Archive | July, 2012

Yes … Sometimes Common Sense Gene Skips a Generation.

31 Jul

When living in a house with family there are usually three types of people. The tell them what to do kind, the insinuate what to do kind, and then the kind that just do it on their own. No conversation or post-it note reminder required. Unfortunately I happen to live with the first two.

If you have family you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s simple. It really is and your frustration mounts because you expect people to have common sense. I mean they’re related to you by blood or marriage. The common sense gene is there, but perhaps you realize you’re unique.

Case in point.

The trash can. Once it gets full you should really throw it out. Common sense, right? I mean even in Spanish it’s common sense. No need to play a game of Tetris and try to challenge the scales of gravity with Gatorade bottles or the dangerous empty jar of pickles teetering on the verge of disaster. At this point you would think somebody other than yourself would throw out the trash, because you just finish washing the dishes and are currently folding three loads of laundry. Does this happen?

Image via alltrashcans.com

No.

Instead you see the chancla smash. Somebody finishes that last of the Ritz Crackers and instead of pulling the bag out and making a trip to the garbage bin, they squash that cardboard box down and test the elasticity boundaries of that Costco kitchen trash bag.

Then comes the paper towels. They place them ever so gently on top so as not to create a landslide of garbage, but with every open and close of the refrigerator door, they fall onto the floor.

You see the can overflowing. They see the can overflowing, but the trash and food scraps keep getting piled on. The lid doesn’t even close anymore. It’s at a forty-five degree angle.

You begin to wonder what’s the breaking point. I mean do you really have to make a suggestion? Yeah … you do. Hey don’t you think that trash is getting full? They pull up on the red drawstrings and hoist the bag out.

But what about the other member of your household, do you think he learns from this experience? It happens every week. They see what you see. Do you honestly have to say … hey can you throw out the trash? Yeah you do.

And just when you’re happy with the fact that the trash has been thrown out, you walk over to the trash can, baby in one arm, paper plate in another, and sippy cup being gripped by your teeth. You step on the foot pedal that raises the trashcan lid and you dump out the remaining food scraps and juice box.

But you don’t hear that familiar swish as they hit a plastic trash bag. You hear a thud. A pinche thud.

Damn it!

No replacement bag. The Costco-sized box is sitting on a shelf above the trash can, holding at least 100 bags in its roll

You hang your head and exhale.

Yes … sometimes the common sense gene skips a generation.

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Percentage Whores

30 Jul

People who create 20% of the results will begin believing they deserve 80% of the rewards. — Pat Riley

Amen brother.

English: From the left: Shaquille O'Neal, Pat ...

English: From the left: Shaquille O’Neal, Pat Riley and Micky Arison at the White House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is something that I constantly come across. At one point this statistic had me going to anger management because it proved to be true so many times and in every facet of my life back then. It didn’t help that I was a substitute teacher either. I wasn’t flying off the handle and attacking clerks in public. But I did have anger permeating throughout my body so much that I thought it was best to deal with it before I had a heart attack and imploded.

These people exist. Percentage whores.

Many of them exist in office spaces, family dynamics, social settings, and school environments. I’ve encountered them in every space, but nothing more so than the school environment as a student and a teacher.

As a substitute teacher I got a lot of information that I wasn’t supposed to receive. Most people write you off, because they think they’re never going to see you again. You’re a sub and they don’t. But in my case, with all these special assignments thrown my way I quickly learned who these percentage whores were, some of them even up in the ranks of Vice Principal. You know … walkie-talkie people.

These are some of the biggest percentage whores, walking around the campus all with their secret 10-4 and copy that codes.

But what do you do when you encounter a percentage whore? A teacher or an administrator that walks around claiming 80 percent when you know they’re at the 20 percent mark, what do you do with that information?

Do you confront them?

No. Most of the time if they don’t interfere with you or your business, you let them be. But once they cross you or make you pick up the slack for their so-called  impressive work ethic you bust out some Soprano-like tactics and make sure they know you and that you really know them. It’s the only way to release your anger in a constructive format.

