My Alex P. Keaton Family Ties Moment …

30 Apr

I realized I only had about four years left …

While everyone was fascinated with the planets and stars aligning on 2-22-22 it hit me … he’ll be gone in four years. Off on his next adventure into adulthood. And I felt that twang in my heart.

The little kid who liked bulldozers, Batman, choo-choo trains, and Wonder Pets. He’ll be gone. The one that reached for my hand as we walked across the street, with his tiny feet. That gave me pause.

It reminded me of an episode of Family Ties when Alex, Alex P. Keaton that is, was going away and his mom was having a hard time with it, the good-bye part. I remember the episode, I remember how she felt love and sad and hurt. I remember.

That’s on the horizon.

And it’s more than just Spring Breaks, Easter’s, Summer Escapes, Beach Staycations, and Saturday ball games to consider. It was mustache growing and height adjustments. It’s carne asada dinners that are on the countdown because I seem to have them numbered and that got to me. The everyday togetherness won’t be together.

I know it’s my job to prepare them for the world and educate them into being compassionate, hard-working, kind, smart, independent human beings. I got that. I know that’s at the top of my list but I had to take a minute there. I remember people telling me it’ll go by fast, the days will seem like forever when you’re changing diapers but the birthday candles will come and go quickly. And here I am nodding my head at comments I heard more than a decade ago, with four-plus years left, now the fast-forward button seems to be on.

I find myself wanting to hit the pause button. And I made a conscious effort to do that. I catch myself ready to steam up and holler when the not-listening phase extends itself multiple times throughout the day and we find ourselves rushing through, trying to get somewhere, and daily life making it harder for plans to work out smoothly.

The fire in frustration is what I’m working on as a parent. I want to be remembered for the Coach Taylor vibe I give off when I’m headed toward progress, not the hectic and stressed-out mom who’s constantly yelling at them to pick up they’re shoes, socks, cleats, or laundry off the floor and wondering when that extra common sense is gonna kick in.

I look at the grays in the mirror and try to be grateful for how I got them, because each comes with it’s own story, and one of the chapters is closing soon.

So I marked 2-22-22 as the opportunity to step it up a notch and try to increase the joy and venturing, because those four years will go by quick and then the kids will be making they’re own choices down their yellow brick road, their own gray hair adventures.

It’s been over a month now and although it’s been challenging and frustrating at times, I’m making that extra effort as the end result matters most. Filming a weekly log and leaving digital notes for them in the future is a surprise I hope they enjoy, as every day has an impact on what they feel. The countdown is on, it’s live and interactive. But not so much in counting the days and checking them off, but more so as my buddy would say … making the days count.

Buen Camino…

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Words on Wednesday

30 Mar

You just can’t shake it off … when something triggers you, you just can’t let it go.

You replay it in your head. If you see it at school, work, home, TV it sticks with you if it’s especially surprising.

Seeing someone physically attacked and humiliated on live TV and then have multiple people make excuses for them burned me out.

Everyone has seen what happened at the Oscar’s. Everyone heard a bad joke, where half the crowd laughed and one person very obviously did not. So that started a chain reaction, apparently, which ended up ruining the Best Documentary Award presentation and perhaps drowned out the rest of the show.

A lot of people talked about situations having layers, and not sure what exactly went on, and equating alopecia to cancer treatments, or about comedians not being aware of everyone’s medical conditions, or about being the butt of jokes, about chivalry, about not sure what exactly happened even though hundreds of people saw exactly what happened.

Somebody hit someone else.

They weren’t being threatened. It wasn’t in self-defense, or for protection. Someone had something ELSE going on and they snapped and hit someone.

I found it enraging that someone laughed at a joke, then realized later that they shouldn’t have laughed, then decided to attack someone on stage. Then they sauntered back to their chair as if nothing happened.

And that’s the part … the part right there.

The one that triggered me.

The entitled part.

The swagger after hitting someone and knowing nothing would happen. It would still be your night.

That was enraging. So many people have that saunter. People feeling entitled enough to think they have a right to to do something outrageous and nothing will happen to them.

And guess what?

Nothing did.

In this case they weren’t escorted out of the room. They weren’t reprimanded.

In fact they won an award and were allowed to speak. Allowed to leave and party all night, no remorse. Smiling and dancing away … until the morning when damage control needed to be done and a written apology was sent out like an unvitation.

