conversations with hank


Me: Dinner smells divine!

Hank: Monica made it.

Pai: Nothing like bacalhau (cod fish), potatoes and cream.

Monica: And carrots.

Me: Spoken like a true Portuguese.

Molly: Yummmmmy. (digging in)

Me: It’s a hit!

Monica: Oh, I have to show you guys this Halloween costume I found it. I am totally want to wear it next year. Can I break the cellphone at dinner rule?

Pai: Go for it.

Me: Is it kid appropriate?

Monica: For sure, it’s a millennial.

Pai: This should be funny.

Hank: What’s a menmemial?

Me: A flavor of M&M.

Monica: (giggling, googling)

Pai: (snickering)

Molly: (ignoring us, eating)

Hank: Mom.

Me: Limited edition.

Hank: Seriously.

Me: You can only get them in Times Square or Oxford Street. (adopting my best Disney French accent) Très exclusif (very exclusive)!

Hank: What is it really?

Me: They were made using only renewable energy, off grid and they are 100% vegan and cruelty free and hand packaged by a guy named, Dane.

Hank: What?

Me: The packaging is zero waist and fully compostable, incredibly loud, but totally worth it.

Hank: Pai, what is a memenible?

Pai: Millennial.

Monica: (raising her hand, never taking her eyes from her phone) ME! I am a millennial.

Hank: (completely confused)

Monica: I am a millennial, but your parents are not.

Me: It is a demographic of people.

Hank: What is a demographic?

Pai: A section of a population. A Millennial is anyone 18-thirty…..

Monica: Four. 18-34 years old.

Pai: Thank you.

Me: I am a 90’s Riot GRRRL. That is GRRRL spelled with three R’s, Hank.

Pai: Riot GRRRL is a nouveau-feminist, punk rock, political movement, but sadly, not a demographic. You are a generation X like me, Riot GRRRL.

Me: (slight pout) Regardless, the fact that you know that is why I married you.

Hank: So if prima (Monica) is a millennial and you are X’s then what am I?

Pai: Well, we don’t know yet.

Monica: (still googling)

Hank: What?

Me: Your generation’s demographic hasn’t showed any lasting characteristics yet. Y’all aren’t old enough to have left a mark on the world.

Hank: (existential) What does that even mean? Who am I? Who are we? No one knows who I am yet? What?

Monica: (whining) I can’t find it! It was perfect! I don’t remember if it was on Instagram or Facebook or 9gag or Snapchat or … (despondent)

Molly: (having eaten all her dinner) Peeees. More peeees.

Hank: I mean WHO AM I?

Me: (to Pai) I think I liked the conversation better when millennials were M&Ms.


Hank: I mean how long do I have to wait until I know who I am?

Monica: Where was that?



Songs are Poems and Poems are Songs… (So Long)



Me: Oh good god!! What a journey.

Hank: (walking up behind me) Who died?

Me: Leonard Cohen (reading the news).

Hank: Did you know him?

Me: Nope, but he gave me, and millions of others, bits and pieces we could keep forever. (already listening to Marianne)

Hank: I know this song. You love this song.

Me: I do, indeed.

Hank: Was she is friend?

Me: Yes.

Hank: His songs aren’t like normal songs.

Me: Leonard Cohen proves that songs are poems and poems are songs.

Hank: How old was he?

Me: 80ish.

Hank: I hope he likes his next journey.

Me: Me, too.

Hank: (walking away) He lived a long life.

Me: He didn’t do it wrong.

Leonard Cohen: So long, Marianne. It’s time that we began to laugh and cry and cry and laugh about it all again.



Someday They Will Understand, Because Someday Kids Will Run America

Trampa, in Brazilian Portuguese, is slang for poop. It isn't a harsh slang. It is this kind of poop.

Trampa, in Brazilian Portuguese, is slang for poop. It isn’t a harsh slang. It is this kind of poop.



Hank: Mama? You’re here?

Me: (in bed, buried under covers, in the dark, pathetic) Yes, I am here.

Hank: I didn’t know. I thought you were gone.

Me: That is because I asked to be alone today.

