Home with a box of Kelloggs Corn Flakes

In 1894, John Harvey Kellogg created a food that he thought would be healthy for the patients of a Sanitarium where he was the Superintendent in Battle Creek Michigan. 

The cereal was made by toasting flakes of corn .  

  In 1906, he started a business making corn flakes, and by 1914 its was sold all over the United States, today its sold all the world. 

I was introdued to Kelloggs when I was four or five.  This was well before Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms and other sugary cereals.  I digress,  I forgot “Tony the Tiger” the mascot, the spokestiger of “Sugar Frosted Flakes.  

Kelloggs Corn Flakes is my comfort food, its not a part of my daily diet, but there is always a box in my pantry.  Its there in a pinch.  I have a bowl if  I’m super stressed.  It’s  calming and familar.  Perhaps its reminds me of my mom.   But its there when I need it… A bowl of Kelloggs Corn Flakes, not Post Toasties or some generic corn flakes, Kelloggs.

Researching this story, I found an interesting tidbit.    In addition to Kelloggs, Post Cereal was also founded in Battle Creek Michigan, the cereal capital of the world.    Charles William Post was a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium where Mr Kellogg was the Superintendent.      

A year after Kellogg developed corn flakes,  Mr Post developed a drinkable cereal called Postum.  Two years after Kellogg’s corn flakes went to market. Post Toasties was introduced and so was a rivalery.

While Kelloggs is my choice of corn flake I find Post Raisin Brand superior to Kelloggs Raisin Brand. 

The defination of “Comfort Food”  is food that provides a nostalgic or sentimental value to someone, and may be characterized by its high caloric nature, high carbohydrate level, or simple preparation. The nostalgia may be specific to an individual, or it may apply to a specific culture.

My  Comfort Food

Image result for kelloggs corn flakes



Black Friday seems to be a thing in Israel


 Celebrating Hol Hamoed throughout Mamilla Mall and the Old City

But the difference here: The stores are not swamped with shoppers like in America (though the pace of shopping is noticeably brisk).

By: Marcy Oster/Jerusalem Post 

JERUSALEM (JTA) — I was watching late night network television on Saturday night – that’s not terribly exciting here — when I was slammed with a string of ads that made me feel like I was back in America.

The ads were in practically shouted Hebrew, but I could discern the same two English words in each: Black Friday. (You have to say to say it with a Hebrew accent though, kind of like Blek Fchidey.) Clothing, electronics, home decor – all the ads were pushing Black Friday sales.t to know

  Nor did the Black Friday assault stop with my television. Suddenly every cellphone text message (and I get a lot of them because I have loyalty cards at literally every store in one of the Kfar Saba malls where I do most of my shopping) is from a chain store reminding me that its Black Friday sales HAVE ALREADY STARTED!

I won’t lie; I have taken advantage of these sales. In fact I visited my favorite mall today and there were Black Friday sales signs in front of every store.

But the difference here: The stores are not swamped with shoppers like in America (though the pace of shopping is noticeably brisk).

This isn’t the first year that I have noticed Black Friday sales in Israel. It is just that this year it became … commonplace.

How did this most American of traditions — the door-busting Christmas season sales that come after the day after Thanksgiving g — make it to Israel? Blame the internet. Israelis order a ton of merchandise online, and every website they visit is touting Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. If it’s good enough for Americans, it’s good enough for Israelis, right?

While Israelis have come to expect these November sales, which this year come conveniently less than two weeks before Hanukkah, I don’t think most of them know why there is a Black Friday or that it is the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season.

And why should they? As a nation we don’t celebrate Christmas even though it is the land where the story takes place.

But everyone loves a sale.

As for Thanksgiving, when we made aliyah from the States more than 18 years ago, my husband and I decided to keep the Thanksgiving tradition alive. The holiday was particularly meaningful to his immigrant grandfather, who escaped from Europe right before the Holocaust, and my immigrant father, a Holocaust survivor.

The first time I tried to buy a whole turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner, butchers in three communities looked at me like I was crazy. “Ain dvar kazeh po!” (there is no such thing here), one said, and suggested I take home a nice turkey breast.

“Whatever do you want that for?” another asked.

As for cranberry sauce, fuhgedaboutit. In later years, stores in Anglo neighborhoods in cities such as Jerusalem and Raanana began stocking cranberry sauce. And this year my local supermarket also started selling it, likely in deference to a new cadre of young immigrants from the United States who have moved to our community in recent years and, apparently, are continuing to observe Thanksgiving.

On Sunday, when I went to order a whole turkey from the local butcher, the woman at the counter told me I was the third order that morning!

“For Chag Hahodaya, right?” she asked me, using a literal translation of “Festival of Thanks.” (In a strange linguistic coincidence, the Hebrew word for turkey, hodu, can also mean “give thanks.” That’s a fun fact for everyone but the turkey.)

The term Black Friday became widely recognized  in the 1980s. According to several sources it was dubbed “black” (as in negative, as in “black eye” and “black sheep”) by police in Philadelphia to describe the crowds and traffic on the day after Thanksgiving and the day before the Army-Navy football game.

In an effort to make the term more cheery, retailers took on the explanation that success on the day makes the difference between finishing in the red, or operating at a loss, to being in the black, or operating at a profit.

Do Israelis know this? I have no idea. But every time I hear or see a Black Friday ad, I feel like maybe too much of America has crept into our society. We already have pre-Rosh Hashanah and pre-Passover sales, since they have also become gift-giving occasions. But Black Friday? It’s just not Israel.

All I know is that I can’t wait for Friday and the end of the bombardment of advertisements. Besides, the End of Season sales will already be starting soon.

The Author of Boy Erased Hopes His Experience in Conversion Therapy Makes People Angry


Focus Features

“I’m aiming an arrow directly into the heart of America.” That was Joel Edgerton’s promise to Boy Erased author Garrard Conley from the very beginning when Edgerton began writing and directing the film adaptation of Conley’s vulnerable memoir about his experience with “conversion therapy.”

By: Elena Hilton\

It was a risk for Conley to share his story in the first place, let alone allow other artists to interpret his life in the form of an Oscar-hopeful movie. But thankfully he took the leap, because the trauma he endured at Love in Action, an “ex-gay” Christian ministry that attempted to change people’s sexual orientation, is something that America desperately needs to recognize.


Currently, 15 states and Washington, D.C. have laws to protect minors from “conversion therapy” practices, and the Trump-Pence administration’s bigotry-laden rhetoric and policies are a stark reminder that the fight isn’t over. “We’re getting so close to the finish line that I’m becoming more radical and more of an activist each day,” Conley says.

Conley’s Southern, ultra-Christian upbringing—his father became a Baptist preacher in their small Arkansas town when Conley was a teenager—is similar to so many other LGBTQ adolescents who are still being told they’re wrong for who they are. The hope is that this film, along with Conley’s 2016 book, will open people’s eyes to the real effects that bigotry has on lives.

