Tag Archives: remembering dad

Feel Good 5 Friday … Playlist for The Climb

30 Apr

Something sets you off or picks you up and then there it is … the mood.

The mood for the week born. You wake up with positive vibes and one more chance, and you start the week right, thinking good vibrations and happy salutations. You’re thinking sunshine and waves.

And sometimes during the week the lightness of being lasts, other times the tornado of unexpected chaos and obstacles present themselves. Everyone has their moments.

This is why my mixed tapes, my Feel Good 5 Friday’s make sense. They record the vibe of the week with song, verse, rhythm and flow. I try to send the feeling out into the universe to whisper into the wind and land on someone who needs to time travel to a moment that makes their heart feel good.

This week is a bit different. The intention is different. My Dad.

This week was meant to carry on, to push, to motivate, to know I can make it, because there’s purpose.

11 years since his passing.

After two years of grieving his loss, I found a yearly cause to help continue honoring his life. This will be the ninth year that I lace up my Saucony’s and climb 1,393 steps in the Fight for Air Climb. It usually takes place in the second tallest building in the city, but it’s gone virtual this year because of the virus. And it makes sense, no need packing the indoor stairwells with hundreds of people huffing and puffing their way to the roof. So I’ve mapped out an alternate route of hidden staircases throughout the city that will take me over the top. But scaling the equivalent of 63+ stories is rough. My calves hate me afterward and the scent of BenGay travels with me days following the race.

But it’s worth it, my dad’s always been worth it. The Remote Control Master and MacGyver fixing extraordinaire. The guy who taught me how to change a tire and drive stick shift, to know what the Thomas Guide was for and how to use it. The guy that used to fill my college fridge and freezer with pounds and pounds of chicken because he was a butcher and he could. Plus he also thought Cup-O-Noodles was not a cool addition to my diet. So, chicken … individually wrapped packages meant he was still helping his youngest even when she was far away. The dad that called me and left messages on my answering machine just to say hi, at least three times a week.

Yup. My pops. These little snapshots of his life make him worth it. He’s worth 63 stories and then some.

What makes the climb a bit easier?

Knowing I’m scaling the heights in honor of my dad keeps me going when my muscles feel like stopping. There’s an extra gallon in the tank, the reserve, that fuels me. He’s definitely my driving force.

But music helps set the pace, the mood. A good playlist makes me feel like I can beat Rocky to the top of those stairs. You get the one song that pumps you up before conquering that mountain, the pre-game mindset hype and then the one you play as soon as you take the first step, get you started right. Then the one that needs to be played at full volume mid-race because you need that extra lightning. That jolt. And then the one where you can see the finish line and you’re on fumes, you might be cramping, you might be exhausted, but the beat drops, you hear those drums and your legs just pick up the pace and you remember that extra gear that was dormant, that Seven Nation Army brings it out.

Feel Good Race Playlist … Definitely needed. But today I only give you 5.

And so this week the playlist was not inspired by multiple events or thoughts of the week, just by one event happening this weekend. So if you’re ever in need of some pump-it-up jams to help you reach the finish line, hope a partial look at my mixed tape playlist helps to get your feet moving a bit faster.

Buen Camino, my friends!

House of Pain — Jump Around

J Belvin — Mi Gente

Avicii — Levels

Pitbull — Back in Time


The White Stripes — Seven Nation Army





All Because I Dropped The Whipped Cream

25 Nov

It was the sweet, white, cloud of goodness you’d expect to melt in your mouth along with the pumpkin pie. The homemade tastiness of whipped cream, the kind that Julia Child and the whole Food Network crew would be proud to see.

And I thought it would be safe in the fridge.

I thought.

But as I opened the refrigerator door the large silver mixing bowl came tumbling down and plopping my fluffly delight all over the kitchen floor. It was like a slow motion car accident in a Michael Bay movie and all you heard was a distorted noooooooooooo coming from my mouth as I tried to prevent this kitchen catastrophe. But my reaction time was not fast enough. I couldn’t save it. It was 4:50 p.m. I’d have to go back to the supermarket and try to find some glucose infested spray can of Reddi Whip dairy topping.