I didn’t even know these people. But the whole scenario bothered me so much. Nothing happened to them. There were no consequences and I think that’s the biggest burn. That happens on the screen and in real life. Some people don’t have consequences.

The no consequences. There was no immediate accountability. And since the event passed there probably won’t be, I mean what could the consequences actually be… sorry you can’t come next time?

That’s it?

Whether it’s NFL stars being excused from domestic violence, or police charges because they can catch a ball, to the privileged cheating the college admissions system, to the hypocrisy of politicians, to a greedy authoritarian ruler that bombs another country and kills innocent people because he wants to, to athletes doping up and still competing at the highest level, to people stealing catalytic converters and leaving you with the bill, to an actor hitting a comedian on live TV …

Accountability appears to be lacking on multiple levels in all aspects of life and this most recent public show of cowardice had me wishing for a future much better than that.

People in positions of influence or power constantly evading consequences that everyone else must own up to hits that pit of my stomach. The unbalanced scales still continue no matter how much progress we think we’ve made. It’s really frustrating and sad to see reminders of these when we’re all trying to find hope in our futures.

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Buen Camino my friends …

Words on Wednesday

16 Mar

I’d heard the phrase before, multiple times but to see it manifested live and in person. Gave it a whole different meaning.

Be the protagonist in your own story, your own life …

Don’t know who may have coined that phrase but with earthquakes, wars, and ugliness in full rage out there I feel that phrase more so. Trying to be better because many people can’t, and some of them, for greedy selfish reasons, won’t.

Sometimes you get lost in the what could have, should have, or would have happened. Dude I spent a lot of time on that island. Stranded there from time to time. But every now and then there’s a shift that helps me tune into the right frequency.

With the Season of Lent in the House of Sports, New Year’s Resolutions, Vision Boards, and Words of the Year all combining this month for a 2.0 version, a culmination of energy flows in the right direction. Lent giving us that extra boost to Marie Kondo our life from the negative and toxic, in order to rejoice in positive steps for change, highlighting hope and a more spiritually grounded sense of self.

Marvin Gaye be saying if the spirit moves you …

So you know …

And in this 40-Day Quest to move and groove I came across that quote … being the protagonist of your own story. And it all clicked when I saw this guy … never heard of him before. But now … NOW … I know his name.

The inspirational energy and overall vibe. I dig it. I enjoy this vibe. I saw it and it clicked. Got to do better at writing my own story. Got to do better in finishing and being the protagonist in my own story. This guy he’s living it and I’m inspired. The funk is just an added bonus. Sometimes so much so that you need to take a minute.

Sometimes we just need a minute. And I’m enjoying the one I got.

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Buen Camino

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Sunday Night Thoughts … Sometimes You Don’t Even Plan It

6 Mar

Even if you’re dragged across state lines or need to drive 6-8 hours to a destination for your kids’ tournament, it’s still a vacation.

I mean not an ideal one, may not be the one you want, with parents you would never choose to road trip with, but you make your own travel arrangements, and you hang out for a bit and then off you go. I mean you’re out of town exploring a new city, or some new diners, drive-ins, or dives of a city you haven’t been to in a while. You’re exploring the city with new people and their perspective helps you see this adventure in a different way.

Granted referees are not always the best part of a tournament road trip destination, but you make the best of the situation and forget about the bad calls when you leave the field, gym, court, or rink. You pass by little towns and big towns on the highways and stop by to see go-to spots just for fun. And I recently returned from a quick pit stop in between games. And hanging with my kids in that city provided a Sesame Street vibe I hadn’t known before.

Fisherman’s Wharf is a spot for the clam chowder and visits to Alcatraz. Of course. No doubt but we explored two spots that were a must, and they took me back to my Reading Rainbow-Romper Room days and I enjoyed the escape. I wasn’t aware how much I needed the escape until I got there. Different vibe, different feel. And the fact that the city was empty during the week made the trip even better. Crowded touristy places give me heartburn. But luckily the crowds were someplace else. And among this crowd-less part of town we caught the most awesome old-school arcade on the pier. If you’ve ever been in that area, can’t miss it.

It was a cool retro type of arcade with old school games, some probably from fairs back in the day. With $20 worth of quarters, we enjoyed classic arcade games that used to entertain people a long time ago. Finding puppets, arm wrestling feats of strength, jukeboxes and old arcade games made for a really fun afternoon. Smiles and laughs happening nonstop. Making memories and I hadn’t even planned it. Those are some of the best ones.

