How I Learned To Play The Piano #metoo


“There are about forty cats and dogs on my property.  One cat can open doors. All those animals see us going in and out of doors every day but only one animal learned how to do it. He jumps up on the door handle and it pushes down. The door opens. He walks through.  If I didn’t see one cat open doors, I would never know that a cat could do that.”    Al Wei Wei“

When I was ten years old I was molested by my piano teacher. I did not know how to handle it or how to stop it. I knew that I did not want to talk about it to anyone. In my ten-year old wisdom, I decided that I could handle it for five months until the end of year concert at Carnegie Hall. Everyone knew that I wanted to play there. I would “choose” in the summer to stop taking piano lessons. If I quit before, there would be too many questions. Eighty per cent of childhood sexual abuse happens from family members or someone you know. It is usually not done in a scary way.

I remember this day. After the concert I thought – I did it.  This is finally over and no one knows anything. My mother walked into the bedroom and said, “Everyone was so good at the recital. Next year I will start your brother and sister with piano lessons.” I blurted out, ”But you will go with them. You shouldn’t let them go alone.” My mother thought that was a weird response. I wouldn’t explain and she wouldn’t stop asking. Several hours later, I put my face under the covers and told her.

Everything happened really fast after that. My father went to his house to kill him and my mother took me to the police station. That was so much worse than being molested. I remember lying on a cold metal table having my first physical exam with a lot of people and police in the room. I was staring at the ceiling with the exposed light bulb and ugly green paint, pretending to crawl out of my skin and be anywhere else.

My father had walked into a large family dinner with his accusation and the piano teacher sued us for slander. My parents counter sued. Now the story that I did not want to tell even once, got repeated many, many times to lawyers. This was not going away so quickly.  If you were wondering why women don’t talk, telling was definitely much worse than not telling.

The lawsuit kept getting postponed. The story was repeated and practiced every time we got a new court date. I kept thinking that if I had not told, it would have been buried in the dark somewhere and not following me around for years. A kid can only carry so much before it starts to unravel. I was lucky in the way that my family stood behind me and never doubted me for a second  – even though the neighborhood turned against me for a while.  He was the best piano teacher the area. I wasn’t the only one it happened to. I could see it in the eyes of kids who had heard the story. I have found that victims can recognize each other. But no one else was talking-especially after they saw the reactions. Predators pick their victims carefully. I had taken piano lessons for two and a half years before it happened. They know who lacks confidence and who won’t tell. The people who it didn’t happen to never understand that.

I was fourteen years old when I finally went to court. He was found guilty and his punishment was that he had to stop giving piano lessons. Sexual abuse was not even a category for children until 1984. He was eighty years old and died a year later.

I was not the same person I was before. I had learned at ten years old that anything can happen when you are in a room alone with a man.The dark side had taught me the signs to watch out for.

Men seem to be much more shocked than women about all these current sexual accusations. It is called living in the world while female. Every woman I know has sexual harassment stories.  I have these stories but I have learned not to be the victim ever again.

As a child, you feel that the best way to survive something is to do nothing. As a woman up until now, it has been the same. Telling your stories, makes you a survivor and not a victim. It makes others feels that they aren’t alone. But the scars never go away.

When I had kids I wanted to be a stay at home mom because I had a working one at a time when mother’s didn’t work. It was also because I knew the world could be unsafe for children and I wanted to protect them. I sat in every private dance lesson with my daughter. I had them take self-defense classes and put them in programs like kid power. I forced myself to give my children piano lessons. i interviewed many teachers.  I rented a piano and stuck it in my open dining room (where it did not fit). I could see it from any angle in the house. Once a week, I relived the story with every wrong note. Luckily they gave it up after ten months.

I never listened to classical music. I never played it for my children. I thought  that I did not like it but I had forgotten until now that he used to listen to it. The music made me feel invisible. Your mind sometimes puts memories that are too hard into your unconscious to protect you.  I listen to it now. Eleven years ago I got a dog who loved classical music. I downloaded music for him to stay alone and realized how beautiful it was. I have recently added some piano concertos. I am ready to let it go. It wasn’t my fault. I was ten years old.

Fly safe,


Ten Things That I Have Learned From Uber Drivers


“Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.” Vernon Howard

Millions of people use Uber all over the world to get a ride. But what about the people who drive for Uber? I always want to know what else they do, where they are from and why they have a job where they make their own hours. I don’t need to travel all the time to explore the world. Sometimes the world comes to pick me up at the click of a button.

