Was just eating an “Irish-ised” Burrito (delivered by a Lebanese guy) while reflecting on Cinco de Mayo – a celebration of Mexico’s unity and the defeat of Imperialist (Napoleonic) France.

Somehow my thoughts were turned to globalization and how remarkably blessed I am to be born in the era I am. I am not sure I can put it into words… the profound thoughts but I will try. Like the Irish-ised burrito mentioned above –
I am the product of mixing of cultures and the global melting pot has that influenced my life.

An American by birth, I am the descendant of mixed Norwegian/German/UK (Scottish/English/Welsh) ancestry. I have a Mexican / native tribe mixed step mom. My roommate is French/Algerian. My best friends in Ireland are English (though she says she is Jewish), Italian, French, American and Irish.
My neighbors around me are made up of Immigrants whose children play together – Syrian Refugees, Polish, Lithuanian, Spanish, Dutch, and Irish.

Soon I will apply to be naturalized in Ireland -which will make me both Irish and American on paper. More importantly I will be Amero-European.

I have lived in 4 countries and traveled in many more. When someone asks me where home is and where I would dream of going back to spend my elderly days – I cannot honestly answer. Home is where I am at a given moment in time. My family biologically will always be my family but profoundly – I find that my family is also made up of all of these people around me who hail from around the globe and yet share my life too. I don’t see them as labels of “where they are from” or “their religion” or even “a different culture”. I simply see them as people – the humans I care about, laugh with, cry with, share joy and pain and sometimes even grief with.

It makes me smile. It gives me hope. I see us get along every day and I know it is possible if we look beyond the labels. If we gaze into eyes and hearts and minds and find the common ground of our humanity. I see proof, living and breathing every day that we as humans can be so much more and so very beautiful.
I am rich. No not money wise. But in another way that feeds my spirit. And I am thankful.

And yah. All that thinking- because of a Burrito, delivered by a guy, to a hungry girl, on an Island…. none of which actually started out … Here.


Thoughts on a Life Less Ordinary

Today is a strange day for me.
What do you say about someone who has touched your life more deeply than you’d ever have guessed – and yet most people would never have even given that person the time of day? This post is about an ordinary man who led a life less ordinary.
Maybe by telling you something about my life and this person, you’ll understand my feelings, and why I’m sad to learn that someone – I can’t even call him a friend in the truest meaning of the word- has passed on.

As most of you know, I have worked for eBay since 1999. Most of my eBay career in the USA was worked at night (with the exception of 1 year). Every night, I’d come in at 10 or 11pm, in the dark, work in an office – the only one (or one of two) in the building on most nights except for the security guards and the cleaning staff. As I’m sure you can understand, when you’re female, over time, each night, you look forward to the daily walk throughs of the security staff and the cleaning crew. You get to know each them by name (they are, after all, looking after me and my safety and are often the only “human” I’d see sometimes during my shift). You get to learn a little about their life and families, and they about yours.

I know that for most people, we don’t take the time to get to know the security staff, the people making your coffee every day, or heck, even the ones that come through cleaning up the office break room, desks, and so on. The thing is that maybe because I’ve worked in these types of jobs, I’m different. Maybe because of the way I am, I try hard to learn each of their names to say please and thank you. Maybe it’s because I realize the jobs don’t pay all that much, they’re shit jobs, and that the people doing them often work a ton of hours, get by by the grace of God, and have little recognition / job satisfaction because of it.

So enough about me, now to where I was going with this.

In about 2002-2003, the company hired a security guard named Calvin Blossom. He was a man in his 40’s and right away we hit it off. Each night, for 4 years, when he did his rounds, he’d stop by my desk, say hello, and check in. We’d have a brief chat, and then he’d go on his way. If I came in during the day, he would greet me at the door – by name. He’d hold the door open, he’d say hello and offer up a smile. If I had to go home and it was dark, he’d walk me to my car. If it was snowing, he’d take my keys and go down, clear the car off for me, and get it warmed up so I’d have a safe trip home. He had a kind heart, a big smile, and an infectious laugh. He loved people. He always made me feel special, he made everyone feel valued. He always had a piece of “fatherly” advice if I was having a tough time (I was in my early 20’s and still trying to learn about life as we all do) and when I could, I’d offer to pickup / bring / share my dinner with him. Sometimes he’d pop by to share dinner, sometimes if he was busy or stuck at his desk, he wouldn’t and I’d drop down to say hello.