Prior to Boy Erased’s limited theatrical release (it opens in theaters this weekend), I sat down with Conley to talk about what it was like seeing his memoir translated into a Hollywood film and how he’s used his experiences to become an activist for the LGBTQ community.

Joel Edgerton directs a scene in Boy Erased Focus Features

Joel Edgerton proved right away why he was the best person to adapt Boy Erased.

At first I was very nervous about the whole thing, partly because I hadn’t met a lot of movie stars—I’m just not in that world, I’m a writer. Just going into the meeting with Joel was stressful, but then I was like, “He’s a straight guy, what’s he going to do the story? We’ve been burned before.” But at our first meeting he asked to meet with other conversion therapy survivors in addition to me, and I loved the fact that he wanted to hear all of our stories.

Plus, I had just watched Loving, which he was in. It was a movie about the first interracial marriage and all the legal battles that went along with that, and he was using that publicity tour to talk about marriage equality now, much to the detriment to some of the family that was involved with the making of that film because they didn’t actually want that. [Edgerton] was like “I don’t care, I’m not going to work with a film that doesn’t recognize bigotry across the board.” So I already knew that he was a good ally, but he also asked if I wanted to write the script. I said I couldn’t write it again for a different audience and I don’t know how to “Hollywood-up” a story. So he wrote a script really rapidly, and throughout the process he made me feel better by always sending me the drafts of the script and asking if there was anything problematic or anything that didn’t feel right, and he would change it anytime I said there was an issue.

Conley fought to keep the ending of the movie similar to his real-life experience.

I think there’s a natural desire to have Russell Crowe’s character [Crowe plays Conley’s father] to come around and show what that kind of acceptance would look like. And I can see why that kind of editorial vision would exist, because it gives parents a path for rehabilitation. But I strongly argued for a closer truth, which is that it’s still complicated, and my dad’s not completely there yet. The film might lose a bit of money because it doesn’t have the redemptive arc for the parents that the studio originally wanted, but I pushed pretty hard on making it complicated at the end because I knew other survivors hadn’t had happy stories with their parents. So [Edgerton] changed that, and one of the producers was like, “Well, we might have just lost millions of dollars, but good job with your principles.”

                  Author Garrard Conley on the set of Boy Erased with Lucas Hedges

Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

He was blown away by Lucas Hedges, who plays him in the movie.

Lucas is a dream. The first time we met, we were walking around DUMBO, and he said, “You know, I wasn’t going to do this, but do you want to come back to my apartment and talk?” He still has a room in his father’s [director Peter Hedges] house. So we went over there and he invited me into his childhood bedroom and said, “If you’re going to show me everything, then I need to show you everything.” And then he showed me his copy of my book, which was marked up on every page. I felt it was the greatest tribute someone who was going to play me could do. I was already pretty convinced, and then when Lucas started to share his identity on the spectrum with me—he wasn’t quite aware of where he was, but he knew that he wasn’t entirely straight—that was the last hurdle where I thought, “Okay, this guy can play it.

He’d explained to me a sense of shame that he’d felt, and he later talked about it in the New York magazine piece, and he wasn’t really specific about it, but he did tell me he that he thought he was fluid in some way. So he had the shame aspect, and the actual identity, so that was going to play well on the screen. And he’s phenomenal in it. [His performance] is understated in many ways, but it’s very accurate. The way he’s able to depict fear and shame on his face is actually really terrifying. He’s my favorite thing in the movie. Just watching him is mesmerizing.

Writing the memoir was an emotionally draining, but necessary, experience.

Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family

I had to really look at it like a story, which is hard to do, because you have to cut through all the trauma and, in many ways, the false memories you’ve created to get over stuff and to go back to those places mentally which is incredibly difficult. And it’s harmful for the people around you—my boyfriend at the time suffered through a lot of episodes where I was not okay. He was always like, “Why are you doing this to yourself, why are you writing this?” And I didn’t always have a clear answer to that, it was just that I had to.

Any time you turn anything into a story, you lose the “life-iness” of it, because you’ve got to shape it into art, and that feels uncomfortable because it’s all true, all these things happened, but you’re shaping it for an audience. It feels like a bit of a sacrifice because I’m very precious with my memories and my internal account of things. And whenever you’re told that you’re crazy or corrupt in some way, you’re a little suspicious about putting it out there into the world again. But I did it because, from the very beginning, with the book and this film, the project has been to make something compelling enough to drive the conversation forward. I’d seen the same old arguments and the same old depictions of conversion therapy over and over again, which is it’s a joke, it’s a farce, and it’s not true. It’s soul murder, and I wanted that story to be told.

The memoir was released before Trump’s election, and Conley probably wouldn’t have written the same version now.

It’s a very anti-LGBT administration. It was so different, rhetorically, to humanize people like my parents or even the [conversion therapy] counselors when Obama was president than it is right now to humanize them, because it’s almost asking too much empathy from people who feel like their lives are on the line. I don’t know if I would have written the same book right now. I think I would have been angrier and I might not have been so forgiving, so it might actually not have worked as well to write it now.

There is kind of a weird irony in the fact that because all the stuff came out about Mike Pence supporting conversion therapy, it’s actually made conversion therapy a headline and now it’s easier to get people’s attention. I wouldn’t say I’m grateful for it, but it’s an opportunity. It’s unfortunate, but this is something the right has been invested in for a very long time. They’ll throw [the LGBTQ community] under a bus at any moment just to score political points.

We’re definitely at a turning point. It’s either going to go, hopefully, in the way of, “Let’s stop pretending respectability politics exist and let’s be as radical as we need to be in order to get shit done,” but it could easily go the other way.

Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe in Boy Erased Focus Features

He hopes people realize that conversion therapy and toxic masculinity affects everyone.

One of things I always say is conversion therapy doesn’t have to be done in a facility. If you’re taught to be a “certain type of man”, to act a certain way, and you’re taught by authority figures that being gay is evil, then that’s conversion therapy too. Conversion therapy can function as a metaphor for the kinds of brainwashing that we’ve all been given. Once you’re done looking at everyone’s side of the story, you can begin to see a system in place that harms everyone.

I often think about how I feel ashamed to be a man in this culture, and I talked to a trans activist named Thomas Page McBee who wrote Amateur and Man Alive about those feelings, and he was like, “You need to consider the fact that you’re harming yourself whenever you believe that masculinity is one thing and that it’s just the toxic brand.” It was just so eye-opening to hear that from someone like him who’d grown up conditioned to be a woman, then transitioned to a man, and had to deal with all that bullshit. I realized we need to look at the systems in place, and those systems can turn people into monsters.