Hank: Oh, sorry, I can leave.

Me: No, please stay.

Hank: (climbing up onto my big bed) Have you been here all day?

Me: (nodding)

Hank: Are you sick?

Me: I am sad.

Hank: Sadness can make you sick.

Me: True Story.

Hank: Is this because of the elections?

Me: (nodding)

Hank: I am so sorry, mama. I wanted Hillary, too.

Me: It’s not that. I have been officially pushed out of my home country and have had the door closed behind me and (teary) I am just feeling so defeated and rejected.

Hank: What do you mean?

Me: Trump and his republican government will repeal The Affordable Care Act and so I can no longer live in America. Ever. I am far too expensive. I have a preexisting condition and two chronic diseases. With the Affordable Care Act if we wanted to return to live in America we could have, but without it I am now priced out of my own country. Half of America voted against ME.

Hank: Why wouldn’t someone want affordable care?

Me: They feel they are having to pay for other people that are less able to pay for their care. They feel it is too expensive.

Hank: What is wrong with that? Everyone pays so everyone can have it. That is how it works here. Everyone deserves doctors and medicines.

Me: I know.

Hank: Mama, I am so sorry you are sad, but we have Portugal. Portugal doesn’t have guns and you can go to doctors and there is the sea and Gerês.

Me: And I am grateful. There are a million reasons I choose Portugal and I am so grateful that my life has lead me here it is just hard to realize that half of the voters in your country don’t want you. I don’t think I have belonged there for a long time. I am far too socialists, but now there is no doubt that the privileged of America don’t believe in loving harmony and inclusion, they don’t believe in equality and excuse that they are  living in the reality of hate speech and racism. They put their privilege and unhappiness at all the beautiful change that has happened in the last 8 years in the voting booth and they won. Those eight years of change has made America feel like I finally belonged, but hate won and I give up. I am no longer strong enough or healthy enough to rage against the establishment of the United States of America so I surrender. I have never given up before. I have failed many times, but I have never given up. (crying) I give up.

Hank: (holding my hand) We can go back to America for visits, but here is good. Portugal wants you. They like your articles and all of your work. They like your Portuguese even though you make mistakes, but that’s okay, because you are so nice and are doing your best.

Me: I couldn’t even go outside today. I am far too fragile and everyone would want to talk about it.

Hank: (shaking his fist in the air) Trampa (Brazilian slang for poop)!

Me: (giggling) TRAMPA (POOP)! AHHHHH! Presidente TRAMPA (President Poop)!!! I am so sorry. I am so sorry that I thought everyone accepted the new view of American equality, it wasn’t perfect but we were building toward four more years of listening and learning how we can and must do better. I was so blind. I thought that all this change was for the better and now it will all be taken away, brick by brick. America will close it’s self off from the world. Our world leader,Presidente Trampa (President Poop)! AHHHH! Bem Vindo, Presidente Trampa (Welcome, President Poop)!

Hank: (positively purple with laughter)

Me: (laughing and crying)

Hank: I like America, but I love my life here. I am sorry America doesn’t understand you and other people.

Me: (how did he know… how did he know that I was never accepted, understood, respected or taken seriously in my Midwestern home. Always a rebel.  Realizing that is what this day of wallowing was all about. Crying because Uncle Sam never liked me or invited me to Thanksgiving because I was: too liberal, too radicle, too environmental, too smart, too empathetic, too emotional, too female.) Thanks, Hank. Half of America doesn’t understand me, but you’re right. Home is here. I will finish my citizenship this year. It’s about time we have four Europeans in this house.

Hank: Oh! And then we can have a party! Mama is Portuguese Now Party!!!

Me: (perking up) And we can get an accordion player and dance and sing?

Hank: Sure and we can eat all the good party foods and get balloons for Amália.

Me: She loves balloons.

Hank: You will have to study. I can help you and so can prima (our cousin Monica). If America can’t help you then Portugal will.

Me: Thanks, Hank.

Hank: (bouncing off the bed) Someday they will understand, because someday kids will run America.

Me: (crying again) No one ever called you dumb.

Hank: (from the hallway) Not one day.