Category Archives: naturalization

Chop Suey

Standard

I remember a bygone day of listening to musicals

on my parents’ stereo. There was a Chinese love

story, called “Flower Drum Song.” This was taken

from a book written in 1957, made into a musical

by the famed duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The

film version was done in 1961, with Gene Kelly

playing a stage director. Themes of assimilation of

Chinese immigrants into our American culture, a

teenager’s rebellion, and an intergenerational

family living in China Town was popular on Broadway.

As time passed, it left the stages of Broadway and off

Broadway, until it was rewritten and made into a newer

production in 2002.

The same songs were kept with ‘tweaks’ in the character

development. It has been awhile since I have heard this

musical but some of the songs were very enchanting!

I sometimes wonder, how this would hold up to the

test of time!

Does anyone remember “Flower Drum Song?”

The real recipe for a Chinese dish of Chop Suey may

include meat(s), eggs, a starchy sauce, with vegetables.

These can include thinly sliced carrots, celery, bean

sprouts and other Asian vegetables. I would like to

have a bowl of this right now!

Another musical I was captured by the story behind

the book,”Anna and the King of Siam.” On stage, it

became “The King and I.” Yul Brynner did a wonderful

acting job in this, as did Deborah Kerr, in the movie

version. This was based on the autobiographical story

about a nanny for the king, who does fall for her over

time. They never ‘consummate’ their relationship but

are friends, conversationalists and until he passes

away, the one woman the King admires for her ‘brains!’

Anyway, “Chop Suey” was a fun loving song in the first

musical that I listed. This is going to be a post that

includes the many ways ‘chop’ or ‘chopped’ can be used.

This began, on a winter’s night, while my two grandsons

were over visiting. I was watching on my tiny, old t.v.

(it has a VCR unit in it!)on one side of my apartment the

show, “American Idol.” I enjoy watching this more than

“The Voice,” “The Singing Bee,” and “America’s Got Talent.”

This year, with Harry Connick, Jr. playing a bit of the

‘tough judge’ role, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, is

going very well! I have seen at least three young singers

who I would choose, without further training or coaching,

to be my “next American Idol.” There is a lot of raw

talent out there in America (and the world, too!)

While watching this, my two grandsons were across the

room watching on my bigger flat screen television two

shows. They were alternating between Nick, Jr. (which

has some of the younger one’s favorites like “Diego,”

“Blue’s Clues,” and “Bob the Builder.”) He will honestly

watch other shows, like “Dora,” and the girly ones with

me, too. The older one is starting to like Disney’s

‘teen-oriented’ shows and will study how to date, how to

tip a bucket over a person’s head and she will still

like you. With other silly premises and pranks that

those shows have. I wish I could tell you that it is

above his head, but I do remember my brothers and I

watching, “Beach Blanket Bingo” and other Annette

Funicello with handsome actor, Frankie Avalon movies.

We seemed to enjoy the rather silly plotlines and the

innocent sexual innuendoes, along with the flirtatious

atmosphere of people barely clothed. (That was made back

in 1965!)

I exclaimed about one of the younger female singers

who had done an excellent performance of singing

Adele’s song, “Chasing Pavement.” I said,

“That young girl has some ‘chops’ on her!”

When Skyler came over to see what I was talking

about, he half kiddingly said, “I like pork ‘chops,’

but what are you talking about, Nana?”

I came back with,

“Well, in Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts

says, “‘Chop’ off her head!”

And Sky, teasingly went along with this word play,

joining in with more,

“My Mom ‘chops’ apples and my Dad ‘chops’ onions!”

Micah came over and noticed our voices being animated,

wondered,

“Do you mean that ‘chops’ can be for food? I thought

you were talking about karate ‘chops!'”

Skyler says, “I wish you could make us some ‘chopped’

steak and enjoy it with some ‘chopped’ peppers.

