selfish. I have realized for instance, in spite of the care and feelings I have about someone, I must realize that I am important and care for myself first. To not feel guilty about that is something I am learning to do. Amazing that it had to take a relationship with another family to understand that. Then there is Jacqueline. She and I had some long conversations about this when I was in the Dominican Republic. I think she would have been proud about how I handled the week, for the most part. It is the end of a trip; it is the end of the summer, and what a summer it was. It began with fevers and taking on new challenges. It was followed by pneumonia, which has taken the remainder of the summer to conquer. It included a visit to Corning, NY and a house becoming a home. It involved some crash-course experiences in using my nascent Spanish skills and realizing that I can listen, speak, and comprehend. It included a trip to NYC and the most expensive parking ticket I have ever gotten. It contained visits from California, Wisconsin, and North Carolina. There were trips to York, Pennsylvania and back and there was the continued journey of eating more carefully and the purging of my cupboards of processed food by the most hard-core purger one could ever meet. It has ended by taking journeys with two generations of the same family. It has been a time to grow personally in ways I could not imagine. While I did get some miles in on the Harley, not as many as I would like. I will try to remedy that to some extent while the weather still cooperates.

It is the beginning of a new year of school. It is the recommencing of schedules and expectations. It is the finishing of some documentation and the need to get even more organized. It is the picking up and starting over on some other things that will hopefully end in the creation of a major. I am hoping that academic internships will continue to grow and the value of being paid will become common sense. I also realize that getting people to understand how and why things like assessment are not evil. It does take time and it leaves a trail, so to speak, but it allows us to be more reflective. That is not a bad thing. I am always excited to begin a new semester. Growing up, the beginning of a new school year was one of my favorite times. I am not sure if it was the change of seasons, the chance to be in new classes, or that my birthday would be soon coming, but I think it was mostly the opportunity to learn new things. It is, in some ways, reminiscent of Luther’s understanding of daily dying and rising again. You have in that a continual ending and new beginning. It is a new opportunity to have something commence. It is the changing or becoming what we can be. It was actually something that was part of an earlier flight conversation. Am I the person I was seven years ago, when I first stayed at Miraflores? “May Gneto!” (this is the transliterated spelling of the Greek phrase) certainly not! I do have some of same values; I have some of the same personality traits, but seven years and the subsequent experiences have profoundly changed who I am, even what I prioritize and what I believe. Anyone who has followed this blog would probably be aware of some of those changes.

At this point we are a little over an hour from Philadelphia. In a little bit longer than two weeks I have traveled 8,000 miles. That is amazing to consider. However, more than the miles traveled were the experiences gained. The Dominican Republic was like nothing I have ever experienced. I am still missing the amazing people who worked so hard at “El Cocinero” and the joy they brought to each day. I will go to Allentown to the restaurant here. While the food will be similar, and there will even be a couple familiar faces, the experience cannot be replicated. I am looking forward to a new one, and so it is. Each day is an ending and a beginning, not in some cliché or maudlin way, but rather in a truly transformative way. It is unfortunate we seldom take the time to see it that way or to make the necessary changes from lessons learned. Perhaps that is the most significant thing I have realized in this calendar year. That learning is due to a number of things, but it has been predominately because of the presence of one person on my life. Thank you for your honesty; thank you for your example; thank you for teaching me.

To the rest, thanks for reading as I end a summer and begin a new academic year.

Dr. Martin

Four Score (no); Seven Years (yes)

