Friday, June 29, 2007

Does Jehovah Want You to Go to Parties?

While I was at work yesterday, the girls were read a story by Grandmutter called "Does Jehovah Want You to Go to Parties?" Maya told me about it when I took her to TaeKwonDo. It was just us because Grandmutter doesn't believe in TaeKwonDo. I said, "Does He want us to go to parties? I'm guessing yes. A resounding yes."

But Maya said that He doesn't, surprisingly. She said Grandmutter punctuated the stories with true accounts of hedonistic partying by the Israelites after they crossed the Red Sea, and how Jehovah didn't dig that too much. I said, "They were free! Wouldn't you party?" Maya said that yes, yes she would, but these people got carried away and Jehovah ordered them all killed. As Maya put it, "God told the guy to go kill all of his friends that went to the party." I whispered, "Harsh." Then Maya told me about how at one party this king had a beautiful belly dancer and he told her she could ask for anything she wanted. I said, "Yea, Yea, King Herod and Salome." Maya said, "Man, you know this story?" I said, "I love these stories. I've read them all plus I saw the Rita Hayworth movie. Go on." Maya said, "The belly dancer wanted the head of somebody on a platter." "John the Baptist," I said. She said, "Yea, what's up with that?" I said, "I think we really should steer clear of these kind of parties."

Apparently Mina asked Grandmutter, "What if my friends want me to go to their party?" And Grandmutter said, "I have a better friend here," and she held up two hands, pantomiming towards the heavens. Maya demonstrated in the car and we both busted up. I said, "Ok, ok, let's not laugh. But remind me to talk to Mina. Make sure she doesn't think she'll get beheaded at the next Chuck E Cheese rager."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Grandmutter & Tio Brudder

I'm in the midst of a visit from Grandmutter, my husband's blood mother, and her 16 year old son, Husband's half brother, who we'll call Tio Brudder. They are visiting from NY, upstate now, but they were born and raised in the Bronx. It has been a hair-pulling and hilarious stay with a touch of touching. Neurosis romps freely in our house, with the visit; I cock my head sometimes, baffled by its extent. I feel a little guilty about bloggin' 'bout her behind her back so I'll just list some things - balanced with positives -- so it doesn't seem like I'm talking shit on her that much because you have to admit that unless your whacky in-laws or own family members are abusive and deserve to be cut off completely, you can't help but feel some twinge of affection towards their quirkiness.

* Grandmutter is a Jehovah's Witness. She converted about 30 years ago, but Jehovah's not the one who cranked her full-tilt neurotic. No, that's something she's cultivated and nurtured all on her own. To be honest, and much to my relief, she hasn't busted by balls in years about religion. (Sorry, Lord, that I used balls in that last sentence.) I used to get lectures about how saying "Bless You" after sneezing was pagan (as is most everything, didn't you know), but now I don't even hide the Buddha statues in the garden. During this visit -- and this is big -- I didn't even bother to take down my vejigante masks that I gingerly hand carried home from Ponce. She probably just shrugs and thinks, "What do I care that she's going to hell. I tried." Positives: She's not busting my balls with Jehovah guilt.

* She is so strangly over protective of her children that I overheard my husband saying on the phone, "My mother is here with her 16 year old toddler." Tio Brudder is 5'9" with size 12 feet, but when I told Maya to take him to the corner store not a half block away, Grandmutter blurted, "Oh no - he's not used to crossing the street by himself!" He whined in a deep baritone, "Ma! I'm from the Bronx!" I said, "He'll be fine. Maya will hold his hand." Positives: Hmm, I'll stick with what Husband said, "At least they'll have each other when they're old."

* In the over-protection category, the last time my husband visited her a couple years ago, he told her he was going to the local school to run the track. She said, "I'll take you." He said, "I'll find it fine." And she wrung her hands. Husband left, iPodded and content. After two laps he looked up to find his mother sitting in the stands, watching him. My husband is not drenched in, how you say, sensitivity, so Jehovah aside he yelled out, "What in the hell are you doing?" Positives: You can't beat a story like this. I thank her for the fodder.

