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Sad News for the PL Family

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It is something of a crime against nature, when a young person dies.  I’ve witnessed the early deaths of friends and relatives, of students and of strangers, and said those words, over and over.  But when a person dies of a disease, anger turns to relief at some point because that person is no longer suffering.  Even the death of my father’s first wife, the proverbial third rail in my childhood home, came with the coda that she was sick, that it would have happened some day.

What I bring today really is a crime against what should have been.

A friend I featured here with his family at a Portuguese restaurant in Rancho Cucamonga several years ago passed away last week.  Except he didn’t exactly just “pass away.”  There is no euphemism that encapsulates the kind of death that Brad experienced and the shock it was to his wife, his daughters and his family.  And the details really do not matter to anyone but those who really loved him most.  What matters to the rest of us is that the light he brought to this world, that shone in the faces of his family and our friends, is now absent and always will be.

Brad was exactly the sort of person who you could take to a Portuguese restaurant without complaint or the anxiety of the unknown ruining the trip.  That day, I told him I would go on my own.  He insisted on bringing the entire family.  Even his mother was there.  Nobody balked at the unfamiliar dishes, not even his six-year-old daughter.  I may have balked at six, even though the dishes were familiar, because they didn’t come with toys.  But Brad would not have stood for that.

The last day I was in Hawaii for their wedding, I was all set to take the bus to a coffee farm.  Brad wouldn’t hear of it and took me himself.   Denise, Brad and I spent too much money on coffee and antiques and spam, all because I asked.  He was up for anything.  And generous to a fault.

Brad did not treat me like Denise’s annoying friend, which let’s be honest, at times, I certainly am.  He treated me like his friend.  I am very different from most people.  I have interests nobody cares about, like blogging about Portuguese restaurants. I do various OCD things that to most people, look insane, but to me, connect me to the long dead, and I will never, ever give up.  Usually, this separates me from people, but not Brad.   He once marveled at my ability to cut up drumsticks with a fork and knife, because I refuse to touch meat in front of other people.  He marveled but did not make fun of me.  So I say good-bye to my friend, Brad, who at 34, still had a life to live.  To those he left, who must truly live with the hollowness his loss leaves behind, I am so sorry. I haven’t forgotten about you.  And I won’t forget Brad.

I just landed in London!

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I just landed in London!

Five more days till I make myself sick on pasteis de nata!

Chokin’ on Tokens

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When I was a kid, my grandma (not the Portuguese one) would give the WORST birthday/Christmas/anytime presents you could imagine.  Seriously.   She gave me stuffed bunnies for Easter long after I had sprouted double D’s.   She once gave me an old lady version of an Elton John jacket.  I got really good at pretending to be excited about half melted regifted candles while ignoring the gift tag from her friend that was still in the box (true story).  She wasn’t stingy, not at all.  She just had no clue what we would want.

I fear I am about to inflict this phenomenon on the whole of my mother’s family.

I have no clue what to get anyone.  And some people are seriously doing me some fat favors, sight practically unseen, at least since Oasis and Blur were fighting for world dominance.  I could go empty handed, but that would be decidedly douchey.

So, of course, I thought, how ’bout something local?  Oakland’s supposed to be the most exciting city in the country right now, right?

Two problems with this:

1.  I refuse to be the one who brought the word “hella” on the Lisbon metropolitan area.

2. Local shit is (prohibitively) expensive.

Seriously, guess how much a Lake Merritt themed bracelet is on Piedmont Ave.  122 bucks.  I shit you not.  I’d prefer to get 122 singles to toss all over my cousin’s kitchen, of course while yelling “Make it rain!”    At least the look on their faces would be priceless, as my dear cousins start phoning hotels.

So then I thought, why not Old Navy?  There’s no Old Navy in Portugal (I think), so it would be practically exotic.

This is the only thing that actually had  $*%&ing words on it:


Really?  That’s it?  I refuse to take a shirt emblazoned with “Land of the Free” to another democracy. Especially currently I’m pretty much just using my so-called freedom to eat hot dogs full of MRSA while complaining about getting spied on.

So I’m buying random things and hoping my cousins and friends will believe it’s the thought that counts.  Otherwise, I’m screwed.

The Genetics of Sausage-Making. Really.

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My parents went to a meeting at their doctor’s today.  Apparently he has some scam where he has figured out how to get people to throw money at him without doing anything he doesn’t normally do, without also having to strip. Good for him.

As my mother was registering for this event, and the nurse detected her accent and asked her where she’s from.

“I was born in Portugal.”  Never mind she had lived more years in California than in Portugal by the time she was forty.

“Oh, then, you must know how to make good sausage.”

Cue a lot of blinking from my mother.  “Erm…. no…. I don’t make…”

“Well then your mother must’ve.”

“Erm, well, no… we’re from a city.” Seriously.  They had some cornfields.  But they were such clueless city folk, when my mother’s aunt moved to Lemoore, a farm town in Central California, she thought it appropriate to SQUEEZE A CHICKEN to get the eggs out by breakfast.

Yes I said squeeze it.  Like a toothpaste tube. Let’s all have a moment of silence for that chicken that died that morning, its little chicken day ruined by a broken egg where no broken egg should ever be.

That woman did not ever make a sausage.  Neither did my grandmother, her mother, my mother, or any of my grandmother’s sisters, cousins or nieces, irrespective to how many post-fourth grade years they have completed.  None of them did it.  They were too busy catching the train.

Years ago, my grandmother’s neighbors were out on their front lawn, armpit deep in intestines, curing them to make sausage, when we rolled up in our Sunday best.  That smell is something that I will never forget.  To describe the horror of it wouldn’t do it any justice; it nearly seemed to suck the oxygen out of the air itself.  It was like being covered in a moldy blanket in a dank trunk.  And how it smelled like a whole lot of work.

Having smelled that, I will never understand how that woman was inspired to shoot my mother a look of abject disappointment when she said this:

“I can tell you where to buy it.”

I’m BACK!!

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For a long time, I’ve kind of given up on my writing.  Anyone who really knows me knows a grand streak of insecurity has followed me from my childhood, through high school and college, through my teaching career to…well, whatever you call what I’m doing now.  I kind of gave up on it.

Then I just, on a whim, entered my monologue from the Marsh in a contest for a scholarship to go to the Disquiet Festival.   And I won a spot.

Yes, folks, Prodigal Lusophone is going to Portugal this summer.   Do I expect them to kill the fatted calf?  No.  But it would be nice if I can eat some veal a couple of times and go shoe shopping.  I can’t wait!

Força Portugal!

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Either most of the people in the pub where I watched this were half asleep, or Czech…..

Commonwealth on Telegraph during goal from Portugal vs Czech Republic


If the Portuguese Wrote Power Rangers

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If the Portuguese Wrote Power Rangers

The troupe The Portuguese Kids, who performed yesterday (well, like four hours ago) in San Jose, pretend to be the Power Rangers. I was laughing too hard to hear exactly what they said at this point, but I think the dude on the chairs says it all!


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