Hello from 35,000 feet,

I am headed to Placerville and probably over Nebraska somewhere as I compose this post. It was seven years ago I spent my first real time in El Dorado County. It was the point where I fell in love with the art of enology and with what happens in the winery in general. Much like a déjà vu sort of moment, as I am flying to Placerville again (I actually drove there that first summer) there are so many things I can imagine because of past experiences. Fernando is still there and has become a winemaker, one worthy in his own stead. He has grown and changed significantly. Victor, Cheryl, and Isabella, consists now of Victor and an amazing young woman in Isabella. If I am not mistaken, Cheryl,who was really my initial contact to the winery, has been banished. Marco, who seemed destined for a life of bachelorhood, though Belinda was at least a known entity, is now married to her, and they have two beautiful children. Tara, who flew out to visit me, has moved from Menomonie to Hayward and has a child of her own. I no longer live in Wisconsin and am beginning a sixth year in Pennsylvania. I am bringing my two surrogate children (they are actually adults) and they were just moving to Hazleton from New York. At that point none of us ever anticipated our lives would be where they are, let alone even know each other. Last weekend as I began to plan this trip, a person I met that summer, and one with whom I was quite taken, sort of reappeared by text message out of no where. What amazed me about that was feelings, which I had imagined to be long since gone, resurfaced. However, in spite of the emotions, what I read in her text messages, I can see that little in her life has actually changed. I think she is all the way down in Sac now, which means they have moved numerous times, but the situation with Taud and her is really no different. I remember beating myself up back then, and still wanting to believe I took the moral high ground. What I would do? Should I meet her would it merely be torturous and that serves no good purpose.

What I know is I am a bit wiser and not as fragile as I was at that point in my life. It is interesting for me to ponder what makes me less fragile. I think there are two things. First, ironically, I think it is what I went through in my relationship with a former dean and knowing I had to stand up for myself. That happened two years after that summer. The second thing is actually through observation and learning to listen. One person in particular, through text and conversation has done more to help me realize my worth more than anyone or any single event- What I realized as I remembered things, there are only two people for whom I have written a poem: one is with me and the other is texting me – the manner in which that counsel has pushed me to see bigger picture and understand the power we have within ourselves has really transformed my life. I realized some of that in the course of a conversation I was part of last weekend (in fact, three conversations) I responded in those conversations much differently than I would have a few short months ago. In this situation of comparing now to seven years ago, I was told, “it is a test.” But what exactly is the test? To not see her and completely ignore the contact or it the test to be able to see her, listen and speak the truth if I honestly see no changes? Is this very conversation merely a justification on my part? It is a tug-o-war between thoughts and emotions. I know what I feel in my heart. I wish I could get to that first blog from that summer. So much of what I thought about that summer and how I felt like a teenage boy with a crush was a significant part of my writing. I remember the day I left here, driving back with Tara and speaking on the phone with Ann (that is her name) and I cried as I said good bye. It was probably the most I had ever fallen for someone. I feel like I am writing true confessions or something.

What I am realizing is that seldom does someone come along that anyone might find himself or herself so entirely enamored with or over. While I must admit to taking some razzing today, as I noted the feeling I had long ago buried are still present and even seven years time has done little as far as changing them. It is so much easier to just focus on other things, but in other ways that is merely running away. So what was it or is it ( she did send a couple of pictures) that makes her so attractive? It is a combination of her physical beauty and a gentleness in her spirit I think. It is a vulnerability that she has, not in a simple way, in fact, just the opposite. It is a playfulness about her that I remember. I still remember clearly the first day she spoke to me in that Starbucks, where I spent so much time that summer. I remember someone in Wisconsin I spoke with and had been spending some time with told me they could see clearly how I felt. I remember that I was totally blindsided by such a situation. . . .

It is now early Thursday morning and it has been a whirlwind two days. Wine tasting, a wine lesson (actually a lesson on enology) , a dinner with Marco, Belinda and the children, and then a trip to Tahoe and the renting of a boat. Dinner at the little restaurant in Somerset and a second day. In the process, there have been texts and chats with Ann and it appears we will have a chance to meet later today. While I am excited to do so, the conversations and texts have clearly demonstrated that she is quite a bit more fragile than she was seven years ago. The inability to make the change she needs is apparent and the reasons for that inability are complex. What is different about me is that in spite of the feelings that I realize are present even now, I am no longer willing to try to take care of someone. I might want to give care, but I am not sure I would even go that far. I have enough on my plate now. It is that propensity for giving too much that has too often created both hurt and trouble for me. It is good to see a change in that pattern. I know I will still be amazed by the beauty I know is there in spite of the struggles, but this past 7 or 8 months has taught me a great deal.