While I’d never term it as in we were good friends – In the sense that we never “hung out”, went to the movies or anything, I would say that for me, he was a part of my life. A good part. A part that on some level made me feel safe and valued, and liked.

I always just kind of put it down to oh, he remembers me because I worked a late shift and was in the building as a small crew. The thing is that it wasn’t just me. He knew the name and face of 1500+ employees working in Salt Lake City. Each and every one. He took the time to say hello, greet us at the door (often holding it open) by name, and ask after us. He made EVERYONE feel special, and like we were the only ones in the world at that moment. Even years later – I moved to Germany in 2006 and had told him how excited I was – each time I came back to the Salt Lake City offices – if he was there – he would say “Good Morning, Carija” and remembered not only my name but also that I had moved to Europe, and he’d ask me about it. Typical Calvin, only … It wasn’t typical at all. And this is why he was brilliant.

You know, you can tell the caliber of a company by the people they post at the front door / front desk. When you work security or reception, you have to like people and be out going. It’s just one of those things. But Calvin was a great face not only for the company, but also for humanity. In my eyes, and in those of others, he went over and above and actually took “security” to mean not just sitting at the desk watching the video cameras or walking rounds – but making sure that we were ok – from the beginning to the end of our shift, both physically and mentally, above and beyond.

When I woke up this morning, I learned from a blog post from the one of our SLC Colleagues that Calvin has passed away. From my teammates in the US, I learned that he had had a massive stroke but was only in the hospital a short time. It’s how he would have wanted it – no long drawn out suffering. No weepy weepy. Just there, and gone. Like a flash of his bright smile or quick wit. Calvin was 58. So young. He left behind a wife and children, and a whole branch of offices where my colleagues are just this morning learning of his death.

With each passing hour, the blog post from Pete is being passed on, and so are the condolences on facebook and memories of Calvin. Thus far, my facebook has 27 different reposts of the director’s blog, and tons of responses from people both within and outside of the company (former employees) – all extending feelings of loss, love, hope, and what an amazing person Calvin was and how many lives he touched.

I can only hope that we all learned from his example. We were all touched by him, blessed by his bright smile. Truly truly a special person who, despite his “title” of security guard – became a part of the eBay family – our family.

Calvin, you will be missed. Walking into the Salt Lake City offices will never be the same again. I’m sorry I didn’t get to know you better, and that we barely scratched the surface of knowing each other. What I can say is that what I did know left me with a picture of an amazing man who led a life less ordinary; a man who truly lived; a man who truly was loved.

Calvin, You are already missed.


Sunday, Rainy Sunday

It’s raining. Again.
Yep, it’s Berlin – it’s been raining for 3 days straight. (For those of you in Georgia, experiencing snow – I’m SO JEALOUS I could spit!!!) It’s gray, dreary, and miserable outside – and I have to work. Again. UGH.
What’s funny is that, I’ve been singing / humming since I woke up at 5:30 am to go to work. Despite it all, I’m just in the mood to sing – and I don’t know why. It been bothering me a little bit, and leaving me a bit concerned that I’ve been spending too much time alone.
What’s even more amusing (than the fact I’ve been singing to myself all morning) – as I’m walking to the bus stop, I’m the only one up and outside. All you can hear is the sound of the rain, the patter of the drops on my umbrella, the wind in the trees, and the splosh of my footsteps as they are hitting the cobblestones. The world is that sort of blue gray, and because it’s Sunday, none of the street lights or store signs are on so they are a dark gray against the light blue gray sky. It’s just me, the rain, the wind, and the song I have stuck in my head as I walk.
Then, I round the corner, and there’s this bird. He’s black, silhouetted against the gray sky and just sitting right at the top of the tree. I probabally wouldn’t have noticed him for my umbrella but all of a sudden, he just started singing, and singing and singing and singing. Trills and songs, long whistles and clicks, just as pretty and colorful as you please. He made me pause and look up.
Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that I’m down on the sidewalk, it doesn’t matter that it’s pouring and miserable outside, that no one else is awake, nor that I even have to work. It was suddenly like I knew why I had been singing all morning.
You know – because I’m happy – just like that bird.
I’d have to say that seeing him made worth getting out of bed this morning, the walk in the rain, the weird ponderance on why I was singing, and perhaps even the fact that I have to work again. I feel blessed. I saw a bird sing – and was the only one to hear.