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Simple Moments and Evacuating The Premises … Immediately

7 Jul

Feeling miserable isn’t one of the things I enjoy talking about, you just wake up and that ugh feeling is staring at you. You try to get your inner Wonder Woman vibe on and you feel it somewhere, you know you’ve got it, it’s just hitting the snooze button I guess.

I mean I was feeling good with that 4th of July fireworks extravaganza and ball game, where my favorite pitcher on Earth rocked it and the fireworks just wowed the kids and myself.  You were toe-tapping to R-O-C-K in the USA by Cougar-Mellencamp and just feeling the vibe with Ray Charles singing that America the Beautiful.

That whole experience made for an awesome holiday, so I couldn’t understand why I woke up flat and just feeling the blah … of the day. That bad mood voodoo took over and funkified my whole outlook. And you know it’s you, when nobody does anything and everything seems to irritate you, like the kind of irritated you get when you’re hangry. 

I had to check myself.

I needed to evacuate the premises immediately.

So I grabbed the Coppertone 1005 SPF and the swimsuits and headed for the pool. The beach was too far and the freeway would have made the irritability worse, so I needed a fast fix and the pool seemed to work it’s magic. Nothing like racing your kids on the blue and red water slides to help bring your inner Wonder Woman mojo out.

The fact that we were not sweating out the 104-degree heat at home brought a smile to my face. I sat on the edge of the pool with my legs feeling the light resistance of the cool water and I looked up. I felt the warmth of smile as I watched my kids enjoy the Willly Wonka-like splish-splash structure. And it was good. A calm feel-good vibe sat with me, and I enjoyed the simplicity of the moment. I forgot about the morning moodiness and that’s always a good thing to put in your rear view mirror. If I had that gratitude journal right there, I’d mark that moment as the highlight of the day, bottle it up for the next time.

It wasn’t anything fancy, rich, or epic. It was just old-school and simple, like the times in the old neighborhood when we’d splash around Marisolita’s giant plastic pool from K-mart. Everyone from Apartment 2 all the way to Apartment 9 would be out there swimming around for hours. And when it was time to go because our fingers and toes pruned up, we’d ask for five more minutes. Just five more. Then we’d empty out all the water on the stairs to create our own make-shift Raging Waters slide adventures.

Simple stuff, but pretty awesome when you’re in the moment. So I’m glad I caught it.

Evacuating the premises appeared to be good idea … that and cannonballs.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

The Countdown Has Begun!

27 Mar

10 Days!

The countdown is on and my Randy Macho Man Savage quads are preparing for this battle. Don’t know if my calves are ready though. But the rest of my body seems to think that I’ve got this.

In 10 days, my vitamin-D-deficient-but-glucosamine-fueled body will be sprinting, running, jogging, walking and then crawling up 63 stories,  along with hundreds of other sweaty and out of breath climbers in claustrophobic conditions to help raise money for the American Lung Association.

But why?!

Why does this insanity take place?

I’m not a morning person.

But I see his smiling face under a Dodgers hat, I hear his hearty laugh, and I smell that Jovan Musk aftershave in the hallways … and I wake up with purpose. I wake up ready to run stairs. And what kind of elevator-loving-stair-hating person does that?! What kind of person with BenGay-Advil-Ice-Pack-loving knees laces up her Saucony running shoes to storm high school bleachers or winding staircases hidden in the hills, instead of hitting the snooze button?

 

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Me … I do it … because he’s worth it.

63 stories.

Yup.

He’s worth the trip to the anti-aging aisle at CVS.

Every year I still bake the cake, even though he’s not gonna blow out the birthday candles. Every year I tell the story of why they call him Chito 7 Pantalones. Every year I replay the messages left on my answering machine just to hear his voice again. Every year I decide to make the excruciatingly difficult journey up 63 stories, painfully possible. Every year I go in believing I’m Lindsey Wagner, putting my bionic knee to the test, climbing over 1,000 steps just for him. Every year I finish knowing full well I have nothing bionic in me.

But every year I do it because I am my father’s daughter and his spirit is still with me.

It’s with me on skydiving adventurous or beach bum days, it’s there on the passenger seat when I’m hearing that feel-good song, it’s  with me when I’m chasing dreams, and when I’m trying to be a better parent. He’s there in one of his many baseball caps that I wear with a smile, he’s my TV buddy when I’m watching The Walking Dead, Peaky Blinders, or Narcos. He’s there high-fiving me when SC wins, and he’s also a member of my Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Therapy Support Group.

He’s there when I’m climbing stairs.

I got 10 days.

The countdown is on.

 

 

I’m Usually Not a Diet Person But …

6 Jun

 

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Don’t Kill Me … But Purple Rain Wasn’t My Favorite

22 Apr

I know it was probably at the top of everybody’s playlist the last couple of  days … And it’s a great song, but it wasn’t my go-to Prince song.

Let’s Go Crazy.

Yup.

That was my jam.

I mean have you heard the beginning?

Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life …

Genius.

That was the anthem to let your freak flag fly and be different, at least that’s how my 12 year old self took it to mean. Sex was no where near my radar at that time. It was just about being different and being O.K. with it. Not letting anyone bring you down or try to take your shine away. Just go crazy …

And Prince defined that … not only by being O.K. with yourself but being O.K. was necessary. This was definitely important to have in this world and even though I didn’t know him, and never met him, I was truly saddened to hear about his passing. His music and originality made an such an impact and I so appreciated his artistry and ability to touch people with his words, make them feel.