I replied,

“In the month of February, you will learn about George

Washington who was so honest he confessed he was the

one who ‘chopped’ down the cherry tree.”

He scoffed and shook his head,

“I already knew that, Nana!”

I thought a moment and said,

“I bet you didn’t know that a ‘chop shop’ was a

car garage that takes stolen auto parts and fixes

cars up to be resold for a profit!”

The all knowing Sky answered,

“Since you never play video games, you probably

don’t know about Grand Theft Auto!”

I came back with a feeble attempt, I was losing

this battle of words…

“When I used to want to get my hair cut, a botched

up job would make me say my hair got…” (pause)

and Sky finished the thought,

“‘Chopped!'”

I told Skyler since my show was back on, that the

only way I had heard of ‘chops’ in the musical

world was when someone really belted out a song,

gave it their all and it came out sounding wonderful.

That the use of ‘chops’ was a compliment. I promised

I would check Wikipedia to give him the root meaning

of how this word came about…

On Urban Dictionary, the slang term, ‘chops’ means good

singing ability or singing talent; he/ she can truly

sing. Here, I thought that there may be a little bit of

a reference to the fact that in the olden days, when

men grew their sideburns out, they were called, ‘mutton

chops.’ Thinking that almost went with the throat area

where belting a song out would come. I did find that

this did get included in the free online reference

dictionary where the jowls of a person are meant to

indicate the ability of a jazz artist or musician to

sing loudly and well. There was another reference to

Louis Armstrong, who could sing well and use his

musical ‘chops’ in playing the trumpet, too.

Lastly, as I will call my grandson tonight to tell

him my findings, I thought of my youngest brother

pecking away on the piano, practicing (you may have

guessed the ending!):

“‘Chop’ Sticks!”

Enemies

Standard

We have had enemies in the history of our being here. We could have had

enemies, like the Klingons, from other planets. We may have had a “bad”

friend while young and declared these spiteful words: “You are my enemy

for life!”

Here is the definition of “Enemy.”

1. One that hates another one that attacks or tries to harm another.

2. Something that harms.

3. a. A nation with which a country is at war.

b. A hostile unit or force.

Foe is the synonym for enemy. Shows hostility or ill will. Stresses

antagonism. Showing itself in hatred or destructive attitude or

action.  Foe stresses active fighting or struggle and is used poetically

for an enemy or hater.

Why bring this up at the holidays? I think the powerful but beautiful

words, “Peace on Earth” sometimes need to be understood in the

way of looking at the world. How we face and act out towards our

fellowman.

From the beginning of time, sometimes our wrath was simply defending

ourselves. It may have been against a group of people or another caveman.

They probably fought over food, hunting grounds, where a good shelter

was located or their “attractive” or “desirable” mate!

Territory was an issue in some cases of enemies. The Hatfields and Mc Coys

come to mind. Also, clans against clans, tribes against tribes and this was

over where they lived and where their properties were. In the West, there

were the Free Range folks and the fenced in cattlemen.

In the history of our country here in the United States, and probably in your

own country, if you are not here, the problems lie in different points of view.

In these cases, it was the issue of Jewish people and Arabs in Jerusalem. It

is sadly a case of “sharing” and a small strip of Land, called the Gaza Strip.

It was the case of the Roman Empire which had to fall because of its immorality

and unfortunate destiny.

We were all about the Freedoms. Freedom of Religion drove us across a huge

ocean. Where we were not too religious, at times, with our feeling of impower-

ment and sovereignty. We believed in Freedom of Speech and that meant we

could gather in groups to picket or question the opinions and take our stands.

We still quarrel over the Right to Bear Arms and what “arms” should be allowed.

I am not on the side for any automatic weapons in the hands of anyone in their

houses. The armed forces, the “militia,” that the Revolutionary War patriots

were talking about, were protecting their property, families and country.

