Tag Archives: childhood memories

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

5 Feb

 

My first television ...

My first television …

 

Object of fond memories.

Object that made me smile.

Object of laughter.

Object of my childhood.

Object of my happiness.

Object.

 

El Burrito Sabanero and Christmas Song Power

20 Dec

It takes a while for it to hit me, because my dad’s not walking through the door with the Christmas tree.

But it hits me … eventually.

It hits me when I see Charlie Brown and the rest of The Peanut Gang. It hits me when I see my kids decorating cookies with green and red M&Ms. It smacks me in the face when I’m laughing my ass off at Pete Schwetty, Mary Katherine Gallagher, and Justin Timberlake‘s Junk in The Box skits on Saturday Night Live.

It helps.

It builds.

But the one thing that always kicks it up a notch is the song. The song for my Guat People.

No it’s not I Wanna Wish You a Merry Christmas a.k.a. Feliz Navidad.

Nope. That’s too commercial.

This is Old School.

It’s more powerful than Mariah Carey, Michael Buble, Kelly Clarkson, or Jennifer Nettles Christmas Specials.

This is El Burrito Sabanero.

The Donkey Song.

 

The Donkey is a powerful thing.

No one would think a donkey song could bring out the ho-ho-ho spirit, but it does. It crushes whatever Grinch-like tendencies I may have had about Christmas trying beat down my beloved Thanksgiving Holiday.

I hear it and the Christmas Spirit is jumping. I hear it and it takes me back to my five-year old self, when I had pigtails and enjoyed waking up in the morning. It takes me back to my Union Elementary Holiday Program Days and wearing red. It takes me back to hanging out with my dysfunctional family, eating tamales, and playing Loteria. It takes me back to drinking that famous Guatemalan Ponche that my mom made every year. It takes me back to opening presents in my pajamas at midnight. It takes me back to La Vecindad — the old neighborhood and its people.

It rocks my Guat world and every year, Christmas doesn’t seem to start unless I blast that tune and do my little dance. I could be in the middle of a George Costanza life episode, and when I hear that tune the frustration, the anxiety, the anger, the whatever-it-is-I’m-feeling-at-that-moment disappears.

I raise the volume. I tap my feet. I nod my head, and it’s on.

The Christmas spirit is upon me. The Donkey is pretty powerful stuff.

Do you have any Christmas song power?

Bring it!

Let it smack you in the face and enjoy the eggnog. Being at the overcrowded mall fighting for parking is so much easier when you got it.

 

 

Daily Prompt Challenge: I’d Make a Statue of That

27 Dec

Twenty-Twelve didn’t have too many moments that I’d want immortalized in stone, more like instances I’d prefer to be plopped in some quicksand. Statues seem to be a little permanent … you know like a tattoo on the face. Besides, I’m really not the statue kind of person. I’m more of a gallery of images kind of person, like a slideshow tribute they have at an award shows like the ESPYs or Oscars. I’d like to see my life in film … directed by Nora Ephron of course.

But a statue? That is a challenge. However, I’ve found it … the sculptor may need a lot of plaster …

Most of the time it’s hot, filled with long lines, hyper kids, and parents who need some sort of timeout during the long corn-fructose syrup filled day. But there are instances that are permanently embedded in your head. Moments you capture with your beat up Canon PowerShot — statue-worthy moments that once remembered make you smile, or crack up so hard that you cry.

Dune Raiders. It’s called Dune Raiders. A 30-foot blue slide that could probably be found in any amusement park, but we happen to discover it at LEGOLAND this year. Now there were many rides we ventured on that made us smile, even laugh. But this one had unstoppable giggles as my son zoomed down one of the 50-foot-long racing lanes and pass the pair of double-helix corkscrews in his worn-out potato sack. A first place finish, with me a close second — both of us laughing at the bottom, and me extending my hand out to my son in my most animated AHA!-Congratulations gesture. And him just cracking up. It felt better than chocolate.

Immortalized in stone

I know you can’t really see our faces, but it was awesome …

It was one of those moments that everyone has in a lifetime with parents, friends, boyfriends, dudes, children, or pets — the kind where you want to bottle up the feeling and shelve it because you know that you’ll probably need it next week during one of your many quicksand days that usually involves family, defeat, drama, bills or rejection letters. It’s a feeling you want captured and embraced, so that it can take you back in time to be relieved again. It’s what I want to remember, but in truth it’s what I want him to remember. It’s how I want him to remember me.

I’d make a statue of that.

But the only change would be having my one-year old daughter sitting on my lap, laughing it up with us.

Yeah … that statue would be awesome in front of a bank or something.

Immortalized in Stone Writing Challenge provided The Daily Prompt

Christmas Tree Auctions, The Denny’s Tree, and My Dad

19 Dec

They bought it from a tree lot located on the corner of a busy street, across from a Denny’s, I think. It was a nice enough looking Christmas tree, but it still wasn’t the same. It was smaller than usual and it wasn’t even cold out when they brought it. I think it was 76 degrees that day.