As a substitute teacher for middle school you get a conference period, an hour to relax and take a breather. Gather your thoughts and maybe wish you’d brought some chocolate with you. However sometimes you get pulled from this haven to cover a class. In the district where I worked, full-time teachers got paid to do this, subs did not.

Now I wouldn’t mind taking a random hit every now and then, but when I found out this one was deliberate, I sort of lost it. Confrontation ensued.

I left a note. I stated what a disaster the experience of covering this class had been.

Teacher X,

For someone who constantly screamed professionalism and appeared to be the “poster child” for it you suck at it. You’re not the success you claim to be, you’re a mirage and you suck at your job. Your students are a reflection of the kind of teacher you are and it’s no wonder that school’s are fudging their stats. People like you exist. They have to hide you. Don’t ever call me to cover your class. There was nothing great about it. There were no textbooks, no notebooks, no worksheets, no lesson plans. Just your coffee mug on a messy desk. If it weren’t for my creative mind, there probably would not have been class. Do not convince the office that my time is not as valuable as yours. I know you were not at a parent conference. The parent did not show. If you needed another hour break in addition to your conference period, you should have just stayed home. Please don’t manipulate the office into having me cover for you again. Don’t call me to cover your class at all

The next morning I ran into the teacher. The teacher was making announcements on the loud speaker at school, full of school spirit, and posing with their best percentage whore personality.

The teacher, who was with two other co-workers approached me.

“Are you the teacher that covered my class yesterday? Did you leave that note?”

“Yeah. I did. And I meant it. You should be embarrassed. Don’t call me again.”

Stunned.

I walked out.

The Power Struggle Eased By the DVR

29 Jul

It measures eight inches long and two inches wide, and it creates a power struggle.

The power struggle.

Yes, every relationship goes through this. And some couples may not admit it, but at one point or another it existed. Yes it has.

The almighty remote control. It has the power to instigate the eye-roll, the smacking of the lips, the deep exhale, the shaking of the head, and the disbelief that your partner, dude, wife, baby-daddy, girlfriend, or love interest can watch something so stupid.

Television remote control

Television remote control (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The remote control, is like the ring in the Lord of The Rings and you’re all aiming to be Frodo. You don’t want to be Sam — the sidekick — on this one. You want to be the main hobbit. You want that power … that power to change the channel and dictate the entertainment for the evening. You really don’t want to get stuck watching some crappy show, knowing full well that an awesome hour-long program is on another channel. So it becomes a race for the remote control. And this race usually takes place after the kids are put to bed.

After bath time, brushing teeth time, diaper time, pajama time, and reading books time, it’s finally sleeping time. And you do your best to put them to sleep. You sass them, bribe them, hug them, love them, and threaten to take Lightening McQueen away from them in order to get them to fall asleep faster. All these efforts in order to get to the remote control first, in order to have an upper hand in the remote control battle.

Now if you have the exact same taste in television programs, the power struggle may be nonexistent for you. But this is rare. Other times the struggle does not exist because one partner has completely given up all remote control rights and the pursuit of television happiness. They just sit there … absorbing electricity.

This did not happen in The Guat household tonight. Tonight we had the remote control battle. The struggle.

There it was … the Olympics … An extraordinary event that takes place every four years where we send our best athletes to compete against the world. An exciting, exhilarating competitive event that involves a gold medal and has you at the edge of your couch yelling c’mon! This is what I wanted to watch. I wanted to be that chic on the edge, yelling C’MON!

Then we had something called Animation Domination of the Fox Network. Something that happens every week. Cartoons. We’re talking about cartoons. Not even new cartoons. Reruns. And not even the entire lineup of Animation Domination. Just partial. The Simpson. American Dad and Family Guy. Have you seen this? I’m not a big fan, especially when I could be watching the Olympics.

