I Haven’t Had A Coke In Twenty Years But …

27 Aug


I saw a sign ...

I was with my best bud when I saw this … It was a sign. I had to. I had to.  She’s Trent, I’m Mike and we’re both money, sooooooooo money  :)


The Power of Duct Tape Makes Our Bucket List Adventure Come True

25 Aug

It all started over 35 years ago … on a Saturday morning when I woke up at the crack of dawn and witnessed the awesomeness of Hanna Barbera’s Wacky Races.


Where it all began ...

Where it all began …



I thought … I want to do that one day. I want to build something wacky and enter a race. I want to have some cartoon fun.

And then it happened … this weekend another Bucket List Adventure began only this time I had a navigator and he was fulfilling his Sandbox List Adventure and together we were doing our best not to sink.

I had to put my MacGyver skills to the test on this one…

Six cardboard boxes.

Five rolls of silver duct tape.

Two rolls of white duct tape.

One small can of gray paint.

One small can of blue paint.

And endless trips to the hardware store.

In the end, with a little help from my Disney-Junior-watching crew, we created our own Wacky Race vehicle and my son decided it had to be the Millennium Falcon.


The Millennium Falcon, complete with Han Solo, Chewy, Obi-Wan, and Luke Skywalker watching our back, and R2-D2 in the cockpit.

Ahhhhhhh the power of duct tape made The Millennium Falcon possible. It came complete with Han Solo, Chewy, Obi-Wan, and Luke Skywalker watching our back, and R2-D2 in the cockpit.


We had to make sure we had engines ... my son wanted the Hyper-Drive working.

We had to make sure we had engines … my son wanted the Hyper-Drive working.


My young Jedi Knight disguised as some new rebel getting ready for the race.

My young Jedi Knight disguised as some new rebel getting ready for the race.


While we waited for the races to start, we thought we'd check out the rest of the boats. This one was called The Floating Stones.

While we waited for the races to start, we thought we’d check out the rest of the boats. This one was called The Floating Stones.


The Pirate Ship, who happened to win for best theme.

The Pirate Ship, who happened to win for best theme.


The Shark Boat, which won both of its races.

The Shark Boat, which won both of its races.


The KISS boat, complete with little rock stars.

The KISS boat, complete with little rock stars, who never gave up during the race. Even when their boat flipped over they managed to swim to the finish line and win their heat.


This was my daughter's favorite boat, the Sweet Treats, complete with an ice cream sundae, all made out of cardboard.

This was my daughter’s favorite boat, the Sweet Treats, complete with an ice cream sundae, all made out of cardboard.


This Frozen Ice Castle was voted most likely to sink ... and it didn't let us down.

This Frozen Ice Castle was voted most likely to sink … and it didn’t let us down.


And finally this was the People's Choice Award winner, it was also pretty fast in the water.

And finally this was the People’s Choice Award winner, it was also pretty fast in the water.


After all the oohing and ahhhhing we all headed down for the Wacky Races to begin

After all the oooohhing and ahhhhing we all headed down for the Wacky Races to begin.


As we loaded our boats I remembered ... we paid so much attention to building the boat, I forgot to show my son how to row the boat. So we had a quick two-minute lesson.

As we loaded our boats I remembered … we paid so much attention to building the boat, I forgot to show my son how to row the boat. So we had a quick two-minute lesson. Unfortunately we needed more than just two minutes, as we lost the first race. But we bounced back and won the second one and he was happier about that finish.


In the end we didn't sink, but there were plenty of other boats that didn't quite make it, and in truth that was one of the funnest parts of the race.

In the end we didn’t sink, but there were plenty of other boats that didn’t quite make it, and in truth that was one of the funnest parts of the race.


We might not have won our division, or a prize for the best looking Star Wars Ship Cruiser, but we still had a great time at the cardboard yacht regatta. I was happy to see my son so excited, practicing his light saber skills while all the people passed by and complimented us on the boat. I smiled at the fact that someone said “May The Force Be With You.” I cracked up that we had spun out of control and began cruising backwards for a couple of meters during the race. I was ecstatic that we didn’t sink. And I was thankful for “The Power of Duct Tape”.

As far as parenthood goes, this was definitely an awesome adventure. I had checked something off my Bucket List and so had my son and daughter. It was a Guatacular event. And the best part wasn’t our unsinkable ship, but the smile on my kid’s face as he high-fived me and the jumping and cheering coming from my daughter during the race.





