Archive | April, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday

30 Apr

So you leave a message and they don’t call you back.

After months and months of unanswered messages you finally get the hint … you get the He’s-Just-Not-That-Into-You vibe. But it’s not your dude. It’s your long-time friend. The one that knew you when you were obsessed with Enrique Iglesias and the one who helped you get dressed on your wedding day.

You think it’s o.k. … they’re busy, they have a life outside the home. You get it. You don’t want to be a Single White Female stalker friend, so your calling frequency lessens.

Then her birthday comes up. You don’t leave her an artificial Happy Birthday message on Facebook along with 300 other friends. You don’t text her “Happy Bday”, because she deserves all the letters to be spelled out in that phrase. You don’t send an email, because she’s better than a type-written message sent in cyberspace. She’s worth real space. So you actually call  to talk to her.

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have her number programmed in your cell phone, so all you do is scroll down the list and press send. The phone does it for you. No need to hand dial.

It rings, but you get the machine. So you leave a heartfelt message.

It’s been so long since you spoke that she changed her outgoing message. It’s no longer her voice, but the standard-robotic-chick-answering machine voice.

You wait for the beep.

You leave a heartfelt message about how you know you haven’t talked in a while, but that you often think of her and miss your friendship. You hope she is doing well at work and with her family. You hope that she has a fantastic night with her new awesome fiance and you’re excited that she’s celebrating with a dude that loves and appreciates her. You’re glad that her birthday wish came early and hope that she had a blast in whatever she did that day. You hope to see her soon and wish her well at work, at school, and with her dude.

You think maybe she’ll call you back. At least she’ll send you an email letting you know that she got your message.

But after a couple of days you don’t hear from her. You think, she must be on vacation. Probably whisked away to Paris in a romantic week to celebrate her birthday. You hope she brings you some cheese.

But no … no trip to Europe. She’s been at home, probably busy with work, with her dissertation, and with her dude. 

Sigh … it’s happened. She broke up with me and I didn’t even know it.

This has happened to me before. Once my close friends get girlfriends or boyfriends I usually get dumped. No more chick-flick dates to see Nicholas Sparks‘s books that have become movies, and no more phone calls just to say hi.

So that was it … until I got the phone call.

Another friend had called me. She wanted to say hi and see how I was doing and we chatted up a bit. And then she laughed.

“Oh yeah … I also got your message the other day. But it wasn’t my birthday. My birthday is not until October. And I didn’t get engaged.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You left me a really nice happy birthday message on my answering machine, but it wasn’t my birthday.”

Dude.

Apparently I have to look more closely when scrolling down my cell phone contact list. 

So in honor of my friend I wanted to wish her a Happy Belated Birthday.  Not actually belated because I remembered and called her and left her a great message, but yes belated because I called the wrong person.

 

 

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Color Cash and Dad, Jalopy Junction and Son

29 Apr

It produces both laughter and screaming: The Kamikaze, The Sand Blaster, The Mega Wheel, The Spinning Cups, and The Water Gun Game.

Church Carnival

Every year the Catholic folk down at my church organize a big spring carnival with kiddy rides, adult rides, and games. Popcorn, cotton candy, live entertainment, food booths, alcoholic beverages, and throwing ping-pong balls into bowls of water. This is what we looked forward to every year.

It was tradition in our family to attend the festival. My parents, uncles and cousins always attended the little fair. We enjoyed the atmosphere and the family gathering.

But since my dad’s passing and the kids getting older, the family crowd has gotten smaller and smaller.  Party of four today. It got me thinking about my dad and the entire family celebrating. I remember my dad coming home, cash in his pocket and ready for us to hang out. But it wasn’t so much the carnival rides. He wasn’t big on rickety pieces of metal spinning you in circles at high speeds. His favorite part was the games.

Roll-A-Ball Game

There’s nothing like the rush of a water pistol in your hand ready to squirt the clown face in hopes that your cartoon character makes it to the top first, or the small ball in your hand during the Roll-A-Ball game where your train or horse tries to get to the finish line first every time you roll the ball.

You want to hear the DINGGGGGGG! You want to look up and see your number light up. That’s what made him smile.

Color Cash

But his favorite game happen to be Color Cash. As I walked passed it, I remembered my dad laughing in excitement as he tried to will the spinning soccer ball to land on the color he bet to win. The whole family tried to will the ball. It unleashed excitement. He would spend most of the night on this game of chance. Losing forty, maybe fifty bucks. Winning fifteen or twenty. He said it evened out in the end. He helped the church and had a good time in the process. The whole family did.