And so in this defeated state, I prepared myself for the worst crowd ever. As I drove I turned on some tunes to try and find the bright side of this voyage and I caught a commercial that made me think of the most important dude on Thanksgiving.

My dad.

There I was crabby and irritated that there would be no whipped cream left on Earth and that the family would look at me with those I-can’t-believe-you-dropped-the-whipped-cream-on-the-floor-you-ruined-dessert-on-Thanksgiving look.

My dad on the other hand would have laughed about it, patted me on the shoulder, and then given me a ride. Just like that.


My Dad 🙂

That would have been his attitude.

So it was fitting that on my way to rescue dessert I heard a commercial about the free-range turkeys my dad used to sell for Thanksgiving. Hundreds and hundreds of them stored in the large Rocky Balboa type fridge, and me freezing my butt off taking inventory and helping my dad. 10-12 pounds. 12-14 pounds. 14-16 pounds. 16-18 pounds. 18-20 pounds. All the way up to 34 pounds. Those boxes were heavy. I hated those boxes. Those boxes were my high school, college, and post graduate school life. I inventoried each and every one. I hated those inventory cards. Every year, those cards would come out and I would dread it.

And now that my dad passed away, the cards are gone, and so are the boxes. They are no longer a part of my Thanksgiving. We would have to buy the bird. Diestel of course. But everything else was gone. They usually don’t make commercials, I had never heard commercials for these birds, like ever … until Thursday.

And so I pulled over to the side of the road and listened as the universe sent me an extra hello from my dad. It was the smallest of the smallest things, but it brought him back to me again.

It was just a commercial … I know, but it was a commercial I needed to hear on Thanksgiving Day … a commercial I needed to hear as I was on my way to pick up some not-so-fresh whipped cream … a commercial that made me smile when I really needed it.

This is not to say that I wasn’t thinking about him, I always do, especially on Thanksgiving. It’s his holiday. But this was something extra. Something that might not have happened if the whipped cream disaster hadn’t taken place, and so that was something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving weekend.

Whipped Cream disasters, radio commercials, a supermarket parking spot at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day and a can of Reddi Whip.

Buen Camino my friends!




You Still Make The Cake …

30 Jan

I woke up knowing he’d be the first thing on my mind.

Brown eyes, black and silver wavy hair, usually covered by a hat. The very same blue Dodgers hat I wore all day today. Go Blue.

Tired and exhausted from the night before, the night of thinking of tomorrows and tomorrow already here, as evidenced by the sun peeking through the blinds. Staring at the ceiling, knowing that the closest I’d ever get to him today was just a memory or two. Pictures, left over voicemails, hats hanging on hooks, shirts folded in the closet, and half a bottle of Jovan Musk  in the cabinet. They were all waiting for me this morning, like every morning.

But today was different.

Today was his 69th birthday and the cologne smelled a little different. I think it was losing its strength, but I could still smell that aftershave scent. It still lingers in the air, reminding me of how I wished I had more memories.

It’s always a tough day, knowing someone isn’t going to blow out the candles anymore. But you still make the cake, you make it anyway. Today I made it with my daughter, who’s named after him. Listening to jazz as we measured and stirred the flour and sugar, dancing to his favorite tunes in our aprons as the smell of chocolate filled our small kitchen, I smiled. I thought he’d be watching and smiling as we twirled around to his favorite trumpet and piano tunes.

Jazz was on all day today. Running through the park this morning. At the stoplight. In the kitchen. And as I write this piece. His calming happy music surrounded me as I remembered him driving his silver Toyota Tacoma, with the station tuned into KJAZZ and him strumming his fingers on the steering wheel.

Yup. It was on all day. Reminding me, giving  this purpose, making the baking experience a little better.

And for some reason, during the taste-testing process perhaps, we didn’t have enough frosting to cover the entire cake this year, and that was O.K. It wasn’t a disaster. We made a head pastry chef decision and thought layers upon layers of frosting would be just fine. Like a chic bakery.