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the summer is gone. While I did not accomplish all I had hoped, I accomplished some much more significant. I took better care of myself. I fought fevers, pneumonia, and a serious cough most of the summer, but I continued to battle those things and other health issues and I am making progress. It is slow progress, but it is progress nonetheless. I also had people near and dear to me travel to Pennsylvania to spend time with me and those visits mean more to me than words will ever express. From California to North Carolina and in between. I had a house guest of sorts, more accurately, I had a “daughter” living at home. What an amazing experience for me as a first- time parent. Thank you for being there, Melissa. What a wonderful thing to share with you and to be part of the Galán family. While I stayed close to home almost all summer, a trip to NYC, then a trip to the Dominican Republic, and then back to California in the last two and a half weeks has made for a unforgettable summer. Well, I will try to post once more before I return to PA. Today it is to Sacramento and a chance for Melissa and Jordan to do some shopping. It is a chance for me to speak with Ann. The evening will be a dinner event with Marco and Belinda. Tomorrow I think will be some walking in the vineyards and a bit more tasting, followed by a cookout at Cantiga. I need to contact them today. While it is only 2:47 a.m., as usual I am awake and thinking. Two days and back on the plane. In the meanwhile, time to continue enjoying this experience. As I was looking at the calendar, I realized it is my first wife’s birthday today . . . amazing what is stored in my head.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

Preparar

Hello from my office

It is about 2:25 a.m and I am in my office working away. While I need to do this for the next day or so, it is my intention to keep from pulling the hours I did last spring during the coming semester and beyond because it is not the healthiest way to manage my job or my life. That being said, it is a bit difficult to realize that 36 hours ago I was in 100+ temperatures and it is supposed to be in the 40s here in Bloomsburg tonight. It was also a wild day of managing the present issues and trying to prepare for what is to come, both in the week immediately ahead as well as in the next month. While I received significant admonishment about living in the day and not worrying about tomorrow, and I have some appreciation for that idea, the reality of my job requires planning and preparation. I also realize that thing pop up last minute, but that is exactly why you have to plan ahead. Otherwise it is impossible to keep up. It was like today. Time was needed to help Grace. Melissa had what she planned to do tonight changed. But you manage those things. I found out the flooring order was out of stock or back-ordered.

I came home expecting that UGI would have a gas line run to the house. No such luck. It could have messed up my whole week, but I decided that I would proceed with the other parts rather than reschedule. I think life is always dualist inc in that we need to manage the present, and simultaneously prepare for the future. Failure to do so only sets is up for more stressful circumstances. I should note that the title of this post is the Spanish word for “prepare”. It is sort of a joke word for me. As those who know Spanish or speak Spanish accurately, it is in the Latino DNA to be able to roll your “r”s. This is not the case for most white people. I can roll a singular r pretty easily from my vocal training, but three in a single work is a much. So when I first got this word, I sounded like I was speaking with a mouth full of marshmallows. The consequence of possible lethal kicking or stabbing by my tutor. I must say I have improved. In fact, on my trip back yesterday, I worked to speak Spanish both in the airport and the plane. When the flight attendant was handing out documents to get through customs, he began to give me foreigner-documents to fill out. When I told him I was American. He was both stunned and apologetic. I took it as a compliment on how much I have progressed. The fear of being kicked or stabbed has paid off. Actually I must admit learning Spanish pronunciation is much kinder than what English must be for ESL persons to face.

It is Saturday and time is flying; I am still heading to Hazleton and then there will be more organizing tomorrow. I am finding it hard to comprehend that the semester begins a week from Monday. I have a lot on my plate and I will be doing some work during our trip. I am hoping that there is internet at the little cabin. I am excited for Jordan and Melissa to see this place, the place where I have found the most relaxation over the past few years. I am also exited to see how much Ginetta and Carlito have changed since I last say them. We are actually in the airport now and they are engrossed in their technology, but if I am typing here, I imagine I have no room to speak. Over the weekend, and certainly out of the blue, Ann, a person I met the Sumer I spent in Placerviille, contacted me. While my life has changed significantly, it seems hers has not. Yet, she still has the ability to tug at my emotions in the way one seldom has. She sent two pictures yesterday, and as she noted “sans make-up”, she was and is still beautiful. The sad part is I am hearing the same stories I heard seven years ago. The difference for me is I no longer want to rescue. That is a significant issue and area of growth for me. I am not sure of I will find an opportunity to see her, but I am fine with that.

