Monday, December 20, 2010

The New Julesvenn: A Made Up Story of Santa

Each year it was the same. There were maps, old maps, new maps all with color coded pins. Yellow pins meant 1500 - 1599. Blue pins meant 1600 - 1699. Green pins meant 1700-1799. White pins meant the next century, orange pins followed, we were in the reds now. There weren't too many of those on the maps. He followed his lineage since the day he "disappeared."

Cris was a carpenter by trade. He lived in Oslo with his wife Marta and his children Karl and Maria. In his spare time, Cris would teach his son carpentry but Karl would often ask his father to make toys. Cris would gather his woodworking tools and teach Karl how to take a piece of wood and give it a doll's face, or turn it into a wagon. Jul was fast approaching so Cris decided to make a couple of trinkets for the children to pass the time waiting for Julesvenn to come.

"Maria, make sure you help Mama keep this house spotless. Don't you want Julesvenn to leave us lucky barley stalks?" says Cris.

The children clean up and Marta takes a knife out. "I'm off of to get the pig ready. He's gotten plenty fat, he'll make a good supper."

The winter solstice was a community affair. Everyone in the village gathered in the big stone barn and each family brought their own yule log to throw into the fire. The pig was succulent and pastries were delightful. Cris adored the children, playing with the trinkets he made. They looked so happy. The night was getting bitterly cold and everyone bid farewell. As Cris and his family stepped inside their home, Maria cries, "Papa, I forgot my doll! We must go back for it."

"Now, dear it's cold and it's time for bed. Papa will collect it in the morning," says Marta.

"No, I'll get it. It's not too far. You must promise to go to bed and I'll have it for you in the morning," Cris replies.

"I will." says Maria.

Cris kisses his children and wraps his wool tight against his body and braces for the cold. As he enters the barn, he notices that the yule logs are still burning. "The embers must have started it up again," he thought. Cris finds the doll and decides to gather up some snow to snuff out the last of the flames.

As Cris walks towards the exit, the barn door slides shut.

"Who's out there? John? Good joke, come now it's freezing." Cris moves to slide the door open. It doesn't move. "John?"

The flames kick up again and a roaring fire shoots flames to the ceiling. It startles Cris and he falls backward. Looking towards the fire he hopes that the hay in the lofts above are moist enough from the cold that they won't catch fire. Looking back at the base of the flames, Cris sees a figure. As if a man is standing in the fire. The man steps out and smells of barley. He wears a long coat and his beard touches the ground. The flames turn into a faint glow and the bearded man steps closer.

"Come unto the flames or burn on the ground."

"What?" says Cris.

"Come unto the flames or burn on the ground." The man points and fire starts alongside Cris. Cris shoots up and tries to run but the line of fire chases him until he is face to face with the man. The man's eyes meet Cris's and Cris faints.

The barn burns to the ground in the night, somehow containing itself. No one knows how it burned while the snow built up around it. Karl and Maria wake up the next morning to find that their parents are not in the house. Maria walks over to the door, opens it and there in the snow is the little wooden doll. The villagers gather the children, asking for their parents.

"Papa left to the barn last night to get my doll. Here it is, he must be working in the back with Mama," says Maria.

When Cris and Marta are not found, the people rush to the barn. There, outside was Marta. Cris was no where to be found. The people carefully looked in the ash for anything but to no avail. Marta was buried in a hillside overlooking their home. Karl, who was 15 picked up his father's work and Maria tended to the house. The doll stayed on a shelf, as a reminder of her father's love.

Cris wakes up in a bright white room. Confused he walks around. The bearded man appears. "I am Julesvenn. I have collected you and you will serve. My time is drawing near and you will do the work."

"What about my family, my wife, children, I-"


"What work will you have me do? Leave barley? Turn the sun for the solstice?" Cris said, with anger rising. Scoffing, Cris says, "My work is my family."

Julesvenn grabs Cris by the neck, dragging him to a wall. Julesvenn takes his finger and draws a circle of flames and step through it. "What family do you have?"

Cris sees Marta's grave. Karl's grave, marked a few years later, then Maria's grave with fresh dirt. A young girl cries over it, almost hugging the mound.

"Where am I you evil spirit? What have you done? My children, my loves." Cris weeps.

"I have prepared you for the work. It must be done every hundred years. A man without ties, good in heart, mind and spirit must take the work of the other, so that the one who has worked a hundred years may be born again, " replies Julesvenn. "You will have your chance to come back to the earth or take your place in the upper realms. I must go, my wife she bids me home."

Julesvenn makes another fire space and walks through, Cris follows after but is taken to another home. All around him is white snow, his woodworking tools and stacks and stacks of wood. The walls are covered with maps, marked with places he's never even heard of. He slumps into a chair. The fireplace roars. The old man's wools are neatly folded on a table. Cris grabs them and contemplates throwing them into the fire but in a split second he changes his mind. He has a sudden urge to wear the wools. His hands feel hot...not like a heat like a flame but like his hands should be working. He looks over to the stacks of wood. Cris, with a tool in one hand starts to carve. His fingers are nimble and quick. Before he realizes it, he's made over 4000 figurines but his hands still feel active. He forces himself to rest. Looking at the white wools, he thinks of his pure children, so loving. His wife.....his wife......he could not remember her name or her face.

"Why did I receive this curse? Why did he have to sacrifice them? I would have gone willingly," Cris thought. "I cannot live without them."

Cris then grabs his awl and pierces his heart with all of his strength. As he lay there bleeding...he becomes weak and drifts of to eternal least he had hoped. The burning grows stronger in his hands and awakens him. The wools have dried with the help of the fire giving them a new shade of oxidized red blood. The awl is in his lap and there is no wound. Disappointed and out of tears to shed, Cris thinks to himself, "My children are still, sleeping with the angels of heaven, yet I have so much work to do. Who will receive all of my trinkets?" Cris continues to carve and shape toys until one day, his hands stopped burning. He is surrounded by toys and a door opens. The toys organize themselves and a wind comes in. It lifts Cris high above cities and he realizes it must be winter solstice again.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

So This Is Christmas....

This will be my very first Christmas away from the big extended family get togethers. For the last few years, I would go to my mother in law's house and start making tamales the week before or the week of Christmas. We would divide and conquer. Mom makes the very yummy red chile meat, we (sometimes, if allowed) made the masa, then we would all spread masa on the corn husks or hojas and Mom would fill them with meat and fold them. We would make about 12 to 15 dozen tamales. Sometimes we'd make green corn ones too.

We'd have a Christmas party where we would have a white elephant exchange and laugh at the clever gifts. Usually it's something odd, or funny but sometimes it was something that was actually useful. We'd sing karaoke or play Rock Band late into the night, laughing it up. On my family's side, we open gifts at midnight on Christmas Eve. I didn't experience opening gifts on Christmas morning until I started dating my husband. As kids, the wait for midnight took FOR-E-VER! As we got older, it got easier. Once the clock struck 12 we hugged and kissed each other then we passed out gifts. Sometimes, even after the hub-bub was over, at 1am, we'd eat. Everyone would get a second wind and we would just stay up, riding a Christmas high. The next day, Mechanic Hubby and I would show up at his Mom's house at 8am and start making breakfast with the whole family. It was potluck style and last year my sister in law brought some awesome sourdough...yum. Anyway, we would eat some breakfast, then we passed out gifts (we did secret santa and bought stocking stuffers for everyone). Then we would lounge around the house like lions putting toys together, play another round of Rock Band and eat....then eat some more!

I'm not saying that this Christmas won't be just as special..I mean my toddler will be overwhelmed and it'll be nice to see her rip paper (one of her favorite things to do) and say "Wow!" But I will miss seeing the array of smiling faces, seeing all of that love in the air and receiving all of those hugs. I read that what people really want for Christmas is your presence, not your presents...and it's true.

Merry Christmas blogosphere.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fun With Skinned Knees

This is me. I think I was about 7 or 8. My mom liked to experiment with hair cutting so my mop-top is the end result. I'm pretty sure I had some kind of scab on my knees about 80 percent of my childhood. I can't remember if I've ever had a skinned knee as an adult. I don't think I have. I remember being a rambunctious kid, running all over the playground at school and whaling a tether ball (the popcorn move by the way is cheating). I remember blister upon blister from going on the monkey bars or the giant steel rings we had at school and it was a non-issue. We'd pop the blisters, slap on a band-aid and move on. I remember being very competitive when it came to sports and when I used to be a catcher on a softball team, I had no problem having girls run into me. I remember getting a bad concussion and scraped palms, bruises but it didn't matter. I was having fun, I was playing.