He’d probably get a kick out of it, and we’d make our own story about it. In fact we probably already did. I’ll probably think back , when all my hair has that silvery fox color, and remember how we baked the chocolaty chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chopped almonds, how we danced in the kitchen thinking about my Dad turning 69 and how he’d enjoy a piece of cake, or two, along with a cup of coffee.

We took our picnic and visited him. I told stories as my daughter had one piece and my son two. Large cups of milk, and one cup of coffee for pops. Sitting there talking about life and wishing he was there to blow out the candles and make one more wish.

My Dad … the Dreamer, the Adventure Seeker, my HBO-Watching-Buddy, the Owner of Over 70 Baseball Caps, the Jazz-Listening-Beep-Bopper, Pay-It-Forward-Patron, Awesome-Date-to-Opening-Plays at the local theater, Spirit of My Spirit, Heart of my Heart, Laugher of My Jokes, and friend … turned 69 today. I wish him well, send him light, love, and laughter.

And I miss him.



My Dad … talking about dreams … me trying to listen.




It Was Definitely On … Definitely Exhausting … But Definitely Guatacular

15 Apr

I needed a minute.

I actually needed a minute, when it was over. And that’s never really happened.

You know the minute right after your Rocky Balboa moment when you raise your hands in the air victoriously, right after step 1,393, right after your picture gets taken, right after the you-can-do-it adrenaline wears off and the volunteer guy hands you a bottle of water that you so desperately require and it feels so heavy, reminding you that your superpowers to climb stairs in claustrophobic spaces was only temporary.

Yeah … I needed a minute.

1,393 steps.

I needed a couple, actually.

And the reason why?

The 58th floor … followed by the 59th.

They seemed so close to 60, which seemed even closer to 63, and that seemed to fuel the fire. I began pushing even though my gas tank was clearly on empty and my calves were burning up. They were on fire and suffering from I’m-getting-close-to-40 syndrome, but all I could see was the finish line.

Then I hit the deadly 61st floor, and I thought I was about to pass out and just crawl my way up the stairs, because at that point you’re thinking there’s no shame in crawling really.

But no … I decided to do it the badass way … the Gatorade-Commerical worthy way. I raised the volume on the iPod, and I thought of my Dad and said you can do it!

The deadly 61st floor ignited something in me, something that should have just stayed dormant that late in the race, something that would eventually take out the ice packs from the freezer and empty out the BenGay jar later that evening. The I’m-almost-done-I’m-almost-there feeling bubbled inside, the-I’m-doing-this-for-my-Dad feeling kicked in, and then it was on.

There was no stopping me or my weary broken-down knees.

It was on.

The 73-year-old IronMan Champion looking dude, whose name I later found out to be Aaron Asher, was pushing his way up the stairs and gaining on me like some kind of Terminator.

I thought Holy Crap … it’s definitely on.

I pushed my way to the top and raised my arms to the sky …

And then I took my minute, several of them. Something that hadn’t happened in previous races. But something quite necessary and I didn’t want to be the only one to pass out on the rooftop, so I slowly drank my water and appreciated the view of Downtown L.A.

I thought … even Superman needed a minute.

I clocked in at 16:54.

63 stories in less than 17 minutes to honor my father, the man who thought I’d be somebody, the man who supported me and my dreams, the man who was a good grandfather, the man who had untold adventures, the man who struggled with depression but still managed to fight his way through and find the lightness in being, the man who enjoyed laughing, the man who was my friend, the man who was my family, the man who had a big heart and who passed away too early.

I made my way toward the helicopter landing pad, thinking of this man, thinking of my dad, and I did my best Hulk Hogan-Randy-Macho-Man-Savage victory pose. I had stormed the Fight For Air Climb and it was a Guatacular moment.

Exhausting, but Guatacular.

Special thanks to Peter, Erdmann, Gisela, Estela, Alissa, Karina, and Sandra for their generous support.

My Dad

My Dad



My Gatorade-Commercial-Worthy Moment … 63 Stories

7 Apr

I saw the orange lightning bolt.

I saw my legs climbing up the steps. The beads of sweat forming in slow motion. I heard the sound of my heart pounding. And I saw it … the orange lightning bolt.