Yesterday I worked on getting organized. There will still be some of that this week. However, I want Jordan and Melissa to have a good time. That is my goal for the week. I will relax and share this amazing place I love with the people I love.

Thanks for reading,

Michael

From Chocolate to Michael Jackson

Good Morning,

Yesterday (Monday) might have been the most enjoyable day thus far, though we are headed on an excursion today that should be quite amazing. I have some small concern as it is a bit overcast, the most since we have been here, but the clouds seem to move quickly, so we will see.

So yesterday morning, for the first time on my life I actually went to a spa. I did an hour plus session in which they defoliated my skin and I learned this is not that hard of a thing to do regularly without buying a bunch of OTC cosmetic-type products. The amazing lady who worked with me was very informative. After that treatment, I was covered in chocolate and wrapped in plastic. What a different experience. I learned chocolate firms and hydrates your skin. So I can lay in it and eat it too. Who knew?? After 20-25 minutes I got washed off again and then I was treated to a deep tissue massage (she told Me I had the tightest neck and shoulders she had ever seen and told me I need to head back in a week for another massage. Guess that will have to be somewhere else. After getting all squared away I sat peacefully in a garden-like setting and had chlorophyll water and a freshly made juice with no sugar. The entire two hour period was phenomenal. Guys who think they are too manly for such an event need to rethink. As I say, my “man-card” is not that fragile.

When I retuned, inspite of a shower the hint of chocolate still emanated from my body. As a person so aptly noted, there are certainly worse smells in the world. Shortly thereafter, it was out into the world of loco manejando y más loco motocicletas for another adventure. We made it back for our daily meal at el cocinero and yo comí un salad distinción (salpicón de marisco) y batata frita. Jacqueline laughed at how I said “batata”. Then it was more traveling about town to try to get Sr. Galán a functioning phone. I am not sure a 3GS will work with the needed software updates. I don’t think that is going to be an easy or cheap fix.
One thing I am trying to be better at is not not get caught up in schedules. By the time we got back to the resort, it was almost 5:00 p.m. We spent the next couple hours by the pool, but I did find a few treasures during the day too. The evening was spent at a show outside in a elegant setting listening to Andrea Bocelli and sipping champagne. Then it was off to a different venue and listening to a Michael Jackson tribute. That was amazingly realistic and superbly done.

There was one damper on the day when I read that Robin Williams had passed away and more tragically through or by his own hand. I remember Mork and Mindy. Dead Poets Society is one of my favorite movies and Good Morning Vietnam is right up there. Mrs. Doubtfireor Patch Adams have all been influential movies in my mind. Amazing that one who could make so many happy was so much the opposite. My heart goes out to those close to him and who are so profoundly affected by this tragic loss. It is a poignant reminder of the complexity and frailty of life.

It is now actually Wednesday morning very early and I am awake; I want to get this posted before we leave the resort because my internet for the next day and a half will be gone and I am not sure about power until later today, so my phone will be off more than on. That is not such a bad thing. Last night I erased about 4 months worth the text messages of my phone. I know I have up to the last week on my iPad, but I am not sure about the last week. I think I have up to yesterday because the last back up to the loud on the phone was the10th.

Yesterday we went on an island excursion. It was like living in a postcard. All the pictures were amazing and it was fun because there were a number of Germans so our guide made all announcements or the giving of handy facts in English, German, or Spanish. I could understand about 2 1/2 of the 3 announcements. It was helpful to hear it in German first and Spanish second because it forced me to work on my listening and comprehension skills. While there was a chance to swim in the ocean in this place what was shallow and a chance to go snorkeling, I was content to be in the sun. The amount of food that day completely blew out the healthy diet and the rum and coke flowed too freely. The ride on the bus took us through a number of places and the poverty along the way caused me to think about how many people live so differently. I know I do not have to come to another country to see that, but compared to Bloomsburg, it is so much more apparent. Next to a tin shack you will find an amazing paradise. What has been most enjoyable is to see Jacqueline and her husband. He is the nicest man and so laid back. He is personable and handsome and just plain amazing. I am anticipating Sr. Galán and the visit to his home town today. The town is La Vega. It is the first time he has been there in 14 years. I will write about that and the day in my next post.