* She often recounts tragic stories. Like, she'll read about a California freeway shooting -- no matter where -- and ask if that's the highway we always drive. She'll wonder if we heard about the baby that was kidnapped/killed/burned/strangled/abandoned? She is drawn to the morbid and constantly retells tragic accounts with an eerie lack of emotion. Positives: She's cautious? And concerned about our well being? She's continually warning us about Armageddon and that's nice of her.

* She beats me to the punch in the kitchen. She gets there before I can and whips up salty mediocre meals. She cooks rock-hard pancakes that make the girls look at me from across the table, pleading with their eyes for me to get my ass a-cookin' before she does. She boils broccoli until it's beige-green, wilting and sad. Years ago Husband told her, "Look, we like cooked broccoli with a little crunch still in it. Ma, this is gross.” Then he mashed his fork easily through the stalk. She said in a dramatic Bronx drawl, "Oohkkaayy, fine." Every time she cooks broccoli she says, "This isn't overcooked, right?" What am I gonna say? Positives: She was the type of mother that cooked a meal every night for her family and always put a vegetable on the plate even if it was mushy and only laced with one lingering vitamin. I respect her for that.

* She has, however, left my spice cabinet in disarray. My stuff is all out of order. This is my own neurosis brewing for sure, but it's bumming me out. Not to mention the fucking juice glasses filled with pork grease that she leaves like shit bags on the kitchen counter. MUY MUY BUMMED ABOUT THIS ONE. My husband requests pork when she visits since I won't cook it. I would like to say my kitchen is off limits to such practices, but I know he craves certain dishes now and again; dishes that are hard to shake from the Puerto Rican pallet. I never craved the meat: pernil (swine shoulder), alcapurrias (40 types of meat stuffed in a fritter thing) and many others. I only crave the general sabor/flavor of the food that is easily made vegan and put to good use in converted PR dishes. Positives: Culture is being kept alive? I advocate veganism with a light hand. I like to think of my influence as subtly powerful; with kindness and good cooking. When I met my husband over a decade ago he gladly ate steak and a stick of butter with some potato on it every night. Now -- and here comes the positive -- he eats about 50-60% veg and red meat maybe once a month. He's 25lbs lighter and I'll have him around longer. My not-so-secret goal is that he'll be vegan in another 10 years to which he says, "Could happen." This is thrilling coming from the handsome hard-head.

* Along with grease bombs and dead animals, some how boxes of Oreos and Frosted Flakes and Capri Suns are in my pantry. When Grandmutter visits alone, she doesn't buy that crap. Tio Brudder demands it and she caves. My poor girls watch him eat an array of shit, but I let them have tastes for dessert if they ask. Last night I watched him eat an ice cream sundae with a Dr. Pepper chaser. Maya and Mina don't even try to ask for that kind of combo. They ignore it completely much to their credit. Positives: Maybe the girls are subconsciously rubbing off on him? Maybe he'll discover another vegetable he likes while he's here in Cali?

* Tio Brudder is a good kid. He used to be an annoying a-hole, but now he's pretty good. He hasn't been able to shake his special brand of complaining -- nasally and unrelentless -- but he's much better. Maya used to really not like him at all, but during this trip he pulled her aside and apologized for not always treating her nicely in the past. That's huge, I say, for anyone especially for a 16 year old. I cut him miles of slack because of that. That's way positive.

* When Grandmutter and I are alone, we hold long, relaxed conversations about health and food. She asks me questions and writes down recipes. We stroll the farmers market. During the first day of her visit, we talked a lot about chemicals in food. We talked about my old teflon pans emitting toxins while we cook on them. Like most people, I have a mismosh of pots and pans collected over a lifetime and not upgraded in many years. It's on our list though, isn't it? "Some day, buy a beautiful set of (pans, knives, dishes, embroidered napkins . . .)" I came home Tuesday from work to a big box on the table wrapped in shiny purple paper topped with a bow and a card. The card read, "To my daughter-in-law, you are a very good mother and wife. Thank you for always being kind and loving to us." And in the box was a gorgeous set of stainless steel pots & pans. Husband said she made him drive her to a couple different places to find the right one.

And that's the pay off, right, of having family? You think their purpose is to get all on your nerves until you realized that they think highly of you and love you even when they don't say if much (or for the first eight years), and you think it's not going to matter, but it does. I grew up with no siblings, hardly any family. I spent a lot of time alone, in my mind and lonely. And sometimes I think pork shit bombs in the kitchen are the biggest fucking deal or that the constant monotone eastern droning/complaining is going to poke holes in my ear drums until all the bustling and noise and air mattresses taking up every inch of my small space converges into a happy and warm mess. I’m glad they’re here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Farewell 2nd Grade

Today was the last day of school for my girls. I want to tell you how it developed and ended for Mina.