There are many good Armenian authors besides William Saroyan that I have to read.

You can only work for Homeland Security for twenty years and then you must retire.

A few twenty somethings did not vote in this election.

An Iranian American legal immigrant voted for Trump because he thought that Trump would bring more jobs. He wishes that he did not but is not ashamed to say it because he now lives in country that has Freedom Of Speech. He can say whatever he wants and not worry about it.

Vladimir Putin is probably a body double. The original is dead. The KGB in Russia had body doubles for all the dictators.

Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors.

It is illegal to eat mince pies in the UK on Christmas Day.

Nicaragua is the most stable country in Central America at the moment.

The Hollow Earth theory – I had to look it up.

Chile has the best economy in South America now.

Fly safe,




 Museo de la Memoria Y Los Derechos Humanos (Museum Of Memory And Human Rights) Santiago, Chile


Museo de la Memoria Y Los Derechos Humanos (Museum Of Memory And Human Rights),Santiago, Chile

“Dictatorships are never as strong as they think they are, and people are never as weak as they think they are. “Gene Sharp

I don’t get it. I never get things like this. Maybe I am just not that smart. From what I remember Salvador Allende was the first Communist president elected by a Democracy. The American government did not like this. They did everything in their power to get him out. It is beyond the realm of my knowledge as to why America needed to do this.

Chile started having big economic problems because of the actions by the American government.  They withdrew aid from Chile and trade was limited or refused. Chileans workers began strikes.

On September 11, 1973, an American backed coup lead by Augusto Pinochet took place. President Allende committed suicide in the presidential palace as opposed to surrendering and the seventeen year military reign of terror began under the dictatorship of August Pinochet. (poem about the memory of suffering)


This Museum of Memory and Human Rights tells the story of the abuses and disappearances carried out during this time. It’s estimated that 40,000 people were tortured or executed during this period.


I get the English Audio tour and walk through seventeen years of “ forced disappearance” murder and torture of anyone who was believed to be against Pinochet. Anyone includes women and children.


I listen to Pinochet’s speech as he takes control of the country. It is oddly familiar. It sounds like Trump has been taking notes from Latin American dictators. It Is the Latin American cult of personality, rage against the elite, unbridled machismo, an acerbic disregard for the rules—coupled with an apparent willingness to break them at nearly any cost that characterizes their dictators. As we enabled Pinochet to create this reign of terror, Trump had enablers in America for his rise to power.

There are excerpts of newspaper headlines from the state-controlled media at the time, video, personal accounts, photographs and memorabilia. The museum increases cultural awareness of the thousands of residents impacted by persecutions, imprisonment and torture during Pinochet’s rule. The museum pays tribute to the thousands of lives lost between 1973 and 1990 through photographs of victims, video coverage of protesters and a host of legal documents, letters and artifacts .


It was surprising to learn that not everyone in Chile believed that Pinochet was a dictator. In government documents and in schools, they call this era the “military government” rather than a“dictatorship”. When Pinochet died in 2006, he was not granted a state funeral (awarded to elected officials) but did have an official military funeral where 60,000 people turned out to pay their respects. The Chilean government has never come out and said that Pinochet’s government committed war crimes.  They admit that people were killed, but they don’t consider this to be more than was necessary to bring peace back to a divided country.

The glass and copper building that houses the museum was designed by acclaimed Brazilian architect Marcos Figueroa and is dedicated to all human rights abuses through out the world.


As with all museums of horror and terror throughout the world, it is filled with the country’s teen age schoolchildren. The hope is that these frightening, chilling stories will enlighten these future adults and broaden their perspective of the world so it does not happen again. (We are unable to change the past,  It is our responsibility to learn from it)


Fly safe,


The Houses Of Pablo Neruda


“Poetry came in search of me.” Pablo Neruda

The Chilean Nobel Laureate poet Pablo Neruda may be one of the greatest poets in the Spanish language. His poetry is hard to translate and there is only a small amount in English. It is difficult for me and also for many Chileans to disassociate his words from his intense political views and/or personal failings.

He wrote exquisite poems about love and human nature. Neruda has three houses—one on San Cristobal Hill in Santiago, another in Valparaiso and the third is in Isla Negra. I visited two of them. To decorate his houses he has scoured antique shops and junkyards for all kinds of objects. He has many collections. Each object reminds him of an anecdote. You can not photograph inside.