No coats needed. Probably shorts and a t-shirt.

Growing up, picking up a Christmas tree required flannel underwear, long socks, sweaters, jackets, beanies, mittens and Kleenex. Granted it was probably just 60 degrees, but for this Southern California Guat 60 was cold.

So there we were packed in my dad’s two-tone brown Oldsmobile station wagon making our way to the train tracks somewhere near downtown to the Christmas tree auction.

I guess when most people think of auctions they think of the hoity-toity, with their fancy clothes, bidding thousands and thousands of dollars on boats, cars, or artwork with that small white paddle. We had no paddles here. We had USC sweatshirts and flannels. We had the hand gesture or the nod.

To this day, that is the only type of holiday shopping I have ever enjoyed … ever.

Picking up the tree was an adventure. It didn’t involve parking lots. It involved train box cars filled with Douglas firs being unloaded on cold nights. It involved the smell of fresh trees, and not the smell of the Denny’s Grand Slam Breakfast specials. It didn’t involve hostile moms and dads arguing over parking spaces. It involved the excitement of bidding against another dude and his family for the perfect Christmas tree. It involved woo-hooing. It involved sitting on my dad’s shoulders just to check out the auctioneer dude. It involved browsing at trees and people watching. It involved getting hot chocolate with marshmallows from the vendor and holding it tightly in my hands so that my fingers stayed warm. It involved my dad looking at my sister and asking her, “What do you think?” It involved smiling at my dad when he finally won a bid.

Image via 123rf.com

Image via 123rf.com

It involved us freezing our butts off when we returned to the station wagon, because the heater didn’t quite kick in right away. So my mom would give us the blankets she had packed. It involved recapping the evening, jokes and all, on the drive home. It probably involved a nap as well.

The excitement of Christmas tree shopping became an unforgettable Guat family tradition that I think about every year. It became something we looked forward to every holiday season. However with the economy, and I guess other influential factors, the auction block closed down. No more Christmas tree-filled box cars, no more Dad bidding, no more hot chocolate.

This week … this week the Christmas tree was picked up in a parking lot across the street from a Denny’s. I thought about my dad as they dragged it in here in a plastic bag. Once decorated, it was a nice looking tree. Short, but plump, well-rounded. But it’s still not the same. It’s a Denny’s tree.

Weekly Image of Life: Rekindle the Joy

1 Dec
One of my first gifts ...

One of my first gifts …

 

Walking through the store during the holiday season I was mostly annoyed by all the people who hadn’t finished their Christmas shopping during the Black Friday or Cyber Monday craziness.

I thought everybody was done.

The other part of me was stressed out that I had run out of Cheerios and Goldfish Crackers and my daughter was so not interested in running errands.

And then I saw it … and something happened. I took a field trip back in time and all the annoyances of 2012 had disappeared as I was revisiting the early eighties. The Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine … there it was sitting on the shelf and I couldn’t believe it.

I smiled as I remembered cranking the lever so that the shaved ice would pop out of the front of the house.

I smiled as I remembered using the small paper cups to catch all the shaved ice.

I smiled because I remembered squeezing the plastic snowman so that the sweet artificial fructose corn syrupy tasty concoction would cover the entire cone.

I did this for about two years … even when it rained, even after I lost the red shovel, even after the snowman’s red hat disappeared, even after all the small paper cups ran out.

Awesome childhood memories.

I looked at the box for a minute and then put it in the cart.

Hoping to rekindle the joy.

 .

.

 

Weekly Image of Life Challenge Courtesy of This Man’s Journey

 

 

 

 

Daily Prompt Challenge: The 14-Year-Old Guat

4 Nov

Dear 14-year-old Guat,

“Be O.K. with having a bad hair day. The ‘bad hair’ is usually not about the hair, but about the way we look or the way we feel.”

You were smart and strong at this age. You didn’t worry so much about bad hair days. You were sort of ahead of your time and I don’t know where you got it from, but it’s awesome that you had it.

Keep listening to that little voice inside you, the one that tells you that bad hair days can be fixed with Aquanet hairspray or baseball caps. You’re absolutely right, it’s not the end of the world.

And, if you run into someone who likes you even when you’re having a bad hair day, like Rafa, definitely hang out with him. He doesn’t care that you’re a tomboy. He doesn’t care that you don’t wear make-up. He doesn’t care that you don’t wear pink. He thinks it’s cool that you like The Lakers and The Dodgers. He thinks it’s cool that you play sports. He’ll laugh at your jokes. He thinks you’re funny. He likes your sense of humor. He gets who you are and likes you as is.

Say yes when he asks to walk you to the bus stop. I know you’ll be nervous, but don’t look down, smile when he holds your hand. The butterflies mean you like him. Say yes when he asks to take you to the dance. Don’t say you’ll think about it, just say yes, right away. Time is important. You know you want to go.