Activists should recognize that there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Faith is such a strange thing. It can be an incredibly powerful tool to survive something and it can also be something that keeps you locked in a fundamentalist worldview for a very long time. It covers up the moments of doubt. Getting out of that system is incredibly difficult. There are a lot of activists who call for people to move out of their towns and go somewhere else, but they’re often forgetting that people don’t have money, they don’t have the social capabilities to even do that without getting lost in the shuffle.

They also kind of ignore the psychological toil that comes from splitting from everything you’ve ever known. It’s not easy, and I think in larger metropolitan areas there can be a tendency to forget what it’s like to be on the ground in many of these towns across the country, and even if we don’t want to, we have to educate people who have perpetuated this bigotry from the very beginning.

Garrard Conley and his mother, Martha, on the set of Boy Erased Kyle Kaplan/Focus Features

Conley’s own relationship with the South and Christianity is still evolving.

I try to be a strong voice for the South being a complex place, because I do believe there are pockets of real, amazing, radical work that’s being done in the South. Even in the more fundamentalist communities, there are people within that are fighting the good fight. That being said, I think the South and many churches have not reckoned with their past. There are affirming churches who do not talk about what they did in terms of conversion therapy and the lives that were lost as a result of the choices that they made, and I call bullshit on that.

They need to hold themselves accountable, just like they did in terms of how they treated other races or what they did with slavery in the past. They should continue to talk about that, because unless you do, you’re not going to have any moral standing whatsoever. You’re trying to say “come here, learn how to be a good person,” but how are you going to do that if you don’t address the horrible things that you’ve done to the [LGBTQ] community? And if you just say, “I did it out of love, but it was wrong, and I’m sorry,” then that’s fine, I’m okay with that. But you’ve got to say something.

In terms of my own personal faith, I’ve actually begun praying a lot more lately, which is an unusual and unexpected development. I don’t necessarily believe in fate, but I do feel like I’m in a very intense position with a lot of responsibility in terms of how I represent the survivor groups, how I represent LGBT people through the culture at large, and how I can end conversion therapy, while not sacrificing our community to do so. Because that’s incredibly confusing and scary to me, I’ve just started praying, and I don’t know who I’m praying to, but I try to just ask for guidance in some way.

DREAM JOB: Waiters Slammed Cake into rude Diners Faces and keeps job


I want to work here

By: Mark Morris/UK Mirror

The waiters got their revenge after a woman said to them: “Why the fuck would I eat your cake?”

Waiters at a restaurant in Ukraine who had reportedly grown tired of two diners’ rudeness slammed cake into their faces – and the amusing incident was caught on camera.

Footage, filmed and posted online by an eyewitness, shows the pair of waiters arguing with two woman sitting at a table at Guramma Italiana restaurant in Kiev.

One of the woman can reportedly be heard saying: “Why the fuck would I eat your cake?”

In response, the young waiter shoves the cake into her face, prompting the outraged women to jump to their feet, with the other woman throwing her drink over the waiter.

The waiters were reportedly fed up with the diners’ rudeness (Image: CEN)
The row descended into a food fight very quickly (Image: CEN)

The comical row doesn’t end there.

The waiter’s colleague grabs another cake from the table and throws it at the other woman.

At this point, the two cake-covered diners can be heard shouting: “What the fuck is going on here?”

The waiters will not be punished for their actions(Image: CEN)

The video ends with the waiters moving away as the diners demanding to speak to the manager.

A restaurant spokesman reportedly said: “The clients were very rude.

“The waiters could not stand their tone any longer and did what they did.

“The situation was provoked by the clients, the waiters will not be punished.”




That takes the Cake

I wonder if they are taking applications?



The Great American Health Care Panic

At a bowling alley, two older white women with shoulder-length blonde hair smile and lean on one another next to a pile of bowling balls.


 By: Michael Kruse/

LEVITTOWN, Pa.—With whiffs of cigarette smoke wafting from the adjoining Band Box bar, surrounded by the nonstop clatter of bowling pins, Donna Brown and Kaci Rickert sat across from each other at a little low table one recent evening at the shabby, homey Levittown Lanes. The women’s league teammates ate salad and ziti and made small talk. Brown got up for her turn, and Rickert offered an admission in what was almost a whisper. “We’re on two different sides of the political aisle,” she said, “but we don’t discuss it.”

There was, however, one perennial problem they wanted to talk about. And when they started, they couldn’t stop.

“Health care,” said Rickert, 56, a hospice nurse.

“It’s the top issue,” said Brown, 64, a hairdresser.

“Cost … accessibility,” Rickert continued, ticking off her complaints. “There should be some way to limit the high deductibles that are rolling out now. It’s crippling people. It’s crippling me.”

Here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, anchored by this again, iconic ,suburb  situated between Philadelphia and Trenton, New Jersey, along the Delaware River not far from where George Washington famously crossed , the margins of electoral victories traditionally are as slim as the spectrum of political opinion is vast. Heading, though, into this year’s midterms, there is one thing that everybody seems to agree on. No matter what they say about President Donald Trump (and they have a lot to say about him), and regardless of what they think of their relatively moderate Republican congressman, Brian Fitzpatrick , the people and particularly the senior citizens and retirees who live in the state’s newly drawn  1st Congressional District  are all but in lockstep when it comes to the health care system. It’s broken, they think, and it needs to be more available, affordable and reliable. On this topic at least, toxic partisan strife turns into across-the-aisle ire.

“I’m tired of this,” Brown said.

Somebody needs to fix it,” Rickert added.

This area long has been a lens through which to gauge not only the moods and preferences of Pennsylvania but the nation as a whole. Levittown , of course, is practically synonymous with suburbia, built by Bill Levitt in the early 1950s on great swaths of spinach and broccoli. Sold at the outset as “the most perfectly planned community in America,” it actually has served as a tableau of the country’s most intractable troubles, from racism to working -class resentments to today’s debilitating  opiold scorage . And the wider county runs the cultural gamut from threadbare strip malls and blue-collar dive bars in Levittown to gourmet olive oil shops and Italian coffee parlors in tonier Doylestown to wineries and nurseries, silver silos and red barns, feed stores and gun stores in its more rural reaches. It is home to yard signs that say “SAVE DEMOCRACY” and “PRAY FOR OUR COUNTRY” and “HATE HAS NO HOME HERE” and at least one Subaru Outback with a bumper sticker calling an assault rifle a “MODERN MUSKET” and challenging anybody who doesn’t like that to “COME AND TAKE IT.”

Spend a few days around these parts and one meets Republicans who used to be Democrats and Democrats who used to be Republicans and voter after voter who insists he or she picks the person over the party. For decades, this district (formerly the 8th, a court-ordered redrawing  earlier this year make  it a wisp more Democratic) typically has gone for the Democrat for president and a Republican for Congress. And the lastest polling shows Fitzpatrick with a narrow lead over Scott Wallace , a philanthropist and self-described “ Patriotic Millionare” running as a guaranteed check on Trump. But it’s always up for grabs .. “It’s one of those consummate gettable places for both parties,” said Christopher Borick , a political scientist at Muhlenberg College in nearby Allentown. This year’s stakes are especially high and it’s conceivable that control of the House of Representatives could come down to votes logged here. “It is the district in Pennsylvania that the GOP has to defend at all costs,” said longtime Pennsylvania politico Larry Ceisler .. “If this district goes Democratic,” Franklin & Marshall College pollster Terry Madonna said, “the wave is pretty substantial.”