I feel that there should be allowed handguns and rifles, all for the reasons

of protection and getting food on tables. I am sure that it is a great form of

entertainment and sport. Those 98% of the country (and world) who would never

shoot their neighbor are not the ones we need to worry about. Those we do

worry about, fear mightily, due to their being “terrorists” or “psychopaths,”

probably can get around the rules and laws of owning guns.

I believe in the right to your feelings, allowing expression and the right should

always be there, as long as no one is being hurt or their lives put in danger.

This falls into the areas of prejudice, bullying and different lifestyles. None of

the ones who are minding their own business, living their own types of lives,

who are not hurting anyone, except maybe by their choice of wardrobe (touch

of humor, here, folks!) should have to stifle their expressions and ways of life.

My grandmother, Paula Haller Mattson, was born in Germany. She was hurt

and appalled when she would speak in her own version of English, some extra

special words from her country injected into it, when someone would ask her

if she were a “Jew.” She was living during the WWII era, and told me more than

once, “What if I were? I am a naturalized American…” She said, “I would allow

the nosy busybody to ‘assume’ that I was Jewish, because I did not want to ‘put

down’ those that were.” The questioner was implying by the question, in her

mind, somehow that it would be abhorrent, due to the concentration camps

and horrors that were not Jewish in orientation, nor her own background or

family’s choice of religion, Catholicism.

So when my brothers would try to play “Cowboys and Indians” or the “Germans

are the Bad Guys” my Grandma Mattson would pull them in from their play,

sit them down and explain a bit of history, sprinkled in with her love of all

mankind. We were only allowed to call the “enemy” using the words,

“The Bad Guys.”

When we were visiting from Ohio in Florida, going for a quick lunch out

at the good old Golden Arches, my Grandpa Mattson saw a black family

walking out of the place, heads down, parents looking dismayed, Grandpa

had to ask,

“Why are your children looking so sad?”

Turns out even in the sixties, different races were not allowed to buy a

hamburger at McDonalds, where you did not have a drive-thru. Most

of the original hamburger (fast food places), you would have to walk in

to order at the counter, take it to the beach or wherever you were headed.

But in the South, past when it should have been an issue, definitely past

the one hundred years’ mark that the Civil Rights War’s anniversary, we

were turning people away from sitting in the fronts of buses, eating at

the same places that others were allowed and drinking at water fountains

that were not labeled by the heinous words: “For Colored People.”

Well, my Grandpa took his little gas and mileage paper pad out of his glove

compartment and wrote down their orders and marched into the McD’s

to place their order. He included a few extra fries and hamburgers, too.

As he was leaving, ready to slam the door behind him, he exclaimed

loudly,

“By the way, that nice family from Washington D.C. that you turned

away still wanted to eat your food, I will never buy it for my own family

and grandchildren again!”

In the animal kingdom, there are mostly defensive killings, rarely a

choice of distaste, definitely more a decision that it was animal vs.

animal, the most dangerous one being the one to defer to.

There are no cases between animals of killing out of jealousy, hate crimes,

or genocide. There are episodes of bullying, fighting over territory and

where the next meal comes from. Nature is pretty straight forward,

mankind is so much more emotionally charged and complicated in their

choosing their enemies.

Why can’t human beings just get along?

All I can think of is, we were given more brain power, we should be able

to control ourselves, make better decisions and not always follow our

first impulses. Who can decide why we feel our gut reaction to someone?

How do we learn who to trust or not?

One case at a time…

All this is pretty controversial, throwing my opinions around and all!

I was not raised to be a narrow-minded person, my world was always

large, inclusive and sometimes, in the case of my own father, included

the universe with stars and the possibility of intergalactic friends, too.

I would overall like to have us ponder this, reflect and act better towards

each other, by being this way, we do make a difference!