Back in February, I was told that Mina most likely would not pass 2nd grade. It was a complete shock to hear at the the time. I knew with every cell in my body that Mina was smart and I believed she was misunderstood and labeled as sweet and creative but not so bright and unable to do certain levels of work. I also realized that Mina's focus towards school was whack.

I've been putting in overtime on 2nd grade stuff ever since. I kicked up a dust storm at her school about perceptions projected, then I got her into tutoring, then I got her moved from the back of the class to the front (hello?), then I worked on Mina's focus and study habits. I'm tired, yo, but every single area on Mina's report card went up at least one or two notches. Her test results jumped dramatically. Her teacher is thrilled and has thanked me for helping her and helping Mina.

And look, Mina got one of these:
Completion of 2nd grade. She did it. She worked hard. Here's how she feels:
At the end of this year, the teacher gave a 100-word spelling test. The kids took a practice test two weeks prior to the real test to see how well they could do without preparing. Mina misspelled 43 words during the practice run. Every night after that she and I studied the words. We got index cards, which she dug, and she took the entire 100 word test a few times. She'd miss 17, then 12. When she took the test a couple days ago she said she felt pretty good about it, but she seemed less anxious than I to know the results. Yesterday, her class had a party/award ceremony where high-achievers and excellent students were acknowledged. The teacher recognized every child that scored 90 or better on the 100-word test. I waited for Mina's name to be called. I believed in my heart she had done well. After a few minutes, only five children had been called and the teacher was now rolling past the score of 95. Two more kids were called for earning 96. Another at 97. At 98, Mina's named was called. She had missed only two words, and only 3 kids -- the top students in the class -- scored higher. A 98! I never, not once, doubted her ability to do this.

I don't regret going through this year the way we did. I learned lessons. Mina learned lessons. It's easy to rally around the saying Trust Your Gut. It was quite another to take determined action especially when I felt so lost and confused by what an authoritative figure was trying to tell me. I had never had a conflict with a teacher before. I trust them highly. And yet I felt so convicted about Mina. It was scary to push through towards conviction against what may have seemed evident on the surface. I mean, it wasn't me on the line, was it? It was Mina relying on me to do right by her. Mina also was forced to learn that though school is fun, you gotta put your back into it, man. Just like anything.

I loved the group of children that were in her class. All of them. They were a special and funny bunch. Here's Sweet D on the left and my favorite little man, King, on the right. He has a fantastic birth name of Tibetan decent, but he told me his nickname is King so I'll call him that here on the internet. We had a couple play dates with him and he's a 30 year old trapped in that handsome little vehicle. He once asked Husband, "What should I call you?" And Husband said, "I don't know. Papi? Mr. Rivera?" King said, "I'll call you Mr. Rivera then. Mrs. Rivera?" I said, "You can call me by my name." And he said with his hand on his heart, "Or maybe I'll just call you my angel." Man, we laughed for a week about that.
Here's King's mom who was a second grade teacher in India before King was born. She gave me pointers and told me that she believed Mina to be very bright too.

More great kids; the tie-dyed Z Brothers in the middle, Top Student M on the left, Crazy F on the right

Mina and her best friend, Leo.
Farewell 2nd Grade. I will not be returning. It was a trying year, one where I learned more about myself as a parent and more about Mina. You will be remembered but not dwelled on. 3rd Grade or Bust!

I love you, Mina.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Lazy Friday D Day

I kinda stole this meme --that didn't start as a meme -- from Angela and Deb. You gotta answer each question with the first letter of your name.

