Archive | January, 2015

My Dad and His Hats

30 Jan

73.

He’s got 73 hats hanging in the closet.

Golf tournaments, production companies, Rose Bowl Championships, Super Bowl Championships, SC Trojans, L.A. Kings, Dodgers, and the numerous places we traveled on vacation or places my sister visited. These were some of his memories.

They sit there on hooks, just as he left them. My mom swears she’s gonna donate them to the cousins in Guatemala. I tell her it’s gonna be a battle to the death. I’ll steal them away before she does that. She asks me if I really need all those hats. Yeah I need all 73.

Even the ones that say Boar’s Head. Yeah, my Dad was a butcher. A poultry man. Yeah. I need all of them.

It’s not like I’m a hoarder or anything. But it’s really one of the very few things I have left of him. They’ve been hanging in the same spot the last four years. I borrow a few on a weekly basis, but I always put them back. He wore a hat almost everyday, except when we went out to fancy places with me. No baseball cap, maybe a fancy golfers hat if it was chilly.

He wore all of those hats at least once, I remember giving him some of those.  The ones from SC and CAL he got from me. The one that said Greatest Dad, he got on Father’s Day. Even with 73, he would have appreciated the 74th one just as much.

 

My Dad

My Dad

 

Today I took his Dodgers hat and his black windbreaker. I felt the need to wear the hat he was wearing the most, right before he passed away. Felt the need to connect to him more today. He would have turned 67 years old.

 

On hid birthday

On hid birthday

Wearing the hats makes me feel more connected to him. I think about all the other hats he would have bought as souvenirs. I think about all the vacations we would have had and the hats I would have bought him in the future. I think about how they just sit there in the closet and how he’s never gonna use them again. It makes me sad. So I pick a hat and think … yeah this would be a good one.

It still breaks my heart to know that this is it. There will be no more adding to the collection. His stories are done. I look at all the hats and try to remember the instances where he wore each one, but they’re becoming fuzzy. I hate that. But I do remember the important ones, and it hurts less.

So today I picked up his Dodger hat … the one he wore on the last game we went together. We sat in the field level. He made an effort to enjoy the game, even though he was sick. I took the ticket stub out of my wallet today and smiled.

I miss my friend.

So I thought I’d throw him a party.

I made one of his favorite meals, steak and potatoes. I baked him a chocolate cake, but not just any chocolate cake. Juliet Child’s Almond Chocolate Cake.

 

IMG_7500

I had three pieces

 

The kids got balloons. I told stories in hopes I would bring him to life for my kids. We sang happy birthday and blew out the candles.

I was trying to be happy and celebrate his life, but I broke down when I went to go visit him. No one really knows how much I miss my friend and wish he would have been there to enjoy the sunset with me. He probably would have been wearing a hat.

 

IMG_7510

Wishing he was here

 

 

This was what I listened to today …

 

 

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He Was One of The Best Storytellers I knew …

28 Jan

 

george-costanza

George Costanza

 

 

40 Before 40 … 40 Accidentally on Purpose Random Acts of Kindness … Continued

26 Jan

It’s called the thank-you wave.

You’re supposed to use it when someone is kind enough to let you merge into their lane. They’re basically giving you their future spot. A traffic sacrifice, if you will.

They don’t have to let you in.

But they do.

Then there’s the other situation. The one I was in … I was forced to merge. Minding my own business until I hit construction. The flashing orange arrows forcing me into the other lane.

Did I want to go there?

No. I didn’t. But city improvements forced my hand and I found myself turning on my blinker, which for some reason always seems to have the opposite effect around here. I’m letting people know way in advanced of my intentions, but they seem to speed up, even if they’re two cars away. People enjoy their personal space and the space they intend to inhabit with their vehicles.

So as you might have guessed cars started speeding up, behind me. However I realized that the cars in front of me had this pattern going on. Let one car in, other car drives through. Let one car in, other car drive through. Let one car in …

And so on …

But when I got to my place in the pattern, the cars sped up and created this no-pass zone. So all I could do was wait until the traffic died down.

So I waited. And so did my blinker.

I saw the line of cars in my rear view mirror and sighed.

I thought I would be there at least ten minutes. I prepared myself and changed the station, good music makes the wait go faster. Then as Tim McGraw started to sing sweet nothings into my ear this blue four-door Mazda paused.

Dude.

