Archive | January, 2016

Finding My Dad’s Waterfalls and Keep On Cluckin’

30 Jan

Apparently my silver linings playbook was misplaced. The weight of the monster migraine shadowing me all day assisted in this temporary loss.

Plans for celebrating an unfinished life were left in the blueprint stages, as the day wasn’t fully cooperating with me. The morning and early afternoon had plans of their own, plans that involved multiple trips to the store because birthday cake ingredients were missing in the middle of sifting flour, plans of having lunch at one of his favorite restaurants were cancelled on account of life’s time table being different from my own, plans for telling stories over lunch ended up being one-sided conversations at the cemetery with cold steak sandwiches and a conga line of ants that wouldn’t leave me alone, plans for a great day of memories and storytelling ended up with migraines, mucus, coughing, and very little peace.

A heavy heart is a tough thing to shake off when you miss your dad on his birthday. He would have been 68.

Thinking the easiest of things would fall into place was my mistake this morning. Dad’s birthdays are always tough when he’s not around because you realized all the good things he’s missed, like my daughter’s sense of humor, her enjoyment of baking, the way she laughs when she’s being chased in a game of hide-and-seek, how she she loves the Pacific Ocean, or sleeping in every morning. Or my son … how he’s grown up so much since he last played soccer or put-put golf with him, how he really enjoys the Foosball table he gave him, how tight his hugs are or how big his smile can be when he sees you, and how creatively adventurous he can be with Legos and daydreams. And it makes me even sadder when I know what he’s going to keep missing,  what I’m going to keep missing. My friend.

Today was a reminder that if things can go wrong they usually do and then it happened …

The new neighbor that had moved into the complex next door a couple of months ago was having problems with his Honda. Now I don’t really talk to this neighbor, just see him walking his dogs in the morning, so when I saw him pushing his car and trying to jump start it, I thought … man my dad would totally help this dude out, and so I asked.

Do you need a jump? Is it your battery?

Um … yeah … but—

Oh I got cables and this whole battery thing the car.

He seemed surprised that someone carrying buttermilk and Crisco would have such a thing, and know the difference between the red cable and the black one. I set up the system told him to turn his car and bam … no AAA service needed.

He smiled and thanked me for saving his day.

And that small act of kindness changed the rest of the afternoon and evening. Because I had searched for the cables and battery charging station I found something I thought my mother had “donated”. I had forgotten I had rescued it during the Christmas purging season, but there it was hanging out in the back of my dad’s ginormous Toyota Tacoma truck, hiding in the safety of the SnugTop.

It reminded me of my Trapper Keeper, the one I had in the seventh grade. It was 3D light painting of waterfalls among a Hawaiian-type landscape. The kind of thing that people hang up in their offices, but my Dad never got a chance to hang it up in his, although as I remember it he wanted to hang it up in my old room, sort of set up a relax-Zen-type zone. I don’t know why he would buy such random things, but it made an impression on him, something about that piece said something, so now that something is staying with me.

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TrapperKeeper

I rediscovered its existence and was happy that I had one more piece of my dad with me, something I could hold onto today.

And then in the evening I got a text message from my sister. We talked about missing him today, and I had explained what a rough day today had been and then she sent me a couple of pictures that just made my day.

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This was funny, considering my Dad wasn’t too enthusiastic with the campaign that the “Powers That Be” required, but as always he was a good sport.

 

Keep on cluckin’  …

It was like he was listening all along.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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It Was a Tag Team Effort Tuesday & 99 Cent Store 1 … Guat 0

27 Jan

I can’t remember the last time I got my ass kicked…

I’m a Hapkido brown belt … stuff like that shouldn’t ever happened to me unless I encounter a red belt or a black belt. I shouldn’t find myself in a situation where I’m thinking “how the hell did this happen to me?!”

Yup.

There I was sitting on the curb contemplating this ass-beating and thinking … yup Tuesday is upping its game in the suck-o-meter. I mean they must have considering Monday doesn’t suck any more on account of X-Files being back and all … what does Tuesday have?

Nothing but an ass beating for Guat.

But I have to say my beloved, but now not so beloved 99-Cent Store played a huge roll in the knockout round. I think they tagged-teamed me, and all of this started because of chocolate.

I know right?

Kellogg’s decided to come out with a new product … NutriGrain Breakfast Biscuits Chocolate Chip Edition.

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Freakin’ Kryptonite.

When I saw 40 boxes of these at the 99 Cent Store I bought one box just to try them out and see if the kids would enjoy them. Sometimes nutritious people with good intentions do bad things to chocolate, so I got one box. They ended up being awesome! It was a total success, so I decided to return …

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… scene of the crime … where the beatings took place.

