Lost Identity

For the first time in my life I have been the victim of identity fraud. Sort of. I received a call from my credit card company this morning asking whether I had recently purchased several tickets on Delta Air Lines. I stated that I had not, although my credit card apparently had. Trips from Miami to New York, Los Angeles to Philadelphia and even a trip to Hong Kong were booked all with my sixteen digit credit card number, three digit verification number and home address. I spoke with the member of Delta’s fraud department who spotted the suspicious activity and he confirmed that my name was not used. In fact, it was the various names used with the same card number that caused the activity to be spotted in the first place. I have never been uncomfortable using my credit card to make purchases online through legitimate sites, but my personal information was hacked somehow, somewhere. I am happy to say that people were doing their job and I will not be charged for the $3,500 worth of travel that was purchased with my card. Luckily this was caught when it was and it was not worse. I feel bad for those that have to suffer through true identity fraud and the years it takes to piece their life, credit and finances together.

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It’s Our Anniversary

This week marks five years since my wife and I were married. It has gone by quickly in some ways, and in others, it’s hard to remember the pre-marriage life. We have accomplished a lot together since 2004. We have each completed our education and have begun careers. We have taken some risks, moved across the country to New York, and most importantly, have had two beautiful daughters together. We have very little to complain about. But we do not have a perfect marriage. In the end, I believe that we sometimes struggle with the same issues that all couples struggle with if they are together long enough. There is no doubt that an excellent marriage takes work, patience, love and forgiveness. Being good at each of those traits all of the time, day in and day out is difficult to do. But a successful marriage requires it. Over the past five years, there have been many more good times than bad. The key is to turn the times in between, the mediocre and uneventful times when real life happens and the weeks become months, into good and memorable times. That will be my focus for the next five years. If we can get that behind us and get a rhythm going, the rest should come naturally.

And by the way, I can’t say the above title without signing the song of the same title in my head by Tony! Toni! Toné!

Happy Birthday Hanna

It has been two years already. In these two years I have seen my daughter Hanna develop from a small (but still large for her age), helpless baby to a charismatic, fun, energetic, smart little girl. It is amazing how fast the time has gone as well as how much she has changed. Hanna is now two years old and we have a second daughter at home. If she can spend her first two years in life similar to Hanna’s, we will be off to a great start. Happy birthday Hanna. Daddy loves you.

A Real Family Man

I am now the proud owner of a Toyota Sienna. I looked at various minivans and midsize SUVs over the past several weeks, but in the end it came down to a Toyota Sienna or a Honda Odyssey. And how could we go wrong with either? Each was rated almost identically and there are tons of either vehicle on the road (for a reason). For me, it came down to style and price. After looking around, I was convinced we could get a good deal by purchasing a certified pre-owned vehicle instead of purchasing a brand new minivan. Interestingly, when I mentioned that I was looking and was considering those two vehicles, several people told me to go with a Honda. We have had a Honda Civic for the past three years and it has been a great car, but I liked the Sienna. And in the end, that’s what we bought. A 2007 model, silver blue with a standard package. With two kids now we needed the room. All I can hope for is that it lasts us for years to come.

En Español

You would think I speak better Spanish than I do given my last name, but I unfortunately feel like I can barely get by en Español. This past week I had the chance to interact with my uncle from Spain as he made a rare visit to the U.S. with my dad. Sure, I have studied Spanish for a short time, have spent six weeks in Mexico (years before the swine flu scare) and have traveled through parts of Spain, where my roots lie. But my Spanish was elementary at best and has been stagnant since returning from Spain in 2003. I want to speak better, but have instead focused my language efforts on maintaining my Japanese. Even now, I can be comfortable in Japanese for hours, but am embarrassed with my Spanish abilities. Yet, people have told me my Spanish isn’t bad and that I have a knack for languages. Perhaps I should focus on Spanish, given its utility in this country. The resources are out there for me to study and my commute provides ample time each week. Maybe next time I see my uncle or family member from Spain I can feel like I am actually communicating and not merely struggling to understand.

It’s Automatic

The other night I heard a song that took me back ten years. The song is “Automatic” by Utada Hikaru and it is legendary in Japan. You see, ten years ago, in 1999, I was living in Sakai, Japan, near Osaka. We had just exited a long, cold winter and spring had finally come. The cherry blossoms had bloomed across the country and had already fallen to the ground, but the country was alive again. People hung out outside, doors and windows were continuously open, and everywhere I went I heard “Automatic.” Fortunately I liked the song, and eventually bought the CD, more as a memory of Japan than anything else. But now, ten years later, whenever I hear “Automatic” I can vividly recall walking into a Japanese McDonald’s or Family Mart or Lawsons and hearing “Automatic” blaring from the speakers. If I could create a soundtrack for my life, that song would be a part of the 1999 edition.