Each of my sisters have a crazy injury story. Radio Momma decided to roller skate in the cul de sac where we lived. This led to two very scraped knees and a ton of iodine. You know, the brown bottle with the red liquid that's supposed to help you heal. My Dad took it out and put it on her knee. I think it might of hurt her more than the injury itself. My other sister, ASU Grad had a total freak occurrence with her head. She was 3 and Radio Momma was 4. They went upstairs to jump on the bed and when they heard someone coming to tell them to knock it off, Radio Momma jumped off, darted out the door only to realize that her little sister wasn't behind her. ASU Grad ran right into the door, splitting her head open with a good stream of blood going down her face. Both of them still have their scars.

This spunky looking kid is my daughter. She is very daring and loves the outdoors. Dirt is her friend and she laughs at barking dogs, well as long as she's holding her Mommy's hand. She has yet to scrape her knee. Sometimes I think I might be a little to protective of her. It's hard to see your kids injured but I don't want her to be afraid of everything either. We've endured busted bottom lips, squished little fingers, and falling; lots of tumbles from learning how to walk and run. What I love about experiencing this as a Mom, is that Baby Sagittarius shakes most of it off. She doesn't lay down and cry and I'm not one to rush over and coddle her when she takes a fall (only if there's blood involved is when I make an exception). I know I have more injuries to look forward to with her but if she gets them while having fun...I know they will heal quickly.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Addicted to Laughing

I like laughing. A lot. Loud, quiet, sneaky or trying-so-hard to hold it in but it bursts out instead laughing. I also like laughing until my face hurts but I can't stop smiling. I don't like laughing that leads to tooting....because you're the thing that's funny....I'm just kidding that's funny too. You have never truly experienced laughing until you have lost some control of your bowels. I think that's why I married my husband, he makes me laugh until it hurts, that's how I work out my abs. I think I'm a funny girl....(whenever those two words come together I do think of Barbra Streisand). People say, "You're so funny," even when I don't mean to be. I like to keep things light-hearted and upbeat which is ironic because I was such an angry angry......must keep dark side closed.....grrr.

Anyway, this might just be a girl thing, but about two weeks ago I stayed up really late with my sister and my cousin talking and laughing about old stories and deep dark secrets. No, I'm not sharing secrets or stories, but we were laughing hard but quietly, like when you have to bury your face in a pillow. Those were good times. Laughing so hard that you get a headache and staying up so late that parts of your body decide to shut down and you have to figure out a way to get to bed.

Here are a few things that are guaranteed to make me laugh:
- Baby Sagittarius singing, "Simply Irresistible"
- Crotchety onery old people (I love you Gramma).
- Mechanic Hubby
- Various television shows
- tickling (which I actually do not like. I don't like laughing involuntarily).

If I was in a horrible situation, I would rather laugh than cry, because crying will get you nowhere but with laughing you get free endorphins. I wish I could hi-five someone right now. Up top!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Female Anger is Quiet...

We're never "fine" when we're asked. If I say that I'm fine and I don't instantly start talking about something that went on in my day, then things are not fine. People that know me know that I'm a talkative person so if I'm quiet....dun dun dun.

Throughout my life, I let a lot of things that bother me go. I don't like to harbor bad feelings or emotions because it'll eff up my day for who knows how many days in a row. And yes to be fair, this may be written out of anger but I'm getting over it. This is helping. I think it's safe to say that no one likes to be compared or somehow compete against anyone. I would like to think of myself as slightly different from everybody else but I'm pretty sure there's a million other girls exactly like me, which is fine because I don't know them. Who else loves to eat a tortilla chip topped with mashed potatoes, beans, a slice of pickle with shredded cheddar cheese on top all in one bite? Okay, my sisters do but we all live in different states, so there. I'm pretty sure there is no one else in their respective states that like to eat that.

There's another thing that we have in common...we all like to clean when we are angry. Anger gets the job least in my house it does, maybe that's why cleaning is never a priority. All in all I'm not a very angry woman...I was an angry teen but who wasn't?

So what brought this on? Well, I won't say but I really don't like it when people tell me how to do a job that I've been doing for a while. Let's just leave it at that. It's petty, I know. Again, I was compared to someone who has a trait that I didn't like but was revealed to me that I have that same trait. Is it true that we don't get along with people most like ourselves? I told Mechanic Hubby, "Of course, you are right." Then I took out the garbage, wiped down the counters, the stove, swept the kitchen, cleared the table, threw the towels in the dryer and started writing this. The more I think about it, the more anger I feel towards myself for being angry about it in the first place. I can't do his job (no matter how much I think I can) and he definitely can't do mine.

There's no point in losing sleep over a "silly" comment. Did I ever mention that I'm an insomniac?


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gramma - The Great Pretender

Sunday, October 24th: Missed 2 calls, from the two oldest people I know: Dad (71) Gramma (80). How is that they are only 9 years apart? Gramma is my mother's mom. Plus my parents are 20 years apart....I know it's rare. My Dad leaves me a short message which is easy for me to decode the half English and half Spanish, but all around funny to Mechanic Hubby who only understands the English parts. Gramma leaves me a sweet message to give her a call back about my upcoming visit....oh Gramma, she's so sweet to be concerned.

Called Gramma back. Big mistake. My Gramma is the queen of pretend. Here's how it went:
Me: (Ring, ring).
Gramma: Hallo? (That's how it sounds).
Me: (In Spanish) Hey Gramma, I got your message but it was pretty late. How are you.
Gramma: Fine. Why didn't you call me before you buy your tickets?!
Me: Wuh?
Gramma: I have vacation for nine days and go back to work (as a nanny) when you get here. When am I supposed to see you? I leave the house at 8 or 9 and come home about 7 or 8. When am I supposed to see you huh?
Me: (First off, I'm touched that she really, really wants to see me. On the other hand I'm trying hard not to pee my pants). I get up early in the mornings and I'm sure I'll be awake when you get home...I'll have your coffee and sweet bread waiting for you. Maybe one day we can both get up extra early and go to breakfast.
Gramma: Hmm...okay. But you still should have called before to let me know.

My Gramma is 80. She works hard and only tells her family and close friends what she thinks. What about? Everything under the freaking sun. I'm going to visit and I'm afraid that she'll say what she tells everybody, "Have you gained weight?" I'm always tempted to ask her the very same question but mostly I pat my tummy and say something silly like, "It's been a good year," or "I'm so happy you noticed."

She has been working since 1938, picking the fields with her family in Southern California. She's told me a lot of sad stories about the things that happened in her life, some of which her adult daughters have never heard. Gramma is like an old treasure chest, rough around the edges but has a glow in the center. I once asked Gramma if she had ever been in a fight. This is what she told me.

"A long time ago, when your Tia (aunt) was about seven years old, she came home with a red puffy cheek. I asked her what happened and she told me that a big girl hit her. I asked her to point out which girl it was. She walked me over and pointed her out. I went up to this girl, this huge fourteen year old girl and beat the crap out of her. The cops came and I showed them what this girl did to my daughter and they let me off the hook."

My Gramma has had the love of her life cheat on her, mourned the death of her first born, 14 surgeries, crisis after crisis and still manages to get up every morning, make a cup of coffee and face the day. She says she doesn't like to think on sad things that have happened to her and doesn't like to open up about them too much either. I like to look at my Gramma as a living time capsule, no matter how mean, ornery or insulting she may be. According to her we never do anything right, won't ever come close to being as good a cook as she is or have better ideas than she does. I especially love when my Gramma will have an idea and someone tells her a better idea then she'll say, "That's what I said."

I don't mean to regurgitate old writings but this is something I wrote up last year after Christmas about my beloved Gramma on the way home. I had been thinking about her since I mentioned her in a talk I wrote for church and I had to get some things off my chest. Please forgive the half English and half Spanish parts, that's just the way Gramma talks.