Color Cash drew out all kinds to the betting table: fathers, teachers, single moms, rocker chicks, grandmothers, biker dudes, nuns, and baseball-cap- wearing-sports enthusiasts. They would eventually high-five each other during wins. Complete strangers bonded by a soccer ball and colors. It was good to see my dad smile.

So in between the popcorn smell and barbecue aroma of the food booths, I got a little sad thinking about my dad. I wished he was there, playing Color Cash and betting five dollars on green, or red, or white, or yellow.

Jalopy Junction

Then I looked at my son.

Nothing like the Jalopy Junction, merry-go-rounds, and a squirt gun race to make your day, and your son’s.

Sometimes It’s Better When Someone Else Does It

28 Apr

So there I was … one-hundred and thirty-two hours later and a sandwich in my hand.

As a parent, the end of the week hits hard, and by dinner time on Saturday night I’m exhausted. People with two full-time jobs understand what I’m talking about. The week sucked up my patience and my awesome culinary skills. When I was single it was take-out night. Thai food. When I was in college it was Cup-O-Noodles night. But seeing how I have a three-year old Pad Prik King, Pad Thai, or Cup-O-Noodles may not be great ideas.

So it was pasta for my three-year old kid, sweet potatoes for the baby … and for me … well I had to wait until after their bed time to eat. At nine o’clock at night I didn’t much feel like cooking up a storm and leftovers, well I wasn’t feeling them. So I turned to my deli meats.

Club Sandwich @ The Sandwich Box

Club Sandwich (Photo credit: SocialMediarts.com)

I sat there on the couch eating a sandwich. I always pride myself in what ever I make. Even my sandwiches are pretty tasty. Got the turkey, mortadella, ham, havarti cheese, avocado, deli mustard, etc… But something was missing.

It looked good. It tasted good. But still something was missing … 

Someone else didn’t make it for me. 

I don’t know if it’s just me, but sandwiches always seem to taste better when someone else makes them for you. I don’t know if it’s because my dad was an awesome sandwich maker, or I enjoyed club sandwiches at delis, but something is always tastier when the sandwich is made for you.

Maybe it’s the way they spread the deli mustard, or cut the tomatoes. Maybe it’s the way they leave the french bread in the toaster oven five minutes instead of four. Maybe it’s the Vlasic pickles. Maybe it’s because it’s accompanied by those awesome deli potato chips — the Kettle Chips and not your kid’s Goldfish Crackers.

I don’t know what it is, but it happens. It’s tastier.

But I was hungry, so I had to make do with my pickle-less sandwich and Goldfish Crackers.  

 

 

Remember … You Survived Lightning

27 Apr

Just when I think things are going well, a setback occurs.

Frustration and anger consume me. But then I remembered a story I read about some tree. I know … a tree, right? But Dale Carnegie wrote it in one of his books or essays and it stuck with me. I often think about it when things don’t turn out the way I planned, which happens often if you want to know the truth.

Oak tree on the top of Ladakalnis

Oak tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The story was about some powerful oak tree, and how year after year of crazy storm weather it remained standing. Through snow storms and practically tornado-like weather, it remained steady… and unmoved. It probably didn’t live in California, it was more like a Midwest tree, I guess. They tend to have tornado-like situations.

In any case, it was tested again when it was struck by lightning. Lightning … not only was it struck by this suck-ass powerful atmospheric electrical discharge, but it probably got the crap scared out of it with the thunder that followed.  It may have lost some leaves and a couple of branches. It was left scarred, making it susceptible to environmental stress. Yeah environments can get stressed out too. But it remained strong and continued to thrive.

But one summer, something smaller than a fingernail got the best of the mighty oak. Termites. Pinche termites. One by one they infested the tree, gnawing at it, picking at it, crawling little by little deep into the trunk. Bit by bit the termite soldiers devoured the tree.

I thought, what the hell kind of crazy tree story is that?

But then Carnegie went off to say that many of us are like the tree, we survive the big blows in life, but it’s the little things that eventually get to us and destroy us. The little things that accumulate and add up and eventually consume us.

So after my little disaster, I thought about the oak tree and its story …  I didn’t want to be the dumbass that survived the lightning strike and then got eaten by termites. Remember you survived lightning! Metaphorically speaking, of course. So I fumigated myself and left the little setback in the past. No need for any more environmental stress.