Riding the funicular to the top of Parque Metropolitano is the classic tourist activity in Santiago.

When we got to the bottom again, it deposited us a block away from La Chascona, the house the poet bought in 1951 for his then-secret lover, Matilde Urrutia.

La Chascona (the name refers to the wild tangle of Matilde’s hair, a recurring element in his poems) is a house filled with objects – not for their value or beauty, but as an expression of the person who assembled them. It was destroyed in a military coup after his death and has been rebuilt and restored. For a Communist, he is quite the shopper.

Isla Negra (Black Island) is neither black nor an island. It is an elegant beach resort forty kilometers south of Valparaíso. No one knows where the name comes from; Neruda speculates about black rocks vaguely shaped like an island which he sees from his terrace.

Thirty years ago, long before Isla Negra became fashionable, Neruda bought—with the royalties from his books—six thousand square meters of beachfront, which included a tiny stone house at the top of a steep slope.

“Then the house started growing, like the people, like the trees.” His collections of bottles, nautical things and odd objects grew as well.

l love these collections and I love this house with its magic light and expansive views.

It is at Isla Negra where Pablo Neruda and his third wife, Matilde have established their most permanent residence.

His most iconic works were written here. It is where he was happiest entertaining a constant stream of visitors with Chilean wine and food. The names of his dead friends are carved in the beam above the bar so he can always have a drink with them. There are seventeen names.

When he died, which was during the Pinochet reign of terror,  Neruda was given a pauper’s grave. Chile didn’t officially embrace its most famous writer until democracy was restored in 1990. Then he and Matilda were buried outside facing the sea according to his wishes.

“Bury me at Isla Negra, in front of the sea I know, in front of every wrinkled place, of rocks and waves that my lost eyes, will never see again.”

Fly safe,

Things That I Have Learned In Chile

“I finally felt myself lifted definitively away on the winds of adventure toward worlds I envisaged would be stranger than they were, into situations I imagined would be much more normal than they turned out to be.”  Ernesto Che Guevara,

The most important thing that I have learned in Chile is that it is pronounced Chill Lee An which rhymes with Jillian not Chill Lay In as in Chilean sea bass. The most expensive fish in Chile is not sea bass.

Chile may derive its name from the indigenous Mapuche word chilli, which may mean “where the land ends.” The Spanish heard about “Chilli” from the Incas in Peru, who had failed to conquer the land inhabited by the Araucanians, of which the Mapuche were the most warlike group. The survivors of Diego de Almagro’s first Spanish expedition south from Peru in 1535-1537 called themselves “Men of  Chile.”

The official and unusual name for the Chilean soccer team is the “O’Higgins a Patriot of Chilean Rule.

The typical greeting is the one-cheek kiss, and it can get awkward if you go for the handshake and they go for your face.

The major religion in Chile is Roman Catholic.

This isn’t the Spanish you have been learning in class. Yes the words are more or less the same, but their vocab is a little different and some phrases have different connotations. They also speak very fast here and sometimes drop the “s”.

Chile remains the most competitive economy in Latin America, with a strong institutional set-up, low levels of corruption and an efficient government.

Chile is the longest country in the world from north to south at 2,647 miles (4,620 km) long and extends across 38 degrees of latitude. The Andes Mountain Range extends the entire length of the country north to south.

Chile is one of the few countries on earth that has a government-supported UFO research organization.

With over 100 wineries in the country, Chile is now the 5th largest exporter of wine in the world.

Chile’s national drink, Pisco, is a clear liquid similar to brandy. It is grown in Chile in the Elqui Valley and is commonly with soft drinks like Coca-Cola (Piscola) or ginger ale or vermouth. But the most common version is the Pisco sour where it is blended with lemon juice, sugar, ice, and beaten egg whites. The Peruvians made the Pisco sour famous, but the Chilean version tastes slightly different.

Even though Chile is internationally known for its succulent red wines and its devilish Pisco, Chile also has a strong and diverse beer culture! This is thanks to a strong influx of German immigrants from the late 1800s, who came to Chile to live in the South and brought their brewing traditions.


Chilean husbands and wives have different last names because women keep their maiden names. If they have the same last names, they are often considered brother and sister. Some of the people want to change that now.

Divorce in Chile was legalized only in 2005, and the country has one of the lowest divorce rates globally probably because it was only recently legalized.