Cool baseball arcade game I wish we had 🙂

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Old School show your strength

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The DJ

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Before you knew it, was time to go. Getting dark and still needing to get to our destination. This little side trip to a place I’d known before felt different. And I didn’t mind it. I’d discovered a new spot in a familiar old town. A new spot that gave us a different adventure. That feeling you get when something good just happened and you know the kids will remember it, not because it was spectacular, with fireworks but because it was different and good, creative and fun, new and engaging. Classic arcade on a pier by the water. Feeling like the best part of an 80’s movie. Good Times … Noodle Salad.

But in reality, it was more like Good Times … and Chocolate at the end of the night. And I wanted it to last. Last longer so they could remember. That day was a good day.

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Good place for chocolate somethings

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😉

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Where the magic happens

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The good squares

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The important hand mixer

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Because turning is crucial

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Yes…

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Buen Camino …

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The House of Sports … On A Saturday Night

12 Feb

We enjoy the roar of the crowd, the high-fives, the energy of the stadium, the players on the field, court, and ice.

We are a House of Sports.

We watch it. We play it. We groove to it.

We even enjoy it when we’re watching in HD or our old school TV. I enjoy the Madness of March, the Run in October, the Bowls in December and January, The Australian Open. The playoffs. All these are special. All the sweat and hard work. You can hear the Eminem 8 Mile Soundtrack as you cheer on your favorites. And when it comes to events that happen every so often, they’re supposed to be even more special.

The Olympics.

You see old school grainy video of the athletes as kids, playing their sport with tiny shoes and a smile. Growing up to reach the highest level of competition, they get choked up, with tears in their eyes and say Hi mom, on camera. You cheer for them and hope they empty the tank.

Now of course I prefer the Summer Games, but we enjoy the Winter Games. Hockey is our jam. Snowboarding. Speedskating. The Luge. We dig it.

BUT …

We’d love it even more if they had just postponed a bit, you know … when we still weren’t in the middle of a stupid pandemic. Common sense and safety would have said, yeah let’s wait, just like we did in the Summer Olympics. Instead, you got people who showed up with clean records that ended up not being able to compete because they got Covid while they were at the Olympics. So, they’re one shot, they’re one opportunity gone. Years of training. Gone.

Should they have waited? Yeah, why not?

But no. They went on … to make money … and to have it … in China.

China.

IOC? What happened? I’m sure Sweeden or Norway or Alaska would have loved to host. They don’t have shady human rights abuses. At least not that I’m aware of … I mean they probably even have real snow and don’t have to make 100% of the snow at the games. How are you going to have the winter games when you can’t provide snow?

Then you have the drugs.

With athletes that were supposed to be banned for their intense secret drug doping scandals in the past, to just show up again. And again. And again. Under no flag but being from the same country.

Russia.

What’s up with that?

You know they did it. We know they did it. They know we know they did it. But IOC is going to pretend that these are new athletes under no one’s influence. You know, even though they’re training in Russia, living in Russia, and probably getting their travel paid by Russia. But they’re not participating under the Russian flag because they’re independent.

Which comes to the most recent drama …

Is it the Russian skater who doped it up and now everyone is pretending to be innocent? No that’s not the drama I’m talking about, but let’s explore it for a minute. Threatening reporters that break stories on it and playing innocent because she’s a teenager. How could she possibly know what was going on?

Cut it out.

Have you met a sixteen-year-old? They know what they want to know. Did she think they were Flintstone Vitamins? And even if she didn’t know, and let’s say she didn’t, the other people around her knew. They knew it was banned and that’s it. Period.

Should be no exceptions. Especially … especially being from Russia.

Just like that American Sprinter in the Summer Olympics knew marijuana was a banned substance (not that it would have helped her performance in anyway in fact it probably would have hurt her), but she smoked anyway because she was self-medicating after the death of her grandmother. She was banned.

The skater tested positive. That’s it. Period. I

The IOC is still discussing whether or not this ice skater can compete?

Dude. They’re worse than the NFL.

It’s ugly. And the House of Sports is sad about the whole situation. Sports. We loved watching them, but people are dirty. Letting things slide to appease some powers that be … that be selfish and greedy.

But my main drama was Leslie Jones. The highlight … the one x-factor that made watching some of these Olympics enjoyable was Leslie Jones commentating on The Games.