A Wonderful Celebration

Standard

I was very impressed with our Human Resources person, Jenny, who

managed to add a wonderful piece to our Quarterly Meeting.  We are

informed of various pieces of  business news at these meetings. We

gather around 200 people in one large conference room, most of us

sitting close to our boss and cluster together in our own groups. We

also find out which employees have reached a landmark in time

working at good ole’ Advance Auto Distribution Center # 23.

We like to see who receives their anniversary plaques and awards,

clapping for members in our group. One of “us” got a plaque along

with her fifteenth anniversary year packet (you get to order a gift for

yourself from a brochure. I chose for my fifth year this Spring, an

Electrolux vacuum cleaner.) This was my friend, Sandy, who once

upon a time was an EMT, that became an Advance Auto worker. She

is my coworker who also was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I wrote

about her and her partner, Suzie in “Another Love Story.”

I admire their longterm relationship and have been friends from when

Sandy had worked at the nursing home where I was the Activities

Director. Oh, Suzie doesn’t work here. Well, check out their story, if

you get a chance sometime! We all stood and yelled out, “Sandy, Sandy!”

It is a little like the auditorium in high school during different awards

ceremonies. We are sort of “juvenile” at our workplace!

At this meeting we discover if, or when, we will have a quarterly bonus

check based on our group performance rate and we sometimes have

other announcements.

This time the announcement was an awesome one!

Our fellow employees, one who is very close to me, Mary Jane, and

Robert (who I see more as  we are “ships that pass in the night” since

he is a night shifter and I am a day shifter) were next told to come

forward. We all were wondering what was going on!

These two are part of our international group of fellow employees.

Mary Jane, married to state employee, David, has been in a few of my

stories that include the happy trio of women from the Philippines.

Robert, I have gotten to know from his friendly nature and on Fridays,

my group’s early days, I am there at 6 a.m. and he is leaving at 7 a.m.

We have only one day a week where our shifts overlap. Our group of bin

order fillers work usually, four days a week, from 7 a.m. until whenever

we finish our orders.

Robert has shared with me about his studying Business Administration

at the Columbus, Ohio branch of Ashley University. He has advanced to

taking his Master’s Degree coursework recently. He was born and raised

in Ghana, Africa. I have expressed encouragement and pride in his school

accomplishments. He has a wonderful, deep English sounding voice,

which reminds me of Morgan Freeman’s voice.

These two proud individuals stood up and walked to the front of the

room. They were then given the chance to tell us why they were there.

Both of them passed their United States Citizenship tests and are now,

American citizens!

I was so completely surprised since Mary Jane shares so much with me,

and she is the “mother hen” of May and Felda. None of these three had

told me about her taking the test. I knew awhile back that she was

studying but I had been remiss in not inquiring and she had not offered

her fine news!

It really helped all of us to cheer and congratulate them. We had a nice

Autumn reception after the news about our health care coverage going

up, our quarterly bonus may not arrive since we are not making the

best rate possible, that we have added a new business acquisition of

a company called “A.I.” (autoparts international) and around here it

is called “Carquest.”

Mary Jane, “M.J.” known affectionately in our department, was given

many hugs and handshakes. She said the test was very difficult. I was

surprised when I asked Robert in his receiving line how the test was

and he replied, “A piece of cake, Miss Robin!”  Maybe he has more

test acumen or maybe he studied harder? Both were also given the

first treats from the fall decorated table with huge boxes of delicious

donuts and a choice of bottled water or poured apple cider.

I chose a wonderful maple long john (cream filled) and a cup of apple

cider after I warmly embraced both recipients of their citizenship and

wondered to my friend, Tammy (from the Fence Post Buddies story),

if my own grandparents were treated to such a nice and pleasant

reception? They both went through their naturalization process while

teenagers and met on a New York street corner, one from Sweden

and the other from Germany. It made me wish I could call them or

write them to ask how it felt on that proud day they became citizens!

Do you have a family member or friend who has been naturalized

and passed their United States citizenship test? I would love to hear

which countries they have come from. I am sure there are lots of

stories out there… Please share!