 

Tarzan’s Wife and Brownies

26 Apr

 I haven’t really had good neighbors since we left “La Vecindad”.

This is the place where I grew up. The apartment building with nine units, nine families and everybody knew everybody. It was a community. Except for the people in apartment #1. That was sort of the transition apartment, where people usually lived about a year and then moved on to different places.

We had parties and everyone came out and celebrated. Some brought pozole, some rice and beans, and others blasted the cumbia music with their Sanyo Speakers. Everyone brought out their vinyl kitchen chairs and we enjoyed the festivities until the late night.

Nowadays, I can’t even ask people for salt.

In the past seven years I’ve moved four times, and nothing has been like La Vecindad family. Everyone keeps to themselves. Some people say hi to you one day and then completely ignore you the next. Others just give you the nod and then there are some who are just stuck up. 

So with my previous experiences, this current little visit from my parents’ neighbor surprised me. As you may know I am temporarily staying at my parents house and they have a couple of neighbors that fit every mold.

They have the dog-walking people who like you because you also have dog, and often strike up conversation about how well your dog looks for her age.

Then you have the older ladies, that often look out their window like they’re the captains of the Neighborhood Watch. They wake up at five o’clock in the morning and sweep their empty drive way, or pick up the one leaf that fell on the floor.

They also have the weed-smoking people who blame the smell on the rocker chick with the two cats, but it’s probably the seventy-year old couple with glaucoma.

They are all pretty neighborly, I guess.

But this neighbor … this one can borrow salt any time.  

I heard a knock at the door and didn’t really know who it was, I mean the UPS chick had already stopped by, and the Sparkletts dude didn’t come by until tomorrow. I just saw some lady with blond hair through the peep-hole.

I opened the door. It was Tarzan‘s wife. Yeah Tarzan. My parents happen to be neighbors with some dude that used to play Tarzan in some of those old movies back in the 60s. He was pretty well-known, I guess. I never knew my parents knew Tarzan.

Anyhow, his wife happen to stop by because she wanted to ask me a question.

Do you like chocolate?

Do I like chocolate! She hasn’t known me that long.

As I smiled and said of course, she showed me the large Ziploc bag that she had at her side. It was filled with bite-sized brownies — The Petite Brownie Bites from Costco.

Image via Sugarbowlbakery.com

Ohhhhhhhh.

Have you ever had these? They are awesome. They are from something called Sugar Bowl Bakery and if you like chocolate you know what I’m talking about.

She bought a Costco-sized box and said that if she didn’t give any away she might eat the whole tub herself.

What’s wrong with that, right?

I mean I’ve done it before. Just walk it off the next day.

But apparently she did not think having the entire tub of brownies in her house was a good idea, so she was wondering if I wanted the dozen that she had in the bag. She tried to encourage me by suggesting that I could give some to my son.

I didn’t need any encouragement. 

I ate the whole bag while watching Person of Interest. It’s an hour-long drama. I was done half-way through the show. I couldn’t help myself.

Tarzan’s wife rocks. She’d be fine in La Vecindad.

Advil to the Rescue

25 Apr

Migraine: Throbbing pain radiating throughout every molecule in my head. I don’t even know if I have molecules there, but if I did they’d be hurting right now.

But I forge on…

Bathtime: Two kids, two plastic boats, one mini scuba diver, three squishy whales, one squishy seahorse, one plastic dolphin, one water blaster, one washcloth, one froggy body scrubber, one bottle of Aveeno bathtime suds, and multiple episodes of splashing.

Aching pain deep down in my skull … down to my cranium and mandible. They’re failing to protect my brain at the moment.

Bedtime: One bottle of milk, two blankets, three pillows, three books, ten “it’s time to go to sleep now,” six “it’s time to relax,” fourteen “keep your eyes closed,” three “take a deep breath”,  two “if you don’t go to sleep right now, no playing with fire trucks tomorrow.”

My eyeballs … my iris, my pupils, my corneas, my lens, and my optic nerves. They are all in pain. They are not helping me see right now.

Clean up time: One pot, three pans, one blender, seven plates, four bowls, four forks, eight spoons, two knives, three spatulas, two baby bottles and all their parts. One bottle of Dawn.

Pain pulsating even to my neck and up to my hair follicles. Hair. It’s so bad my hair hurts.