I thoroughly enjoyed her commentary, play by play, natural reactions, and epic enthusiasm. That’s the kind of friends you want with you at any game. Her vibrant energy and support for the athletes. I watched through her posts and reactions. Good commentators work their magic to make the games even more enjoyable. But now … that’s over.

NBC did something behind closed doors and all of a sudden, she wasn’t posting any highlights, and there was no more spice in the air.

The Olympics from all angles proved to let down The House of Sports. We cheer and support the athletes though, we always do, not the cheaters, or their enablers. Just the athletes. We hope they find their way to gold. We hope they Pump Up Their Jam.

Jock Jams — Various Artists

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Saturday Thoughts … Traces and Happy Birthdays

29 Jan

I know very little about him, but he’s important. He has answers to questions I’d like to know, but now I’m just filling in blanks the best I can.

He was born on a coffee plantation in Guatemala to a mother of Mayan decent. He was taken from his mother by the owners and sailed off to Spain where he was raised.

My grandfather.

I don’t even know his mother’s name or what she looked like, or whether she spoke Kaqchikel or Quiché. Don’t know the color of the textiles she wore, or whether she was born in The Highlands, or Coban. That’d be my great-grandmother. Most people search the internet and find answers on a dot-com site. But there are no records or traces for that side of my ancestry.

This family tree questionnaire quest was brought to me by my son who asked about my dad’s family. He’s known stories of Papa for some time as I continue talking about his life and try to fill his heart with memories of good times, hard times, silly times, and adventurous times. Storytelling keeps my family alive.

I’d share about his never give up attitude and dislike for fast food money spending. I’d tell him about the time I told Papa I wanted the crunchy popcorn shrimp from the Sizzler and he was like you don’t want none of that. Then he’d make a giant mess in the kitchen with hot oil, smoke, and flour everywhere. He’d emerge, hair disheveled, holding a plate of fried shrimp and dipping sauce that looked nothing like the commercial but still nodding his head with pride … See, eh? See eh? Yeah …

And he was right … it was good. Then I’d have to wash all dishes before my mom came. Or else.

The kids know everyday stories of him dropping me off to school if I slept in late, or of his MacGyver ability of fixing the VCR-DVD-TV-Cable-Box connection with three separate remote controls. But they didn’t know much beyond that … of their great grandfather or great-great grandmother, or even beyond that.

I remember doing a family tree back in the day, but who knows where that circa 1980 Crayola crayon masterpiece ended up.

I knew my grandfather grew up in different parts of Spain but probably met my grandmother in Extremadura. I knew he died when my dad was 10, and my pops had a hard life after that, as did his siblings.

I know my great grandfather looked stylish in his black and white wedding photo, and he probably had many stories about his life, my grandma, and my dad. Stories I’d like to hear now that my dad’s birthday is coming up. Stories that celebrate his life that go best with birthday cake and coffee that he doesn’t get enjoy because he’s passed on, but we think of him as we blow out the candles.

And sometimes you don’t get answers after the smoke is gone. You have faded pictures of people that don’t look like you but they lived their life and you’re here because of their choices.

And sometimes you get partials, like pictures of your dad when he was 10, the empty bottle of his aftershave you keep in your drawer, the Parker pens he used for work inside his Samsonite briefcase, or the last message he left on your answering machine. And on days like his birthday you hold on tight to the memories you got. You keep telling stories so you remember the details, you sing happy birthday to a papa that would have been alive, and try to fill in the blanks of a grandfather you never knew. And you still search for clues because his story can tell you more about your own dad …

Happy Birthday to my pops. He would have been 74 …

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My Old Man — Zac Brown Band

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Feel Better 5 Friday on a Saturday Night … Curbing My Enthusiasm

22 Jan

It started with a phone call.

It’s not like I forgot how to drive. I’ve been driving for over 25+ years. I know how to do it. I know.

But it happened … and someone broke their foot.

You see when my mom called asking me to do her a favor and stop by the bank, I didn’t think anything of it. I was on the way to pick up the kids. I had about 30 minutes before school was out. Of course, I could go to the bank. There was one up the street from the junior high. No big deal.

I’ve turned that corner many times. But it’s critical to mention that the mirror does not lie, objects are in fact closer than appear. It’s true. Not that it matter because I didn’t look at the mirror I was looking ahead at the bank.