Bucket List Adventure … Sunday Dinner Sopranos Style

20 Aug

Most of the time it includes traveling to a different country, exploring a new culture,  or doing something outrageously adventurous like throwing yourself off a plane or bridge.


I’ve got those on my list.

But for some reason my list also includes food. Delicious savory food, baking a cake from scratch, baking my kid’s birthday cakes.

Check, and check.

In fact a couple of months ago I baked 12 cakes from scratch, chocolate cakes.



But in addition to baking cakes from scratch I also wanted to make my own sauce … or as some Italians refer to it … “Gravy”. I’ve watched Goodfellas, The Sopranos, The Godfather … they all have scenes with sauce. Either the dudes making it or the someone’s mother. Stirring the sauce and having Sunday dinner. I mean we have Sunday dinner but it’s usually rice, beans, and carne asada. And there’s really nothing wrong with that, nothing at all.

But “Gravy” has always been on my list, along with skydiving, visiting Italy, and meeting Robert DeNiro.

It’s up there.

And thanks to the good old public library I was able to finally check out the Sopranos Cookbook I mentioned a couple of weeks ago and whip up a batch of Sunday Gravy … and it only took about four hours.




Duuuuuude. Can I tell you how amazingly impressed I was with myself? I dipped the spoon in the savory sauce and brought it up for a taste test. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. It was the kind of awesome that put you in a Zen state of mind. I know I’m Guatemalan through and through, but with that sauce I’m surprised I don’t have some part of me that’s Italian.

I was so happy it had turned out exactly the way I thought it would, because sometimes things don’t work out that way, just like life. You get all jazzed up about a recipe and then it doesn’t end up looking like the picture, or taste the way you thought it would on the first try. Just like life, you get all jazzed up about the future and then you realize you’re barely staying afloat with a life preserver and feel like you’re staring in Shark Week’s I Survived JAWS 2.

I learned … you need time and practice to perfect it. Both cooking and life.

So I was a little worried that I might need to make a couple of batches before I had that Holy-Crap-feeling.

But I’m happy to report that I was lucky enough my first time.

In fact I hope luck strikes more than once, because this entire cookbook is filled of Bucket List recipes, so it might take me a while to get through it.

But I got this.

I got this.

And my kids are definitely grateful for this Bucket List Adventure.



Tales of the 1st

18 Aug

Excitement, anxiety, and worry.

I was feeling it all night, didn’t really know what to expect from the bigger playground, different classroom, and different group of kids. I tried to stay positive for my son’s sake, and was able to give him the Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose speech before school and send him off ready to conquer the world, but I was still feeling it in the pit of my stomach. Something that would probably leave my neurotic motherhood personality once I picked him up at the end of the day.

And in truth it’s not so much that I didn’t trust my son, or think how wouldn’t do great, I knew he was gonna let his awesome out, he’s a great kid. I just don’t have faith in the kids and teachers I’ve never met. You know the kind I’m talking about, you see them and you just know, you get that Oh-my-God-I-hope-it’s-not-you feeling. You’re not judging anybody or thinking you’re better than anyone else, you just get that feeling at first sight.You know exactly what I’m talking about. You know.  I’m crazy that way, it’s my Guat nature. I accept it.

It’s something I go through every year, at the beginning of the school year.

I’m not sure what to expect from the first grade … other than a massive supply list and less money in my wallet.


1 box of 24 Crayola Crayons … sounds reasonable

3 dozen Ticonderoga #2 pencils (already SHARPENED please) … Really? Dude there’s no time to sharpen 36 pencils and the boxes of pre-sharpened were sold out.

3 reams of white paper …Dude did the school run out before the year started?

3 boxes of Kleenex tissue … One sounds more reasonable.

1-2 packages of hand wipes/disinfectant wipes … I understand this one, I’m a little germaphobic

1 dozen glue sticks … Dude I think a three pack will get you by.

2 yellow highlighters … understandable used to highlight the important notes prior to exams.


Yeah … I’m not sure what to expect, but I do hope for the best and seeing how my son strolled toward the entrance with confidence, as well as a good luck hug from his sister, I was feeling better about the whole thing.


Heading to 1st grade, while his sister and I followed.

Heading to 1st grade, while his sister and I followed.


So that’s where I stand on the first grade … that and frustration over bad parking jobs.

Parents c’mon now, c’mon … common sense … common sense.

Good luck to the rest of you.


Now I Get Why People Burn Me Out …

13 Aug




O Captain, My Captain … Rest In Peace

11 Aug

I first saw him in a red jump suit with a silver triangle on Happy Days. I was watching it with my uncle Erick.