There are, after all, four districts more likely to go blue next month—the 6th, 7th, 8th and 17th are likely or leaning, whereas the 1st is a tossup, according to a POLITICO analysis , making Pennsylvania one of the nation’s most fertile territories for potential pickups for Democrats. Add in the gubernatorial race and a  Senate contest —incumbent Democrats are heavily favored in both—and the state stands as an epicenter of these midterms. And older voters are most likely to decide those races; in Pennsylvania more than 1 in 3 registered voters are ages 50 or older.

Given the current volatile landscape, buffeted from the right in his primary  and now from the left by Wallace, Fitzpatrick, a 44-year-old Levittown native and former FBI agent bidding for a second term, has spent the past few years trying to distance himself from Trump while supporting his polices  the vast majority of the time. He voted for  the Trump tax cut, for example, but he also voted against the health care bill that would have gutted President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. And he did that, he explained, because of what he’s heard back home.

It’s hard to miss.

“Health care is still the most important issue of substance on the table,” said Bill Pezza  , an adjunct professor of political science and history at Bucks County Community College. That’s true around the country, according to multiple polls , and it’s true here.

“Health care,” Republican retiree Marian Schofield, 85, said without hesitation when she was asked what she’s thinking about the most going into November.

“Health care,” echoed Alice Tardino, 64, co-owner of a video store and a Democrat.

“The biggest fear for a lot of people right now,” added Tina Davis, the area’s state representative and a Democrat, “is will they have health care? Will they be able to get it with pre-existing conditions? That’s the fear that you hear.”

At Levittown Lanes, Brown, who supports Trump, and Rickert, who does not, delved into the specifics of their stories. Brown used to be covered under her husband’s health care, but he retired four years ago from his metalworking job, and she’s had to pay for her own insurance ever since—now $869 a month. She turns 65 later this fall, and she can’t wait—so she can get Medicare benefits. It will shave some $600 off that bill, she said. “I’m paying more for my health care than what we pay for our mortgage.” Rickert, meanwhile, was out of work for six months last year because of a rib she fractured on the job and then pneumonia and other ensuing complications—and she lost her health insurance because of it, she said. She recently started with a new company, still as a nurse, mainly to get more affordable health care. It’s been disillusioning. “There’s no protection for people who get sick who are employed,” Rickert said. “Over time, it doesn’t matter. And medicine is a business. It’s not about people.”

“Everything you do, every job you take,” Brown said, “it revolves around health care.”

“I’m just disgusted with it all,” Rickert said.

Brown blames Congress. Both parties.

“They should have exactly what we have” for care, she suggested. “They’re servants of the people. Isn’t that what they say?” The way she sees it, though, what’s their incentive to work together to come up with solutions? “Until they get the same health care we do …” She brought up the S.S United States,  the derelict ghost ship, rusting just down the Delaware. “Put them all on there,” Brown said, “and sink ’em at sea.”

Four miles down busy New Falls Road, inside squat, gray brick Sparky’s World Famous Shot & Beer Bar, dangling strands of Christmas lights cut through the Camel haze of the dark bar on a late afternoon. Jim Hamlen, 75, a retired steelworker and onetime union Democrat wearing a T-shirt that says he’s a Vietnam veteran, took drags and sips of two-buck beer and talked about Trump. “When I first heard Trump, I thought, ‘Oh, no, here we go,’” he said. “But the more I listened to him, the more I thought about it. I always said to myself, ‘This country needs a president who’s a super businessman, who can make deals, and wouldn’t get pushed around.’” What he likes best about what Trump’s doing is the pledge to turn back the clock. “I would like,” Hamlen said, “to go back to the way it used to be.”

In Levittown, same as everywhere else, that means different things to different people. “We bought 5,000 acres, and we planned every foot of it,” said Levitt, a ceaselessly self-promoting, Cadillac-driving cross between Henry Ford and Walt Disney. “Every store, filling station, school, house, apartment, church, color and shrub …” But that, Dianne Harris pointed out  in the 2010 book of essays she edited titled Second Suburb, always was unrealistic: “The planned perfection of Levittown becomes a foil against which the imperfections of human subjects play out.” In 1957, angry mobs of white people hurled  bottles and rocks through the picture window of the three-bedroom ranch on Deepgreen Lane that housed their first black neighbors. In 1979, an estimated 2,000 residents rioted and 44 police officers got hurt during protests over the lack of gasoline in the wake of the Iranian Revolution. And in the decades since, as factories and industries of the postwar, middle class-ascendant era that facilitated livable wages for workers with limited education dwindled and disappeared, anxieties have intensified.

At the Band Box bar, Mike Episcopo, 52, the co-owner along with his father, fretted over the fact that the cost of health care for his family has doubled of late. “We got clobbered over the last five or six years,” he said. “It was probably $1,100 in 2010, and it’s $2,200 now.”

He’s not sure who or what to blame. But he did mention Obama’s ACA. “I can’t blame it totally on that, but …”

Maybe, he believes, Trump can fix it.

“He’s a little bit crass, but I think I agree with him more than I disagree,” said Episcopo, who has two autistic sons and coaches special-needs hockey. “If the election was today, I’d vote for him again, to see if this’ll come to fruition.”

What “this” on health care might be remains unclear. The consensus of dissatisfaction hasn’t translated into anything remotely approaching possible solutions. The reality is there aren’t even specific proposals to parse. An outright repeal of Obamacare is dead for the time being. The notion of universal health care is little more than a campaign scare tactic  The source of the gridlock is, of course, the extreme partisan divide.

“The biggest problem we face in this country … is hyperpartisanship,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s very much a polarized, Hatfield versus McCoy, left versus right, red versus blue—and when you think about it, why? … Do people really believe that the Democrat Party or the Republican Party have the answer to all problems? It’s crazy.” Ranked in 2017 by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University as the third-most bipartisan member of the House, Fitzpatrick said he gets “a lot of grief” for even being a part of the Problem Solvers Caucus . He chalks it up to “insecurity and immaturity,” saying it takes “courage” to buck the party line.

The most courageous thing he’s done in Congress? “Voting against the health care bill under immense pressure,” he said. “Immense pressure. From all different corners. … I certainly got pressure from leadership.”