So, as I turned passed the giant busy intersection, two blocks away from the high school, and five blocks away from the junior high I didn’t think anything of it. Bank on the corner. I’ll stop by there. But just as I passed that dip in the driveway, I felt a big push at the front of the car and I heard it …

Boom! Creeeeeeeeeeck. Crshhhhhhh!

I couldn’t turn my steering wheel. I was blocking the entire driveway going in and coming out of the bank and I had barely cleared the intersection, still around the corner, on a narrow road where no one could get passed me if on-coming traffic was flowing. I had essentially created a one-lane road.

It was epic.

I had no idea what happened.

I tried to start the car again and turn the wheel.

Nope.

I turned on my emergency lights and got out to see what happened.

The curb. That’s what happened. I had managed to miss the driveway entrance to the bank and turned too early as the curb rejected my attempt with extreme prejudice. It had pushed the tire so hard that it wedged itself into the frame/bumper area and got stuck. After the light turned from red to green, I had a lot of hostile drivers honking their horn at me, yelling at me to move the car, shaking their fists, or holding up their hands in exasperated sighs. I had to keep telling them to go around, I had a flat tire. About 80% of people sucked. They were awful, just added to my stress level on an already hot sweaty day. Was about 94 degrees, no one could really see my emergency lights as the sun was very bright and angled onto the back lights, and there was no air-conditioning.

Forget the bank, I needed to get this car towed and out of here before people show up. School lets out soon and if you’ve ever, ever in your life been to an after-school pickup, it’s worse than leaving a stadium, a complete nightmare, and its’ even worse if your car breaks down and causes even more after-school traffic. People are not very forgiving.

I called AAA towing and they said they’d be there in 45 minutes. I was like, I am near a school, do you know what that means?! DO YOU KNOW?! I need to be out of here STAT, before people start throwing rocks at me. I was scrambling to get someone to pick up my daughter who was now getting out in 20 minutes and there was no way I’d be there in time for her or my son.

So, I called their dad.

It is extremely difficult to calmly speak to someone on the phone, when someone else is honking and yelling at you to move. Their dad knew where the schools were, but had no idea when they got out, where they got out, what part of the school they were exiting, where to meet them and at what time they were dismissed. And while someone behind me in a SUV a lady is busy screaming at me. I am giving their dad a detailed description of what time he should leave (like now), where he should park, and what gate he should be standing in front of, all the while AAA Towing is calling me back.

My anxiety level was pretty high. The stress of being there and anticipating it will be worse because AAA towing had not shown up yet raised the anxiety levels to a new height.

The wrong tow truck came and so I had to wait another 15 minutes so the flat bed could arrive. Their dad is calling me because he can’t find the correct gate or our daughter. He’s yelling and frustrated. Drivers are yelling at me. I’m yelling. And my mom tried to call me on the other line as all this was happening.

I full on think I earned at least 10 gray hairs at that moment.

When the flat bed finally got there, at high school dismissal time, the towing guy was able to painfully hoist the van onto it. I suggested that perhaps he try to find a different solution because the more he pulled the car up, the more the wheel turned in the wrong direction. It was hot. He was dripping of sweat and struggling to figure this out. I thought the tire was going to fall off. I heard a lot of metal grinding and pops.

I informed their dad of what was going on. He said he would be able to help me, just have it towed to his place, where he had all his tools, and he would help fix the tire situation. He lives 30 minutes away from me. Worse when there’s traffic. So, he would pick up the kids, drop them off at my place and then drive to his place and meet the tow truck guy. He’d help the guy unload it. It’s a big job.

Now as it turns out the towing guy wanted to get a head start. He thought he knew what he was doing, in fact he might have, as the car was already off the flatbed when my kids’ dad showed up at his house. Tow truck guy was just moving the flatbed back in position. As he finished lowering the flatbed, he hopped along to the driver’s side of the truck. My kid’s dad asked him how come he was hopping was he all right, had he twisted his ankle?

Tow truck guy said the car had fallen on his foot as he was trying to unload it. It slipped or rolled or something. He took his shoe and sock off. It was bloody, swollen, and reddish blue.

When they told me the story I felt awwwwwwful. I asked if he had offered to help. He had but the tow truck driver said no, he was fine, he’d go to the doctor’s office. Said he would be fine. It didn’t look fine. But tow truck driver wasn’t too worried about it at the time, just as long as it was better next week, to which my kids’ dad replied, what’s going on next week? Tow truck guy said he was getting married.

Dude.

Duuuuuuuuude.

Worst. Day. Ever.