And he cracked me up. He was unconventional.

Then I grew up watching him as Mork from Ork.

He flew his freak flag, made me laugh, and warmed my heart. He encouraged me to let my wackiness out, I thought if he’s comfortable like that why not. If he’s out there, like a lightning bolt, on the edge, feeling every bit of life through his comedic genius, dude so can I.

I can let my awesome out.

I was a fan. Most definitely. So was my Dad.


The first movie we saw was a classic. Something that we always enjoyed watching. Something that encouraged spirit.


“Goooooooooooooooooooood Morning VIETNAAAAAAAAAAAAAM!”


It’s still something that resonates spirit. Something that first opened my eyes to war, and that you can even have a bit of comedy in such a serious subject matter. He did that well, teaching lessons through dramas, but always using comedy to help it along a bit.


Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out! — Dead Poet’s Society


My Dad and I connected through his movies, whether they were comedies or dramas. We enjoyed watching him and bonding over laughs and awesome lines. We enjoyed his exuberance and his I’m-out-here kind of comedy. One of the best movies that I often watch to get me out of a funk is the Bird Cage, guaranteed laughs, and guaranteed cured for crappy moods. I so wish I would have been able to meet him and thank him for the endless laughs he gave me and his warm heart. I only got to know him through his works. but I was grateful for at least that.


“Laughter enhances the blood flow to the body’s extremities and improves cardiovascular function. Laughter releases endorphins and other natural mood elevating and pain-killing chemicals, improves the transfer of oxygen and nutrients to internal organs.
Laughter boosts the immune system and helps the body fight off disease, cancer cells as well as viral, bacterial and other infections. Being happy is the best cure of all diseases.” — Patch Adams


My Dad could watch this guy and crack up at his improvisation skills and his quick wit. But we both agreed, he was so much more than just comedy, and we knew it. He was of life lessons, and out there with his personal struggles and his triumphs. He was definitely inspiring for those who didn’t fit the mold, for those who were excited about life and showed it no matter where you were. My Dad would have definitely been sad about his passing. He knew well what it was like to live with depression. My Dad dealt with it for over a decade, and would have probably rooted for Robin to get through it. It’s a disease that wears on your spirit and soul. My Dad struggled with it daily and I witnessed it and tried my best to help him feel loved and help him find laughter when all he could see was darkness.

It’s tough when someone so amazingly funny and passionate for comedy dies.

I’m saddened about Robin’s death, and even more so because it made me think of my Dad and all the times we hung out watching movies and re-runs of his movies. But I was also glad that Williams was part of my life growing up, making me smile and crack up. His interviews and stand-up often reminded me to just let your freak flag fly, go off course, live with passion, and let the awesomeness shine through.

I was glad that I shared many TV memories with my Dad and my uncle Erick, whose favorite line was “Nanu, Nanu.” But as always watching him on the big screen and laughing out loud will be something I will miss.


You don’t know about real loss because it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.” — Good Will Hunting




At First Sight

8 Aug

It happened right there on the elevator.

I never thought of it happening like that.

But it did and she said it was so easy.

I never do stuff like that, especially at the mall.

I hate the mall. But that’s where she said it happened, they were in the elevator and their eyes met as they both hit the button for the second floor.

She said she had a feeling.

What? What kind of feeling could you ever get in a mall elevator that didn’t resemble heartburn in your wallet and irritability that there were so many people there?

She said it wasn’t that, something in her gut and she went with it.

A blue sippy cup fell from the stroller and it  was friends at first sight.



They ended up talking for like four hours outside of Wetzel Pretzel and became good friends.

I told her she needed to go see Single White Female starring Bridget Fonda, she assured me it was nothing of that nature. In fact she invited me to a get-together where this new best-bud would be there. And so I went.

To my surprise, Viviana was pretty cool. Down to Earth, easy-going, with a good sense of humor. I got along with her pretty well,  and found it hard to believe that they met in a mall elevator. Stuff like that doesn’t happen. Well, at to me it doesn’t.

I’m usually focused on my mission … in-and-out no stopping. Just want to get out of there, probably because the mall just doesn’t interest me, I’ve had some irritable experiences with the uptight and noses-in-the-air Mommy & Me Mafia posse talking about how advanced their kids are and how healthy they’ve been on their gluten-free diet and how I should really give it a try.

Bad luck, I guess.