I looked up and smiled. He didn’t have to do it,  the line was still long, but he did.  I maneuvered my way into the lane and stopped at the red light ahead of me. I looked in the rear-view mirror and gave him the thank-you wave. But I still felt that wasn’t enough.

 

40 before 40

40 before 40

 

So I looked into my glove compartment and raided my chocolate stash. I found my tastiest piece of cacao treasure and made a mad dash for the blue Mazda. I tapped the window and asked him to roll it down. Now normally people don’t do this in my neck of the woods, we keep our doors and windows locked at all times. But I got the friendly California smile that makes you trust a person like myself.

He rolled down his window and looked concerned.

I waved the magic of chocolate before his eyes and handed it to him.

“Thanks for letting me pass through,” I said.

Then I got back into my car and drove away.

It was the first time I had seen the response to one of my kind acts. The last couple of times, nobody had seen me or knew who had bestowed a kind gesture upon them, but this time was different.

And his reaction was awesome.

I was so glad to have witnessed it. Made my 40 before 40 adventure even better. It was something little, but it made a significant enough impact to change his state. Chocolate has the effect.

I was grateful for that.

 

 

Keeping Pepto-Bismol and Alka-Seltzer in Business

23 Jan

Milk and Pepsi.

It was Laverne’s favorite drink.

I had never heard of such a thing.

It was strange, who would have thought to mix the two together. Not me, that’s for sure. But Laverne was quirky. I enjoyed watching her adventures every week on Laverne & Shirley, and cracking up. So I thought maybe I’d try it.

 

Laverne & Shirley

Laverne & Shirley

 

Dude.

Laverne has a special palette.

I hadn’t thought about that combination in such a long time until I heard someone say that they were going to eat a banana sandwich.

A mayonnaise and banana sandwich!

Dude.

I needed an Alka-Seltzer just hearing that. I didn’t even want to attempt that, the sound of it just grossed me out. I was unaware that people were out there creating such catastrophes with mayonnaise. First they mix it into this whole chocolate cake thing and now bananas. I’m at a loss for words.

As I scanned the Internet to see if this banana mayonnaise concoction existed I came across a few others that made me want to reach for the Pepto-Bismol.

1. Ketchup and tuna salad.

2. Mashed potatoes and Oreo Cookies.

3. Bananas and onion soup.

4. Macaroni and Cheese and ketchup.

5. Lamb and anchovies.

6. Fruit cake and cheese.

7. Squid and banana salad.

8. Pickles and frosting.

9. Spaghetti topped with M&Ms.

10. Cottage cheese and ketchup.

**Bonus … Beer and corn flakes.

After hearing all of these stomach churning combos, Milk and Pepsi didn’t sound that bad.

What about you?

Any weird food pairings that make you cringe?

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity

21 Jan

 

Serenity Now!

Serenity Now!

 

Always thinking of the Costanzas when I think of serenity.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of Daily Post.

 

40 Before 40 … 40 Accidentally On Purpose Random Acts of Kindness Before 40

19 Jan

I had never met him, but I saw him every Friday afternoon.

He was always alone.

I imagined it was too hard for anyone to see him.

He was only nine years old.

Heartbreaking, really.

Pablo. His name was Pablo.

I didn’t know how he had died, whether it was an accident or illness. I just knew that it must’ve been painful for his family. I hadn’t seen anyone in over three years. And the only time I had seen flowers at his side was in June, on his birthday. Other than that he seemed alone.

He was buried next to my Dad.

Being a mom I imagined it was the most painful thing in life, to bury her son. Soul crushing. Probably really difficult to come see him, which was why his grave marker was caked in dirt and deer hoof prints. The sun beating down on it didn’t seem to do it any favors either. Looked like he had been there ten years without a cleaning.

And I felt bad.

I imagine he was a free-spirited kid, just like the portrait on his marker, running away from the waves smiling. Looked like that would have been his favorite thing to do, considering they captured it in bronze.

But it wasn’t supposed to look old, weathered, and uncared for … just didn’t seem right.

 

40 before 40

40 before 40

 

I grabbed my soapy water and brush and began the process. I worked the corners, letters, and portrait, making sure the layers of dirt washed away. After rinsing and drying it, I rubbed mineral oil on it and sat down. The sun warmed my back and shone on his marker. I felt better about helping him out, even if he would never know, even his family would never know. My heart felt less heavy now.