Driving home or watching Mechanic Hubby drive us home gave me time to think and thinking can be dangerous for me. When I don't give myself time to think about how much I miss being at home it's better that way. If you let yourself think about our lives 20 years ago; happy family going to Disneyland and going to breakfast on Saturday mornings and now how we all live in different parts of the country - it sucks. But it has to be this way otherwise how would we learn to appreciate ourselves? I noticed that there was a stinging, a mild pain in my chest, like I have now, that started once we started saying our goodbyes last Saturday. I'm pretty sure it's not a medical thing, just a regular old slight break in my heart that will mend itself once I get my head together. Great, two broken major organs. Ha, ha.

Like you guys know I gave that talk at church and have not stopped thinking about that green tupperware bowl Gramma has. She was boiling the chicken for tamales and she took it out. I almost cried but I didn't want Gramma to think I was crazy. But there it was, that bowl. I asked Gramma, "How long have you had that bowl?" She thought about it for a minute and said, "Oooh mija, about unos 30 years. Es de tupperware." The math checks out because I don't remember my life without that bowl. It's had macaroni salad in it most of the time but when it came to masa, it's the masa bowl. I asked her if she needed help, and there I was shredding chicken with Gramma, getting our hands greasy as she re-shreds my chicken but I don't mind. I noticed our hands in the bowl working diligently and Gramma setting parts of the chicken aside; mostly skin. She said, "Who's going to do all this work when I'm gone?" I quickly said, "I don't know but I want this bowl." She looked at me and smiled. I called dibs on that green bowl without a pause. Mom comes into the kitchen and it was for her that Gramma was saving the chicken skin for. As she passes the chicken skin she says to Mom, "Tiene mucho cholesterol." And Mom says, "I don't eat it everyday Ma."

On Sunday when we couldn't stay any longer at Mom's and absolutely had to leave was tough. I hate being the one to decide when to stop socializing because I can talk and listen for a very long time. I knew I'd have to say goodbye to Gramma sooner or later. We were in Mom's kitchen and I said, "Okay Gramma, we have to go." "Okay mija, " she says. I gave her a hug and put my head on her shoulder. She rested her cheek on my head and I hugged her tight. I buried my face in the nook of her neck and smelled. She smelled like work, food, hairspray and something else, Love I'm sure. I started crying and she stared to pat my shoulder saying, "Ya, ya, ya." As if she was consoling a baby, which I pretty much was at the time. I released from the hug and she held my face and said, "I always like when you're here." Here being anywhere she is. Of course I started sobbing by then and saw just one tear escape her eye. Just one, "Damn that Gramma is tough," I thought. Yes she's mean and yes she lacks tact most of the time but when I looked into her face I saw myself in it.

My Gramma may not be the kind of grandmother who showers her grandchildren with treats or gifts or a ton of affection, but when she does you know she really means it. On her 80th, I gave her a scrapbook with a lot of pictures and a family tree along with stories and well wishes. She looked through it and thanked me. I was kind of bummed out because I wanted to see her cry with joy and get that moment of, I don't know like, "You're the best granddaughter ever!" But she didn't do any of that. Before I left I had to go to her room for something, I can't remember right now but I saw the scrapbook on her bed and a ton of wadded up tissues and I knew she loved it. Gramma, you are the great pretender.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Y Volver, Volver, Volver!

The title roughly translates "Return, return and return." This is a very famous mariachi song. Mariachi music, like a lot of music in general, can be very upbeat and happy or very sad. There's a popular mariachi tune called, "El Nino Perdido" or "Little Boy Lost" which is played by two trumpet players. It's a story of a father looking for his son by calling out to him and guiding the little boy back to him. I love to see it played because the trumpet player who plays the son, actually hides and we can hear his sweet trumpeting sound off in the distance. It's not always played, a lot of mariachis only have one trumpet player anyway.

My dad was a mariachi player, he's 71 now and has long stopped playing with a group but helps lead music at his church. I remember all of the guitars we had growing up. There was even a time when he took us one by one and gave us each a guitar lesson. I think he wanted to see if we had any musicality and I kick myself for not showing an interest then because learning it now really, really sucks. He worked evenings, playing gigs all around the bay area of California. If you were getting married and had a mariachi at your wedding, that's impressive. People would be talking about that wedding for weeks. My dad was recognized all the time but I never would have guessed he was some kind of local celebrity, but people would react like he was. Sometimes we'd pop in and catch him playing his guitar and singing. My father took on anyone who could play traditional mariachi music, including non-Latino musicians. We grew up singing along with the group as they played, never on stage but we belted the songs out nonetheless. I remember when the group would come over and go over set lists, practice a little, tune their instruments. The trumpeters would show me where the spit valve was, the violinists would take the bridge from their violins and reshape them by dragging it across the concrete of our backyard patio and let me smell the rosin on their bows. I remember counting the silver horse heads that lined the side of his mariachi pants as Dad cleaned each one.

I don't listen to the music as much anymore. It makes me sad, and I long to return to the days when my dad would tune his guitar. Sometimes he'd tell us there was a surprise inside the guitar and we'd find a dollar hidden inside. I think about the family time we had, before the divorce. It was so many years ago, 17 to be exact. It's a shame that this beautiful music is my trigger for tears, because it deserves more.

Below is a link of an 8 minute documentary about Mariachis in Los Angeles, it pretty much gives the closest description of the life of a mariachi player.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What Have I Become?

Motherhood was a terror I never wanted to least I thought this when I was a teenager. Okay, I continued to think this well into my 20's. Was I selfish? No, more like scared out of hell.

Those conniving, ready to trap you in a lie with their cunning and calculative double speak. Yes, I was a bit of a punk growing up. My sisters were very much alike but no, I had to like loud music and "weird" clothes. I was often asked by my siblings, "Why do you have to be so, so.....weird." I like weird. My mother never liked or could accept the fact that I liked to be alone. Alone in my room....listening to music, scribbling in my journal giving the world my share of "whatever." I was totally goth and was once asked, "Why do you walk around like everyday is the worse day of your life?" To which I replied, "Maybe because you're in it." Mean, I know.

I've been doing the mother thing for almost two years. Yes I'm happy and my daughter is the most precious person in my life. I have come to the realization that I'm one of those "mothers." It has become proven to me while making 4 sets of costumes for Halloween this year. I didn't know why I did it, especially since she won't remember a thing. I don't even know how to sew decently but I made fake hot dogs for my husband's butcher costume. I spent many a late night getting my fingers pricked so we could look swell on Halloween, I even made a costume for my daughter's stuffed monkey.

I cook, I clean, I do laundry, skip showering, rub tummies, sing songs made for children (some of which I actually like), read the same books over and over again, listen for breathing during the night, put on a happy face when I feel like crap, clean up poop in places that really shouldn't have poop and go on to eat lunch. I'm a freaking MOTHER. I will make mistakes and all I can do is hope for the best.

All of this talk of knowing when I was 17 that I did not want to be a mother is laughable to me now. All that time spent asking myself, "Am I cool enough?" is now replaced with, "Hmm, maybe I should make time for a shower," and "Laundry is stupid." In fact, laundry has always stupid. It seemed like it took a long time for my family to accept that I was a teeny bit different only to reveal that I'm not. I know I'll be paying for it when a tiny someone hits those formative years and I'll be able to watch my teens all over high def.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Smart Is A Four Letter Word

I have been re-watching the entire Daria series on DVD, thanks to Netflix and have come to the realization that if it wasn't for Ms. Morgendorffer, I would have been lost in high school. I'm not saying that I was exactly like her but I did have a cynical view of reality and at times did not get my hopes up for anything for fear of disappointment. Even though this was an animated series, it held a lot of value. The dry humor and quick wit is still hilarious more than 10 years later. One of my favorite quotes would have to be, "I wouldn't shoot my own mother, not with paint anyway."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Left A Bad Taste In My Mouth

This is just my opinion, read for yourself. You just might like the stupid book; well not stupid but pretty lame. Well, there were some good points.