In any case I thought about this during my next outing to the Old Navy, unfortunately the blond lady behind me was angry that the cashier wasn’t going fast enough and apparently “this is bullshit” was one of her favorite phrases. She paced back and forth and exhaled loudly every three minutes, while her kid terrorized the Big League Chew Gum and knick-knack section.

I shook my head and thought maybe it just works when you’re actually in the elevator … the one near the Wetzel Pretzel.

I’ll have to think on that next time.



It’s All About Being A Problem Solver

6 Aug




Finding My Laugh

4 Aug

“Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face.”  –Mike Tyson


Holyfield vs. Tyson

Holyfield vs. Tyson


When I saw this quote today, I thought, Holy Crap. How does he know of me and my George Costanza existence?


That’s exactly what my life has been like the past two years, knockout after knockout, clinging to the ropes. But I’m still here. Still standing …

I’m stubborn that way.

It may take be a while to get up after a beatdown, whether it has to with parenthood, dealing with family, handling rejections in my career, or dealing with relationship drama and all the complications that come from that. Dude that alone can knock you out. But I got some Rocky Balboa blood in me and I always get up, ready for a comeback, waiting for that opportunity. That moment! Yeah it’s out there and I think I’m close.

But what happens when it looks like I’m down for the count? Do I still make plans? Do I even bother knowing that life is gonna put the smackdown on me?

Dude got to. Just got to.

I still make some … lots of them. It’s what motivates me to get out of bed, no snooze alarm needed. Blueprints are essential for life, they help guide you in the right direction, they’re your compass if you get lost. They represent the possibility. You just have to remember to tweak them a little bit when the unexpected happens. You bob and weave when something or someone is coming for you.

When I was making life plans I didn’t take into consideration that I’d get knocked out a couple of times. I was naive, I thought since my teen years were challenging enough that would be it … but no … that was just character building, preparing me for adulthood.

Character, I’ve got plenty of it.

So I thought it would be somewhat easy the rest of the way, but I’ve found that the road to my “prime” has many rounds. But without them I guess I wouldn’t be as funny. I’ve noticed all great comedians had it rough one time or another, it’s where they found their laugh. And I guess that’s what’s happening to me … I’m finding my laugh. I don’t like the fact that I need to get punched in the face for that, but there’s no other way life can teach you that painful lesson.

Keep making plans, keep adjusting and tweaking, just remember to pack the ice and bring Neosporin along the way.



Bad Writing and 80s Photos

2 Aug

That’s it! I did it.

I was stressing over it for weeks, I even had to press the pause button on my slow novel-writing and sacrifice reading some of your blogs and books in order to get this done, but I did it.

I finally turned in this writing project and was so happy when I typed the words The End. I went all out on it. I Clear-Eyes-And-Full-Hearted this one, and gave it all, so I was glad when I hit that submit button.

Now all I have to do is wait … wait for that Congratulations you’re an awesome writer and we love it letter.

But while I’m waiting for that to happen wanted to let you in on a little writer revelation I had during this process.

I realized that sometimes the things I write … they suck. They really do.

I came to this discovery while going through some old college boxes, looking for my awesome notes from this one writing class, you know to get my ass in gear. And as I was getting inspired by my blue Mead Notebook, I saw an old play I had written and I remembered thinking how awesome I thought it was at the time. So I flipped it open.


It was like finding an old 80s picture of yourself rocking the aquamarine L.A. Gears, jeans tightly rolled up and tucked into your white and blue socks, followed up with awesome gravity-defying hairstyle courtesy of Aquanet. You thought you looked good, you swore you did. You had no idea why Rafa would not notice you walking past the lockers. Now … in retrospect … when you look at this picture you realize why he didn’t see you.

Yeah it wasn’t him … it was you.

Yeah you.

You thought you rocked it, but in retrospect you were a casualty of fashion mistakes cruisin’ the hallways, the hairstyle being one of the biggest ones.

Yeah. This play was my 80s photograph.

I read through it and couldn’t believe some of the characters. I was amazed that I thought I could turn in something like this and classify it as good. It wasn’t Sharknado terrible, but still. I realized I had a lot of growing up to do in terms of writing. Don’t get me wrong the premise, plot and theme were pretty good, just my execution needed work. Out of the whole play I just liked one character, the others … well they could’ve all gone down on the Titanic and it would have been all good with me.

In any case this piece of writing did help me focus on my current project and I was thankful for that. I was able to create better dialogue and character arcs because of my flash from the past. So here’s hoping that my early failure catapults me to a better future.



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