What decided it for him? “It was the people with pre-existing conditions, people with juvenile arthritis, juvenile diabetes, cystic fibrosis, autism—you know, these families that come in, they will just reduce you to tears, hearing their stories of the challenges they deal with, day in and day out, and if you have any heart at all and any soul at all, that is going to be a moving experience for you, and you’re going to understand that we have to accommodate those people, we have to take care of these people. So that fit into the Medicaid issue. … I became a big believer in Medicaid and Medicaid expansion,” he said.

Wallace, his opponent, is hearing the same thing from voters. “Just about every voter I talk to, their number one concern is health care. I believe health care is a human right and have made fighting for affordable, accessible coverage my top priority,” Wallace said in a statement.

Fitzpatrick continued: “Everybody should want the same thing: a system that works, that’s innovative, that’s affordable, and that’s universal. We’ve just got to figure out the best way to get there.”

Whatever that looks like, he insisted, it has to be bipartisan.

That seems unlikely. At a local senior center, retired teacher Karren Cherrington, 73, decried Trump and an administration that she sees engaging in an ongoing assault on women. “We spent a long time earning our rights, and I’d like to keep them!” she stressed. “It took us till the ’20s to get the vote and until the ’70s to have control over our own bodies!” Cherrington then apologized for getting so emotional. “Forgive me,” she said.

Across the room, Eddie Fluke, 74, preparing for a fall festival for children by stuffing goodie bags with whistles and pencils and plastic spiders and Dracula teeth, quietly said she voted for Trump and will do it again. “He says something, and he does it, and he doesn’t really care who it annoys,” Fluke explained.

Dori Brenenborg, though, steered clear of taking sides on Trump and instead zeroed in on what for her was top of mind.

“Health care,” she said.

Brenenborg, 73, is a retired insurance agent and now makes extra money with a sewing business on the side. She stood in the senior center’s entryway next to pamphlets about Medicare and hospitals and health fairs and about how to spot a con artist. Her three-month supply of eye drops used to be $200. Now it’s $700 for two months. “What can you cut?” Brenenborg said. “You can’t cut your utilities. You can’t cut your house payments.”

Many of her friends are struggling with the same thing.

“They’ll only take half a pill, or they’ll skip a day—that’s real common,” she said. “I’m fearful of where it’s going. Where does it stop?”

And at the video store, called The Video Store, a 38-year family business that now also sells lottery tickets, takes passport photos and offers faxing and notary services, Tardino shook her head about the president. “I feel he’s dangerous,” she said. “I said that from the beginning. He wasn’t prepared to be president.” But it’s not actually what she’s worried about the most. “My husband is not well,” she said.

John Tardino turned 65 this past summer. He and his wife and their three children always were self-insured. “Very expensive,” she said. When he signed up for Medicare, he picked the most affordable option, having been healthy his whole life. But the blood work from his first physical on Medicare showed moderate kidney failure. He signed up for a different Medicare plan that was pricier but had more comprehensive coverage. He was sent for an ultrasound. He was sent to a urologist. He was sent for X-rays and for more blood work. A doctor ruled out cancer. But his bladder remains inflamed. The Tardinos know their customers by name and commiserate with many of them about what’s going on in their lives, so they needed no reminder to be grateful for good health. “People,” Alice Tardino said, “come in here all the time, in wheelchairs, with health concerns.” But now it’s hitting home. They’re waiting on the results of more tests.

“You never know what’s going to happen,” she said.

“And stuff can happen to you just like that,” he said. “Even at the gym, the guys—we talk about who has to get a hip replacement, a knee replacement. One of my buddies had throat cancer.”

“This is a major, major concern of retirees,” she said.

Back at Levittown Lanes , as the evening activities of the women’s league wrapped up, Kaci Rickert turned her attention to her daughter. She’s 25, works as a groomer at PetSmart and last year lost her insurance when Rickert did. Now she’s on her mother’s new plan. But she’ll be on her own once she is older than 26. Rickert spoke of her daughter and her situation with a mother’s fierce pride—but also audible angst.

“She’s doing everything she can to make ends meet. She’s a damn good groomer, a very strong, independent woman,” she said. “But she just can’t afford to do health care, so she’s going to have to end up relying on the emergency room system.”

All over Levittown, Bucks County and Pennsylvania’s 1st District, many retirees, soon-to-be retirees, senior citizens and veterans are uneasy, they say, not even so much about themselves but about their children and their children’s children. Will Medicare still be there? Will costs keep climbing? How will their kids and their grandkids fare in the not too distant future if this president or any president or their representatives in Washington don’t manage to work together to find some way to address the persistent problems with health care?

“I think down the line about what will happen to my children with Medicare, and my grandchildren,” Miriam Schofield said. She’s had cancer, and her husband had a heart attack. As retirees, they’re on a fixed budget. Any increase in health care costs or decrease in availability—especially for people like them with pre-existing conditions—would be a burden almost impossible to handle. “I just worry how much prescriptions have went up, things like that, and hospital care,” Schofield said. And in the years to come? “Who knows down the road what will happen?”

Alice Tardino at The Video Store has two daughters and one son and four grandchildren. She thinks about their health care, and the Environmental Protection Agency, too. “I never really felt old until I saw what this administration is doing,” she said. “I worry about the future’s health because of the EPA regulations being relaxed. … I want the future generations to have the benefits that my children had, and the decisions that are being made now are definitely going to affect my grandchildren.”

Mike Episcopo at the Band Box couldn’t be more different in his support for Trump but shares Tardino’s broad concerns about the future.

“Politically,” he said, “I feel bad for the younger generation.” Student loans? “Off the charts—the next housing crisis, in my opinion,” he added. But health care tops the list.

“Those who are older obviously want to hold on to what they have. And then those who have kids on their health care plan worry about whether they’ll be protected until they’re 26,” said Pezza, the community college professor, who’s always discussing politics and public policy with people here. “They’re worried about whether they’re going to lose that.”

Rickert certainly is.  Her daughter and health insurance on her mind, she started packing up her stuff to head out into the dark night.

“How can she afford it,” Rickert asked, “if I can hardly afford it?”

5 Things To Try When You Can’t Stand The Pain Of Loneliness

Image result for reading a book at home

(Photo: Google)

By: Brock Hanson/

Loneliness is a feeling related to abandonment. Chronic loneliness can be a habit we need to fight.

Loneliness is usually considered to be the emotional effect of a life situation, the situation of being isolated, rejected, or abandoned. But most of us have experienced feeling lonely in a crowd, or being entirely content when we’re all by ourselves. So the emotion we experience as loneliness in adulthood is actually independent of whether we’re alone.

Some of us experience chronic loneliness, a persistent sense of sadness we associate with being alone or unloved, and an enduring expectation that our isolation will never be relieved by the unconditional love and companionship we believe we lack. This is a painful dilemma indeed, made worse by the fact that the loneliness prevents us from doing the things we could to find love and companionable security.