The story is of a girl named Rose Edelstein. At 8 years old she realizes that she has the ability to taste people's emotions through food. This is what drew me to this book to begin with because I think I might be in tune with people's emotions and I love to cook - great plot, or so I thought. It takes place over many years and it feels like it took me just as long to read it. An old friend of mine says to always invest at least 100 pages into a book then you can determine if it's worth finishing. What I liked is that the weirdness happened right away but then it felt like it was dragging its feet to the next exciting point then the excitement stops abruptly. The side stories were a little more interesting than the main one and Bender could have explored those a little more. As it turns out, Rose discovers that there are others who have gifts as well and they're closer than she thinks. The family life sequences are boring and when Rose and her dad begin to watch television, I would be the one to fall asleep. Bender did a really good job luring people in with the title, which is probably the best part of this book. The ending does not come to a whole, and is probably meant to make the reader think but in reality leaves them to say, "Well, that was garbage." It was too easy on Bender's part to end the story that way and maybe her publisher was rushing her to finish. That's what it is, it seems unfinished. On a positive note, the descriptions of food and feelings were top notch. I can picture the food, taste it and understand the relationship of the food to the cook. This book is a library check out only, I wouldn't buy it. (Even though I already did and threw away the Amazon packing slip so I can't return it).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Work In Progress 4

It was a short walk to Aiolena's office. The plush carpet quieted Aiden's short footsteps. She met him at the doorway and hugged her son. It was an awkward hug because Aiden just stood there, blank faced with absolutely no love for his mother.

"It will be alright Aiden. You worry too much," Aiolena says as she releases from the hug.

"The only thing I'm worried about is how that target was tipped off. It happened so fast, it's like he knew who she was and what she was there to do. I thought we kept a close circuit on him," says Aiden.

"How is the target still dead? That's interesting," replies Aiolena.

This news takes Aiden off guard. Of course the target is dead, Lorza's too good. He didn't think of this part of the story. Why didn't Lorza tell him this crucial piece of information?

"I killed him. I saw Lorza's tracker go dead and just then he ran in front of surveillance and I shot him. He didn't see me and he was alone."

"Wow, you're quite a shot. It was nice and clean. Have you been going to the range more often? I thought you didn't like matter. Great job."

The intercom goes off on Aiolena's desk.


"The girl has been stabilized, she's in recovery now. "


Without thinking, Aiden lets out a sigh of relief. His mother narrows her eyes slightly, gazing at Aiden. He looks away and lets out a fake cough.

"How much recovery time do you give her?"

"Well we'd have to see who knows how long that will take. She lost a lot of blood, plus we don't know if she'll have a lot of brain activity if she does wake up. Then what good will she be to us? If she's a permanent vegetable, we'll have to end her." Aiolena looks at her son, looking for a reaction.

Aiden thinks about the deal Lorza gave him. He's the only one that wants her to stay alive, she was fine with dying because then she would be free of the constant killing. Would he be selfish enough to make her deal with all of the post traumatic stress so that maybe one day she would learn to love too? If her brain activity was at zero, would he want her still? Yes, yes I would he thinks to himself. Aiden looks at his mother and shrugs. "Why should she get special treatment otherwise?"

Content with his answer, she says, "I'll give her a month to wake up. If she doesn't I'm not wasting anymore time. Those machines cost money along with the life support."

"Today was crazy, I'm going up to my flat," Aiden says casually.

"You've made your first kill. We should celebrate later tonight. I'll have them prepare your favorite meal and you can tell me all about it."

"Sure thing Mom."

"You can also tell me how you got Lorza's sting ray bullets to fit in the basic glock from the van, that's amazing seeing how they're so much smaller. "

"Wait...what?" Aiden asks shakily.

There's a knock at the door and the two guards from the infirmary step in.

"Take him to the plexi room."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What Book Club Meeting?

This past Friday was amazing! I sent out a few invites for a "book discussion" which at the time I was really wanting to do but ultimately, like in any book club, the chatter was not about the book. I was worried that no one would show up let alone have a really great time but I wasted my thoughts on worry because it was just the opposite.

It's pretty weird when girls get together....well not girls, grown women. Well to be specific married grown women with children. I'd say it's pretty rare when these types of ladies can just let their hair down without a worry in the world and just talk about anything and I mean ANYTHING. It was pretty much an open discussion about life's follies, laughs, memories, experiences and body glitter. Ha! It was nice to be able to hang out with a bunch of chicks and not get catty or mean and eat the yummy food brought by everyone then complain how fat we all were and discuss how we were going to make up for it. (Yeah right).

What made it one of the most fun evenings was that it had a familiarity to it. I felt like I was at home cracking up with my sisters. There was no awkward silences; the conversations just kept flowing, no one was judging anyone, no one was competing for attention, it was just what we all needed. It was a time to vent, dork out and gather some estrogen vibes. I think what topped it off was that I was wearing a costume with a lot of feathers, heavy makeup and a make shift peacock tail sticking out of my head and was treated normally.

Not only did we all have a blast, we unanimously decided that we must do it again...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

High In the Sky, Apple Pie Hopes

A few weeks ago I left the television on after Sesame Street was done. I usually turn it right off but I was tackling a dilly of pickle which involved a toy car stuck in a place it shouldn't have been. As soon as said car was removed, a new show was starting and this quote appeared on the screen:

"It's never too late, in fiction or in life, to revise." - Nancy Thayer

I thought about this quote often since I saw it. Uncontrolled change is hard to deal with but being the creator of the change in your life is monumental. Plus there's a big difference between having to change yourself and wanting to change yourself. It can be as simple as just letting the kids make the mess versus getting upset about the mess. I can be a bit of a grumpy Gus when it comes to seemingly irrelevant things. Why do I take the negative so quickly? Have I not learned anything?

This past holiday weekend, I asked Mechanic Hubby to buy us a kite because the wind was super strong. He comes back with a really cool looking 3-D kite in the shape of a killer whale. It was pretty impressive. I make us a picnic lunch and we set off to a beautiful park to have an early dinner. I brought delicate sandwiches, fruits, cheeses - a pretty yummy feast. We decided to play first and got to putting the kite together. Strike one: I saw that this kite was $17.99. What the? I said buy a kite not a handmade with double stitching flying art piece all the way from the kite capitol of the world China! I tell myself to calm down and enjoy the day. Strike two: The "easy to put together" label was wrong. There was one rubber rod that did not fit in its intended spot which was the tail. After taking turns trying and trying to put that thing together, the rubber rod sprung backwards and slapped me in the face. As the pink line that starts to develop on my cheek starts to burn, I make a quick ice pack out of a baby wipe and crushed ice and press it to my cheek. I freak out with anger a little but did not lose my temper completely. I suggest that we tie the rod in place and test it out. Strike three: The winds did not disappoint and they were strong, VERY strong. Mechanic Hubby had a hard time flying the kite. I decided to show him how it was done, seeing how I logged many kite flying hours back home in California. He hands me the kite and it's up in the air. I release more string as it starts to climb higher. A strong gust sends the kite into a double swirl then crashing to the ground. As I start winding the string, another gust catches the belly of the kite and sends it up again. After my turn was over, Mechanic Hubby anxiously takes the string, I walk over to dislodge the kite from a bush, the wind picks up again and I get rope burn on my hand. Beautiful.

This pretty much puts me over and I want to go home. My hubby quickly puts me in check and says, "Really, you're going to let this tiny thing bother you and ruin this beautiful day?" Usually his amazing positive attitude annoys me but in that moment, I just let my anger go. Poof, gone. My hand hurt and my cheek was burning but the sun was out and my daughter was having a blast running around the park. And to top it off, they were both sick with colds. Well as for the kite, we lost the head of the whale due to the strong wind gusts and I just laughed.

Here's my quote for the day, "Everything in life sucks or rocks, what do you want your life to do?"

Monday, September 6, 2010

Am I Desensitized?

"Revenge is a dish best served cold." - Old Klingon Proverb

About a year or so ago, I went to a book club discussion about Hunger Games. Everyone's heard of it. Kids fight to the death for entertainment, winner promised riches forever, gore, gore, gore, tough decisions, an inkling of romance, the end. I LOVED it. I loved the description of the bloody battles, the fight or flight situations, all of it. At the meeting many were saying, "I don't know what I would do if I had to send my kids to fight," and "I had to put the book down because it was so brutal." RBP and I were confused. We thought the violence was great. I mean, it says in the book jacket it's about kids fighting to the death right? You should expect some gore.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2. It's about a woman who left her job as an assassin behind because she was going to be a mother. Her boss didn't like that idea very much and calls on his other assassin employees to assassinate her. The very first shot in the movie is of a brutally beaten, very pregnant woman, also known as "The Bride," getting shot in the head. The killers leave her for dead but she survives. She wakes up after a four year coma, realizes she has lost her baby and is out for revenge!