Last night we made our last stop at El Cocinero. I got a picture taken with the staff and we met the wife (co-owner). She also invited me to the restaurant in Allentown. I promised then I would come. I think I have a place to take The Galáns for dinner. Well, I need to get up and moving. It is light outside. It has been a unforgettable 5 days. One last full day before we travel to Santiago tomorrow and I am back on a plane.

Thanks for reading.

Dr.Martin

Augury and Irony

Hello on Sunday afternoon,

The irony of the moment is I can contact people most anywhere, but I need to. I went off to the beach I was at yesterday, but learned that we by only have access to the area. While I got free drinks yesterday, I found out that was a mistake. I could not even buy water today. So an hour in the 100 heat with no water made things a bit difficult. I have texted Sr. Galán but to no avail. I am back at the suite and locked out. I am afraid he cannot get my texts, and though I have come back and forth to the suite for over an hour. I have no access. I have actually texted Melissa in New York because if he is in touch with anyone it is her and I am hoping she has gotten my texts and can relay the message.

If I had a key I would be fine. I thought about asking of I could have it, but did not want to impose. At the moment I am sitting in a stairwell. I do have a bit of money with me, but I am not even sure where to buy water. The VIP bracelet we have allows access, but nothing else, not even to buy. I have more than enough money, but it does nothing. I have some language skills, but not enough. I have some access, but it is like the song about ” you can read the menu, but you cannot eat.” It is a vestige of isolation. It was interesting to feel a bit helpless, and not all that enjoyable. It is interesting that they have changed some rules and those rules after food, water, hygiene and most of the basic things we take for granted.

It reminds me of the Interim class with Dr. Nielsen when I was roaming around Germany on my own with minimal language skills and I was sick with pneumonia. There is an irony some almost 35 years later there are so many issues the same. I made it through two weeks then – two hours now. Amazing that I got ahold of Melissa almost as soon as her father. I remember enjoying the loneliness of that experience in Germany. I enjoyed moments here too. I know that some might find it surprising, but I enjoy
solitude from time to time.

What I feel most sad about is it appears that rules have changed and Jacqueline did not know. I am considering purchasing the upgrade for the next three days for us. I know that is not what they would prefer, but it has to do with hygiene and important comforts I think. I am glad we are not eating here everyday as I noted and that we are in town. I wrote about that yesterday. I think the problem with these changes are the sweeping nature of what they affect.

As I try to compose here I am also texting and setting up the next couple of days. I think along with the visit to the restaurant again, we are going to a waterfall. Tomorrow I am doing something I have never done. I am going to a spa appointment. I have been working hard to take care of the inside of my body. Now to care a bit for the outside – and it involves chocolate. No bad images allowed!! On Tuesday an excursion and then one last day. I think it will pass by more quickly than I will wish. Of course, then it is off to Placerville for a few days. I am excited to see how Melissa and Jordan find their experience.

We have just left the restaurant again. Tonight we met the owner. Another irony: he has a restaurant and splits his time between here and Allentown. What are the chances of that happening. His restaurant is called Mi nueva casa. I am sitting in the backseat trying to figure out what is being said. I think the place we were going is already closed. Well, I did figure it out correctly, though I thought it was about days and hours and it was only hours. Each day is an adventure on the roads. When I thought I have seen it all I am shocked again. We did hear that a brother of one of the servers at the restaurant was killed trying to cross that road. I am surprised we have not witnessed an accident yet.

Well, while I am with people for whom I care and have the the most respect and love, yet I feel isolated. It is of my own making because of the language. I have mixed feelings that a ticket was canceled, but generally I am feeling more positive than negative about it. I am also feeling the irony of the day as I have noted. It is amazing how we can be alone in the midst of people. I have always felt some of this. It is those times I am most introspective. It is those times I most appreciate the gifts it have.

Thanks for reading.

Michael

Things that make me go . . .