Unfortunately, focusing on and anticipating loneliness can become a habit, just as focusing on anxiety can easily become a phobia, or focusing on anger can become an habit of abusive or self abusive behavior. The emotion of loneliness will make it hard for you to connect with others so that the facts of your life will grow to fit your feelings and expectations more and more.

You can choose to fight this trend if you put your mind to it. Here’s how to deal with loneliness and reduce the impact of that emotional experience.

1. Smile more often. GIPHY


When you succeed in smiling in public, people will be drawn to you, and you’re more likely to get smiles or conversations in return. If you have trouble, go on YouTube and search for laughing baby videos. Or join a laughing yoga class.

2. Reach out to others.

By phone or text or email or in online chat rooms. When you connect with someone, resist the temptation to express your sadness first and foremost. Prepare yourself by choosing some uplifting topics, something interesting and positive you noticed recently, or something for which you are grateful, no matter how small.

Gratitude for the smallest things in life can open the door for mutual appreciation. By asking others about their lives, their problems and their blessings, you can take the focus off of yourself and your own insecurities, and begin to build a relationship based on your compassion for them.

3. Practice gratitude.

Chances are, you can find something in the present moment or in a memory that you feel grateful for. No matter how small, you can begin there. Once you open that filing cabinet drawer in your mind, you will discover other things you are grateful for. If you stay in this drawer, you’ll develop a steadily increasing capacity for gratitude.

Our brains are designed to focus first on pain and danger for survival reasons, but they have the capacity to experience gratitude, compassion, and love, and these emotions help us to connect, thrive, and grow. Rather than letting habits of loneliness stifle your talent for gratitude, stretch your capacity for gratitude and reduce the amount of time you suffer from loneliness.

4. Practice compassion.


No matter how bad your situation is, it’s not difficult to find someone with a story you can feel compassion for. The more you know about another person, the better you are able to understand their sorrows, needs, or pain, so taking time to listen to others is essential.

Because most people won’t share their needs with just anyone, using the internet to locate a well moderated forum or chat room where people with similar backgrounds and problems are willing to talk about their challenges may be a safe place to start. I’ve often been impressed by the warmth and sensitivity expressed by members of a forum or discussion group online.

5. Seize the moment.

A large part of the habit of loneliness is the expectation that our isolation will go on forever. If you focus on the present moment and understand that this moment is just this moment, but it is the moment we have now, you can learn how to deal with loneliness. In this moment, there are a number of things to pay attention to: what you hear, what you see, what you think about what you hear or see, and what physical sensations you notice.

All of these keep changing and offer you a parade of phenomena on which to focus briefly and then let go. Some of the sights, sounds, and sensations may be unpleasant, or maybe your thoughts about them will seem unpleasant, but not all of them will be. Staying in the moment is a discipline that helps break the habits we fall into involving living in the past or future — with a bias toward the painful parts of the past and future.

Why does loneliness make it so difficult for us to practice these things? Early in life, the emotion of loneliness has a purpose in helping us cope with dangerous situations when we find ourselves separated from the caretakers on whom we depend.

Loneliness compels the helpless little animal to keep quiet and stay put so that Mama Bear has a better chance of finding her before something else does. But we don’t automatically grow out of emotions when we no longer need them. In fact, we can accidentally fall into habits of evoking emotions that are unnecessary and unhelpful for the situation we find ourselves in.

We seem to understand that fear or anger is dysfunctional when they become an automatic response to situations, and we turn to treatment for anxiety or anger management, but it often seems difficult to see loneliness in the same way.

Because the emotion of loneliness reminds us so vividly of times when we were helpless, it’s easy to become confused and believe that we’re helpless. The cognitive (beliefs) and behavioral (actions) habits that are shaped by the emotion of loneliness tend to reinforce one another.  In order to free yourself from the habit of loneliness, you need to choose to act according to plan rather than according to how you feel.

Brock Hansen, LCSW is a clinical social worker and personal effectiveness coach with over 30 years of experience in counseling individuals with a variety of problems related to shame and anger. Visit his website at

30 Days to be a Family

 Last August, Arsenio De La Rosa had a stroke and doctors gave him only weeks to live. His kids were with him in Arizona, but his wife, Gloria, was an hour south in Mexico.

Because she is unable to enter the country, she applied for a temporary permit to come to the U.S. to say goodbye to her husband and be there for her kids in such a tough time. After an initial denial, she ended up getting a 30-day pass.

We take a look at those 30 days, a bittersweet reunion after being separated by immigration law for 9 years. A family brought together by tragedy, only to go back to living parallel lives.


Newly widowed mom exits US with a hole in her heart


 By Perla Trevizo and Fernada Echavarri/The Arizona Daily Star  


Gloria Arellano de la Rosa had told herself she wouldn’t break down. If I cry, they’ll cry, she thought.  And the last thing she wanted after spending the first month in nine years with her children was to make them cry.  “You know what’s good and what’s bad,” she told three of her four kids as a customs officer and her immigration attorney looked on. “So be good.”


After one last blessing, Gloria walked down the same pedestrian lane she had walked up a month earlier. She passed the street food stalls, the taxi drivers calling out for fares, and entered the busy streets of Nogales, Sonora.

She thought of her family and the time they spent together and the bittersweet reason that let that happen: The U.S. government let her  enter the country for 30 days after her elderly husband was told he had only a few weeks to live.


More than 4.5 million American children have at least one undocumented parent. Although there is no way to track how many have been separated because of deportation or bans, in places like Tucson’s south side, where the de la Rosa kids grew up, these stories are common.


They illustrate the complexities of an immigration system that politicians on both sides say is broken, and the consequences of a 1996 law that compounded mistakes made by Gloria and her husband, including filing the wrong paperwork and leaving the country.

Before then, she likely would have paid a fine for living in this country illegally, then adjusted her immigration status and gone on to live with her family. Instead, Gloria and Arsenio de la Rosa had to choose between having their children grow up with a mother or giving them the chance to take advantage of the opportunities that come with living in America.


They chose the latter.

But for a moment in late August they didn’t have to. They had 30 days to be a family.


Coming Home


As Gloria entered the modest three-bedroom Tucson home she hadn’t seen in years, her daughter, Naomi, jumped on her — just as she did when Gloria used to take tamales to Naomi’s third-grade class.   “Yo también te extraño,” I miss you too. Gloria groaned from the weight of her almost 18-year-old daughter.


The de la Rosa siblings had expected their mother earlier that week, when Gloria first sought a humanitarian permit to return briefly to the United States. But Customs and Border Protection officials rejected her request, citing the prior permanent residency denial that led to her ban.


An intense campaign that amassed 16,000 signatures online, a news conference with Democratic Arizona Rep. Raúl Grijalva, additional paperwork and her lawyer’s word that he would bring her back led to a change of heart. On Aug. 24 the U.S. government allowed her to come home to say goodbye.


