Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why I Don't Like Monkeys

Earlier this year, I took the kids to San Francisco Zoo. Upon arriving, I noticed that my youngest son, Nicholas was very concerned for some reason about where the monkey habitat was located. At first I didn't understand why, until he reminded me of the story I had told him of when I was a little girl and the "monkey incident" that happened at a pet shop.

Since that fateful day, I've not been a fan of monkeys. I do not like monkeys. This is why:

I must have been may be 6 or 7 when it happened. Back then, I had very long, and thick hair that fell below my waist. It was a chore to keep my hair combed and out of the way, so my mom kept my hair in braids and pony tails and ribbons.

I remember the day like it was yesterday. My sister and I had urged my dad to take us to a local pet store. Okay, we begged him to take us. I'm not quite sure if we actually had to buy something, or if it was just to look at the cute kittens and puppies. Back in those days, pet stores actually had animals in them besides just fish, birds, and mice. This pet store in particular had a monkey. It's cage was right at the front entrance. It was a very large cage with a real monkey who sat on a swing. I was very observant of this monkey, because it always yelped each time someone walked into the shop, and frankly, it scared me, so I would make a point of walking very quickly past the cage or hide behind my dad.

On this day in particular, I apparently did not walk fast enough. The little monkey reached out his hand and grabbed one of my pig tails. Perhaps it was the red ribbon my mother had tied at the end of my braid that caught the little creature's attention, or was it merely the fact it noticed or sensed my fear. "Finally that little girl is alone..." it may have thought to itself. "Time to grab those annoying ribbons of hair.."

The monkey tugged on my braid with such force, that I didn't have air enough in my lungs to scream. It was terrifying to say the least. I was afraid to cry. I hated that monkey. I never went into that pet store ever again, and since then, I've never cared very much for monkeys in general. Planet of the Apes? Forget it! Never enjoyed watching that series, and each time I saw my brother watching the series on TV it would make me squirm. The worse movie I had to watch EVER was Return of The Planet Of The Apes. Of course I had to sit in the first row at the theatre. I don't remember WHY I went to see that movie in the first place. I think my son dragged me to that one. It was either that or Pokemon. Eeeek... NO thank you!!

"Don't worry mom, the monkey's are too high up there to reach your hair." Nicholas pointed out at the monkey exhibit. "I'll let you know if they get closer.."

I'm afraid my son doesn't care too much for them either. Once they started throwing poop, we quickly made our way to see the giraffes. those are lovely creatures! Giraffes are cool.

Yes, this is a gorilla--not a real one of course.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Cracker Story

"Ah, Julie, I need crackas sem salt!" My mother exclaimed.

In other words, my mother's half translated plea was that she needed unsalted white saltine crackers, you know the ones that come in the green box? She is diabetic, and she isn't suppossed to eat the normal saltine crackers. Having just moved to San Jose, I wasn't very familiar of the area, but I was pretty sure there was a Walmart or a Target where we could find these "very important" crackers my mother was craving. My mother was visiting and she had unfortunately forgotten her own personal stash bag of crackers in her kitchen. Her evening tea, was not the same without her "crackas", so she really wanted to get herself a box that night.

I, on the otherhand was 9 months pregnant, 3 days from my due date. I was feeling a little tired that evening, but there were a few things I still needed for the baby, so a trip to Walmart or Target sounded like a good idea. I could buy some last minute items, and my mom could get the crackers---everyone would be happy. So my daughter, Lizzy, my mom and I headed out on our quest for the "crackas"...

It was a cold November evening, and the directions to the nearest Walmart, that my husband tried to explain to me, were not working. After going down way too many wrong streets, and way too many wrong turns, by trip to Walmart went futile. "Ah Julie---I'm never going to get my crackas! I like taking my crackas with my medication." My mother explained. So, out of desperation, I headed to Target. I knew where that was.

It wasn't until we were finally walking around in the Target store, looking for those most wanted "crackas" in the cracker aisle did I feel a little "different". I didn't know it at the time, but my body was sending me messages that baby may be making preparations for an earlier appearance. Surprisingly, my two older children were both born on their due dates. I know that may sound strange, and it hardly ever happens, but it's true with me. This baby's due date was on the 7th, and it was the 4th. Hmmm, I wondered to myself, I would be so cool to have a baby born on the 4th. I was born on the 4th...