Your name: Starts with a D, think D-Nice, D-licious and so forth
A type of tree or shrub: Dogwood
Something an astronaut would study: uh, diagnostics of the chromospheric excitation balance in cool dwarfs -- I dunno . . .
Eight-letter word: delights
A sports team (any sport): Ducks of Anaheim
A character in movie or play: D'Artagnan, the fourth musketeer, which incidentally would have been my name if I were born a boy. I suggested the name when I was pregnant, both times. Maya, had she been a boy, would have gotten the name. Husband said -- and I'm paraphrasing, OHHELLNO to the name if Mina had been a boy. I was built to raise great women anyway.
A nickname (or endearment) for someone you like: DookieStick. We call Maya this sometimes. Mina we'd call RaeRae. So, it was RaeRae and Dookiestick, which we completely stole from a Method Man interview. That's what he calls his kids. But then a friend had a baby named Rae and we had to call her RaeRae instead. We call Mina Buttabutt instead now.
Something you’d take to a picnic: date
A reason someone might get an award, medal, or trophy: dismount, sticking it
A Country: Dominican Republic
Something that could get you arrested: domestic abuse
A Song Title: Do Your Ears Hang Low?
An Artist (painter, photographer, etc):Diebenkorn
A Reason to stay home from Work or School: ditch day!
Something you’d see at a Zoo: dingo
A Snack: Dagoba chocolate
A Character in a Book: Daisy from the Great Gatsby
Something Icky: diarrhea
A Six-letter Word: decree
Something Breakable: driveshaft
Non-Alcoholic Drink: Dr. Pepper
4 letter word: dick
Vehicle: DeLorean
TV Show: Dancing with the Stars!
Movie: Deconstructing Harry
City: Daly City, CA
Alcoholic drink: Drambuie. I learned about Drambuie when I took Mama Luz out dancing once and she ordered a Rusty Nail. I sampled it with a sip and was instantly tipsy. Mama Luz then complained to the barkeep that it was light on whiskey and had another shot added. One whiff and I was hammered. It was a good-tasting drink though.
Occupation: door-to-door vacuum salesperson
Something you wear: dashiki
Celebrity: David Duchovny
Something found in a kitchen: dill
Cartoon Character: Daffy
Something you whisper: dame mas . . .

Happy Friday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Happy Birthday, Lupe

Lupe's three years old today. She's my first dog.

I was just telling Husband that Lupe and Carmen really don't look like dogs to me. They look like aliens or fictional characters. Or little humans with heavy make up. I think their personalities have transcended their species.


I got Lupe from a friend of a friend's neighbor who had mated her beloved pets. She had extra puppies and did I want one? Of course I wanted a baby pug! Husband didn't want a pug, didn't want a dog at all really because he's Mr. Practical and did you know what a huge responsibility a dog is? But if you can resist this, your heart is made of ice cubes.
I had to drive an hour to pick Lupe up. I put her in a tiny little crate and she got car sick half way into the drive back. I thought I had broken the dog already. I brought her to work to show Mandy and we died over her. Lupe followed me everywhere. Didn't even let me go to the bathroom without taking her too. I brought her to work everyday until we closed the doors to our company.
I fell so hard for Lupe that I begged the Pug Lady to let me get another puppy if she were to mate Lupe's parents again. A year later we got goof ball Carmen.

Lupe is a cool customer, but her tail gives her away. She plays aloof, looks off to the side ignoring us, but her tail will wag vigorously. We say, "MmmHmm," and she comes running shaking the entire back side, smiling even.

Lupe likes chest rubs, kale and cucumbers. She likes a reachable, unattended trash can so she can spread all kinds of garage love through the house. She likes to sleep under the covers. She puts herself to bed with Maya around 10 and comes back to our bed around 7, even if we're getting up. We have to kick Carmen out of the bed late at night-- she feigns sleep hoping we won't -- and she's back at 5:30 if she thinks we'll let her. Lupe loves Carmen, loves the girls, loves Mami & Papi best. Guess who loves Lupe the most? Yea, Papi.

Ah man, I don't blame him. Look at our girl.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My Dream Car

My dream car is a bicycle. I'm plotting my own anti-car revolution. Feh, I do the best I can. My Honda serves us so well, but the bike makes me feel so personally free and unlocked. Maya's caught this feeling too. She rides a heavy clunker cruiser that we bought her for Xmas. It rides like shit (cheap-ass bike!), but she gets the gist. To be honest, I wasn't sure if she'd fall in love with bike riding too, but she rides that thing every day despite the knocks and pings. I had her test drive a beautiful, smooth-running bike a couple weeks ago and now every dollar she earns at home and at the TaeKwonDo studio (she helps teach the tiny white belt class) goes towards her dream car, a 7-speed commute bike in sunshine yellow.