The situation was still heartbreaking, but I felt like I did the only thing I could do. Tough thing losing a kid, beyond words really. But you can still spread a little kindness in hopes that the tiny ripples make a difference.

I said a little prayer and wished Pablo well.

Then, I sat next to my Dad and had a conversation about life.

 

 

Awesome Comes In All Sizes

17 Jan
My Saturday Shirt

My Saturday Shirt

 

 

Lowering Standards For Love … And Laughter

15 Jan

During this NightQuil-DayQuil-Theraflu-Homeopathic battle warring over by body, I’ve had random five minute breaks from the clutches of parenthood. And during these hazy, and yet lucid moments, I’ve come to the realization that there’s been an ongoing breach of my standards.

Standards that were ironclad pre-family, but now for some reason after two kids, these standards have loosened a bit and fallen into the “suggestions” category of life.

Whether I’m suffering flu-like symptoms or not certain things have come to pass in the Guat household, things that I would have never allowed in any other relationships. And being the die-hard Seinfeld fan that I am, I get all my life and relationship advice from Jerry and his gang. And during this cloudy period I realized that I’ve let these standards crumble simply because I love my kids.

I just do.

There’s no other rational response as to why I’ve accepted these socially blacklisted behaviors.

None.

Just love.

And humor.

So if you find that you’ve tolerated more than one of the following behaviors, I’m afraid to tell you that there’s no coming back.

It’s part of parenthood.

The Close Talker. This is someone that has forgotten the definition of personal space and breaks all kinds of boundaries during a regular conversation. My son constantly has conversations with me about Legos, trains, books, Star Wars, or sandwiches … centimeters away from my face.

index

Close Talker

 

The Anti-Dentite. Normally I discourage the hatred or fear of any profession, but it appears both of my kids fall under the Anti-Dentite category. They don’t like dentists. They don’t want to see dentists. They don’t want to hear what dentists have to say. And a lollipop is not a big enough bribe.

Re-Gifter. My son is constantly re-gifting toys and books to give to his sister. Once he’s done playing with something he feels the need to turn around and give her the stuff as a gift. A poorly wrapped one, but nevertheless a gift. I’m amused by this one.

 

Tim Watlet re-gifts Elaine's present

Tim Watlet re-gifts Elaine’s present

 

The Pop-In. This is the person that visits someone unannounced and without warning. I find that my kids are always popping-in on me in the bathroom. This is not cool, but no matter how many times I tell them the rules, some sort of Nickelodeon Junior emergency transpires at this time.

The Double-Dipper. This is the person that re-dips their chip into the communal bowl multiple times … the whole re-dipping then feels like they’ve put their entire mouth in the dip. My kids tend to do this, their kids. They enjoy dip. But even when I serve them a plate with their own dip, they find the larger bowl more appealing than the dollop on their plate.

 

George double-dips and gets caught

George double-dips and gets caught

The Jimmy Legs. I like having my own bed. Space where I can sink into a deep sleep. However kids find their way to the Serta mattress and their legs begin to kick and smack me, like they’re having some sort of spasm, but in reality they’re probably dreaming of playing soccer or being ninjas.

Some of these infractions combined with a bad day usually elicit a Serenity Now moment and massive amounts of chocolate, but for the most part it’s laughter. That’s what love does.

 

 

I Gave Jim a High-Five

13 Jan

There she was in her black stretchy pants, oversized sweater, tattered hair that needed a Pantene makeover and still sporting the remains of yesterday’s eyeliner and mascara.

Must’ve been a rough night.

Yup there she was behind me.

Waiting in line ...

Waiting in line …

Now supermarket protocol states that when you’re behind someone in line, you don’t cut in front of them and put your groceries down. This is universal standing in line protocol that applies to all kinds of lines. Banks. Pharmacies. Movie theaters. Theme parks. Fast food joints. Even at Starbucks.

You wait your turn.

Something you learned in kindergarten, but seeing how kids are so advanced nowadays they probably learn it in preschool.

Anyhow seeing how I’ve been feeling under the weather, and heavily influenced by Theraflu, I tend to move a little bit slower than usual.

But not that slow blonde-lady-who-cut-in-line-in-front-of-me-at-Trader-Joes.

It took me moment to realize what had just transpired. But after watching her park her cart in the on-deck circle of grocery lines, I searched my cloudy brain for the right words.

“Hey, hey, hey wait-a-minute-one-second. Dude what are you doing?”