Curbs are dangerous. Be careful out there …

Buen Camino, my friends

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Cars — Gary Numan

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Fast Car — Tracy Chapman

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Life is a Highway — Rascal Flatts

Baby You Can Drive My Car — The Beatles

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La Carcacha — Selena

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Feel Good 5 Friday … On a Saturday … The Decade

15 Jan

The last time I got a trophy or ribbon, or some kind of recognition was that standing ovation at festival for my play a few years back. I remember the feeling of accomplishment and feel-good vibes of standing up on stage and being recognized as they introduced the writers. I enjoyed the feeling of my work connecting with people.

Prior to that I think it was an athlete award back in my Aquanet and Levis Jeans days.

Somewhere in between then and now, I’ve tried to celebrate little victories here and there, because you get no trophy or ribbon now, not during parenthood/adulthood. Not unless you’re at the Olympics. So, when I get a chance to high-five myself, I do. I make it a point to celebrate.

Normally I recognize these moments first. I keep an eye out. But this time around my buddy Clay over at Making the Days Count congratulated me before I even patted myself on the back.

Congrats on starting a new decade … he said.

Holy Cheeseballs.

A decade.

The Lion King and Cats lasted more than ten years.

Sesame Street, Happy Days, The Jeffersons, and Law and Order, 10 years easy.

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. Ten years plus!

Coach K with the Blue Devils. Pat Summit over with the Lady Vols in Tennessee. Ten classy years most definitely and then some.

Clayton Kershaw and The Dodgers. Ten years most definitely.

The Guat, The Wish Factor, and Word Press. Ten years.

491,403 words.

That’s something. That’s definitely something and I’m grateful for the reminder.

I joined the ranks of ten and I have yet to celebrate. It hasn’t fully sat with me yet. It’s sinking in, though. 1,154 posts. All those stories. It took me a minute there; I had to sit and take a knee and digest the 10 years. All the experiences and stories, they add up to a multitude of pieces making up my existence. A small peek into the window, to see what’s behind the curtain.

It started off as a personal project, get my writer mind flowing, fine-tune my voice and get that Random House publishing book deal in the works 🙂 It started off as a personal goal to put some of my stories out there. Just click “publish” and see what happens. Then it turned into a collection of pieces that could be read by my kids when I’m no longer around. A treasure chest of anecdotes giving them an insight on how their mom used to be, what adventures we took, memories of their grandpa and great uncle. Pieces of our lives they could look back on when they don’t have pictures or photo albums to look at.

And it was during all these stories that I found support from the community of creators. I was able to give a voice to stories from my childhood, remembered life in the people I had lost, connected and laughed with stories others had written, escaped through beautiful photography, and learned lessons from others and their lives. There haven’t been many people that stuck around this long, but I appreciate the few who got on the ride with me and experienced the ups and downs of adulting, parenthood, 70’s and 80’s music, coaching, and a writer’s life. THANK YOU. Thanks for the kind words, support, and encouragement. Thanks to the regulars who pulled up a stool and sat down. The Wish Factor decade gets a high-five. A high-five and some dark chocolate.

That’s totally about to happen.

So, cartwheels and high-fives to me. I got the feel-good songs to celebrate 10 years of learning, curiosity, and growth. Hoping the stories, music, and photographs that come next continue to be Schlemiel Schlimazel Hasenpfeffer Incorporated good-time-noodle-salad-sunshine-and-Katrina-and-The-Waves moments, worthy of a Kodak capture.

Buen Camino …

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The Oogum Boogum Song — Brenton Wood

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Life’s Been Good — Joe Walsh Live From Daryl’s House

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America — Los Tigres del Norte

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And She Was — Talking Heads

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The Joker — Steve Miller Band

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Feel Good 5 Friday for a New Year on a Saturday …

1 Jan

In fuzzy pajamas waking up to the Rose Parade, followed by a run and blueberry pancakes.

I’m off to a good start … after a rocky ending. I mean with an old friend passing away and then Betty White, the year definitely did not end on a high note.

But the new day started with a new vibe.

And I was feeling the good vibrations of a New Year and the whispers of my inner ‘Yes You Can’ to gain strength from the bumpy roads of last year. Filled with gratitude to be out and walking on sunshine set the tone this morning for a positive outlook and an excelsior kind of feeling.