I inherited my bike from Husband's old business partner. This guy kept a herd of $400 bikes on the side of his beach house, and when he moved I graciously accepted one. It was mistreated, rusty, falling apart, but I replaced things, tuned it up and patched her up with stickers. She rides almost perfectly now. Her name is Loops. Mina named her and I'm not exactly sure what Loops means, but I like the sound; it stuck.

I hung a Chinese prosperity bell on the back basket. It jing-jing-jingles over a every bump in the road. Ah, prosperity, Loops, prosperity.

Mina's caught the bike craze too, now. Look at her bike that I picked up at a garage sale for $10 two weeks ago. When Mina practices riding it on her school grounds, she gets that look of contented freedom on her face too. She named the bike Pippi.

Tell me about your bike.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Every Friday night, the girls and I have a standing date at Real Food Daily. We are on hugging terms with the staff. During dinner, the girls color pictures and tape them to the cake stands and daily-special signs. We gossip with the crew, linger well past our meals and sometimes get hooked up with dessert. Last Friday, the girls colored enough medallion-sized pictures of animals to go ‘round. Most of the waiters, the counter staff and the general manager paper clipped them to their lapels. We brought cupcakes for them too, which seems kinda funny; to bring a vegan restaurant a dozen vegan cupcakes that were placed in the back and scarfed down by all, the restaurant desserts ignored.

When there is a new face in the restaurant, the girls initiate them thoroughly. "Hi-who-are-you?-I'm-Maya-this-is-Mina-We're-here-every-Friday-Whatchu-got-there?
the-commericials-for-Evan-Almighty?-Can't-wait-to-see-that . . ." It doesn't stop. She has full conversations with table neighbors too. She had such an in depth one two weeks ago that the young couple next to us became completely enraptured by Maya, in love, and proclaiming her the most joyful, enlightened person they've met. Maya starts conversations with strangers sincerely like this: "You are so pretty." Even when she was tiny, around 4 or 5, she would blurt things to the most down-trodden and miserable looking people; things like, "I love your earrings," and their entire face would brighten. She has that gift. So, she befriended this couple next to us at RFD and took it upon herself to offer that I bake them a dozen cupcakes and deliver it to their work the following week. They volunteer at a spiritual center around the corner from us. The guy was so excited about getting a dozen vegan cupcakes for his very own that it never crossed my mind to object. "Of course, we'll bring them by," I said. "I'll help sell them for you," he said, thrilled. And I said, "You know what, it's more fun to give them away."

There's a new host who works at Real Food Daily. I didn't notice him until Mina said, "Mami, Mami, look at him." "Who?" "Look, look," I looked. Mina said, "He is so handsome," and she peeped him out behind my hip. "Maya, Maya! Look at the new guy. Wow." Maya and I were charged by Mina's sparkling crush. Don't get me wrong, the kid was beautiful: About 20, olivish skin, green eyes, fantastic shag hair cut, but we were more interested in Mina eyes aflame with instant smittendome. We sat at our table and Mina positioned herself so she could stare at Mr. New Host. I looked up from the menu to find Mina still staring. "Dang, Mina." She said, "He's hot." And we all giggled into our waters. Maya ribbed her, which had zero effect on Mina. She felt not one shred of embarrassement for how she felt. She is a free one with her emotions. Since Mr. New Host is new, Maya had to call him over to initiate him properly. He sauntered over coolly, now with a tiny purple flower tucked behind an ear. It was a great visual combo and I thought Mina would fall off her chair. As he answered Maya's typical grilling, I noticed that maybe his tremendous looks had scooped out some brightness from his eyes, from his mind. He wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but he was sweet and attentive. Maya asked if he was a vegan and instead of answering he started unbuttoning his shirt. We raised our eyebrows, Mina's almost off her face. On a young chest, Mr. New Host revealed a tattoo of the arced word "vegan" in a 1930's style font with shaded sides. Collectively we breathed, "Cool." A tattoo discussion ensued and he also revealed an outline of the country Peru behind his ear, colored like the peruvian flag. That was half his nationality. When he left to do host duties, Mina flipped over her kid's menu and used the busted crayons to color a portrait of him. And on the way out, after our meal and our normal Friday night restaurant gossiping, Mina walked to the host podium even though Mr. New Host wasn't there. She picked up the grease pencil and wrote on the vinyl list of names, "I Love You." Head held high, she strutted out the front door. I thought, Right. On.