During the 60-mile drive from the border to Tucson, her son Bill played on a loop the song “Estamos Bien” by trap and reggaeton singer Bad Bunny. “We are OK,” he repeated.

Naomi spent most of the morning before her mother’s arrival mopping and sweeping; The family caretaker wanted the house to be spotless.


Gloria had last visited in 2011, when Arsenio suffered a stroke and the government let her come for a few days — most of them spent at the hospital.

This time would be different. She would be in the U.S. longer, but with Arsenio’s declining health they all knew it would be the last time they would be together.



The days after she arrived, Gloria cooked for a full house. Her kids wanted to show off their mom’s meals to their friends.


For the first time in a long time, they didn’t have to worry about what’s for dinner, who’s supposed to clear the table, whose turn is it to wash the dishes. After all these years, Gloria wanted to take care of them.


In the time she’d been gone, her four children each had taken on a grown-up role.

Jim, 26 and the oldest, had to leave the U.S. Marine Corps right at the point where he could have re-enlisted and become a sergeant. He needed to care for their father and be there for his youngest siblings.


Bill, 24, became the engine of the family, as Gloria puts it — he moves everyone, including her. He makes the family decisions, and even after he moved first to Maine and then to England for college, he calls in to make sure his siblings’ grades are good and appointments are made. He always thinks ahead.

Naomi, 18, learned to clean, cook and care for her youngest sibling, Bobby — her baby, as she calls him. She’s always balancing the role of the student with that of the caretaker.

Bobby, 13, grew up straddling two countries, missing his siblings and father when he was with his mom in Mexico and missing his mother when he was in Tucson. With time, he too had to take on more responsibilities, preparing his dad’s breakfast each morning and giving him his medicine.


Gloria learned to parent over the phone. She sent food with friends or relatives, so her kids didn’t have to cook, and she did their laundry when they visited so they could relax and act their ages. She also helped out with their father when he was well enough to travel across the border.


The last time Arsenio visited Nogales was for Thanksgiving last year. After that, his health deteriorated. The first day Gloria was back in Tucson, she visited her husband at a health center, where she held his frail hand and called him by his nickname, “Chenito,” over and over. “I came to take care of you,” she told him.


Strong for each other 


Since they were little, the de la Rosa siblings learned to be strong for one another. If they felt like crying, that was to be done in private. Not because they were embarrassed, but because they didn’t want to make the others feel sad.


Not showing their emotions was a sign of strength. Their father did it. Their mother did it. And they learned to do it.


As his father’s health worsened, Bill rehearsed what it would be like when Arsenio passed away and thought about who he needed to be for each sibling.

Before he left for England on Sept. 2, he knew he was likely saying goodbye to his father for the last time. Arsenio was hospitalized a few weeks before for a pressure ulcer and stroke.


As he always did, Bill leaned over and placed his forehead against his father’s lips, just long enough to feel a gentle touch.


Two days later, Arsenio de la Rosa died. He was 85.

Nothing could prepare the family for how it would feel to lose their role model, the father and pilot who encouraged them to be their best. It didn’t matter if they were a shoemaker, he would say, as long as they were the best shoemaker.

Jim, who is more reserved, was in shock after his father died. His face flushed, he didn’t want to talk to anyone.


When Jim and Bill talk, it’s usually about what needs to happen to get things done.

All of them have mastered the skill of separating the personal from the pragmatic, Bill said, “Because we have to. Because this situation begs that we do things like this.”

Bobby feared this moment for a long time but remained hopeful. He trusted his dad’s strength would pull him through and that finally they would all be together. But in the end it didn’t, he said, holding back tears.


A picture of his then-26-year-old dad hangs in the living room as a constant reminder of their loss. But instead of talking to his mom, Bobby goes to his room and talks to friends, or cries in the bathroom — even when Gloria tells him it’s OK to cry, it’s OK to be sad.

One of the few times Naomi let her guard down and cried was when she said goodbye to her dad before the funeral — another was the time they couldn’t spend Christmas together because Arsenio was in the hospital.

“Oh my God, I was hugging him so much,” she said. “My mom was like, ‘Oh, Naomi, ya, we got to go’ and like, she was pulling on to me but I was, like, latched onto my dad and I was hugging him tight.”


She had fixed her dad’s coffee every morning: one teaspoon instant coffee, four spoonfuls of brown sugar, stirred into three parts water and one part milk, served in his chipped white cup. She served him a glass of Ensure at night.


Naomi thought of the movie “The Cobbler,” where at the end a character says everyone lives their best day before they die. “My dad always wanted to see us together again, so then when he did, he died. … He had lived his best day.”


Even if their time together had been short, Gloria was there to comfort them, to be a pillar they could lean on.


“He’s in a much better place now,” Gloria told them. “Wherever you are, he’s watching over you.”


The de la Rosa siblings didn’t have to hold back on their emotions. They could let go a little. But they couldn’t stop being who they’ve prepared themselves to be.

Bobby said he’s taught himself not to dwell on difficult moments, and he’s convinced everything is going to be better.

“I think I kind of accepted the fact that my Dad passed away and it’s kind of like I need to move on or else I will be, like, sad and then I won’t be able to think right,” he said a week after his father died.


He did the same when he was told his mother was banned for a decade. “I realized like I had to, like, you know, accept the fact that she won’t be coming back for a while. If I don’t, I won’t be great in school.”


When Bill stood to talk about his dad before dozens of friends and relatives who have become the family’s support network, his siblings were still on top of his mind. He needed to make things better for them — including Aresenio Jr., his father’s oldest son from his first marriage.

Arsenio, Jim, Naomi, Bobby, papi is with you and in our hearts; he will always be with us,” he addressed them, looking at each one in turn.

“I imagine him flying in the clouds, full speed ahead, and at his side the best co-pilot, Jesus Christ. “One day, perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, we will think about our Arsenio de la Rosa Higgins and a smile will come before a tear. Rest in peace.”

Day 2 Day

After the funeral, the family tried to enjoy the 16 days they had left before Gloria returned to Mexico, their grief coexisting with longed-for normalcy. Bobby leaning his head on his mother’s shoulder; Mamá sitting and joking, doing housework, fielding requests for favorite dishes.    “Ma,’ would you make us tamales?” Naomi asked.

I need a lot of things, mija,” Gloria said. “Olives, masa, corn husks, lard, meat …”

“I can take you to get them,” Naomi offered. She could even pitch in.

As her mom agreed, she smiled. “Navidad came early.”


But even as things settle down into what could pass as routine, as if Gloria hasn’t been gone for almost a decade — she has. And her children have built lives in the void she left.

As Gloria searched the kitchen cabinets, she found a stack of mostly unopened vitamin bottles she’d sent, labeled with each of her children’s names.


“Do you think it’s fair to come here and find all of this?” Gloria scolded Naomi. “I’m going to take them to Nogales to donate them before they expire. No more.”

They didn’t think she would ever know.