I don't know why I love this movie so much. The Bride is amazing! Unfortunately there is a ton of foul language (it's a Quentin Tarantino flick) and GORE! Lots and lots of gore! The violence doesn't bother me and I have no idea why. Even through all the gore, there are some touching moments; hard to believe, I know. It's been years since I've watched it but it'll always have a place in the black parts of my tender dripping bleeding heart.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Burning Eyes, A Lot Like Home

I wouldn't say that I know everything about Mexican cooking because #1 - I was born in America and #2 - I haven't tried all the wonderful varieties of Mexican food. Each state is different; there's the eclectic avant-garde cuisine in Mexico City, the islandic inspired food from Veracruz and the rich mole from Oaxaca. The Mexican food I know ranges from the very loved burrito to (the stink up your house while preparing but turns out delicious) menudo. I decided when we moved from home that I would learn how to prepare Mexican food more often and more from scratch.

My little dream came to a crushing halt. The "authentic" part would have to wait because my ingredients in my town are lacking but no matter, I look to what I have available and go from there. I recently decided to cook a vegetarian gem of Mexican cuisine - the chile relleno. I cannot remember the last time I had one. But as I started to make it, I kicked myself for not trying to make it earlier, or at least learning to make it when I had an abundance of knowledge (my moms, aunts and Gramma) at my fingertips. Luckily, my aunt was able to help me over the phone.

The beauty of this dish is that it looks really fancy when done right and it's so simple to make. The spice factor varies from pepper to pepper but these were making my nose run.


The first thing you do is make the red chile sauce. It just makes everything easier. Now, char or blacken the poblano peppers. Do not remove the stem! You can do this by heating up your griddle or put them under the broiler. Both ways require babysitting. I put mine under the broiler and turned them every 3 minutes until all the sides were black and the peppers were soft. As I was doing this, the heat and steam would escape from the oven every time I opened the door. The spicy smell would go up my nose and sting my eyes. These peppers were hot, I just knew it. Once they are blackened on all sides, throw them in a ziploc bag or put them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. The steam will loosen the blackened skin making the clean up process very easy.

While waiting for the peppers, whip your egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form. In a separate dish, whip your egg yolks. Then, fold the egg yolks into the whites. Heat your oil in a pan. I used a good amount of oil because you'll be frying the peppers. Whenever I fry anything, I let the oil heat up slowly, so I would set the stove to medium hi. The peppers should be ready to clean. Under a steady stream of cold water, rinse the skin off of the very soft peppers. Be careful not to tear the pepper, if you do it's not a big deal. All of mine were torn. If you are perfect and have no tears in your peppers, make a small slit at the top of the pepper and add your cheese. Gently push cheese down into your pepper with a spoon. This would have been my plan if I didn't tear my peppers up. What I did was mad scientist work. I stuffed the cheese into the peppers, using the larger tear and secured it shut with toothpicks. Repeat for remaining peppers.

In a shallow dish, add 1/2 cup of flour. Dredge each pepper, and carefully shake off the excess; then dip the pepper into the egg mixture, and add to the oil. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting so you can keep your peppers warm and toasty. I had a little station set up: Stuffed peppers, flour, egg, hot oil. These babies brown up fast so have your tongs ready. Brown both sides.

The plating is key. Spoon your homemade red chile sauce onto a shallow dish. It should cover the bottom like a gravy. Lay your chile relleno on top. It is so beautiful. I'm so upset that I didn't take a picture of this beautiful dish. It's so tender, creamy and spicy all at the same time. Don't forget about the toothpicks if you used them, pull them out! I used a dab of sour cream to tone down the spice, it was delicious. The smell that filled my house was reminiscent of home. I know, I get homesick a lot. Try this dish, it's wonderful.

Happy Eating.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Work In Progress III


Name: Lorza
Location: Sonoran Desert, Arizona
Birthdate: Approx. 1995

Specs: Hispanic. Eyes Brown. Hair Brown. Birthmark behind ear erased. Scar on left knee erased. Deformed pinky toe on right foot normalized. Teeth are cracked and uneven, fillers set in place. FP removed 3/14/97. Gene scan 3/15/97. Tracker: 3/16/97. Update 4-06-97: Congenital insensibility to pain.

Abilities: Human biology, household weapons, marine corp training, jujitsu, krav maga.


3-12-97: We found Lorza in the Sonoran desert. Her parents, both shot execution style beside her. Typical in these parts, greedy coyotes. From the looks of it, her parents have been dead for a week. Lorza is amazingly, doing fine, she must of had water to drink from that freak monsoon 3 days ago. She took to me quite easily, which is a nice change.

3-16-97: Tracker reading low desire levels which is a good sign. This girl is emotionless. Must have seen the violent death of her parents. She likes to jump off the table, look at books and scream. No talking just screaming for everything. Training starts tomorrow.

4-02-97: Lorza broke her arm. No crying. Break was noticed by night guardian. This child is special, I always knew it. Set the bones that night.

4-05-97: Testing for CIP. Broke two metacarpals in the right hand, no crying. Bones have been set. I'm certain she has this disease, will do more evasive testing to confirm diagnosis. In the interim we will start giving her doses of Naxolene.

4-06-97: After 12 hours of testing, it has been confirmed. Lorza has CIP which explains the cracked teeth, as those suffering keep grinding their teeth until they are gone. I'm surprised she doesn't have more injuries. The sleep pod and mouth guard will keep her safe through the night.

- PAGE 1 OF 4 -


Lorza drew in a short breath as the thin cable of the Hooksin shot through her inner ear, then skull then to its destination, the tracker. She fell over like an old rag doll.

Aiden hit the retracter key. Gurgling, slurping sounds echoed in the abandoned house. Hot blood spewed from Lorza's left ear and into Aiden's hands as the tracker's light slowly dimmed to nothing. The Hooksin's tiny hooks buried themselves deep into the tracker and into some of Lorza's insula. Aiden quickly thought of a small chewed pieces of bubble gum to keep himself from vomiting. He quickly snipped the Hooksin wire, grabbed the boulder he found in the backyard and crushed the tracker. He reached for Lorza's gun, pulled it from her holster, and aimed it at the imaginary X she drew. After 5 seconds of doubt, fear of failure, and remorse, Aiden angled the gun and shot Lorza in the head.

He played the story in his head over and over as he rushed to the site. Aiden thought, "The tracker disappeared from the radar suddenly. I wasn't far from the kill point and I didn't hear a gun. I figured who ever did it would get the hell out of there as fast as they could. I found her on the ground, unconscious. Someone tipped them off, they knew exactly where she was."

"Stop being so shaky. You can be scared but not like you care too much. Be leveled man, Aiolena will sniff you out so fast. Who cares if she does? You're doing the right thing, Lorza too. Let them do what they want, I don't care anymore I won't be apart of this anymore," Aiden's thoughts were building too fast, he almost missed the site base.

Punching the keys quickly, the gates slid open and the driveway opened up to the tunnel underground. The check engine light on the old Civic was telling Aiden it was tired and he whispered to it, "We're almost there baby, then I'll let you rest." As soon as he reached the double doors to the infirmary, Aiden kept his promise.

Busting through the doors with a bloody Lorza with 12 minutes left on the clock, a gurney is waiting for them; complete with type B+ blood bags on it's sides and a mess of wires to keep Lorza's ticker ticking. Doctors and nurses strap Lorza in and sweep her away without a word. Running to catch up with them Aiden is cut off by the guardians.

"Report to Aiolena. Don't mince words Tech," says Carson, one of the nicer guardians. His furrowed brow tells Aiden there isn't a chance that he'll be allowed inside, so he makes his way down to his mother's office.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Work In Progress II


"Are you listening to me Aiden?" asks Lorza in frustration.

"Yes, I'm hanging on your every word. Just repeat what you said to make sure I have this absolutely clear," Aiden replies.