Two days later I found myself battling for a parking spot in the overcrowded 99 Cent Store. I couldn’t find any spots, so I decided to park on the street and use the meter. The nickels, dimes and one quarter in my ash tray bought me 24 minutes. Score. I set the timer and walked in with 20 bucks ready to clean out what they had, I found one box left. One.

I searched all the aisles but couldn’t find anything and seeing how my time was going to expire soon I thought I’d pay for my one box plus bath essentials and go home. One checker and a long line. So I waited. As I walked out the door and headed to my car, I checked my timer I was at 25:13. I looked up … there was a $68 dollar parking ticket waiting for me and the meter maid driving off.

Burn.

A couple of hours later after rebounding from that smack in the face, I saw another 99 Cent Store on the way to pick up my kid from school, I thought well maybe they’ll have some NutriGrain Breakfast Biscuits Chocolate Edition. So I stopped by, parking in the lot this time. I found a space way in the back far from any freakin’ parking meter.

After an exhaustive search I found nothing and decided to be grateful for the one box I had found at the other store. Got in my car, backed out of my space, put the car in drive and just as I was about to turn left …

Some chick, Mary Joe apparently because we had to introduce ourselves, decided to back out of her parking space without even looking in the mirror, or over her shoulder, and backed into my passenger side.

Burn.

It wasn’t of T-Bone accident proportions, minor stuff but it still sucked. That whole let’s change insurance cards-it doesn’t look that bad-you should have been more careful-can I see your driver’s license-I don’t think we should get the insurance involved it’ll just raise our rates-conversation sucked.

So after this one-two punch combination that the 99 Cent Store laid on me, I battled the PTA moms for parking at the school and picked up my kids. I drove home feeling sick to my stomach.

Literally.

I had to pull over and throw up on someone’s curb and in the midst of this health crisis my son asks …

What are doing out there?

I just need a minute I’m not feeling good.

Why don’t you get some medicine from the 99 Cent Store, it’s just a couple blocks from the house.

Dude …

Tuesday & 99 Cent Store 1 … Guat 0.

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No One Ever Told Me …

23 Jan

I completely forgot about it.

Failure is not something you want to remember really, unless it ends up on an SNL skit  and you’re cracking up because that has totally happened to you.

Most of the time these learning experiences are kept to myself, but sometimes this little community of ours gets a sneak peek at my epic fails and I get some virtual nods and been there, keep your head up comments that I truly appreciate. And the only other time I’ve shared some of my multiple failures was at women’s workshop/meeting-of-the-minds kind of thing.

Something I had completely forgotten about, until I was listening to a podcast this morning and they were talking about life in general and the concept of good vs. perfect …

There I was, surrounded by strong educated women looking to get inspired and just learn from each other when it happened … the tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got here question and how this group that we were all a part of made an impact or helped you out a bit.

 

One by one, college chicks and alumni began speaking about all the good points and successes in their lives, how everything was turning out great since they left campus, career and love lives falling into place, and how this group helped them connect to others, helped them feel support, and a sense of community.

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Then they got to me …

Now in the past when surrounded by such successes I tended to bring out my own resume points, but I was in my late-late thirties and wasn’t there for that. As one of the alumniest of the alumni, I guess I was there to share truths and not just the shiny parts. So I did.

I talked about how amazing it was to hear all these great things happening in their lives, but this life — my life — was not that. I was not part of the easy connect the dots, success after success after success doors opening everywhere group. I had the Eat, Pray, Love Univision-Telemundo version happening. Failure-sucky-disaster crying in the parking lot eating rocky road out of the tub failure, that was me. I knew what the bottom rung felt like. I knew the two-steps-forward-three-steps-back dance. I thought I had invented it. And the thing is, no one ever told me.

No one.

Graduating from one of the best public schools in the country and then getting a Master’s from a great private school didn’t make me immune to it. No one ever told me. She might not fail, he might not fail, things will go right for them, but for you? You’re taking a different route. The messy kind. The learning from experience kind.

No one ever told me, you know what? You’re still going to fail, fail more times than you succeed, and fail big time.

So when it happened, it was like a disaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaster.

But being that I grew up with a Rocky Balboa-Breaking Away-The Natural-Rudy-Hoosiers mentality, I got up. I always got up and I kept going, and these group of women that were with me supported me. They saw me, and not the setbacks.

I explained to the group how awesome it was that every step of the way everything had gone right for them, but if they ever encountered failure and needed to talk about it, I was their girl. I would know what that felt like and I would know how to get up.

Seeing how I was second to last person, we finished up the introductions and then took a break.

I thought I was going to go to the table get my little Dixie cup of lemonade and be on way, but apparently there were some ladies there that wanted to talk.

It might not look good when it’s happening to you, I know it doesn’t feel good, but eventually failure is gonna help you out, and maybe someone else too.

Keep your head up.

