Posts Tagged Childhood

Nellie

michael_warren_nellie_muganda

“Hi, my name is Nellie.

I come alive whenever I see this album. It brings me back to my teen years which were sheltered and happy. I first bought the album when I was 13 and collected photos up until the time I left Tanzania to come to America. The year was 1974 and I was eighteen.

I was young and laughter was always present, especially when most of these pictures were taken. My mother and fathers pictures are in there and my brothers and sisters. And my one niece at the time, I was her idol so where I went, she went. I had one best friend that I really, really miss. We lost touch when I moved to the States. She went to England and then became a doctor in New Guinea. And I just don’t know how to find her. I’ve tried but this album remains my only connection to her.

America is my home now but Tanzania is still my true home. There are things about Tanzania that I miss sometimes. The people are genuine and they’re honest and when they tell you something they mean it. They’re not fake and they follow through. But the US has given me the opportunities that I could never have in Tanzania because in the states I could reinvent myself to do whatever or become whomever I want to be. For me to be able to work with McCartney or whoever in Hollywood, it’s — it’s just an amazing thing that I would never have had in Tanzania. Like when I’m watching the Oscars and can point out how many people I know that I’ve touched. It was like, oh, I know him or oh, I know her, so yeah, that’s pretty amazing. So I love this country for giving me these chances for success.

I still get impressed by all of this. My friends say I’m still too innocent and even at my age right now I’m thinking, oh my God, yeah, they’re right. But it’s my childhood in Tanzania that has given me a spirit that those I work with are attracted to — it’s why John probably wanted me around, and McCartney, and why they turned me on to other people. It allowed me to succeed, absolutely, Yeah.

Other than this ebony necklace I am wearing, not many things are still with me from my childhood in Tanzania.  The beads have a healing quality and are thought to be protective and symbolic. The wood of the ebony tree is very beautiful and it never rots, it just doesn’t. It will always remain the same. Like the feeling I get seeing the people in this album each time I look.”

Tidbit:
Nellie is a makeup artist based in San Francisco and has worked with many of Hollywood’s most notable actors and some of the world’s most iconic musicians. Where she mentions McCartney and John in the story, she is referring to her time spent with Paul McCartney and John Travolta respectively. These days she spends most of her time working on projects with Silicon Valley’s brightest innovators.



Laura

“I’m Laura,

This is my chicken, Jennifer. We have eight chickens and one rooster named Radio. Since Sweet Pea, who was my favorite, passed away this year, Jennifer has taken her place. But she is the last of the originals so I’ll have to get more that I raise.

I am not a crazy lady. Eight years ago it started. I just brought three of them into our family, one for each kid, so that we had that life to experience because that’s what it’s all about. I wanted the kids to be around that new life and watch them grow up. It’s been a lot more interesting and fun and valuable than I can imagine. Lessons for everybody.

We purchased our chickens as babies. You start them in the house. They have to be warm so you have a heat lamp and people are always holding them. I’d be making dinner and holding a baby chicken. And they really do bond with you in that way.

They become part of the family. The dogs protect them, the kids protect them, we protect them. And they give us eggs, and entertainment!

I once gave Sweat Pea acupuncture after she got injured and was limping. Down the street from us is a veterinarian that has dabbled in acupuncture and had helped our arthritic dog. I asked her if she won’t mind trying it on Sweet Pea even though she had never done it before. She had no idea if it was going to work, but it totally worked. She was not limping after the treatment and I was a happy momma.

Sweet Pea passed away this year but she had a lovely life.”



Mehdi

“Hi my name is Mehdi

It was February of 1981 in Tehran, Iran when my father had purchased a brand new car. On the morning of the 2nd anniversary of the Revolution he decides that he and I will go do some driving tests in the outskirts of the city on some empty roads near a military base. We switched seats so I can drive. Seven or eight minutes later I hear loud noises and realize that my dad has been shot. He opened the door, raised his hands and then fell to the ground and died. I was 14 years old.

We would eventually learn that he was shot by the members of the Basij, a paramilitary volunteer militia who had wrongly assumed our car belonged to the opposition group,  Mujahadeen-e-Khalq (MEK Militia) , just because of the color alone. Eight people fired on our car. All the bullets went through the vehicle without hitting us except for one that hit my dad in his heart.

What transpired in the following year and a half would be a process of negotiations by my mother that ultimately paved a way out of Iran and into Germany and then the United States for my mother and me.

By Islamic law, the father of the victim gets to decide the fate of the convicted, i.e., it’s an eye for an eye.  My paternal grandfather chose to pardon the accused because “it was a mistake”. This led to an unspoken agreement, a deal with the government, that if he pardoned the soldiers it would help in allowing my mom and I to leave the country. My grandfather died about a year later and my mom continued to pressure the government to admit they had made a mistake and with the help of a lawyer was able to acquire a letter from the government that was an admission on their part. She wanted desperately to save what she had and this was our way out legally and with passport as tourists. Had I stayed, I would have been banned from leaving the country at the age of 16 and potentially eligible to become a soldier and fight in the Iraq/ Iran war.

