Sunday, October 23, 2005

coming to america

i've heard a lot of horror stories about entering the US. i've heard about people being kept in the airport for hours and hours because their intentions for staying in america were questioned. i've heard about visa cancellations at the airport. i've heard about a long trip cut short without reason. so you can imagine why i was a bit worried about this trip.

it didn't help that all the way to the airport, juancho (3-year-old nephew) kept singing "anything can happen" (and dropping "... when you imagine" that's supposed to come after that phrase – it's a barney song, apparently) until it creeped us all out. can you say "prophetic"?

but i was totally unprepared for what happened at our port of entry.

we were finally at the immigrations counter at the san francisco airport. mia and i stepped up to the officer and even before we could say "hello," he met us with:

"you're sisters?"

"yes" (it's irritating how mia and i sound like twins when we say the same thing at the exact same time.)

"and you live in the same house?"


"you're both single?"

at that point, we were trying our best to keep smiling in spite of having violent thought bubbles. mine said, "YES, I'M SINGLE. THANK YOU FOR ASKING ME THE SAME QUESTION EVERY RELATIVE ASKS ME AT EVERY BLASTED REUNION. GET IN LINE."

instead of reacting, though, we just chanted our usual harmonious "yes."

"and just how OLD are you?"

*insert poker-face smiley here*

after that interview, we were sent to another office because mia has to stay in the country for 5 months. while we were trekking to that second interview, juancho's eerie song played in our mind.

at that other interview, my passport was misplaced and found its way to a group of passports of an elderly woman and her young grandchild. the inspector looked at the passports and said, "hey we have 3 generations here! the grandma, the mom (looking at my passport) and the daughter!"

my thought bubble popped.

"i am not a mother!!!"

"no, here – aren't you with this group?"

"no! I AM NOT A MOTHER!" (so much for staying calm)

at that point, they just sent us out before i tried to thoroughly explain my current civil status and before my sister passed out from trying to control her laughter.

note to america: make up your mind about me.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

'star wars' from the mouth of babes

today i spent a good part of my day talking to tracy, the oldest 4-year-old in the world.

right off the bat, i knew i was getting more than i bargained for when one of the first things she asked me was, "can you tell me the story of star wars?"

suddenly, i was back in med school, with the same sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that happened every time i didn't know the answer to what was possibly a simple question. you have to understand: i know no star wars.

(i can hear muffled gasps. forgive me.)

i remember being dragged to the remake (remastering?) of the first – or fourth, as it turns out – star wars movie. i was in between two semifanatics who tried their darnednest to help me through the plot. the whole time, i was actually just debating on who was cuter: han solo or luke.

after that, i tried watching episode v on dvd. I TRIED, OK? TWICE. both times, i fell asleep during the war scenes.

i have to confess that i haven't even seen episode vi. oh but i know that darth vader is the father of luke. i mean, if i didn't, would i have gotten all the 'star wars' references in 'toy story 2'? nooo.

(does 'star wars references' sound wrong to you, too?)

so anyway, back to tracy.

"tracy, did you WATCH star wars? is that a movie for kids?"

"yes," she replied. "i wasn't scared at all!"

"ok, so YOU tell me the story." (i should've been a lawyer.)

"you know anakin?" she started, and went on to relay the saga ...

apparently, according to my new best friend, anakin is NOT anakin anymore. "he used to be from the light side, now he's on the dark side. that means he's bad." and somehow there was a fire, he got burned and had to have all his arms and legs cut off. oh and he lost his face. (tracy emphasized this using gestures, by the way. imagine it: a pretty little girl pretending to cut off her skinny extremities.)

"why did that happen!?" i asked, mortified that she actually saw this on film.

"he got into a fight. with obi wan coyobe."


that was when i knew we had to move on to another field of interest. we played a couple of games of tic-tac-toe, where, i am sorry to say, she beat the *!&%$ out of me.

i knew i should've let her continue with the rest of star wars instead. after all, i wanted to know what happened to that coyobe guy.

(i will end here before i succumb to the urge to insert a 'coyobe ugly' sentence.) (ha! did it.)

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

another picture-perfect tale

when i needed to have my physician's license renewed a few months ago, i went completely unprepared and didn't know that i had to be in a collared shirt for the picture.

(by the way, someone needs to explain this to me: what is the significance of the collar? does it contribute to the photogenic potential of a person? what is being ID-ed anyway? my face or my clavicle area? anyway ...)

so i called my mother – her office was a short drive away – and asked if she had an extra collared shirt somewhere in her office. none, she said, but promised to ask her secretary, who was just about to go to work. a brilliant idea, i thought.

when i got to my mother's office, she was on the phone with her secretary, giving her explicit instructions to bring a selection of her "biggest collared shirts" – which prompted me to ask:

"ma ... isn't she bigger than me?"

"no," the woman-who-bore-me said, "she's a small girl."

so we waited a bit for the secretary's grand entrance. when she arrived, my first thought was, "i'm not bigger than her!"

and the secretary's first words were: "you're not bigger than me!"

and, of course, the more pressing question here is:

"just how big does my mother think i am!?"

i mean, i've accepted long ago that my family's genetic code doesn't have the gene that allows a human to compliment other humans, but this is RIDICULOUS.


fast forward to a couple of days ago. i brought out the picture-from-the-pits-of-picture-hell at dinner and my family passed it around to "appreciate" it one more time.

when it was my mother's turn, she looked at the pic, momentarily scrunched up her face to repress a snicker, and passed it back to me, saying, "it's not bad."

my sister's theory was that mother was trying to make up for the whole bring-your-biggest-shirts incident, but who knows? maybe my license pic is one that only a mother could love or, at the very least, gaze at without convulsing.