It’s not the same old Frankford Ave.

Today, I had an odd encounter in Fishtown.  Sam and I were walking down Frankford.  I was wearing a shirt with the Arabic phrase, يلا حبيبي.

In Arabic, it is pronounced yalla habibi, and it loosely translates to “come on, my love”. As Arabic is one of the official languages of our house, I often hear Sam’s family use this phrase. It always makes me laugh because sometimes it’s sweet and sometimes it means “get the lead out, we need to go” or “really sweetheart?”

While we were walking, a woman on Frankford Ave. called to me and asks “What does that say on your shirt?”

I respond with “yalla” and she quickly tells me “no.”

I look to Sam for some confirmation, and she says “let me read it.” I make a mention that “he’s the Arabic speaker between us.”

She then says, “oh it reads yalla hibibi. It means ‘come on, my love.’ That’s sweet.”

I smiled and walked away. I did not say “I know, mind your business.”  It did not feel like she wanted to know what it said (as she could obviously read Arabic), it felt like she wanted to make a fool out of a complete stranger.   Arabic is not my language and any attempt I’ve made to learn it has failed. However, if wearing a shirt with the language of my husband, that says something nice, and is a joke between the 2 of us is cultural appropriation than please let me know. <—- I am being serious.

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Learning how to row

In 2018 I learned a few new things and I forgot to write about them.  In August, Sam and I decided to learn how to row.   In order to do it, we had to join a rowing club in Philadelphia. A friend recommended checking out the Bachelors Barge Club.  We went to a meeting at the club and decided to join.   We had lessons in the fall, but it got too cold so we had to stop until the spring.

I admit, that I’ve already fallen in the river one time.    That part was not too great.   I lost my sunglasses to the Schuylkill River and the coach lost his metal cane.   I did precisely what he told me to do and then fell right out of the boat.  My

I really enjoy rowing on the river and am excited to be able to take a boat out on my own. It’s a nice workout and you get access to some nature.  I am not interested in competing, but using it as a way to work out and get some personal reflection time.

As soon as it is warm enough, I’ll be back on the river.  Until then, I am trying to do a little bit of rowing in the gym each week.   I can’t take a boat out until the coach tells me it is ok, but I think I should be ok with another 5 or 6 lessons.

Rowing has a lot of unknown vocabulary for me.  I learned that rowing is actually called sculling.  Weird.

John Waters: Indecent Exposure

Yesterday I went to the Baltimore Museum of Art to see the John Waters exhibit called Indecent Exposure.  I really enjoyed it.  I discovered John Waters in college when I first saw Desperate Living.  It totally blew my mind.  Since then, I’ve watched most of his filmography, but Desperate remains my favorite.

Indecent Exposure made me laugh out loud a number of times.   The pieces are weird and enjoyable.   Whether it is magazine covers addressed to unlikely subscribers (ie Barbara Bush getting Jet magazine), a baby stroller emblazed with sex club logos,  children reading the script of Pink Flamingoes, or a collage of old gay erotica novels that contain the word chicken (Poultry) everything made me happy.   I laughed out loud a lot.  Waters narrates that audio guide which makes it all the more fantastic.

JOHN WATERS, Bill’s Stroller, 2014

The thing I like about Waters is that his art calls us all out for being too serious.   The world is a wacky, vulgar, and nonsensical place.   It’s good to laugh at ourselves and enjoy our time on this planet. One piece is 308 notecards in which he kept his daily to-do list.   He saved them all put them together like a quilt.   I noticed a recurring 10 digit number and decided to call it.    I hung up when it went to voicemail, but the voice sounded like John Waters.   I think I called his phone.  #crazy

You may think he is vulgar, but vulgarity is truly in the eyes of the beholder.   On my drive to Baltimore yesterday, I listened to Jeremy Scahill’s episode on George HW Bush.   Americans falling over one another to praise George HW Bush, a man who’s responsible for an uncountable number of deaths, is far more revolting than the John Water’s piece called 12 Assholes and a Dirty Foot.  Indeed, it is 12 photos of rectums and a foot.