And as I came downstairs from putting both kids to sleep. There it was — the remote control — sitting on the couch, up for grabs. But his hands happened to get a hold of it first. And then there it was … the exasperated sigh, the eye roll, the I can’t believe he chose to watch this crap.

So after about five minutes. I restated my it-happens-once-every-four-years argument. He restated his position. It’s Animation Domination. I shook my head and just grabbed the remote control. I vetoed the selection, and said we’re recording this. This is a house of sports damn it. We’re watching the Olympics.

Thank God for the DVR otherwise we’d have to file for divorce.

Finding Side Effects, Then Finding Inspiration to Give Them The Finger

28 Jul

Inspiration. Yeah I was looking for it the other day and I found it.

These Don- Draper-Mad-Men type of Olympic commercials featuring promising gold medal athletes did it for me. You need inspiration when you hit the big 3-7 birthday. Because you are no longer at the mid-thirties mark. You’re in the late-thirties category … as in I’m in my late-thirties.

If you’re at the place, where you expected to be in life, there can be no side effects to this late thirties category. But if you’re not, there may be some side effects that constantly have you roaming the Dale-CarnegieTony-Robbins aisle at the book store.

Side Effects?

You find an old driver’s license in your wallet, a post college but pre-marriage license and the driver’s license picture with the hideous blue background looks better than you do now. You look at yourself in the mirror, and wonder what the hell?

You find a pair of Lucky jeans that you bought at Costco in the pre-baby era and now … one year post-baby in which you ran a Warrior Dash and TinMan Triathlon race you still can’t fit into those jeans. Costco Jeans! Pinche 37-year-old metabolism.

You realize that you’re now in need of something called Midol or Pamprin, and B12.

You need naps during the day, but can’t get them because you have two kids with a lot energy, so you purchase something called concealer to hide the under-eye circles that can’t seem to be concealed with anything other than sun glasses.

At 37 you’re supposed to be in your corner office, the one with a window, and an assistant or an intern helping you out. You’re supposed to have a business card. I do not have a business card. I do not have an office. I do not even have a cubicle.

But when I was at the book store I noticed something and realized it’s all good.  I may be 37, but I still have passion. I can still be a celebrated achiever. Not celebrated by the world, but celebrated by me — the Pamprin-Midol-B12 taker, non-jeans wearer, who buys concealer and doesn’t have a business card … yet.

 

Image via Quotable Cards

 

 

Morgan Freeman Gives You That I-Think-I-Can-Vibe

27 Jul

I got the fever in me … the Olympic fever. I’ve been pretty jazzed up about the next 17 days and it wasn’t so much the Opening Ceremonies that kicked it off for me. Although David Beckham’s appearance was pretty sweet.  But no … it was Morgan Freeman.

Dude.

Do you know Morgan Freeman? Mr. Shawshank Redemption himself. Yeah. He’s the voice of the VISA Olympic commercials. He is badass.

If I had a video of my life made, I’d want him to narrate it. Something about his voice. He’s got that Shawshank Redemption voice. He moves me. He makes me want to go pole-vaulting, long-jumping, high jumping, marathon running, and long distance swimming. I know I can’t do any of these things with my 37-year-old ass but theses commercials make me think I can.

Morgan Freeman gives me the I-think-I-can vibe. He should be my inner voice for all other dreaming, bucket-list, life endeavors. I’d probably accomplish more.

It Was Worth The 40-Minute Wait But I Bet Mick Jagger Would Have Gotten in With No Trouble

26 Jul

I felt like that dude in Moby Dick, never catching the big one. Until today. Today it happened. Must have been because I turned 37 today. The Big 3-7. Holy Crap.

Normally I would take stock of my life and have a period of malaise concerning how far away I am from my goals. But not today. Today started off with a surprise phone call from a great friend that slapped some happiness on me.