Chile began to export salmon in 1984 and is now the world’s second largest exporter of salmon after Norway. Chile is also the largest exporter of fishmeal in the world.

Chileans are the second biggest consumers of bread in the world – just behind the Germans.

Like Peru it is not unusual to have various potatoes prepared different ways in the same meal.(papas chilotes)

Chile has the world’s largest reserves of copper—around one-quarter of the global supply—and is the number one exporter of copper in the world.

The largest recorded earthquake in the world was a magnitude 9.5 in Chile on May 22, 1960 .

In August 2010, the collapse of the San Jose mine in Chile caused the trapping of 33 miners 2000 feet below ground. The world watched as rigorous, safety-conscious efforts were made to successfully retrieve the affected miners. A small borehole was drilled by rescuers to provide food, liquids, lights, and send notes to and from the mine. All of the trapped miners were successfully rescued after almost 70 days. A few months before another Chilean  mine collapsed on the workers without the same success.

Since 1967, it is mandatory to hang the Chilean flag in a proper condition from every public building. Failure to abide by the regulation can lead to fines of up to 40,000 pesos. The colors and symbols on the Chilean flag stand for: white – the snow of the Andes Mountains; blue – the sky and the Pacific Ocean; the star – guidance and progress; red – the blood spilled in the fight for independence.

Fly safe,


Things That I Have Learned In Santiago, Chile

Things I Have Learned In Santiago, Chile

“We travel for romance, we travel for architecture, and we travel to be lost.” Ray Bradbury

Santiago is the cultural, financial and economic center of Chile.

Take the funicular up the side of the mountain for amazing views of the city.

We stayed in the Barrio Lastarria and took a walk around the surrounding streets.

The neighborhood is very cute and with stores and cafes. The Museo de Artes Visuales, Museo Arqueológico and a street market is nearby.

We had a lunch and a dinner at Bocanariz. It was so good that we went twice. There are many wine tasting options and cool decor. Reservations are best during peak hours.

Santiago has contrasting architecture.

it has innovative well designed skyscrapers, Spanish colonial buildings and European style houses.

The Changing Of The Guard ceremony at La Moneda Palace is worth it if you are in the area at 10AM as I was.
It happens on even number dates  in January, April, May, August, November and December and odd number dates In February, March, June, July, September and October. It is  the most important building in Santiago. The palace is the seat of government and is impressive in its own right. It was bombed in 1973 during the Military Coup, led by Augusto Pinochet, to overthrow Salvador Allende. The ceremony is full of pomp, circumstance, a sixty piece marching band and well-behaved horses.

If you like sports, or even if you don’t, going to see a local Chilean fútbol game or seeing La Roja, Chile’s national team, is an experience worth having. Chileans really love their fútbol and as a result, the crowds can get pretty rowdy, so avoid sitting in la barra (the fanatic) section, where the crowds chant and jump nearly the entire game.These games may be very different from watching sports in your home country. There are no alcoholic beverages sold at the stadiums and there is a noticeable police presence with many well armed officers surrounding la barra and monitoring the entrance and exit of all attendees. Unless you have a set allegiance it’s best to sit in the seated home team section of the stadium, you get to leave first and are less likely to encounter any problems. The most popular teams are Universidad de Chile, Colo-Colo, and Universidad Catolica (the teams use the names of the universities, but have no current affiliation). Don’t bring a purse, camera or cell phone.

A luthier is a maker of stringed instruments like the charango in Chile. Luthiers in Chile were out of town when we were there.

Street food and food trucks are all around in Santiago, Chilean hot dogs and empanadas are very popular.

The trucks are a bit different from in the US.

Uber is gaining popularity in Santiago. There is a problem with the taxi drivers so you have to sit in the front “ like friend.”

Santiago has many traditional street markets (ferias). You will find souvenirs and handicrafts at the best prices at Los Dominicos and Santa Lucia. Although today the ferias are somewhat for tourists, it is not completely devoid of authentic tradition.

Another notable market is the Mercado Central. Located in the city center, it is considered a historical landmark and was ranked the fifth best market in the world by the National Geographic. The products to try here are the shellfish, the pisco sour, both of which are national favorites.

There is an abundance of street dogs in Santiago. Unlike other places the dogs appear surprisingly well fed. There is also plenty of dog crap so watch where you step.

The Andes Mountains surround the city. Looking at these snow capped mountains never gets old.

Fly safe,