Image via Advil.com

Night time: One glass of water, one couch, one television remote control that works, relaxing in the dark, and two Advil Migraine Liquid-Filled Capsules  … Priceless.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

24 Apr

The Sun

The Sun

A huge ball of hot, glowing gasses raging at 10,000 degrees Farenheit.

The Sun … awesome for long days at the beach and picnics at the park.

The Sun … sucks because it gives you sunburns, wrinkles, sun spots, and skin cancer.

The Sun … great for tailgates and football games.

The Sun … sucks as the sweat and humidity sticks to your non-cotton shirt and your ice cream melts.

The Sun … great for softball and baseball games at the park.

The Sun … sucks when it blinds you as you miss catching a fly ball in center field.

The Sun … awesome because of the invention of stylish bucket hats, sun glasses and the smell of cocoa butter from Coppertone on your skin.

The Sun … sucks when it’s 103 degrees, your makeup is melting, you’re stuck in grid-lock traffic on the 5 freeway, your air conditioning doesn’t work, and the only window that rolls down is on the passenger’s side.

The Sun.

I’m All About My New Balance

23 Apr

If you’re a regular reader you know I’m constantly promoting my New Balance — how they get me from A to B and most importantly how they helped me train and survive the Warrior Dash.

New Balance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However, I wasn’t always a New Balance chick. I used to sport Nikes. They were supposedly the first name in athletic footwear. You know the kind that has names like Air Jordan, Air Flex, Revolution, Reax Run 5, Air Monarch, Torch, Dual Fusion and etc…

They make you feel like you’re gonna come out of your house in your Super Cape, ready to be a badass in any circumstances, athletic or otherwise.

Lies … All lies.

That swoosh meant excellence and style  … until it happened. After that, Nike just sucked.

While I was substitute teaching, I realized that you really don’t need to give these kids any more ammunition than necessary. Middle school is killer. Be strict. Be firm. Be fair. And most importantly dress appropriately.  Those were the rules. That’s it. You don’t want some crazy hairdo that ignites killer comments and ridicule, or a saucy outfit that gets hormone-raging teenagers grossly checking you out.

You wear the basics.

Now despite other teachers showing up in flip-flops, shorts, and wrinkled t-shirts with coffee stains, I maintained a sensible dress code. Not a suit and tie, but professional: slacks and collared shirts. But then I realized that this particular school which called me on a regular basis had casual Fridays and then that’s when it happened.

I decided to wear sneakers. My running shoes were dirty, so I decided to wear a pair of older shoes that I knew were clean. I hadn’t worn them in a long time, but they were practically brand new — preserved in their brown and orange box with the tissue paper still in tact.

They were old school. White, with aqua blue and neon green accents. That’s right … neon green. Lightweight volleyball looking shoes with a light brown sole. I thought I was styling, color coordinating with my wardrobe.

I didn’t even last first period.

I was walking across the library floor when I felt a breeze. How could there be a breeze in the library? The crazy menopausal librarian hadn’t turned on the air-conditioner yet. But my feet felt cool.

As I turned back to get something from the front desk I noticed pieces of rubber scattered around. Then I heard the flapping. I looked down … my shoes had disintegrated. I could see every layer of tennis shoe as it flapped around. The insoles, the lining, the foam, and my sock. The aqua blue swoosh, however, was still swooshing.

These manufactured shoes are supposed to be the epitome of quality. Instead I had to walk around with duct around my shoes. They each fell apart, one faster than the other. The librarian kept wondering where all this rubber came from.

Luckily I was giving the state exam the rest of the day and could hide behind a table. My dude drove out to the school site and brought me an extra pair of working shoes. New Balance shoes.

I wrote Nike a letter — you know, one of my famous customer service letters — and I never got an answer.

I haven’t bought a pair of Nikes since then. I’m all about my New Balance.

I Still Could Have Used A Little Chocolate …

22 Apr

After having a tough day and not having any chocolate in the house, I came across some email about the Must Read Books on the Art & Science to Happiness.

Science of Happiness? What the hell is that?

When you’ve had a suck-ass day what you want is the science of a good cacao bean going to work, or the awesome sound of a cork popping off a Lambic Framboise bottle. This is the art of my temporary happiness. But I’ll take what I can get right now.