I was thinking of making a stop-motion movie with a scale model car to illustrate what had happened on that day. I did a lot of searches on Ebay and finally found this exact replica of a Renault 5 and in the exact color. I have never shared this story with anyone and not even my wife knows the history of the car.”

Tidbit:
Mehdi graduated from the University of Texas in 1991 and received his Doctoral from the University of Washington in 2000. He currently is employed at University of Washington/Fred Hutchinson Cancer research Center as an Oncology pharmacist. His mom lives a mile and half down the street from his family and is the best grandma ever.



Brett

“I’m Brett,

At age 11 I started to play field hockey, hoping to be as good as my two older sisters. What I didn’t realize at the time was just how much more this would mean for me. It took me out the classroom setting where my learning disablity often made me appear lazy or stupid.

My mom was the only person who seemed to know I was always trying my best. She would be at every game running up and down the sidelines with words of encouragement. When I entered the 9th grade I learned that after her 7 year battle with cancer, she was told it was terminal. As her health deteriorated, I would work harder and harder to improve my performance on field. Or at least that is what I told myself. Looking back I now realize it was the only way I knew how to deal with my mom being so sick and my fear of losing her.

She wasn’t able to be there when I received my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Nor did she get to see me play Division I Field Hockey and Division II Lacrosse, but one thing I know is that she would have been extremely proud of my success. Her endless stream of support will never be forgotten.

Tidbit:
In the summer of 2011 Brett summited Mount Kilimanjaro and raised $13,000.00 in memory of her mom to fight breast cancer for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. It’s never too late to help such an admirable cause. Just follow the link: http://getinvolved.fhcrc.org



Norma

“I’m Norma,

I brought my insulin pump because I’ve been a Type I diabetic since I was 14, and I don’t need it any more. I took part in a medical trial at MGH last year. The diabetes had destroyed my islet cells so I couldn’t produce my own insulin. Without the constant drip of insulin from my pump, my body had no way of regulating my blood sugar levels. In October, I got the call that they had a match. The following day, over 600,000 strong, healthy islet cells were transplanted into my liver. I was told they would settle in, then begin to produce insulin. I wouldn’t have to balance my insulin with exercise and food intake. It would all happen naturally again, without the pump.

I have had a love/hate relationship with this pump. Yes, it kept me alive, but it was also a constant reminder that I was different. Convenient, but also something that was always annoyingly there, beeping and alerting, attached to me, and part of every outfit I’ve worn for the last 6 years. That’s why it was such a thrill to watch my pump inject fewer and fewer units of insulin into my body after the transplant. I was told to cut my insulin by half, then by three-quarters. Then, to remove the pump completely.

I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about doing that. It’s strange to think that after all these years my body is now producing insulin completely on its own, like it never skipped a beat. I’m comfortable with the fact that I won’t have to inject insulin any more, but the truth is, I am still getting used to the idea that I am no longer a diabetic.

Now, I see the pump in my drawer, and it doesn’t bother me at all that it looks a little dusty and lonely. I’m happy that it is no longer part of who I am.”



Marcello

“Hi my name is Marcello.

This is my monkey Chester, Chester O’Chimp to be precise.

He scared the shit out of me until I was about five, when I finally realized Chester wasn’t real. After that I hated it because it was Irish and I was the only Italian kid in a mostly Irish neighborhood who got teased and called guinea all the time. I’d take my anger out on poor old Chester.

When you pull it’s string, it’s mouth moves. He says about a dozen different things with an Irish brogue like “I’m Chester O’Chimp, diddly doodly diddly dum” or “I’ll be a monkeys uncle, Oh I am” or ” Lets go to the zoo and see the wild children”.

I’ve had him since I was 1 years old. It was given to me by my aunt, or some guy named Mr Anderson-I’m not sure. He’d been AWOL since I had moved out at 19 but has recently re-emerged.

I consider him one of my most prized possessions, I’ve always said that if there was a fire in the house, Chester would be the first thing I grabbed.

I think it just reminds me of my childhood and my bedroom and growing up in Boston.”



Layla

“Hi my name is Layla,

I brought my childhood blanket. My mom got it for me when I was born and I have had ever since. Well not exactly. The first blanket was mistaken for a rag and used to clean my friend’s floors after I forgot to bring it home one day. Needless to say I was not very happy, it was my number one possession. What are the chances you are going to be able to find the exact same blanket in the exact same store four years after purchasing it? Well that’s what happened and with that little piece of luck my mother skirted a major meltdown that only a four year old can produce and I got my blanket back.”



Scott

“Hi – my name is Scott.

The item I brought today is a stuffed Ernie doll from my childhood. It was one of the first items that I
possessed, given to me by my parents of course, as an infant.

I have had it with me since I left home, through college and I still have it next to my bed today.

Have I ever washed Ernie? Oh Yeah! -He goes in a pillow case. He’s about to fall apart so he doesn’t get
washed anymore.”

Tidbit:
Ernie is getting on in life, he will be 32 years old this year. Scott would consider surgery on Ernie.