Marta Maria

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Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Friday, August 24, 2007


Mimi and Papa are visiting here in Tartu this week. Mimi likes to tell Marta sometimes that if she eats eggs her hair will be nice and shiny.

Mimi brought with her two bags of organic lollipops, and Marta just may have eaten 10 today.

I tried to tell her, as she sucked down #10 in the bathtub, that if she kept eating them, her teeth would rot out (I have been reduced to using old oneliners from my upbringing to get things done -- call it parental autopilot).

"But Issi," said Marta. "The lollipops make my hair shiny." And she pulled the saliva-wet lolli from her mouth to show off just how shiny her lollipop was.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Hoboken Days

What's the first thing you remember? Who can really tell? But it seems like if you boil down all childhood memories, your first memories that stay with you are of life when you are about three years old.

This reality recently reared its head when chatting with Marta about our life in America. Marta kept referring to "Danny's House" [Danny, about 9 mo. older than Marta, lived downstairs from us in Belle Harbor, Queens, for a year]. She also told me that when she lived at "Danny's House" she was still a baby, but obviously not anymore -- no, she's a "big girl" these days.

When we moved to Belle Harbor in early 2006, Marta had just turned 2. In a lot of ways -- think potty training -- she really was still a baby. But it sort of never occurred to me that Marta would 'lose' her memories of Hoboken, New Jersey, where we lived for most of 2005. Hoboken was a very intense living experience. Everything -- the great food, the view of the city lights, the [extremely drunken] St. Patrick's Day Parade, and especially the traffic -- was intense. It's hard to imagine how Marta could just not recall all the days she saw Richie at the laundromat or Chung at the organic food store. But it's just not there at the tip of her tongue anymore.

It is cool, though, that she remembers Danny's House. Because we lived right next to the ocean and it is nice to think that Marta's first memories will be of the Atlantic Ocean and the sand. Those are sort of my first memories too.

First memories are kind of not that interesting though, when you think of it. I mean, what do I remember from the beach? Getting sand stuck in my teeth (ugh), the smell of low tide, and who could forget those primordial beasts the Horseshoe Crabs -- things that no toddler would ever want to step on. See I am boring you already.

One thing I am happy I do remember is my great grandmother. She had a room in my grandma's house and everything about my memories of her seem ancient. To my fragile young mind she seems like a ghost -- blue-eyed, pale, gray, dressed in white. Interestingly she died at the end of 1982, right after my third birthday. It seems that my brain was just old enough to register her existence before she passed on.