Is it in you?



It was a Gatorade-commercial-worthy moment.

That was me …



I belong in that Gatorade commercial.

My calves demand it.

They ran, they stomped, they climbed, they pumped, and then literally danced their way to the top with the power of Los Tucanes de Tijuana’s La Chona and Vintage Trouble’s Strike Your Light. The rooftop crowd was impressed with my Zapateado, Quebradita and James Brown dance moves and the fact that I still had enough energy and strength in my legs to pull those off as I reached the finish line.

My lungs felt a surge of air, I saw sunlight. I raised my hands up like Rocky Balboa. I had made it.

But it wasn’t easy.

It was the same building. The same amount  of steps. The same claustrophobic staircases. The same heavy air restricting the oxygen levels being sent to my muscles. The same insanity. I knew what was coming. My mind knew it. My knees knew it. My quads knew it. The four-dollar coupon for Advil from the CVS knew it. My calves did not. Apparently they didn’t get the memo. I thought I was prepared, but my calves flipped me the bird by the thirty-second floor and I couldn’t believe it. In truth they were pissed off by the fifth floor. I felt them weakening and cramping up just as the air circulation ended.

I heard them saying … Pinche Guat!

But I didn’t understand it, I stretched out.

Apparently air is important when exercising. It oxygenates my muscles. However by the fifth floor there was no gentle breeze or ventilation from the open door at the starting line. Thus the hostility of my calves.

I was on lock down with close to 1,000 other climbers making their way to the rooftop and no Febreeze in sight. Granted we were in waves, but the lack of cellular respiration was the same … apparently I was choking my calves and they were responding by cursing me out.

But I hung in there. I had that orange lightning bolt in my sights. I had a cause, and I had my Dad.  With friends and family I helped raise over $500, contributing to the $195,000 raised collectively by all the climbers. I was part of something bigger, trying to make someone’s life better and that felt good.

So even though my calves were ready to strangle me from all that I was putting them through … It was on. The Fight For Air Climb was on.

63 stories.

Close 1,400 steps.

My Dad … He’s worth it.


The challenge waiting for me...

The challenge waiting for me… I thought I got this.


But upon closer inspection ... Dude. Duuuuuuuuuuuuude

But upon closer inspection … Dude. Duuuuuuuuuuuuude!


Once I arrived I made my way to registration to get the magic number.

Once I arrived I made my way to registration to get the magic number and my shirt.


Although there were some people with pretty awesome shirts and badass mentalities. This chic just finished a marathon at the crack of dawn and was reading to take on the 63-story challenge.

Although there were some people with pretty awesome shirts and badass mentalities. This chic just finished a marathon at the crack of dawn and was ready to take on the 63-story challenge.


However carrying 60 pounds of extra weight on your back seemed more badass.

But some climbers were carrying 60 pounds of extra weight on their back … that seemed more badass.


... However I thought I was wearing a better shirt.

… However I thought my outfit was better.


This shirt got my emotional juices up and ready to go.

This shirt was pretty badass. It got my emotional juices up and ready to go.


After I warmed up I passed up all the memory markers on the way to the starting line.

After I warmed up I passed up all the memory markers on the way to the starting line.


But once I got there I needed to wait for the big guys to go first.


Waiting for the 3-2-1 Go ... but looking down you would think after a whole year I would have bought new sneakers. But it was all good ... I made it to the top.

Waiting for the 3-2-1 Go … but looking down you would think after a whole year I would have bought new sneakers. But it was all good … These sneakers have experience and a little wear and tear, just like their owner. They’ve got character and they got me to the top.


After 63 stories, an awesome playlist, and angry calves I made it. The view was Guatacular. :)

Climbing 63 stories with an awesome playlist, and angry calves, earns you a Guatacular view 🙂


After having my Rocky Balboa moment I waited for one of the perks of the post-climb festivities.

After celebrating my Rocky Balboa moment I waited for one of the perks of the post-climb festivities.