Hang out with him for the next four months. You’ll be sad if you don’t. He’ll send you notes in class. He’ll eat lunch with you everyday. He’ll make you laugh. He’ll be your friend. He’ll tell his cousin Francisco to stop being such a jackass and to leave you alone during sixth period.

He’ll take you to Thrifty’s for an ice cream cone and know that you’ll pick chocolate every time, but he won’t care.

Hang out with him for the next four months, not just two. Hang out and keep talking about sports. Keep talking about your dreams when you grow up. Listen to his Fernando Valenzuela stories. Buy him some Corn Nuts. Let him hug you as many times as he wants to when he says good-bye. Smile every time he holds your hand, even on bad-hair days. It’ll be worth it.

You see, he’ll end up getting sick. Really sick. He’ll get something called Leukemia and you won’t ever see him again. It’ll be your first lesson with cancer. And it’ll suck, because you’ll miss him. So write him as many notes as you want to. He’ll keep them in his sock drawer, next to his baseball cards. They’ll probably make him smile when he’s not feeling very well. He’d like to think that you like him too, even when he’s having bad hair days because he has no hair at all.

Always be kind.

The Guat.

 

Challenge provided by Word Press Daily Prompt.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

9 Oct

Happy

 

I couldn’t believe when I saw this at the store.

The second toy I had ever owned in my three-year old existence.

It brought me back … way back.

It brought me back to the time when I was amazed at a toy that had music and moving pictures.

It brought me back to a time when I played with my Dad.

It brought me back to the time when my playing jacks rocked.

It brought me back to a time when I thought it was awesome to wake up in the morning.

It brought me back to a time when I had no worries, other than who was going to change my diaper.

It brought me back to a time when boys didn’t exist yet.

It brought me back to a time when Band-Aids cured everything.

It brought me back to a time when I didn’t pay taxes.

It brought me back to a time when I was happy.

It brought me a smile.

Happy.

 

Laundromat Warfare

20 Sep

Laundromats … they have a code of their own. I happen to rediscover that on a recent trip to wash the dog bed and other essential doggie  items.

This was the place …

I ran into the old school laundry ladies — the kind that scout out their dryers just as they’re putting the Ariel soap inside the washers. I ran into the kind of ladies that see you coming and grab hold of another cart knowing full well they won’t need one until the cycle is done, but they’re covering their bases. Bitches.  I ran into the old school laundry chick that reserves two tables to fold her clothes. I ran into the old school lady that never seems to lose a pair of socks. I ran into the old school lady that knows the manager and gets to watch telenovelas on the Zenith as she fluff and folds. I ran into the old school ladies that scoped me out as soon as I walked through the doors. They assessed me on the spot, and knew I wouldn’t get the “good” dryer.

I appeared not to be a threat.

This entire experience reminded me of the last time I did laundry in one of these places.

The last time?

I was back in high school. If you ever looked at the hours and noticed the 5:00 AM to 9:00 PM sign and wondered who the hell would ever be there at five o’clock in the morning? Me. That’s who. The entire Guat clan. My mother suffered from early-riser syndrome. We had no cure for it, so we had to suffer too. My father, sister, and I suffered more from the late-night-TV watcher syndrome. These disorders clashed on Sunday mornings.

I know what you’re thinking? Did we have washers in our building? Yes! Yes we did.

But it didn’t matter that our building had two washers and two dryers for our own convenience. It didn’t matter that you tried doing your own laundry in the building during the week and had no dirty clothes at all, you were waking up at 4:40 AM and making the trip. Regardless! Laundry was a family affair, well more like a family penance. Everyone got involved. Everyone.

Every Sunday morning, before the sun was even up, my mom would wake everybody in the house. Not in a gentle, nice “hey dears wake up.” It was more of an army drill sergeant that turns on the lights and scares the crap out of you. They’re barking orders, and you’re totally half asleep, falling out of bed, and running into doors and dressers. It was sweatpants, t-shirts, and baseball caps for everyone.

Showers?

I passed on that morning ritual. I was too exhausted to turn the knobs.

We’d drag the ginormous laundry bags and Cheer detergent to the station wagon.  My dad would drive us and we’d be one of the first families opening up those Maytag bad boys.  Once the clothes were in the washer you would think we could go back and sleep in the station wagon, right?

No, just my dad.

We had to engage in laundromat warfare. We held onto carts and tables, because some of the old school ladies trickling in would just take your detergent, fabric softener, or laundry bags out of the basket or off the tables and claim ownership.

And if one of those old school laundry ladies got the drop on us with a cart, dryer, or folding table you bet we’d hear about from our mom. You see she happen to be one of these old school laundry ladies herself and tried to school us on laundromat warfare. She thought it would be easier on us to do laundry when it was less crowded, an in and out trip early in the morning — a trip that lasted two-and-a-half hours. I don’t know what she was thinking. Nothing was easy at 5 AM on a Sunday morning. Nothing.

I was so happy when I went off to college. I could do laundry at any time. I usually chose to do it at 11 o’clock … at night.