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Sandbox List Adventure 33 … The Building and Dreaming Continues

18 Jan

They’re everywhere. Ask any parent of a seven-year old kid. They’ll tell you.

First it’s Thomas The Train sets, then it’s construction Mighty Machine vehicles, Hot Wheels, monster trucks, and then the Big One.

LEGOS.

They’re a part of parenthood.

I hadn’t known much about the LEGO world until my son decided he liked them … now he loves them … and they’re everywhere.

Despite his LEGO storage set and cabinet, I still find helmets, light sabers, blasters, Batarangs, sirens, and lone pieces scattered about. I find them next to backpacks, under the table, in seat cushions, behind cabinets, and under my bare feet in the middle of the night.

But now, I’ve learned to find the awesome potential in these little plastic pieces.

So much so that we’ve made multiple trips to Legoland and continue to do so every year. But just recently I was able to add another LEGO adventure and it blew my son’s LEGO mind. He came back with a burst of imagination and even more enthusiasm to build, dream, build, and dream some more. I definitely got a high-five at the end of the day.

Sandbox List Adventure # 33 The Bricks Convention.

There have been plenty since #32, but I’ve forgotten to post about them, just like any parent, I’m always playing catch-up.

But I did manage to make it to this one. We missed it last year because I had no idea it existed, but I was made aware of it and so was my son.

So The Guats went on a field trip to discover what the imagination can do with small interlocking pieces of plastic.

Apparently a lot.

These are just the highlights …

 

 

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Adultier …

13 Jan

 

Yes … this has happened to me.

 

“The horrifying moment when you’re looking for an adult but then realize that you are an adult. So you look for an older adult, someone successfully adulting. An adultier adult.”

 

Lucky … I’m getting adultier now.

Not quite there yet, but getting there.

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Imaginary Friends Rock

11 Jan

It never fails.

I mean I know I’m not there, all glitzed out but it’s still very much a big part of my night. Although I don’t really care about all the glitz, I’m more about the substance. I’m more about all the times things didn’t work out, where failure happened, where you had to peel yourself off the floor, where they said ‘no, it’s not gonna happen,’ more times than you can count … but then you tried anyway.

That’s where it clicks for me, when there’s someone or some moment that reveals that climb.

It happened again last night when I saw Rocky himself take the stage to accept his Golden Globe.

I never met him, he has no idea I exist but I was inspired as I saw this underdog take the stage, and I guess so were his colleagues as they gave him a standing ovation. When you see someone whose worked so hard to get where they are and then get recognized for it, that just fills you with happiness for them, and hope for yourself.

He thanked those that helped get him there, but one person in particular stood out.

“… Most of all I want to thank my imaginary friend, Rocky Balboa, for being the best friend I ever had.” — Sylvester Stallone

I smiled because I knew exactly what he meant.

I had a great one growing up, was pretty awesome at playing Lite Brite with me. And now I still travel with all kinds of characters and hope to bring their stories, their A-ha! moments to life.

So after seeing Stallone, I got back to dreaming, got back to my computer and got back to typing away.

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Grateful For In 2016 …

9 Jan

 

A California night …

 

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🙂

… Under the twinkle of the stars and light of palm trees, California Dreaming.

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I’m Still Part of The Justice League, Just Need a Pat on The Back

7 Jan

Every Wednesday they meet …

They give a little umph for when you’re not really feeling it. I mean I’d like to think I’m pretty secure myself, but there are days when I-don’t-think-it’s-gonna-happen creeps in, there are days when doubt sneaks onto my 10-page start.

Out there in the unknown through comments, links, and blog hops IWSG is ready to give you that extra boost.

The Insecure Writers Support Group.

I missed the meeting. The week caught up with me and I fell asleep. Exhausted Parent Syndrome. It’s a chronic problem. But sometimes I prescribe myself some 5-hour energy and I’m back in the mix. But even though I missed the 24-hour window I’m sure my writer insecurity can still qualify to speak on the matter.

Some of you know that I finished writing my book in Decemebr of 2014 and I spent 2015 editing the crap out of it. After the multiple rewrites, and falling in and out of love with my characters I’ve come to the end. The last 27 pages of my final rewrite … That’s what I’ve got.

And so it hits me, I’m gonna have to let someone take a look at it. I’m going to have to ask a couple of buddies from my newspaper days to give it a look and tell me what they think. And the thing is I respect them as writers so much that the thought of them checking it out fills my insecurity bucket. I mean if I don’t know you the fact that you don’t like my book, or story, or play doesn’t make that killer impact. But when it’s a buddy, a close friend, a comadre that puts the funny feeling in my chest, the kind that finds me making my debut appearance at the IWSG. And I’d like to thank my buddy T.B. Markinson for letting me in on the secret meetings.

Hi … My name is The Guat, and I’m insecure … Sometimes.

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IWSG

Yup.