The following week, the girls and I did bring cupcakes to that couple's spiritual center. The guy didn't seem surprised to see us. I said, "You knew we wouldn't forget?" He said, "I didn't think you would." He inhaled two cupcakes right in front of us as his eyes rolled back. And that is my favorite form of thanks. He also had gifts for the girls, t-shirts that read, "Be Peace" and a Gandhi quote on the back; you know the one, be the change . . . ? The tray of cupcakes magnetized a co-worker who asked while biting into a shared cupcake, "Is she interested in taking some classes here?" Someone's always selling something, I thought, but much to my appreciation our new friend said, "I think these people have it down. The girls especially, they are remarkable." On the way out, Maya said, "Cupcakes for trade!" And I said, "That's the best ever!"

I love Friday nights.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mina sings in a "Spring Sing" at school today. When she practiced last night, Maya and I were in tears as Mina belted out songs from the song sheet. With no accompaniment and little recollection of the exact tune, she sings like Joe Piscopo singing Frank Sinatra. She yells out "If I had a ham-mer . .. " and hammer is half spoken in a flat tone; the "mer" part heading south. She should do solos on a barstool with a cigarette and a hand-held microphone. It was the funniest thing I've heard in a long time.

We were away for the weekend for a Taekwondo tournament. After a three hour drive, we stayed in a clean, cheap hotel in Fresno which could've been Anywhere in the US. Husband, me, Maya, Mina and the pugs all crammed in my Honda, all stuffed in the hotel room. We like it that way. And BD and Sanne with Baby R were next door. Sanne's parents the floor under ours. The night before the competition, just as I fell off to sleep around midnight, I heard the faint horn of a train. It got closer until it seemed just a block away and continued to blow as it passed out of earshot. I thought, Whoa. The trains came every 20 minutes for the remainder of the night. By dawn, it was almost old hat. The girls didn't stir, but when we asked Maya if she heard the trains during the night, she said, "Only about fifty." Mina didn't hear a thing. Neither did the pugs.

Maya's fighting in a new weight class now. This was her first tournament at this weight, and this is when the competition separates girls with natural athletic ability from athletes with serious potential. Maya's conditioning is the best it has been; her cardio is on point and she doesn't gasp after the second round now. Husband said, "She has a fighter's bob," something that didn't come so naturally before, but now, suddenly, it's there. There were eleven girls in her category which is a ton and every one of them looked fierce. Maya had a bi the first round and faced a very good counter scorer in the second: For every point that Maya scored, the girl scored one right back. The girl managed to ring Maya's bell by kicking her in the face. This stopped the fight for a minute and today she has a nice toe-shaped black bruise on her chin. Maya ended up losing the match with a score of 8 points to 7. Her opponent scored the winning point exactly as the last second clicked off the clock. It was heartbreaking. Sometimes it's hard for Maya to see the big picture, that every tournament she gets better; that she's still an amazing athlete even if she's not raking in the medals. This doesn't matter because to see your child give her all and take hits on the chin and stand firm and fight on, man, you gotta know that she's brave. You gotta know that she's won a lot already. Maya's all or nothing -- she wants gold now --, but when we sooth her after losses, we can convince her that she's on the right path, that she's doing so great. With a bruised face and through red eyes still glinted by hope, she nods that she wants to go on.

It can be a weird thing sending your baby out to fight. The object is to be tactical and tough, to score with strategy and strength, but sometimes they get hurt. This tournament, I saw three kids get knocked out cold, despite the head gear, including a twelve year old teammate of Maya's. The teammate was losing her match decisively. In the last round her opponent threw a head kick that landed harder than she intended and our girl went down, face to the mat. Out. The opponent was disqualified because knock outs aren't allowed until they're 14. We watched anxiously until our teammate got up, wobbly but ok. She placed silver. As a parent, you ride a razor's edge of wanting to protect them from everything, but you know that despite the risk of injury they are learning amazing things about themselves out there. If Maya loves it still, then I love it still and I'll watch all her matches at the edge of my seat, sweating, and sometimes through the fingers that are covering my face.