Good morning from the balcony,

As I have begun my last three days, I am up and on the balcony just relaxing, yet pondering, and writing. I am thinking that this practice of writing first thing in the morning should become a habit. I am reminded of my comprehensive exams chair, Dale Sullivan. That was (and probably still is) his practice. I am hoping a number of things I have learned, or more accurately, observed might become something that is a normal part of my routine.

Last night before falling asleep I thought about what we say and what we do. I wonder how it is that sometimes they are so misaligned. It is what we say is what we aspire to? What we want or who we hope we might become? I understand shortcomings and I understand good intentions. I am reminded of the Greek word for sin. The word is hamartia. In literal terms it means “to miss the mark”. I am reminded of the image I was given in the summer Greek class in 1983. It was to shoot an arrow and fall short of the target. What I like about that image is three-fold.

First, it illustrates that we have responsibility for the action taken. We are doing something. We are in charge of our lives and not merely something deterministic, something imposed upon. Second, much like someone with a quiver of arrows, we have another chance, a way in which to make amends, if you will, and attempt to improve or change what happened. Third, it means that what has happened should be clear to us, or at least, it has the ability to become clear to us. The image of falling short is simple, but, of course, failure most often creates fear and fear paralyzes us. I also realize this is pretty simplified and there is much more one could argue, but hang in there for a bit. What is not so simple in this is to understand if the incongruence between what we do and what we say is apparent? Is it intentional (having to do with motive) or is it something of which we are actually unaware? Sometimes I think out personalities and our circumstances create this dilemma. Sometimes I think it is what we have learned or molded into our daily routines that cause the circumstance. Yet in either case, we are still accountable for our actions. Sometimes it is our frailties and the sum total of what is occurring, but that is when forgiveness is most needed.

I am reminded of a circumstance earlier this summer (and one that continues) when someone love for another is clouded by their struggles. The struggle is being able to see beyond the present and to imagine the future. The struggle is believing that the love professed is stronger than the human frailties of either party. It is a struggle with age, culture, and vision. It forces me to return to my own mother. How I would do things so differently if it were possible for a “do-over”. An earlier blog addresses some of that. How I would do two minutes over the other night if I could – that is the real consequence; once it is done, it cannot be undone. It is not possible to undo the damage, but it is possible to make amends. It is unfortunate that we do not seem to do that as well as we should. Forgiveness is the most powerful thing we have as humans. Yet, all too often, we fail to provide or give it to the person in need. The simple phrase “I’m sorry”, when spoken truthfully is a plea for forgiveness. Luther called it the”office of the keys”. If, and when, we provide forgiveness we provide freedom. Freedom from guilt or shame.

Yet there is a second part to this: we have to accept forgiveness and believe it is truly given. That is often my struggle, I have to believe I am worthy of being forgiven. I have to believe that the gift given is truly given. It is something I am working on at this very moment. When I return will I continue to believe that the unparalleled experience of being surrounded with care continues? That is a difficult one for me. It is my own struggle to believe that I am worth having around. I heard completely what each person said to me. “This changes nothing, the relationship is the same. Don’t worry” -amazing words in the circumstance. “We forgive you; we are not going to throw you away.” – again words with long-term consequences, and words of comfort.

While I have lost things and even people and perhaps more honestly discarded people, I am realizing the importance of family in a way I could have never imagined. While I appreciate my family and I love them the distance and inconsistency of being in contact with the exception of a couple, has left me feeling alone. I am also accountable for my part of that separation. What I feel now is a desire to be part of something – that is new to me. It is frightening to me. It is a gift to me, and one I am still trying to wrap my head around.

In spite of my failings, I hope that I illustrate how blessed I am in being offered this gift. I hope it is apparent how grateful I am. I hope what I say and what I do demonstrates a consistency that is unmistakably humbled and in awe of these gallant people. I might have to blog twice today.

Thanks for reading.