But hey, that’s me.

Galápagos Islands – Day 8 & Conclusion

There was not much to our final morning.   We sailed around a big rock (small island?) called Daphne major looking for birds.  Before we got to Daphne, I awoke to us pulling up the anchor.   I decided to not fall back asleep and got a coffee around 5:30 AM on the deck.  None of the other passengers were awake yet.   I waved to the captain and one of the other crew but settled into a seat to enjoy the sea.

While I was sitting there, tears started to roll down my face.   I am not sure why, but I just felt overwhelmed.   I have a lot of mixed up feelings on my earlier time in Ecuador and this brought much of that to the surface.   I plan to explore much of that in a post soon.

I needed the vacation.   I needed to get out of the city, I needed to unplug, and I needed to reflect.  I thought about Cathy and Kim dying.   I thought about my friend Carl dying in Ecuador in June of 2009.  I thought about the majesty of the islands and my eternal gratefulness to touch them.   I was sad that only people with money can explore these islands. I was brokenhearted that climate change will destroy them for future generations.

Will this magical place only exist in memories?  I don’t know, but the vessel that keeps these emotions bubbled over that morning.   I slipped my sunglasses on before a member of the crew stumbled upon the scene.

By 6:30 AM more passengers started to make their way upstairs.   Most of us had packed the night before, so there was little to do but enjoy the sea and coastline of Daphne Major.  After breakfast, we said our goodbyes and boarded the dingy one last time.   The captain of Nemo III drove the dingy that morning and he shook my hand as I stepped off.   It’s hard to explain, but it was a tremendous honor.  He was proud of his boat, his crew, and the fact he sails in one of the most incredible places in the world.  Once again, I teared up behind those sunglasses.

I cannot recommend a trip to Galápagos Islands enough.  They are magical and you feel privileged to be there.   I don’t mean economically privileged when I say that (though you are and should recognize that). The Galápagos Islands feel like our earth is revealing a secret to you.   If I believed in such things, I’d say that you feel as if you are communing with Pachamama.  When you are there, you are definitely aware of your insignificance when confronted by the magnitude of mother nature.

Make a plan right now to go to the Galápagos Islands.   Save the money you need and go as soon as you can.  They won’t be there forever.

Galápagos Islands – Day 7

We started the day with a hike at the Egas Port.    This used to be a salt mining operation.   We went looking for the Galapagos fur seal.  We found a family of fur seals, more sea lions, marine iguanas, and a hawk.  It was a nice walk.  We did not immediately return to the boat and snorkeled off the beach.

At that point, we had snorkeled many times, but this time was special.   We ended up swimming with 3 sea lions.    I bet that we were with them for 30 minutes.   One of them was big (probably a beach master).  They would swim around us, break up schools of fish and leap out of the water only to dive back in next to us.   We were snorkeling over a crevasse on the ocean floor.  The sea lions would swim into it, chase fish out, and then dart out towards us.   Others saw a shark, but I missed it.   I saw something that looked and moved like an octopus, but it did not have tentacles.

When we returned, Jimmy and Ivan made us a feast.  Marcos told us that it was in honor or Pachamama. Pachamama is basically mother nature.  It’s a word used in the Andes. The lunch was incredible.   There was a big piece of roasted pork, fish & octopus ceviche, mote pillo, and papas tortillas.  I appreciated it and actually made me a bit nostalgic for Ecuadorian’s cuisine.

After our final Galapagos based nap, the captain took Nemo III through Buccaneer’s Cove.   This area is replete with soaring rock formations and cliffs.  We parked the boat for some unstructured fun.  Holly and Spencer kayaked. Sam and I went swimming and then went to the jacuzzi.  Later we were told that a shark had been swimming near us while we were off swimming.

Next: Daphne Major and Baltra