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I’m the only person in my family who can’t sing. My grandmother was an opera singer and all of her kids were in church five days a week – or between church and vocal lessons at Carnegie Hall. But my mom had her first studio experience recording on my album. She’s used to having to fill the room, so she had to adjust to the microphone and not sing opera.
Race doesn’t mean what it used to in America anymore. It just doesn’t. Obama’s black, but he’s not black the way people used to define that. Is black your experience or the color of your skin? My experience is as a Mexican immigrant, more so than someone like George Lopez. He’s from California. But he’ll be treated as an immigrant. I am an outsider. My abuelita, my grandmother, didn’t speak English. My whole family on my dad’s side is in Mexico. I won’t ever be called that or treated that way, but it was my experience.
When I approach a more mature age, I am not going to live in America. Visiting my grandmother, when she was 94, which is a very long life in Cambodia, I saw how important it was that she was in a community with my sisters, brothers and all grandchildren were so involved in her life. I liked that experience so much more than visiting my sister-in-law’s grandparents in a nursing home. It’s about looking at a community through your window versus being part of a community that’s alive, that is youthful and old and hungry and smelly and loud, where everything is vibrant and colorful.
I was lucky. My grandmother stepped up for me and said she would take responsibility for me and a compassionate juvenile judge took a chance and gave me one. They were getting ready to send me away to do real time, but they sent me instead to a juvenile alternative day school. And I guess that was the beginning of my turnaround.
The Challenge is to pry Bertie loose from Dain and his circle of oafish dengenerates, Jessica said severely. It would be far more profitable to pry Dain loose for yourself, said her grandmother. He is very wealthy, his lineage is excellent, he is young, strong, and healthy, and you feel a powerful attraction. He isn’t husband material. What I have described is perfect husband material. said her grandmother. I don’t want a husband. Jessica, no woman does who can regard men objectively. And you have always been magnificently objective.
Men call women faithless, changeable, and though they say it in jealousy of their own ever-threatened sexual honor, there is some truth in it. We can change our life, our being; no matter what our will is, we are changed. As the moon changes yet is one, so we are virgin, wife, mother, grandmother. For all their restlessness, men are who they are; once they put on the man’s toga they will not change again; so they make a virtue of that rigidity and resist whatever might soften it and set them free.
The Wise County Bookmobile is one of the most beautiful sights in the world to me. When I see it lumbering down the mountain road like a tank . . . I flag it down like an old friend. I’ve waited on this corner every Friday since I can remember. The Bookmobile is just a government truck, but to me it’s a glittering royal coach delivering stories and knowledge and life itself. I even love the smell of books. People have often told me that one of their strongest childhood memories is the scent of their grandmother’s house. I never knew my grandmothers, but I could always count on the Bookmobile.