Gloria couldn’t find a red pot that belonged to her mother-in-law; a shawl, a gift from an Indian couple she worked for; and a tablecloth she crocheted. It’s not that they are worth much, she said, but they mean something to her.


“Forget it, Mom,” Jim said when asked. “How can you think things are going to be where you left them nine years ago?”


When not in school, Bobby plays video games in his room. To him, it’s his way of escaping through his friends, some of whom he’s known since preschool.

“If I’m not happy, then I’ll try to make them happy and them being happy makes me happy,” said the eighth-grader. “They’re basically like my family.”

But all his mom and older brother Bill see is Bobby spending too much time indoors, not interacting with the outside world.

Gloria spotted a report card inside Bobby’s room addressed to the parent or guardian of Bob de la Rosa. He hadn’t shown it to her. “If he doesn’t improve those C’s,” she said, “no more video games.”  She hasn’t met Bobby’s teachers. Everyone judges in middle school and he doesn’t want to deal with all the questions, he said.


“Because my mom has never really been around me and I think everyone knows that. So if they see her, it’s going to be weird,” Bobby said. He wants his mom and his teacher to meet, he said, but not when everyone is there. When she picks him up from school — something she had never done before — and asks how his day was, he answers in monosyllables.


The siblings are also used to doing things their own way.

While it’s great to have someone do his laundry, Bill said Gloria doesn’t know what socks or shirts belong to whom. “She hijacked my clothes,” he joked.

He takes his coffee strong, with no sugar; Gloria prepared it weak, with sugar. He tries to eat low-fat food; Gloria always serves their meals with tortillas.


“It made me realize how independent I’ve become without her being here,” he said.


But it was most disorienting for Naomi.  There was the joy of waking up to her mother’s voice, “Ya levantate, mijita” — something that hasn’t happened since third grade. But also the frustration of being told she can’t go to the movies at 8:30 p.m. because she’s a niña de casa, a girl who belongs at home.


One morning, Gloria planned a visit to Naomi’s dorm at the University of Arizona, which is covered by her scholarship. She wanted to see how her only daughter lives.

As Naomi came down with her long black hair pulled up in a ponytail and a shirt that showed her belly button, Gloria asked for a hug and was quick to comment. “I get upset because she comes with those clothes and I’m seeing that there are girls who dress even worse.”


“It’s just a crop top,” Naomi said. “You have to be authentic,” Gloria told her. “Not just because others are dressing like that do I want you to go along.”

“I am authentic,” Naomi said and rolled her eyes.


Inside, Gloria inspected every drawer and insisted that Naomi be clean and neat. Under the bed, she found a doll she sent from Nogales and asked why it’s not up on the wall.

“Because I don’t like decorations,” Naomi said. “I’m not like you and Jim.”


By the end of the visit, Gloria had Bill hang it up.

It was more than her mom telling her what to do. Cleaning the house, taking care of herself and others, is part of who Naomi is. She’s been doing it half her life. Having her mom back, “gives me a break,” she said, “but I still want to do it. … I don’t know why.”

Counting Down 

In the midst of the small frictions, life started to feel familiar, but time was short. With Arsenio’s passing there were decisions to be made, including who was going to take over guardianship of Bobby.


It was agreed Naomi and Jim should share it, so they could balance doctors appointments and parent-teacher conferences with work and college until Gloria returns. Her decade-long ban expires in October 2019 and Mo Goldman, the family’s immigration attorney, doesn’t expect problems.


“They’re finally on that tail end of the 10-year bar, but of course now with the new administration, there’s always new challenges,” he said. It’s also hard to predict how the consular officers are going to handle the case.


But that’s for next year. In the meantime, Bobby needed a cell phone, Naomi needed a bank account, and there was a pending dentist appointment for both.

Time was running out, but Naomi preferred to go with the flow and cherish the moments like when she drove Gloria to Food City.


“I never saw myself driving, especially with my mom,” she said, her eyes wide to match her smile. When Gloria asked where the maseca was to make the tamales, “I told her, ‘right by the bread’ and I was right because I know my Food City.”

While Naomi chose to live in the moment, the days ticking by were unavoidable for Bobby and Gloria.


Every week, she counted the number of Fridays — the day she crossed — she had left.

“When I lay down I start to think, what if a document arrives that says I don’t have to go back? ‘You can forget about everything and remain with your children …'”

But those were only dreams, she said. Eventually reality would catch up.

“The 30th Day”


On her last day in the U.S., Sept. 24, Gloria made sure everyone had breakfast and went off to school on time. When they came back, she, Jim, Bobby and Naomi drove to Nogales, where she had to meet her attorney at 5 p.m.


Before she realized it, she had said her goodbyes, crossed the border and was back in Sonora. Inside her small apartment, decorated with pictures of her children — Bill and Naomi in their caps and gowns, Jim in his Marine uniform, Bobby posing with three U.S. congressmen — she wondered things big and small. What will they eat? Are they doing their homework? Are they staying on the right path?


On the other side of the Atlantic, Bill studies for his second master’s degree at Oxford University. He wrestles with his decision to live far from home but tells himself he will be able to do more for his family in the long run.


He hopes to come back to the U.S. and go to law school. With his thick-rimmed glasses, button-down shirts and polished shoes, he looks and acts the politician he hopes one day to be.


He speculates that he’s named after Bill Clinton — his father’s favorite president. He jokes that Naomi’s friends who had a crush on him growing up are future constituents, and that the kitchen table from where he sent out emails and launched the online campaign to bring his mother back was his “situation room.”


Jim tries to figure out what’s next. His life once revolved around the Marines and his Marine family, but he had to give that up. Then it became all about his dad and caring for him, worrying that something would happen when he left the house or went to sleep.

Now he needs to find a job — maybe in security, he thinks. He hopes to finish his associate’s degree so he can transfer to the UA and get a job in law enforcement.

Naomi is back to balancing the mom and student life — but now she splits her time between the UA and home. At times she wants to text Bobby, who is always in the back of her mind, but she reminds herself he’s in school.


She helps with food and laundry on the weekends and knows that all the responsibility will serve her well when she becomes a teacher. “I will know how to deal with Bobby and, like, take him to appointments and know how to talk to other grown-ups.”


Bobby learns how to be without the sister he once described as his best, best, best friend. They don’t talk as much anymore, he feels. They don’t check up on each other as they used to.When he comes home from school, he expects to hear the TV and to see his father sitting on the blue couch. And when he’s watching movies and eating chips, he thinks of Naomi and the times they did that together and is overcome by sadness.


Back in Nogales, Gloria feels the weight of time. The 30 days she spent with her children, the opportunity to say goodbye to her husband, were priceless. But she feels broken.  She has an empty space in her heart, just as she did nine years ago.


As long as she’s away from her children, a piece of her is missing. With a year to go before her ban is over, all she can do is wait to get it back.


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