"Here is a diagram of the brain. Here is the left temporal lobe, and inside there in the center is the insula. That is where the tracker is. Once I blast the Hooksin device, it's pretty much going to send a tiny grappling hook into the side of my head and latch onto the tracker. I need you to be strong and hit the retraction key on the Hooksin. It's going to be messy and I can only use this once. Of course once I shoot it, I'll go unconscious. After you retract it, unlatch it and destroy it. Once I shoot I have 35 minutes to get to Aiolena. She's the only one who can fix me. Did you get all that?" Lorza asks.

"What's to keep Mommy Dearest from inserting a new tracker? Won't they know it's been removed by their own Hooksin? Even though you'll be bleeding, the cut is too clean. What if she finds out that you took it out yourself and lets you die?" asks an unnerved Aiden.

"Well, I thought you would ask that. I need you to be very brave and very trusting about this. You're going to have to grab my gun and shoot me at an angle. Right here," says Lorza drawing an X next to her left ear.

"No, no way, I can't do that. I'm a tech! I didn't get the same kind of training you guys did. I can't just point and shoot, especially not you. There has to be another way. We can just leave -" Aiden says.

"They will find me no mater where I go. I will have to keep killing for the rest of my life if I don't do this now. Either you help me with this or I die and either way I'll be satisfied. If you want me to live, don't disappoint yourself, " Lorza says with a hardened tone.

Before Aiden has a chance to retort Lorza brings the Hooksin to ear and pulls the trigger.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Was Pizza Day, The Best Day of the Week

Okay, I know I've been doing a lot of videos but this one has a purpose. Beware, this song is by the Aquabats, a super silly ska band. It ends abruptly because the original has a monologue about Michael Jackson and how he LOVES pizza day; but I thought it would be better suited if we do not speak ill of the dead.

I thought that this was a perfect Back to School song. I love that even though this song is extremely silly, when I first heard it a lot of memories came flooding back about elementary school.

We were always the new kids in school because we moved around a lot growing up. I don't know why we moved around so much, maybe Mom needed some new scenery. I think I remember all my teacher's names but I won't bore you with that. When I was in first grade, we were given pen pals from Russia or back then when it was called the Soviet Union. I turned in my paper and with the Soviet flag drawn in the corner. My teacher asked, "Where did you see that?" I think she thought my parents were Commies. I remember using the monkey bars way too much and getting my badge of honor on the playground - my first blister and even though it stung, you just kept on swinging.

At lunch when we received our milk cartons, we would get our sporks and scratch the carton at the top and puncture our straw into it. We were too cool to just open the carton up. The menu that the band sings in the song Pizza Day is eerily close to what we would have everyday. Wednesday was my second favorite day of the school week because we would have chocolate milk.

I don't long to return to elementary school, the hierarchy of the playground, the secret assigned seats of the cafeteria, being friends with someone one day and not being friends the next day, the big hair of the late eighties or the neon fad of the nineties. I'm grateful for being able to reflect on how I was able to survive those awkward years; being able to see that my huge issues growing up were not so big after all.

Even after all of this overflow of elementary school memories, I still despise Back to School commercials.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mom's Purse

Whenever we would ask my mom for a pen, a piece of paper or gum; my mom usually didn't have it. Or she would say, "What do you need it for?" I'd answer with shrugged shoulders and that was the end of that conversation. Over the years the mom's purse changed in size and color. She never switched purses until it had been beaten and used to death. Growing up I quickly realized the importance of mom's purse. There were a few times when we'd leave the house only to go back because Mom forgot her purse.

We were never allowed to look inside the purse. I used to guess what could be in there; semi-precious stones, candy, toys - all the stuff I think would be important. We were only allowed to carry it or bring it to her but never, ever look into it. I remember riding in the Datsun with Mom and her purse was unzipped in the center console. As I peered into it I remember being disappointed. I saw papers, the money holder, Mom's "wip-stic" and napkins. I quickly looked away so Mom wouldn't get suspicious.

I got yelled at once because I set Mom's purse on the floor. I was 15. Being the snotty teenager that I was I said, "Who cares? What's the big deal?" Mom explained to me that "If you put your purse on the floor, Satan will reach into your purse and steal your money." I rolled my eyes (which I'm really good at, my eyelids flutter and everything). This was no doubt one of those Mexican myths passed on from Gramma to Mom. When I pictured it, I tried my best not to laugh because Mom was already so mad at me. When I think about it now, the myth was a scapegoat. Maybe it was Satan taking all the money she worked so hard for with two jobs; just enough to make ends meet sometimes. Her purse was usually heavy; heavy with worry and stress. Those disappointing papers were bills to pay and bank statements. I think I might of seen a bottle of Advil in there too. The purse was an unforgiving weight over her shoulder reminding her of all the she has to do.

Mom doesn't carry a purse now. She's gone from working all hours of the day to being a homemaker. The big purse is non-existent. She has a tiny zip up tote, there's just enough room for her I.D., a credit card or two, a pocket for money and maybe a pen. Way to go Mom.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heartless Bastards

If you've never heard of Heartless Bastards, I suggest you check them out. Don't let the name scare you, this no nonsense band from Ohio just plays music. No complicated guitar solos or auto-tune remixes, just a great singer and a great band. When she sings, it's sad and redeeming at the same time. I don't know how they got inside my head and wrote this song but they did. Set your speakers to 11, because she's got a strong quiet voice and it's awesome.

Monday, August 9, 2010

A Book, A Piece of my Heart

I hate it when people say that books are a dying media. I won't ever want an electronic reading device, now matter how stylish, how convenient or how futuristic it might be. It's not the same as far as I'm concerned.

I have loved reading books as long as I can remember. The rectangular shape, with those perfectly cut pages inside. They have tiny letters that form a fantasy, a dream, memories, instructions, adventure, love or history sometimes all in one book. In third grade my favorite part of the day was the fifteen minutes of "sustained silent reading" which was required but I saw it as a gift. I'm pretty sure my teacher Mrs. Dunkle loved it too. I cherish books as apart of my anatomy. I don't like to see them ripped, hurt, on the floor or still looking like new, as if it has never been read. I like the flexibility of the cover, the perfect spine and the smell of the pages. I like to see my bookmark travel through the pages bearing the weight of what I've read, like a friend encouraging me to test his strength but then allow him to rest.

Being at home all day, with very few mental stimuli, reading helps keep my mind thinking. Although I love singing songs with hand motions, reading picture books and teaching the alphabet, I often wonder if my brain will turn to mush. The only problem solving I have during the day is thinking what to make for lunch (something they'll actually finish), teaching how to share and figuring out how to stop a crying kid. When I read it's usually past ten o'clock. I curl up on the couch, take off my glasses, open up the book and nothing else matters.

My favorite kinds of books have a great hero, some combat, blood, gore, maybe a love interest but it's not necessary. I despise books with super fluffy happy go lucky ending (Breaking Dawn). Fiction writers should not be afraid of death. It's okay to mourn the loss of a character, even if it is the hero. The readers will mourn too. In writing my own piece, I have to keep in mind who I'm writing this for - ME. I can't please everybody and I don't want to. A lot of people will hate it, others who say they love it because they're friends/family and maybe one rare person who will honestly tell me what they think; red pen and all. My English teacher, Mrs. Lewis was such a gem. She would make my book reports bleed and I was sure she was out to get me. Every week we would turn in our "reflection journals" and she would grade them. How do you grade a reflection - using the rubric system. Lame. Seeing that she would give me her honest opinion about my work, I turned in my poetry journal instead. When I got it back I saw the note that said,"See me after class." The next two years, I went to creative writing workshops at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts, during school hours, under her direction. I would trust her opinion about anything I write. I wish I stayed in contact with her.

Books are such a huge part of my life, they have helped make me who I am, libraries are sanctuaries, and the right side of the couch at 10:45 pm is my best friend. The title is true, "A Book, A Piece of my Heart."

Work In Progress

"I'm getting too old for this," Lorza says to herself. This wasn't exactly how she wanted to celebrate her fifteenth birthday. While other girls have cake and ice cream or low-fat frozen yogurt because of their body image issues; Lorza is mopping the bathroom floor. The floor that was covered with entrails, flecks of skull and brain. And blood, lots of blood. She could have just burned the house down but someone would call it in. She decided to keep it simple. The entrails and brain belonged to Ryanne Klein.