He was so different, full of creative energy and funk. If you dared to be different he was the guy who led by example and it was so awesome. I’m proud to say that I was able to experience Prince live in concert and it was my very first one.

Definitely set the bar high.

So looking back, remembering the artist, and recalling his songs, and where I was when the clock struck 12 on December 31, 1999, I think about my favorites. I think about growing up with them, and jamming to cassette tapes back in the day when I wore AquaNet Hairspray, Levis Jeans, and L.A. Gear.

So this weekend I’ll continue celebrating his life by watching Purple Rain and listening to my favorites.

Top Ten Prince Songs … in no particular order.

1999

Let’s Go Crazy

Most Beautiful Girl in the World

When Doves Cry

I Wanna Be Your Lover

Get Off

Kiss

Raspberry Beret

Glamorous Life (Written and Produced by Prince, performed by Sheila E.)

Nothing Compares to You (Written by Prince, performed by Sinead O’Connor)

 

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Buen Camino my friends …

 

 

Morgan Freeman Knew My Name

18 Apr

The smell of Ben-Gay no longer lingers in the air and my left knee is miraculously still in tact.

Wobbly and weary, but still in tact. Like the rest of me.

I felt the same heaviness in my legs. I knew the burning in my calves very well. The tightening in my chest as I tried to catch my breath was something I remembered. I was familiar with these ailments that accosted me on the 27th floor. They couldn’t even wait until I hit the half-way mark of the race. They stalked me all the way to the top of the AON Building.

Bastards.

I was sweating and working as hard as those athletes in a Gatorade commercial, but I sure didn’t feel like one of them. I felt like a 40 year-old mom climbing stairs. I tried listening harder, but couldn’t hear Morgan Freeman narrating my journey. All I heard was the heavy breathers trying to drown out my music.

But among all the breathing and stuffiness and claustrophobic drama of the Fight for Air Climb I remembered my sister’s words.

The old man will be waiting for you at the top.

I got a little choked up as I read the text before I started the race. I was nervous, and I really don’t get too nervous before races. But I did for this one. This one wasn’t for fun or for glory or for Bucket Lists. This one was for him. It meant something more.

She was right. He was watching, probably smiling.

So I had to make it.

No matter what.

I had to.

Nervous. Exhausted. Running out of air. Ready to stop. I was feeling it all. But the stubbornness and Guatemalan will power pushed and dragged my ass to the top of those 63 flights.

I heard the bass and boom, boom, boom of  Tucanes de Tijuana, Mr. World Wide Pitbull, Venga Boys, and the Charlie Daniels Band. The rhythm took over and my body responded. The Gatorade-Commerical-Worthy Athlete was busting out of me and Morgan Freeman knew my name. As I looked up I couldn’t believe it. I saw the 60th floor sign … Dude …

I ran up those last three flights, crossed the finish line, and smiled because I had made it.

16:28.

That was it.

The toughest sixteen minutes this year. But definitely worth it.

 

 

 

Negatives and Positives and Girl Scout Flashbacks

18 Mar

Good things don’t usually come out of bad experiences. I mean they may come afterward but I usually have to work at it in order for something to happen.

It just doesn’t come out on its own, I have to find the lesson.

I have to search for the funny in it. My lens changes and I’m on the lookout and eventually … it happens. I find strength, awareness, thicker skin, appreciation for myself, acceptance that failure happens and I get back up. I find something immeasurable that contributes to me as a person.

But this time … this time I found opportunity.

Like most writers certain places, people, or experiences spark inspiration and the story just comes out. You weave fact and fiction into your storytelling and at the end you’ve created something out of a negative experience. Could be a great story, could just be writing therapy, or it could be both.

I found that one of my previous writing sessions fueled by familial dysfunction turned into therapy, which turned into laughter, which turned into a short play, which turned into a writer’s opportunity.

This week I was notified that my short play had been accepted into a 10-Minute Play Festival at one of theaters downtown.

I had a total high-five moment when I read the email … for once … it wasn’t a it’s-not-you-it’s-me rejection letter. It started off with … Congratulations. So after having a quiet celebratory moment I woo-hooed myself. I was able to bring about something positive, from such an emotionally draining experience.

I celebrated the news and kept this happy moment to myself for a while before telling a few friends and while I was quietly smiling at this moment I had flashback.

I was in the fourth grade, I was a girl scout, and I had gone camping to the big girl scout wilderness camping pow-wow convention. On the last day of workshops and badge earning festivities each troop needed to have a talent to present on stage. Some groups sang, others danced. Apparently my troop decided to act.

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Does anybody have any ideas for our play? Who wants to help write it?

And there it was … the spark.

While others wanted to be on stage, in front of the crowd, I wanted to be behind the scenes. So I scribbled down notes, dialogue, and action. We practiced a little bit and then they hit the stage.

I stood next to my troop leader, Maria, hugging her in excitement and angst, squirming just thinking about how my words were gonna be out there. She smiled and hugged me back as we watched it unfold.

“It’s gonna all right,” she said.

It was the first time I saw my words live and in action. And it was all right. People laughed at the funny parts. People smiled. And some people didn’t, and that was all right too, because I was still smiling. I had done it.

And now years later I was gonna get to do it again. That has brought back the fourth-grade-girl-scout-giddy feeling and for that I am grateful. Something positive did come out of something negative.

It’s totally possible.

 

 

 

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.

Trapper

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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Just Thinking …

15 Jul

46 (2).

Sometimes it would be nice if I had just one more conversation, one more adventure, one more laugh … one more piece of cake.

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