After the muscle relaxation and thorough oxygenation of my muscles, I checked out the results ... 63 stories, 1,400 steps. I clocked in at 17 minutes and 47 seconds. Faster than last year. :)

Once the muscle relaxation and thorough oxygenation of my muscles was complete, I checked out the results … 63 stories, 1,400 steps. I clocked in at 17 minutes and 47 seconds. Faster than last year. 🙂 I high-fived myself and called  Gatorade Inc … I’m ready to film my commercial.







Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

20 Aug





When I think of carefree I remember my dad … the master of random acts of kindness and carefree spirit celebrating his Guatemalan summer.


Superheroes To The Rescue

16 Jul

The emotional highs and lows of this weekend was more than any chocolate could handle. It took superhero strength to get me through Saturday and Sunday … the Batman and Wonder Woman kind.





Celebrating my kids birthday party one day and then remembering the anniversary of my father’s death the next definitely took me for roller coaster ride of monstrous proportions. Thinking about my dad and knowing how much he would have loved our Superhero Bowling Party made it difficult for it to be a cartwheel-worthy experience.

Seeing my dad laugh and give my son a high five on his spectacular spare would have been great. Having him teach my daughter how to roll the ball down the lane and hit that one awesome pin that would eventually wobble and fall would have been even better.


My dad with my son ... thinking about future Grandpa stuff.

My dad with my son … thinking about future Grandpa stuff.


Not seeing him on lanes 11 and 12 celebrating my little Guats birthday party was a little difficult to handle, but seeing my son and daughter dressed up in their Justice League attire creating their own high-five moments made it a little easier. I don’t know how it’s possible to be happy and sad at the same time, but I was … emotions were all over the place, which was why I took a three-day weekend away from writing.

Luckily my two superheroes created moments that I wanted to witness and be present for, stuff like tiny bowling shoes, rolling their first strike, bustin’ out their best Justice-League-Defend-The-Universe pose, blowing out the candles on their awesome superhero cake, playing arcade games and being able to hit the 100+ ticket jackpot in the Slam-A-Winner Game that sent everyone in high-five mode. That was the stuff that helped me get through the day … well that and the craziness of a freeway closure due to an overturned semi-truck that made many people late to the party.

In addition the chaos of preschoolers, their parents, food party platters, and the bowling alley staff kept me busy enough to keep my emotions from spilling over in public. Although I don’t think that would have happened, I had more of a private chocolate-induced coma at the cemetery the day after the party. Those kind of emotions tend to put a damper on the Happy-Birthday-To-You moment as well as the unwrapping of the presents, so I kept them reserved for the next day. This was my weekend of roller coasters, so glad I had Wonder Woman and Batman riding along with me.


A little souvenir to get the party started ...

A little souvenir to get the party started …


Waiting ... waiting ... waiting for people to get passed the Sigalert on the highway and make it to the party.

Waiting … waiting … waiting for people to get passed the Sigalert on the highway and make it to the party.


My little Wonder Woman waiting for her turn to knock down some pins ... she bowled an 85 that day :)

My little Wonder Woman waiting for her turn to knock down some pins … she bowled an 85 that day 🙂


Getting reading to put the candles on the birthday cake ... so hoping I wouldn't drop it when I took it out of the box.

Getting ready to put the candles on the birthday cake … so hoping I wouldn’t drop it when I took it out of the box.


The Jackpot

The Jackpot


My daughter helping her older brother cash in his tickets

My daughter helping her older brother cash in his tickets


While opening his presents I made sure he opened all the cards. As a knock-knock enthusiast I was glad that my card cracked him up.

While opening his presents I made sure he opened all the cards. As a knock-knock joke enthusiast I was glad that my card cracked him up.





Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

29 Jan

My dad hanging out with one of his grandsons.

My dad hanging out with one of his grandsons.


Love, the grandpa kind, happens all day everyday.

During loud moments of laughter with Fisher Price toys.

During the chaos of snack time with Gerber green bean puree everywhere.

During the funky-smelling time of diaper changes.

During the crying times when babies are tired and cranky.

And during the quiet moments of the night.

Love, the grandpa kind, happens all day, everyday.


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.