The Guat’s Birthday

I met him in Mr. Berger’s 7th grade history class and we’ve been buds ever since. He usually calls me from his residence in the Midwest, but for some reason he was hanging out in Mexico. When you’re in another country I don’t expect you to call me and wish me a happy birthday, but he did and it was an awesome fuse of energy to start my morning. He is my compadre … my brother from another mother, my life long friend, my one phone call if I’m ever incarcerated. He gave boost to my 37th birthday.

The morning brought out the nerd in me. I started off at the book store, just hanging out with all these all novels and nonfiction works. The giddy nerd spent about an hour there. But I didn’t buy any works of literature for myself. The last time we were there my son was in dire need of the Lightning McQueen Cool Cars book that included a racing map and 12 miniature cars. So that was the first step on my birthday quest.

Step two? I was supposed enjoy an afternoon swim while someone watched the kids but that did not work out. Swimming underwater makes me feel at peace, my body cruising through the ripples of water make me feel good. And I sure needed some good today.

I was burned out by the fact that my plans did not turn out that way, until I met Viviana. Oh Viviana my savior. My half-hour savior. Viviana was from South America. She put warm oil on my back, followed by hot stones. I had no idea of the power of hot rocks, but my back was thanking me. It’s still blowing me kisses. Oh Viviana I will visit you again. She works at something called The Burke Williams Spa. Now The Guat is not a spa kind of person, I’m not the pampering kind, nor the kind that just walks around naked and has conversations with the other 25 naked ladies hanging out in the steam room or jacuzzi. I’m a little uncomfortable with people’s boobs just hanging out in front of me while I’m talking. So opted not to make new friends after my massage, and I hung out in the sauna by myself. It was some good quiet time. Boob-free time.

You would think meeting Viviana in step two was the best part of my day, but it wasn’t. It was step three. Step three: Casa Bianca … my Moby Dick. I had been to this Italian restaurant at least six times and never once got in. The bastard reason: The line was too long. Always too long, one or two-hour waits. No reservations taken. I was too hungry to wait, so I’d always have to settle for something else, usually eat a burger instead.

But today … today it only took forty minutes. I told them it was my birthday, but it didn’t seem to speed up the waiting process. But I bet my fellow birthday compadre Mick Jagger would have gotten in with no trouble. I bet any celebrities whose pictures were hanging on the wall would have gotten in without the 40-minute wait.

But The Guat is not famous … The Guat is not Mick Jagger so I waited. And let me tell you, it was worth the wait. I got to sit down. And not at a table either… at a booth. A booth! I was booth-worthy on my 37th birthday. I felt victorious. It was my woo-hoo! moment of the day. We sat there admiring the comfy-cozy atmosphere and getting lost in random conversations surrounding us.

And the food …well … I sat there admiring it for a minute too. It was the best pizza I’ve had since I left the San Francisco area fifteen years ago. It was the best everything I’ve had in a while. The butter was even good.

It was definitely worth the forty-minute wait. Definitely.

Good birthday, Guat. Good birthday.

Coach Got You Betty La Fea

25 Jul

It’s always best to go with your gut, even if someone calls you Betty La Fea.

Now as I mentioned before I’m not a lipstick type of chick, I’m a Chapstick type of woman. And even though I looked nothing like Betty La Fea, I’ll own it. I wear dark-rimmed glasses and I have bangs, but my blow dryer works really well and I use TRESemme, so I can assure we’re not twins.

But do you know Betty?

Betty La Fea

ABC created Ugly Betty, a show with America Ferrera that you may be familiar with, based on the original. The mighty Univision copied the soap opera using different actresses. No shame. But the original came via Columbia on the TeleMundo network. And in truth it was actually a really funny, refreshing telenovela that centered on a not-so-attrative woman in the conventional sense, and her quest to be successful and find love.

I admit … I watched some of it. Being at my parents house back then you were bound to witness the drama of telenovelas. So I knew Betty, I was familiar with her.

So what happened exactly?

There I was in a junior-high school classroom full of sassy, pimple-faced kids. Being strict as usual, because when you’re a substitute teacher in this type of environment you have to break out the don’t-mess-with-me-and-the-do-your-work-right-now attitude.