Ryanne Klein wasn't popular, but neither was Lorza. Ryanne had a way about her. She was bookish but pretty. Smart and randomly mean; well, not entirely random. Lorza was usually on the receiving end of the remarks. It didn't matter, Ryanne doesn't exist. Not on paper anyway. She and Lorza have been off the grid for 13 years. No one would miss her.

She stood outside. It looked so out of place, her hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, black turtleneck, black flex-skin pants and shapeshift leather shoes in this ruddy little neighborhood. The face mask she wore only covered up to her nose. The cool air flowing from it into her suit didn't stop the beads of sweat from forming on her upper lip. They dripped slowly around to her mouth and she hated the salty taste. It was almost time to run. Lorza couldn't stand the anticipation but if she took off now she would be noticed, if she was late then she'd miss the train. She was slightly sore from the night before. It was nice when team would clean up and get rid of the kills for you but when you go AWOL, you do your own dirty work. This wasn't a contract kill, this was a good ol' murder. It could have been cleaner but the tracker had to be removed. Of course it's lodged where everyone else's was, in the center of the brain.

She looks at her timepiece, reading 5:36, looks to the rising sun, starts up the karmann ghia, listens to it purr, and pushes the accelerator as far as it will go. She has 14 minutes to ditch the car and board the train but this is enough time to reflect on her evening's events.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Mixed Tape

This is one of the songs that was on a mixed tape Mechanic Hubby made me so long ago. Yes, it says "Leather and Lace," it's a cover of the popular song originally sung by Don Henley and Stevie Nicks or Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.

So I met my Mechanic Hubby in high school. He was a sophomore in my chemistry class. I first noticed him when he was fighting over pennies with the weird kid who was his lab partner. It was a lab about copper vs magnesium. Apparently it took Mechanic Hubby a very long time to find 6 copper pennies and he wasn't about to give them away. All the while I was thinking, "Dude (yes I say dude, a lot.) it's just pennies. Jeez that kid's got some wild hair." Mechanic Hubby liked the messy look back in the day.

A few months later, while waiting for the bus after school, one of Mechanic Hubby's friends (who is a very good friend of mine now too), Mr. Awesome (the name he came up with himself along with an elaborate story as to why it's perfect for him), came up to me. He says, "Hey, we live on the same street right?" We got to talking and apparently none of his friends showed up for school that day. I was introduced to Mechanic Hubby and I would sometimes hang out with him and his friends after school. We'd go grab a slice, go to the local record store, comic book store and walk the streets of central Phoenix. It was pretty weird being the only girl in this group but they were easy to talk to and pretty funny.

It was the last day of school and by then Mechanic Hubby and I would talk about stupid stuff all the time. I gave him my phone number and told him to keep in touch over the summer break. He called me soon after to see if the number I gave him was real. We sent each other letters, talked on the phone but we never hung out. My mother was really strict and there was no reason for me to be out with some boy. On my birthday I got a mixed tape in the mail. It was full of ska/punk bands, most of which I've never heard of. The Drags, The Magoos, Smoking Popes, Plinko, Voodoo Glow Skulls, the Specials, Madness, Horace Pinker and even a recording of Mechanic Hubby playing a short version of Swan Lake on the piano. As I listened to the tape, my sister said, "That boy likes you." I thought she was crazy. I guess a lot of the songs had a similar message of boy likes girl but I found it pretty darn impossible.

I started dating an older guy, well 2 years older; during the summer. It wasn't working out and Mechanic Hubby knew all about it. I would call him and tell him what a jerk this guy was and Mechanic Hubby said I deserved better and that I should break it off which of course was all apart of his plan. Looking back though, I always liked Mechanic Hubby. We would "bump" into each other a lot when we got back to school. He would also always play songs over the phone, or his "concerts for one." I was racking my brain. I broke it off with the other guy because I knew who I was supposed to be with. He makes me laugh, sings my praises and I knew that when he looked at me nothing else mattered. My plans for New Years Eve fell through and he invited me to his sister's house. His whole family was going to be there so I didn't think it was a date, plus I had to be home by 1 am. I had a great time and the family was really nice. When he dropped me off at my doorstep, I hugged him. He hugged back, like he didn't want to let me go.

I had to tell him.

When we got back from winter break, I wrote him a note pretty much saying, "Hey, I like you. Like, like you, like you." I handed it to him before our first class of the day. I "bumped" into him before third period and he gave me a regular "What's up?" I was certain he was playing it cool and trying to be very subtle about not having the same feelings. He was so hard to read! I kind of stuttered and ran to class. He thought I was acting really weird so he decided to read the note I gave him, maybe it had a clue for my behavior.


Hurt and wishing I could go home, I tried to make myself scarce during lunch. Of course he would notice that I wasn't at my usual hang out but I didn't want to see him. He REALLY wanted to see me and he found me alright. He gave me his own "Guess Who Likes You" note. A week later, he gave me another note. It was a love letter complete with postage that was never sent. I opened it up and it was dated a month prior to my "I like you" note to him.

It's been 11 years 7 months and 3 days since we decided that it would be pretty cool to be together. Sorry about how dark this picture is, it's old.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Hate In Art

I wouldn't call myself an artist. I would call myself a kid who likes to paint and stuff. I'm not a master of anything, I always know enough when talking to the real deals out there but I don't front like I'm one of them.

When I write, paint, play guitar or cook I stand back and think there is always room for improvement. I'm usually never happy with what I do and long for artistic super powers. I write like a teenager, paint like a child, I NEVER want to learn bar chords, and constantly think my cooked food could have been made better and faster.

Hands have been on the brain lately. The saying, "The greatest tools God gave us," is swirling in my mind. When I look at them, they're slightly chubby, long fingers, non-manicured with hang nails, tiny cuts and light brown spots from oil splatter burns. I have two birthmarks on the left and one on the right. I was told once by an Indian guy who was in my line at the Japanese take out place where I worked; that birthmarks on the hands suggest that I must love to write, or paint or some other art form. As if I was born with the ink flowing from my hands. I was dumbfounded. I think I said, "Uh yeah. I like to write." Satisfied with his observation, he smiled, took his teriyaki bowl and wished me a good day.

I started painting a skeleton hand yesterday against a black background. My idea was to convey a Hispanic's struggle; having died for an unattainable dream. I painted the words "faith," "help," "gospel," in Spanish into various bones but then I hated it. I stared at it for a long time. Who was I to try and paint such events when I myself haven't experienced them? My grandmother has, so had my mother but I couldn't even begin to channel that into this painting. Mechanic hubby said, "Who cares, it looks cool." But I couldn't bring myself to finish it.

This is how I'm feeling today.

Refried Beans Fake-Out (Fresh beans from "de la olla" or from the pot are best but if you don't have time....)

1 can of refried beans
1/2 cup of shredded cheese
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup homemade salsa

Heat the beans in a skillet. Add milk and stir. Add cheese and salsa, stir to combine. Serve hot.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Papas Con Chile Verde Y Queso....lots of Queso

I've had this dinner on my menu list for weeks. I don't know why I didn't make it until tonight. It's a dish I learned from my mother in law, Maestra (teacher in Spanish). It only takes fifteen minutes and it's very delicious. As I was making it, I started to think about the times I've eaten this meal. This simple, almost too simple meal. Maybe I didn't make it because of the simplicity of it. I like meals that take time and tons of energy and work. Sometimes I gage how much I'll enjoy the meal by the time it took to make it. What's my least appetizing meal? Cereal and sandwiches.

But this was different. The smell of perfectly cooked potatoes, the slightly spicy smell of the green chiles and the melting cheese was just what I needed today, wrapped in a burrito. It reminded me of Maestra's kitchen with the big table and the mismatched chairs. Everyone sitting around it with a paper plate of green chile potatoes, scooping with pieces of flour tortillas, laughing about something random, drinking their third glass of soda; these images filled my mind. We'd always eat too much, laugh too much and talk too much. We love each other so much, our tortillas are community property and just sit, eat, rip a piece of tortilla and be happy. I don't make this meal because it means too much to me.

When I make this meal in my house now, a thousand miles away from everybody, a pain starts. No, it's not heartburn, not that kind anyway. We each got our plate. A burrito for Mechanic hubby, one for me and a small serving for Baby Sagittarius. We sit around our table and eat; quietly. As I chew and swallow this delicious reminder of home and set my burrito down, I see a little hand take my burrito, move it next to her little mouth and take a tiny bite.

