Archive | January, 2022

Saturday Thoughts … Traces and Happy Birthdays

29 Jan

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

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

My grandfather.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Old Man — Zac Brown Band

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

22 Jan

It started with a phone call.

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

But it happened … and someone broke their foot.

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

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

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

Boom! Creeeeeeeeeeck. Crshhhhhhh!

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

It was epic.

I had no idea what happened.

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

Nope.

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

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

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

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

So, I called their dad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dude.

Duuuuuuuuude.

Worst. Day. Ever.

Curbs are dangerous. Be careful out there …

Buen Camino, my friends

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Cars — Gary Numan

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Fast Car — Tracy Chapman

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Life is a Highway — Rascal Flatts

Baby You Can Drive My Car — The Beatles

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La Carcacha — Selena

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Feel Good 5 Friday … On a Saturday … The Decade

15 Jan

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

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

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

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

Congrats on starting a new decade … he said.

Holy Cheeseballs.

A decade.

The Lion King and Cats lasted more than ten years.

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

Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. Ten years plus!

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

Clayton Kershaw and The Dodgers. Ten years most definitely.

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

491,403 words.

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

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

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

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

That’s totally about to happen.

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

Buen Camino …

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The Oogum Boogum Song — Brenton Wood

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

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America — Los Tigres del Norte

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And She Was — Talking Heads

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The Joker — Steve Miller Band

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

1 Jan

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

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

But the new day started with a new vibe.

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

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

Pickleball.

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

Totally mixed-tape worthy.

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

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

This is totally our game.

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

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

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

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

Buen Camino …

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I’m Coming Out — Diana Ross

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El Año Viejo — Tony Camargo

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Hot Stuff — Donna Summer

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Taking It To The Streets — The Doobie Brothers

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Here I Go Again — Whitesnake

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