And yeah as with this species of pre-teenager they test you. They push the boundaries. They pass notes, they sleep in class, the talk on their cell phones, they don’t do their work, they use profanity, they go to the bathroom for half an hour, and they leave prophylactics on your door knob.

So I read notes aloud and post them on the board behind me. I drop heavy books so they make a loud thud and startle students who are sleeping. I confiscate cell phones and send them to the dean’s office. The profanity and disrespect gets a phone call home and sometimes a call to a parent’s place of business if no one can be reached, as well as a Dean’s Office visit. The MIA bathroom breakers just stay after school to finish the work they miss. And before getting suspended, the owner of the condom cleans the door and the doorknob.

All of this before lunch. And what did I have for lunch? Chocolate. There’s always an experience in middle school that calls for chocolate.

So after lunch, while I was midway through one of the classes, I begin my monitoring walk — kind of like the cop walking his beat on the street, making sure everything is running smoothly and no one steps out of line. Normally on the outside, I’m a smiley person. But as a substitute teacher zigzagging through the class you must have that serious look.

Now I don’t know if it was my serious look, or my Old Navy attire, but apparently this kid thought I was Spanish impaired. I mean my last name doesn’t really reveal any kind of ethnicity, in fact it probably confuses most people who come in contact with me. I often introduce myself and they do a double-take, because they’re not sure what to make of me. The face does not match the name. If I like the person I go into a long family tree story and explain the origins of my last name. If I didn’t like the person, I just went with whatever ethnicity box they checked.

So as I’m passing little Jose’s row, I hear:

“Here comes Betty La Fea, put that away.”

I stop at his desk, confiscate his note, raise my eyebrow, and continue walking.

Betty La Fea … this made me rethink my choice for dark-rimmed glasses when I made my optometrist appointment the following week. But as I tried them on and looked in the mirror I told my friend the story and she laughed.

Maybe you want to try the Ralph Lauren or Elizabeth Arden?

Ralph Lauren? Elizabeth Arden?

Dude I’m a Coach chick.

Coach got you Betty La Fea.

Coach got me free drinks at happy hour.

Let’s go with Coach then … but what about your bangs?

Dude.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

24 Jul

Inside the Red Zone

Inside.

All you want is to make sure they get inside The Red Zone.

Inside those 20 yards right in front of the end zone.

I mean who messes up inside the Red Zone?

Inside those 20 yards means you’re closer to high-fiving your friend sitting next to you and the stranger sitting in front of you because your team will score.

Inside the Red Zone means you’ll no longer be behind by seven.

Inside the Red Zone means the obnoxious jackass from the other team sitting behind you will shut-up.

Inside the Red Zone calls for another beer.

Inside the Red Zone means the band plays your song.

Inside the Red Zone means the quarterback is not a complete moron.

They’re inside the huddle.

You pray that the quarterback doesn’t pass.

Break.

They run it.

He’s at the fifty, the forty, the thirty, the twenty… he’s down.

They’re inside the Red Zone.

High fives as expected. Beer as expected. Jackass quiet as expected.

The next play the quarterback fumbles.

He’s a moron as expected.

Inside the Red Zone.

 

 

 

Life Smacked Me, But It’s O.K. … I’m Pacing Myself

23 Jul

“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” —  Carlos Castaneda

 

My light bulb moment right there. The weird thing was I saw the quote while exiting a parking lot. There I was stuck in the heat waiting my turn to leave the bank and I saw the sign. Sometimes it’s the most random places where a life lesson smacks you in the face.

I wasn’t even prepared for it, but there it was, and I was happy for the reminder. Sometimes with all the drama going on, you wonder when you’re going to get a good day. But then you get this wisdom thrown at you and it alters your perspective. Even in a bank parking lot.

It keeps you in check … The universe  is conspiring to teach you something, so I was trying to listen.

Being emotionally drained takes a lot of recovery on your part and a lot of chocolate. So why not change all that recovery process and spin it into positive effort — proactive energy — that makes your life stronger and better.