Green Chile Potatoes

4 large potatoes peeled and chopped
2 cans of green chiles
Lots of shredded cheese
Flour tortillas

Heat a skillet over medium heat, add vegetable or canola oil, enough to coat the pan. Add your chopped potatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stir. Add two handfuls of water and cover. Let this cook for about 9 minutes. Remove the lid and stir. Pierce a piece of potato to see if it's soft. If not, cover with the lid and let it continue to cook for an additional 2 minutes. If it is soft, lower the heat to medium low and add the green chiles, stir to combine. After about 3 minutes, remove the skillet from the heat and add the cheese. Stir to melt the cheese. Heat tortillas on warm burner or comal. Serve hot, use tortillas as utensil or add potatoes and make burritos. I've added cooked bacon to this, ham cubes, even leftover shredded KFC chicken but it's best without all the extras.

Happy eating.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

It Was Just A Nightmare

I knew I must of had this nightmare in my waking hours because of the detail and all of the ability of my dream self. I wasn't floating above the action like all the other dreams; I was a clear image and I was fully aware of what was taking place and it was horrifying.

It's a Saturday afternoon at my tiny house. Baby Sagittarius is napping and I look outside the window. There is a man walking towards our house from across the street. He's dripping with sweat and he sees me looking at him through our window. Mechanic hubby turns his head and sees what I'm seeing. "I wonder what he wants," Mechanic hubby says. As this man who is tall, about 6'3", slightly overweight, wearing old jeans and a bright red shirt with a backpack on, unshaven, with longer curly hair and piercing red eyes comes to our door and knocks, my heart sinks. Mechanic hubby walks to the door and opens it.

"Could I trouble you for some water?" He politely asks.

"Uh, sure. "

"Do you mind if I come in, it's pretty hot out," he says with a smile.

Mechanic hubby glances my way and I shake my head "no." But Mechanic hubby, believing fervently that all people are good, let's him in. This man follows my husband to the kitchen. I hear the cupboard open, the lid from the gallon jug of water pops off and as I walk to the kitchen, I see this monster of a man, with his arm held high above him, gripping a large barbecue brush, the kind that have that sharp metal scraper on one end, strike my husband in the back of the head while his back is turned to him. He falls instantly to the ground and a short steady stream starts to grow. This man bolts past me and runs outside the door. I'm scared and can't scream because I don't want to wake the baby. As I'm grabbing anything to apply pressure to the wound, I see the man come up to my kitchen window, take out a funsaver camera, waits for the flash light to go on and take a picture of the mess.

I wake up to find my husband out of bed. He's getting ready for work in the bathroom and I grab his pillow for what seemed like a really, really long time. Sometimes I don't mind being an insomniac.

Monday, July 26, 2010

But We're Not Perfect Ma....

I get a message today from my sister ASU Grad this morning at 8:30. Which means she's up at 6:30 which causes alarm for me because not only is she the "World's Best Sleeper," but she's also the "Best Working Under Pressure" (I love this song!) and can get a day's worth of work done in 4 hours allowing her to not have to go into work until 10 or 11 am. So with all this knowledge I was so glad to read her text:

"Woke up at 4 (am). Realized I entered some stuff wrong at work. Must be tired because I was so upset I almost* cried. Just know u guys understand how prideful we are."

*My sister NEVER cries about anything, okay she does but she's no crybaby like my other sister Radio Momma and I. We cry over everything....let me get a tissue.

I would not trade my childhood. Yeah, we were nomadic and I was always the new kid in school but it just made me outgoing as an adult. Oh, and the divorce really sucked but that's another time. As long as I could remember, my mother, from her own example, would instill in us that when we were taught how to do something, we would get it right the first time. We don't need to be shown a second time. We memorize the actions, steps and burn it into our memory. This kind of caused us as adults to never ask for help, clean up our own messes and shudder at the thought of making the same mistake twice. My sisters and I now ask for ideas from each other, but outsiders? Not so much. When I was working, I was sent to a seminar which tried to tell me it was okay to ask questions. What do they know? They were trying to reprogram me but I'm sorry I have years of "no thanks, I don't need help."

It's a shame though because when I really did need help in my life I had a nervous breakdown. I mentally beat myself up because there was no other way to progress and remove myself from the situation I was in unless I said, "Can you help me?" Just typing it out makes me so upset. My sisters and I are all willing to help someone else no problem. Service is not an issue, but receiving assistance? No effing way. We were kind of like automatons. We know what to do, when to do it efficiently and perfectly every time...but sometimes our ticks don't tock and we make a mistake and have night terrors about it. Oh well, I guess I won't make that same mistake twice with Baby Sagittarius.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Premature Bucket List

  • Show an original art piece in a gallery (doesn't even have to be a fancy-schmancy gallery either).
  • Get published. (short story, critique, narrative, instructions..anything!)
  • Learn how to drive (maybe I'll put that at the bottom).
  • Teach a cooking class to more than 5 people all at once.
  • Lose 20 pounds (I need to lose more but I'm being realistic....better make it 10).
  • Lose 10 pounds. See above.
  • See Japan (not on television).
  • Open 5 biscuit cans in a row without flinching.
  • Spend less time on the internet.
  • Write more hand written letters like they used to.
  • Make stationary.
  • Perfect penmanship.
  • Buy stamps.
  • Daydream more. Just kidding.
  • Learn how to create, not just cook.
  • Smile more often.
  • Learn stupid bar chords.
  • Keep being happy where I am and not depend on happiness based on a future I created in my head...again daydream less.
  • Learn to drive.
  • Remain confident in the abilities I was given and be willing to share the knowledge...if I gained any.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

It's Official: 29 Is Here

So after reading depressing stories and other uplifting articles, I had to give myself a metaphorical kick in the butt. Just because I was gaining another year did not mean my life was over. It was a beautiful day outside, the kids weren't terrorizing the house (except for the impromptu war of peas) and there were many a phone call on my phone that I had to charge it twice today. Mechanic hubby got up early to decorate the house and played a sweet song made just for me. He also gave me a very well-thought out gift, new knives for my cooking pleasure.

While I spent the last four days with anxiety and sorrow, there were so many worse things going on outside my tiny insignificant world. It's not everyday that I get into a mood, and I'm
mad at myself for wasting so much time being upset with myself. I will "continue with patience" and take what happens with a big grin and pig tails. I got some pretty sweet gifts that truly came from the hearts of my friends and family. My day is sweet and it was sprinkled with hope that I can make this year the best.

I needed to spice up my life this week so I thought salsa would be just the thing to do it.

Easy Homemade Salsa

2 medium tomatoes
1 large jalapeño
garlic powder
onion powder
a handful of cilantro

In a pot filled halfway with water, add your tomatoes and jalapeño. Set your stove to medium high heat and bring it to boil. It's done once you can smell the jalapeño or once it's tender, use a fork to test this.

Add the veggies and the rest of the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. I don't know exact amounts for the seasonings, just taste and adjust. Eat with chips or if you're like me, with every meal you have.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Black Market Burros or Burrito Bandito

So I get a picture text from a friend of mine eating a breakfast burrito. He's basically rubbing it in my face that I don't have a local Mexican joint serving up awesome burros. This got me to thinking....I love breakfast burritos very much. I used to have a standing order on Friday mornings with the roach coach that would come by the construction company I used to work for. It was a chorizo, egg and potato burrito and it was delicious! It was greasy but very scrumptious!

I'm wanting to start a tiny venture. Not to make a ton of profit, just to get my food out there. I thought, "What if I start selling breakfast burritos?" They're portable, easy to make and low cost. My husband the mechanic has at least 20 other guys who work in the shop with him....they could use a burrito. Maybe I could only sell on Fridays....maybe I could get the orders the day before, get up early Friday morning, make them and hubby could fill the orders. I could come up with a cool logo or name. I don't have a restaurant or anything but I could possibly be taking other's peoples business away from when people sell stuff on the black market...YES! Black Market Burros! But then I also liked the name Burrito Bandito but there's already a restaurant out there with a similar name....dang.

After talking it over with my mechanic hubby he says, "Well, you'll probably have to make a bunch of test samples first, make sure the product is good." I spoil him too much!