The feeling comes and goes, it doesn’t always stay with me. When I’m in the middle of a story, typing away in the nitty-gritty of it, I’m Superman. I’m Batman. I’m Wonder Woman. I’m the entire freakin’ Justice League rolled up in one. But I find that when I get close to finishing a project that’s when it kicks in. It’s getting ready to leave my hands, my control. And that freaks my freak.

Although I’ve got to say ever since I started this blogging journey, I’ve gotten better. This Word Press community has definitely helped empty the insecurity bucket and given me even more confidence in letting go.

But when it comes to a 200-page book, or a one-act play for my friend’s theatre group, the insecurity still trickles in, because there’s so much of me in there.

And when I hear the …. Duuuuude that was good story.

A smile creeps in, and so does relief.

But I get it, I don’t necessarily need the “duuuuuude that was a good story,” compliment because I feel good about the story, but it’s always nice to be reassured.

I’m in reassurance mode.

And that’s why I’m at IWSG.

Do you guys need ISWG?

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Bucket List in The Kitchen

4 Jan

I’m not gonna lie. The expectations were big.

I mean having tasted the best of the best while growing up I knew it was going to be a big challenge. I was going up against years and years of Dona Irma’s and Dona Maria’s expertise where measurements and timers weren’t needed. It was all done through smell and taste. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be an epic kitchen fail or a Guat success.

I didn’t have the magic of the senses, not with this dish and I was worried.

But let me tell you … I’m so glad I took on this challenge. My taste buds are still high-fiving me.

Pozole.

It’s my all-time favorite comfort food and I’ve never attempted to make it because the deliciousness contained in that ginormous soup pot seemed to be too big. With the pork shoulder and baby back ribs creating a rich broth, followed by the spicy kick of the Chile Guajillo and Chile Ancho peppers I was making Guat culinary history.

It looked right. It smelled right and as I took the first sip it definitely felt right. I closed my eyes and let the broth and hominy sit in my mouth. I just wanted to taste it, and it took me back to La Vecindad – the old neighborhood – where potlucks and block parties where the norm and where Dona Irma and Dona Maria would create huge pots of this tasty stew.

Now it might not have been of Dona Irma and Dona Maria caliber, but it sure was in the same arena. They would have been proud of me.

The fact that the one spoonful took me back, definitely means it was a success.

And it was right there and then that I realized I had done something else, something other than creating one of my childhood favorite dishes. It occurred to me that I had just checked something off my Bucket List.

 

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This was my prize.

 

That was a win-win for me. I rode that cloud nine for a couple of days. Something I thought was nearly impossible proved to be within my reach and what was even better was that the whole family was there to enjoy it as well.

If there was any doubt to the tastiness of my stew, it was soon dismissed. The pozole was gone in three days. But I still have a smile.

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Finding Our Own Adventure on Day One and Two

2 Jan

Signs from the universe are usually incognito for me, and I have to be a secret agent in order to discover a clue or what’s in store.

But not today.

When I saw this … I knew I had found my theme for 2016.

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Yup…Big Magic happening this year.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still on the quest for The Juice, finding pockets of it, keeping it, defending it, relishing in it, and maintaining it. This just added another level.

Whether I’m in the Great Outdoors, reading a book, watching a movie, writing my stories, parenting the crap out of parenthood, or hanging out with friends, I’m gonna find Big Magic, My Juice, Adventure in the year of Guat Flawsomeness, with stubbornness, humor, and gratitude. It’s gonna happen.

Now being that New Year’s Eve was the mark of endings and new beginnings I set out on a quest for all these things, not even knowing I had begun the journey. And even if New Year’s wasn’t filled millions of people, rock stars, and Times Square it was filled with an electric vibe and  adventure energy. I set a date with the most important people in my life … my kids. And we rang in the New Year with love, great food, and memories.

But it didn’t just stop there, it continued onto Day Two. And that surprised the hell out of me. Usually good vibes only last 24 hours before someone tries to take my juice away, but it was all good.

The Juice and The Adventure Seeking stayed in tact.

I was on a Buen Camino … Here’s hoping you are too.

 

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We started off with an amazing light show, with disco balls and music under the moonlight.

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Electric snowflakes in the Southern California sky.

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We watched magic storytellers illuminate the sky.

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This one was my favorite … made me feel like I had The Juice, and the adventures were unlimited.

 

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Feeling some love and strength in 2016.

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Loving the Easy Rider vibe.

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This looked like a guy who had found his adventures and loved them. I want me some patches like that.

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Star Wars was everywhere. This one was out of this world … and my son’s favorite..

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This one reminded me of my beloved Pinta … definitely missing my puppy.

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Brought out the history buff in me.

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Los Angeles sports fans definitely enjoyed this spectacular float. Swoosh!

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Then we headed home, like this Fearless Flyer, ready for another adventure.

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