Becoming Peruvian Part 1

Part one began a little over a month ago when I went to Interpol, the International Police here in Lima.  To apply for citizenship I need a document saying that I am not a fugitive wanted for illegal activity in any country. We got in line at 7:00 AM ready for the 8:00 AM opening, the wrong line. Thankfully Ana Maria found the correct line after asking many people and receiving contradictory information. After waiting, getting fingerprinted, waiting, having my teeth checked, waiting, filling out the forms again because the forms we picked up before had changed and also needed to be filled out in a different color, we were finished. We left.

But we weren’t finished. One week later I went back at 7:00 AM to stand in a different line to pick up the document saying that I am not a fugitive. I’m not, by the way (see image). I asked three uniformed people at Interpol which line to stand in and I stood in that line. Again, the wrong one. I was tempted to stand in line by the window that says “Pick up your document here” but I knew better. On my previous visit I had discovered that said window was not where I needed to go, in spite of its label. Including transportation time we had invested 6 hours into this process just at Interpol.  (There are a series of documents needed to get this document and I won’t go into those details.)

Finally, I picked up the Interpol document after showing a picture of my US passport that I had on my phone. I had been told to bring my Peruvian ID (CE) because no one in Peru would request a US passport for a Peruvian document.  Nope, that was wrong- no one except Interpol.  This only took two hours- 1.5 hours in the wrong line and 30 minutes in the correct one.

This document is valid for three months so on my next day off from school I went to Migraciones to apply for citizenship. How hard could it be?

Starfish

The dreadful evening news is filled with ills
Her gleaming eyes of planes that never land
The talking heads fill space ‘tween selling pills
And finish with cute puppies in the sand

Analysis is often hard to find
The whys and wherefores hidden in a cloud
But Sunday’s sales will mollify the mind
The deals! They’ll make a killing, feeling proud

Though sometimes there’s a tone that resonates
I take a breath and turn attentive ears
A problem I can tackle for me waits
Solutions not in months but many years

One more starfish thrown into the sea
The journey matters both for them and me

Fidget Spinner

A broken skateboard on the ground
was days-old trash until I found
some greased ball bearings deep within.
Thought I’d take ‘em for a spin.

I grabbed a vice grip and a pliers
and pulled apart the useless tires.
When I got the needed part
was when my project I could start.

My sister drinks a lot of juice-
her bottle caps I put to use.
In three red caps I placed a dime
and filled with clay to save some time.

The fourth red cap- I had to cut
away the top and leave a rut
around the middle without tearing
the place I’d put the greased ball bearing.

But still my project wasn’t done
I went to get my grandma’s gun
(a gun for glue, so don’t you worry).
I pegged the pieces without hurry.

So now the part I really hate
the glue sets slow so I must wait.
My patience pays off in the end.
Participating in the trend

I rush to show it to a friend.
He laughs and asks what did I spend?
“Designed and built with nothing new!”
He pauses, asks, “Can I …
… build one too?”

Social Currency

She listened carefully, watching his face, watching his lips. When he finished speaking, her eyes looked up and to the left, thinking. Remembering. Nodding.

Her eyes, then, returned to her 61 year old son. “So your patient wants you to travel with him to Houston,” she paraphrased. “That’s wonderful! He must respect you and trust you… and have a lot of money!”

“Mamá, he wants someone to accompany him and yes, he trusts me. I worked with him and his wife when she was sick. But we can’t do the type of surgery that he needs.”

“I see.” She paused again.

“Impressive.” She nodded again.

“How much will you charge?” she asked, looking him right in the eyes.

“Oh mother!   I don’t know. I have never been asked to do something like this before.” He took a sip of coffee.

The answer didn’t matter and she knew he wouldn’t say… but maybe he would. No harm in asking.

The conversation went silent for a bit. Then she turned to me and said, “And you just returned from that overseas training your company sent you to. How did that go? They must think the world of you, sending you off to a training in another country! They wouldn’t send just anyone, now then, would they?” She looked up again, not waiting for an answer.

Then I understood. I could see it in her eyes. This conversation was not about accomplishment or money, per se; this was about social currency. Later in the evening she would go on her evening constitutional to the casino. Some people find community at church or with their neighbors. Some go to a bar where everybody knows your name. She goes to the casino, every night if someone will take her; she can no longer go out alone with that bum leg of hers

Yes, I understood: When she gets to the casino she will slowly find her favorite machine, talking to friends and relatives amid the rings, dings and bings of the one-armed bandits (that mostly worked with the press of a finger). With her cane and her attendant she will stop and talk to everyone she knows, perhaps someone new. What will she say? Not much has happened since yesterday evening. She spent the day with meals, the newspaper and Netflix so what will she add to the conversation?

“How are you tonight?” Someone will ask as she walks the aisles looking for her machine.

Putting her hand on the other’s arm she will take out some of that social currency and say, “I am good. You’ll never guess where my son is going to go…”

By the end of the evening she will have talked to many who passed by to share their stories. She will listen carefully while watching their faces and lips. She will ask questions, thinking, remembering and nodding as they speak. Tomorrow, we will be brought up to date on the members of that community. We will ask questions that she will be sure to get the answers to as the carousel takes another spin.

Sick in Bed

a four-legged horse
with a very flat back
carried cereal and milk
which Jack will attack

with his sword and a slurp
he’ll devour his prey
this banquet for kings
will return him to play