So I read on …

:)

🙂

The email featured people like the Dalai Lama, who is probably genuinely happy. I mean he looks peaceful enough. I mean he met Brad Pitt, why wouldn’t that make you happy right? I can support this dude’s words. He supports “inner peace among chaos”. That seemed to be right up my alley today. I might have to read up on his The Art of Happiness.

Then you got the dude that has the Stumbling on Happiness book. What is that? I hate it when people fall ass-backwards into something fantastic and here you are swimming up-stream like a fish with no fins. The title alone is not gonna do it for me.

Then it was The Happiness Hypothesis. I like that fact that the author uses hypothesis and happiness as his title. He’s testing out a theory. I like it. I might check out his “Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom” through old school philosophers like Plato and Buddha.

Then I ran into a book that was right up my Chapstick-type of girl mentality.

🙂

Something called the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, a sort of enlightening and pragmatic guide to happiness for someone like me — a stressed out mom and writer who feels like George Costanza at times. I have yet to read it. I bought it and it’s sitting on my stand, but by the time I get to bed I’m exhausted. But I will read it. Chapter 1 tonight, or at least part of it. I was happy to at least own one of the books on the list.

Eat, Pray, Love. Awesome I loved reading it. It wasn’t on the list but I remembered it. Elizabeth Gilbert‘s life was in shambles at the time — inner turmoil– and she came through it all right in her travels through Italy, India, and Indonesia. If your life has ever been a wreck this book is for you. I need to take it out of my book pile. If your life is peachy keen, well I don’t know.

All these books, but I needed a quick fix tonight. I couldn’t read all of them, or even one tonight. I’m a slow reader. I thought it would end up a crappy night until I re-read one of the quotes on my computer:

“The elevator to success is broken … you’re going to have to take the stairs.”

I realized that this not only applies to my career, but to my life in general as a mother, as a daughter, as a person. I don’t know who said it, but they are badass.

However, I still could have used a little chocolate.

Green Scooby-Doo Balloon To The Rescue

21 Apr

I thought I had it all. I’ve become accustomed to thinking ahead. That’s what you do when you’ve got kids, or cranky adults. You prepare.

Festival of Books

The Festival of Books. It’s a huge event with massive crowds of book loving people who also like freebies and samples from the corporate sponsors. I’ve gone just about every year for the past eight years. But now that I have a three-year old and a nine-month old. The trip becomes more like a mission to avoid any meltdown from any child.

Coppertone Water Babies UVA/UVB Sunscreen 50 SPF.

Three Cuties oranges.

Two Ziploc bags of Cheerios.

One container of Gerber Puffs.

Two juice boxes.

Three pacifiers.

Two sippy cups of water.

One bottle of milk.

One apple.

One banana.

One Clif Kid Bar Z Crispy Chocolate Chip.

Two Clif Kid Z Fruit Ropes

One peanut butter and banana sandwich.

One diaper bag filled with baby essentials.

I thought I had it all, but it was out of my control.

After a meltdown-free morning of construction, train, and dinosaur book exploring, arts and crafts doing, and music loving under a blistering heat for three hours, we encountered the balloon. We had it for five minutes. The red balloon from the Chinese Dragon stall. Then it popped. Thin layer I guess.

I saw it coming. I got the look and then the shoulders slumped. The eyes got watery, the lower lip did the I’m-about-to-cry pucker. Then his voice cracked, and I knew it was coming.

I forgot to pack an extra balloon.

The crowd at The Festival of Books.

No worries we’ll get another one. After fifteen minutes of weaving in and out through the crowds, we found the stall. Sweet. No one was in line. However no one was in line for a reason. No more balloons.

I got the look and the shoulder slump …

I saw someone with a purple Scooby-Doo balloon. We raced back through massive pedestrian traffic past the Mystery Machine and found the chick passing out the balloons. There was no red. Just Mystery Machine colors.

Scooby-Doo Balloon

“Green. Mom. Green is my favorite. Red is no good.”

So after three Cuties oranges, one banana, one apple, half a peanut butter sandwich, two juice boxes, two bags of Cheerios, one container of puffs most of which trailed behind us courtesy of the baby, one bottle of milk, one Clif Bar Z Crispy Chocolate Chip, and two Clif Kid Z Fruit Ropes, it was the green balloon to the rescue.

We lost one sippy cup and two pacifiers in the process, but the green Scooby-Doo balloon is still in tact.

The green balloon that saved us floats among the crowd.

 

Note to self: pack an extra balloon.