Michael (DM)

The Weekend

Buenas dia,

Estoy sentado en de balcón. Yo puedo caminar des de cuarto. Antes noche yo dormí aproximo 9 1/2 hora. Yo pienso que es que más yo he dormido en años. Es el sábado por la mañana y espero que pasan la mayor parte del día en la playa mirando el océano y leyendo un libro. So . . . with some help on verb tenses, there is about 5 minutes worth the work. I must admit it is really enjoyable to work at this. I am finding that all the vocabulary I learned is helpful, but only to a certain extent. Words alone do not help my sentence construction beyond a certain point. It does help when I am listening because I can pick things up, but like yesterday when I could not remember the word for “word” (yes, ironic). I could not get Juan Carlos to figure out what I was saying. I ended up texting Melissa and wrote to NY to get a single word in the República Dominicana. Soy afortunado de tener diccionarios humanas que están dispuestos a aguantar a mí.

Jordan, esto es para ti; ¿¿descargar el ‘whatsapp’? Te he enviado un par de preguntas y tengo un poco más. ¿Puedes volver a mí, por favor? ¿Cómo va el video? Sé cuánto te gusta responder a mensajes de texto. 😀 I know it is summer, though I am amazed at how quickly it had gone by. I am reminded of how parents or older people always told me how time would seem to go more quickly the older we get. The truthfulness in that statement is alarmingly correct. I was thinking about how much more quickly the second almost 30 years of my life went than the first 30. It is simply because we do not have a reference point when we are younger. It the words of Rent a year is 525,600 minutes long. “How do you measure a year in the life?” I have been reminded this summer, and again in the past few days, to measure it in love. Back to the point at hand: what is it about experience and reflection that seems to make things move so much differently or pass by so much more quickly? Something for me to ponder as I read and lay on the beach today.

So it was a beach day. How ironic that the two people I would find to lay down next to were Germans. That was amazing and enjoyable. I was speaking in English, Spanish and German for about 4 hours. It was a wonderful day. While we were there the drinks were free on this beach and there was a sushi bar. It was a really tough experience let me tell you. There was a drink called “coco loco” (crazy coconut) . They were delicious and contained Bacardi 151 in them and tasted like they had no alcohol. I did get out on a ocean for a quick dip, but most of the time I relaxed and read. I found out that everyone else went out after I went to bed and I think the same is on tap tonight. We’ll see. I am pretty wiped out from the sun today, but it was the first time I have done this in years too. I just had my second Nutribullet juice of the day: cactus, red pepper, pineapple and lime, a combination of sweet and spicy. We went to the same restaurant today for “cenar” and I did eat un pescado llame “chillo”. I did get a picture, but I am posting on my phone and have not figured out how to get a picture in yet. We had pictures taken with the family (staff) of the restaurant . However we used Sr. Galán’s phone, so I have yet to get them from him.

I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two days and I am almost over my cough. I think I only coughed four or five times all day. That is the first time in over a month. We set up an excursion on Tuesday. It is on a boat and we go to an island beach and snorkeling and a whole bunch of things. Monday might there is Michael Jackson tribute show I think I want to attend. Needless to say, I never saw the real person, so this is as close as I might get. Today continued the world of crazy driving. They all laugh at me because I am in the back seat just shaking my head and saying, “oh my!!” I am listening to music out the window as everyone is getting ready to go out. I wish I could put sound into this post. It is amazing.

As we were coming back to the resort I observed all the little shops and shacks in which people live. I am forced to consider what we have an take for granted and yet so many of us are unhappy. While I saw a number of people walking who looked a bit haggard, I think many of them are working tremendously hard at jobs for every little money. The family that has the restaurant consists of a mother, who started things I imagine and is now retired or around sparingly. There is the daughter who is probably my age or a bit younger, and then a next generation of children and cousins. They have treated us like family. I think we will be there almost everyday. The woman my age has Wednesday off and I am not sure if we will be there Tuesday. I want to get names and addresses so I can write and send them something.

I am going to do some reading and call it a night. The second complete day has been “muy bien”. I am so grateful to be here and experience this amazing country. It is beautiful and the people are wonderful. It is not what I imagined because of what I have heard about those in New York. While I might have witnessed a brief second or two of that in three days, that is the exception. I actually asked Jacqueline about it. I am hoping this is the first of more trips to this amazing place. The other thing I want is to be able to listen to a conversation and understand. More work to do.

Well everyone else has left for the evening. I am going to read a bit and call it a night. Thanks for reading.

Michael