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This time, coming through Kennedy, unlike the last time, when I came through SFO, I was not interrogated. There was no series of questions asking my age, marital status, whether I had a long-term Chilean mate. The agent, wearing purple latex gloves, found that there were two people with my first and last name coming through the airport, but the other one was born in the 40s can was coming in from somewhere in the West Indies. I was not she. I got in, and imagine she did as well. Whether or not she picked up someone else’s green suitcase before finding her own is also a great unknown.

I was also told by the purple latex glove wearer that all the holograms over the surface of my passport picture page (developed and issued by the US government) didn’t scan well, and that for that reason, he’d have to type in my info by hand, a terribly low-tech solution in this world of iris scans and digital fingerprinting. Which, since fingers are digits, makes me think digital digits. But I digress.

The giant schlock (yiddish word, roughly meaning cheaply produced crap) storm that is Long Island is shocking to me. In Chile I don’t shop. I probably partially don’t shop because I do it here, so I don’t have a reason to by anything when back in the adopted land. But here I’ve seen products I never knew anyone needed (purple hamburger squeaky toy anyone?) and in spades. There are varieties of food I’d love to see, like almond “milk” yogurt and other varieties too fearsome to name. Things that not only would my grandmother not recognize as food (with a tip of the hat to Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma), but that I’m not even sure that I recognize.

And then there are the 39 baby eggplants we bought for a song, because they were cheap and cute, and the joyous rapture of eating cottage cheese that isn’t held together with stringy bluish whey. And rootbeer, and blackberries in season and shoes with adequate foot-roll support (I overpronate) for less than what you pay for gastos comunes (monthly maintenance fee on your apartment).

In between, we drink a bunch of decaf (for me) coffee, laugh ourselves silly and just now, rolled out a broken down piece of furniture to the curbside for pickup, me in bright yellow gloves with little rubber nonslip dots on them and my mother’s a kind of Grover-blue. I just painted you a picture with words. I hope you like it. I also have been playing around with my new point and shoot (thanks Pam for the recommendation), and I hope you will one day like that, too.

Please protest well for me, and take lots of pictures and be good citizen journos. The world needs to know what’s really going on. In return, I’ll look at springtime flowers, the azaleas and rhododendrons duking it out to see who can be more showy (azaleas are winning, I’m afraid), and read from afar.