Image via Colourbox.com

Being miserable sucks. Depression sucks. Having periods of malaise sucks. I’ve had them all. Most of the time these things are under your control, but when they’re not … that’s when it becomes difficult, frustrating and infuriating. But life, miserable or not, keeps going and so should you.

The quote reminded me of my Happiness Project and I was thankful I created one. I was thankful I was taking steps to change my Guat existence. I was thankful I came across Rubin’s book. I guess the universe was reassuring me that I was on the right path. I might not be seeing instant Mary Poppins results, but I’m pacing myself. Slow and steady …

 

Woo Hoo!! The Guat Makes 200!

22 Jul

I’ve reached it. I’ve done it. I’m there. Now 165 more to go.

To most people it really isn’t a big deal. Two hundred days is something that happens to them no matter what goes on in the world. They go to sleep, they wake up, and it’s there.  The day. Two hundred of them crossed off the calendar they got from Target. If you’re Latino you cross off your days from the panaderia calendar you got for free … you know the one with the Aztec warrior in full head-dress costume kneeling down or holding some chick in a white dress in his arms. No worries we have one too.

But I don’t need that calendar to mark off the days. I got this one. Word Press counted down.

I’m not one of those people who don’t appreciate little milestones. I’ve learned from all the crappy moments I’ve had that I need to celebrate the little things to get me those moments of happiness. I’m sure if I was Oprah or someone like that, I wouldn’t be making such a hoopla about all this, she’s got a lot more to celebrate than just 200 days. But I’m not Oprah so I’m hanging on to these little moments. And I’ve realized throughout this blogging experience that I’ve come across a select few who also appreciate a milestone of this nature.

I party like little Woodstock

Writers. Bloggers.

Food bloggers, travel bloggers, movie bloggers, music bloggers, television bloggers, sports bloggers, adventure seeking bloggers, inspirational bloggers, mom bloggers, dad bloggers … all kinds of bloggers. You most definitely appreciate 200 days of writing because you’re in the writing trenches with me.

So how is it that I celebrated such an accomplishment today. Did I call somebody? Did I tell somebody? No, this was not a main topic for conversation, apparently it’s sort of an email or text-worthy accomplishment for some people. However, I feel that all the little Guat stories I’ve shared deserve more than just a polite “Oh. That’s cool,” via text. If I get a text I’m looking for the best damn text you’ve sent. I’m looking for something more along the lines of “Holy Crap! That’s great!” But the only one who can say something like that is me and I can’t really text or call myself, so instead I’m celebrating myself.

And random people might read this and think well … that’s not such a big deal. It’s good, but not great. But before you go burning me out, have you ever done something worthwhile 200 times? 200 times in six months?

I have, so I’m giving myself a pat on the back. I’m toasting to myself. I’ve learned that if I’m not gonna do it, then who is, right? So I raise my glass of Framboise and toast to celebrating the Guat. If you have a drink, raise it up … Salud!

I celebrate that for 200 times, I’ve been smart enough to find humor in the “suckiest” of situations … Well, most of the time. I celebrate that even after a 12-hour mom shift and an extra gray hair, I still have the energy to write something genuine be it funny, embarrassing, dramatic, inspiring, or heartfelt and then press that publish button in the wee hours of the night. Every night. It’s so late that I actually have to use the word wee. I celebrate that I’ve done this 200 times. I celebrate that each of my 200 posts have been viewed by at least one person. I celebrate the like button, but I party hard when the comment section gets a visitor. I celebrate my followers, all 160+ of you. WOO-HOO! You decided that even though you’ve never met me, you think I’m amusing enough to check out on a weekly basis. I’ll drink twice to that one.

I celebrate The Guat. I celebrate The Wish Factor’s 200th post. I celebrate it with Framboise, some awesome Hawaiian chocolate, a Guat smile, and some dance moves. Some bad-ass La Chona dance moves and then an episode of Breaking Bad.