That morning song that sets you in the right direction, with its beats, and ability to travel through time and help you remember how to get your groove back, or just add that extra sauce to your strut, yeah … that helped today. That was the key. Just rode that vibe to another sporty adventure.

Pickleball.

I know, right? I had not heard of this pickleball, but apparently it is big and taking over tennis courts here and there. The sport is getting close to Gatorade levels.

Totally mixed-tape worthy.

We try something new every first day of the year … something outdoors if it’s possible and after a week-and-a-half of rain the sun was like time out. You’re up.

And so we ventured outside to the pickleball courts in the neighborhood with our borrowed racquets and took a shot.

This is totally our game.

And my son and I found it by chance. We happened to drop off my daughter at a soccer camp right before the storm hit us last week and hung out for a bit at the park. We discovered a full-on league of AARP posse engaged in this thing called pickleball. We stood there staring long enough that the team captain came over and asked if we had ever played and if we were interested he could show us the basics.

Between ping pong and tennis … we found that’s our sweeeeet spot.

They let us borrow some racquets to take home and hit balls against the wall and practice some basics. Today, however, the kids were like let’s hit the courts. We went to a nearby court and learned that keeping it in play proved to be more fun than smashing it down the line. So much so that when we got back from the courts, we ordered our own racquets and they played in the driveway.

Day One was good and that was a good start. Thinking of resolutions and words of the year and promises to help improve life, that’s still in progress. Forward is still my direction. Day One was filled with cool jams, fun times, smiles, me-time, and breathing moments. Deep breathing in the pockets of sunshine.

Buen Camino …

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I’m Coming Out — Diana Ross

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El Año Viejo — Tony Camargo

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Hot Stuff — Donna Summer

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Taking It To The Streets — The Doobie Brothers

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Here I Go Again — Whitesnake

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Words on Wednesday …

29 Dec

Thinking of La Vecindad just last week when Chente passed away, and then I find out that someone from La Vecindad had only a few days left to live and it hit me again.

All the memories flooding in from my childhood with Doña Maria, her caring and easy-going nature, and some of best pozole I ever tasted.

She lost her battle to cancer a few days ago and I felt that saddened pained heaviness in my heart. She’d met me when I was in diapers, and knew me through my first communion, TrapperKeeper and PeeChee folder days all the way until high school graduation. I’d seen her almost everyday. She’d been part of all the carne asada and Vencindad parties. She’d been there my entire childhood watching me grow and now she was gone.

In peace, I hope. No longer suffering the hurt that comes with cancer.

I was lucky enough to see her a few days before she had passed and I mentioned my favorite story …

Being a latch-key kid growing up, it was super important not to forget or lose your your key. I happened to forget it on one occasion and I had no other choice but to sit on the steps and wait. Cold and cloudy. I waited for someone to come home.

Doña Maria’s husband, Don Chuco, coming home saw me sitting there, like a stray dog and invited me to come upstairs and wait until my parents came home. We walked in and the first thing I noticed was the smell of something savory coming out of the kitchen and the giant painting of The Last Supper hanging near their dining room.

Doña Maria came out and smiled.

Ven mija.

Mija.

That’s what she called me. It felt warm and fuzzy.

Sit down, sit down, what were you doing outside waiting, you know you could have come up here and waited inside. Come sit down, we’re gonna eat some soup. I was part of their family. In La Vecindad we were all family.

She served me a bowl of warm soup and I joined them at the table. As we began eating they both grabbed tortillas from the basket, but I just kept eating my soup. Then they grabbed another, but I just kept slurping away.

They looked at each other and smiled.

Don Maria asked if everything was all right and I said it was fine, tasted good. Don Chuco shook his head and in his big deep booming voice said …

Oyes que no sabes que con tortilla se llena la gente …”

Roughly translated it meant … Don’t you know that tortillas help you fill up? Eat up.

They laughed. I smiled. I took a tortilla from the basket.

She let me watch cartoons the rest of the afternoon, by the window, so I could see when my parents came home.

When I told my dad later that night about the Last Supper Painting, the soup, and the tortillas, he chuckled. Said we should probably buy more tortillas then …

Doña Maria smiled at the story as she sat up on the bed wincing in pain.

Ay mija.

She smiled.

I smiled.

She passed away five days later and I felt sad. Still do. Hard to picture strong, kind, salt-of-the-Earth people that I knew, that were part of my life, part of La Vecindad no longer being here.

🙂

I send her light, love, sunshine, and waves.

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Buen Camino …

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