“What?”

“What do you mean what? You can’t just be cutting in line.”

“Well you’re suppose to put your stuff on the small counter.”

“I’m supposed to be standing in line behind this guy respecting his personal space as he’s still unloading groceries. That’s where I’m supposed to be and seeing how you were behind me, you’re supposed to be over there,” I said pointing to the spot where she should have been standing.

A normal person would have remembered their whole New Year’s I’m-gonna-be-a-better-person resolution and apologize for their lapse in judgement and back on up. However she stood there with her cart on the on-deck circle.

I stood in front of her.

Here we were … In a Mexican Standoff on aisle two of Trader Joes.

And this is where Jim came along.

I don’t know if he saw this transpire, or if the universe was conspiring with me, or if he was just up next, but with his most awesome smile and wave, this Hawaiian shirt wearing dude waved me over.

“I’ll take you over here miss, on the next line. You were next.” He said.

I smiled and grabbed my stuff.

Karma had worked its magic because Jim was an awesome way to start a Monday morning. His smile, his demeanor, and his awesome little anecdote about the chocolate I was buying made me forget all about black stretchy pants chick, who was still on the on-deck spot because the dude before us was paying with a check, and he was still writing it out. Jim rang up my stuff and I was on my way.

Black stretchy pants was still waiting.

I turned around and gave Jim a high-five.

 

 

40 Before 40

10 Jan

Maybe she was doing just fine after the heartache and then she heard that song on the radio … the one that was theirs and she just couldn’t take it, and she broke down.

Maybe her brother died.

Maybe she got a call from the doctor and the results were positive.

Maybe she got fired.

Maybe it was her birthday and that someone special actually forgot.

Maybe she didn’t pass the BAR exam and it was her second attempt.

I don’t know what it was, I really don’t but there she was, in her silver 1990s Honda Civic, clutching the wheel with one hand and holding her forehead with the other. I turned because for some reason that’s what I do when I’m at a stoplight and there she was right next to me having a quiet moment of desperation among all the traffic.

Crying, really crying.

And I felt bad.

I sat there looking at her thinking what I could do to help her out, because I knew … I knew exactly how she felt, hiding behind those sunglasses. I’ve had moments like these when I’m driving and then all of a sudden it hits me, which his probably why I don’t like answering the phone while I’m on the road. I saw her and I knew that she was heartbroken and I felt bad.

I looked for my emergency stash of chocolate in the car, maybe I could just roll down my window and make some kind of gesture in hopes that she could find a moment of peace, but I had nothing in my stash. I didn’t want to roll the window down and ask ‘are you all right?’ because she obviously was not, and even if I did ask she probably would have waved me off and said she was O.K.

I felt like I had to at least ask, though. But as I rolled down my window someone honked their horn. She vroomed it out of there, I tried to follow but she turned down the street and I had no idea where she had gone.

I don’t know where she is now, but I’m hoping she’s better.

But me?

I was left feeling impotent. Wishing I could have done something nice for someone who was in so much pain, so I came up with an idea. Maybe I could help someone else.

40 before 40.

40 Accidentally On Purpose Random Acts Of Kindness Before I Turn 40.

 

40 before 40

40 before 40

 

Yeah.

Definitely.

That would be good thing.

Maybe I’ll make someone’s day less miserable. Maybe they’re having a moment and that little something nice will give them a break from the craziness of their life. Maybe it’ll be the something that’ll turn their day around. Maybe they’ll find a little peace in the small gesture that was meant to make them smile.

Don’t know, but maybe.

40 before 40. That would be a good present. Doing something for someone else.

So I did it.

I started the adventure.

I went to the first place I could think of to do something nice for someone else. I went to the drive-thru, something I rarely do, and ordered something for my kids. As I paid for my order I looked at the guy and said …

“I got theirs too,” pointing to the minivan behind me.

“You know them?” he asked.

“No. I don’t. But I got it. But can you do me a favor though? Tell them I said ‘Happy New Year.'”

I grabbed my receipt and drove away.

I know it wasn’t something big, but it was something I thought would make someone smile. Even if it wasn’t the lady that I had originally seen, I was still able to do something nice for someone.

And now I’m hoping. Just hoping I can run into her again, and hoping that she’s in a better state, and if she isn’t, hoping that this time I’ll be able to do something to help.

I’m replenishing my emergency car stash, just in case.