Surprisingly still, with all the rows upon rows of crackers that were on sale at the Target store, NONE OF THEM were the ones my mother was looking for. Of course. It was a disappointing trip to say the least. We left the store with 3 packages of newborn diapers and undershirt onezies, some lip gloss (for Liz--Dr. Pepper flavor) and a box of generic unsalted saltine crackers that my mother half heartidly settled for. They didn't taste the same of course, but it was better than nothing. I on the other hand was experiencing some pain in my hips.

To change the subject about how disappointing that a store that big did not carry the "right" saltine cracker, I disclosed to my mom that I was feeling some pain. She immediately stopped talking about the crackers, and glowed with excitement. Good thing my mother just happened to be in town that night. After a trip to the bathroom at home, it was definitely time for Rich and I to head to the hospital. My mom stayed home with the kids, and had tea with her generic crackas, while Rich and I headed to Dominican Hospital.

Nicholas Joseph Costa Langley was born hours later, on November 5th, two days early, and delivered by his Godmother, Karen. Karen had just started her night shift 30 minutes after we arrived to the hospital. It would be her last day until she was off on vacation. She took time off for her own birthday, which happened to fall on November 7th--Nicholas' due date. Better early than late.. :)

How about those "crackas"?!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

30 Day Blogger Challenge--Day #6

Day 6 of 30 Day Blogger Challenge!

Today's question: Who is your favorite super hero, and why?

As you probably noticed already, my favorite super hero is Wonder Woman!

Wonder woman is fast, strong and can glide on air currents--thus she has that "invisible jet". Her super hero traits also include her bullet deflecting bracelets, (I love bracelets) and her Laso of Truth, (I hate liars). She has long raven hair, and is simply beautiful.

I remember watching Lynda Carter, in Wonder Woman when I was younger, and I thought she was the most beautiful woman/super hero I had ever seen. And, then there was the cartoon, Justice League. Wonder Woman fly in her invisible jet, looking for crime. What a dream it would be to be able to do all that! Isn't almost every girl's dream, to wear beautiful jewlery, tie up criminals and make them tell you the truth, be super strong and fast, and fly like an eagle in an invisble plane, looking flawless and beautiful at the same time? Okay, it may be not your dream, but I think it would be pretty cool!

Forget Barbie, I want to be Wonder Woman!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

30 Day Blogger Challenge--Day #5

Today is Day 5 of my 30 Day Blogger Challenge!

Exciting stuff!

Day 5: Post a picture of someplace you have been.

Today I'm sharing pictures of where I and my husband Richard recited our wedding vows. The pictures are from Pacific Grove, California. We were married on a beautiful spring day; April 19, 2003. We have gone there every year since, during the month of our anniversary to remember that beautiful day. It is our favorite place near the ocean.

Monday, October 3, 2011

30 Day Blogger Challenge--Day #4

It's Day 4 of my 30 Day Blogger Challenge!

Today's subject: A habit that you wish you didn't have.

I had to think about this one a little. I have more than one habit I wish I didn't have, but if I were to choose the one I disliked the most, I think it would be my habit of PROCRASTINATION.

I procrastinate. I start with the best of intentions to see a project go through, but often at times, I let it go along the way side. I need deadlines. If I don't have a deadline, I tend to let things slide and forget about it.

Procrastination is not a problem at work. I have deadlines at work. Things have to be done, it's part of my job. I don't like things lying around my desk. I assign work to different people, I file away documents---I hate clutter around my desk.

I procrastinate with things I have on my list of things to do for myself. I really don't have a written list for ME---it's a mental list. I think about it from time to time, and most of the time I'm disappointed with myself of how little I've done for MYSELF. For example, I make sure my mother goes to her doctor appointments, and check ups, but when was the last time I went for a check up? That little voice goes on and on of things that I should be doing for myself... I don't put myself on top of the list sometimes, but it's hard sometimes to find the time---there I go again with the excuses. See what I mean?

Procrastination--it's a bad habit. Other than that, I don't have many vices. I don't smoke, nor do I drink at all that much. I don't steal or lie, or eat too much. I do find myself eating spoonfuls out of a jar of Nutella, but who doesn't do that? REALLY?!

Above is a picture of the blanket I made for my daughter. I'm very proud to display this blanket. It took me 6 years to actually complete this. Of course, my daughter will argue that it was much longer than that. She may be right, because I stopped counting the years. My daughter has picked different colored yarns for numerous other attempts that went futile (They are somewhere in a bag in the attic right now.) One day, my daughter cornered me at a local craft store, reminding me of "that blanket" I had promised to make her years ago. I was guilt stricken and embarrassed. She challenged me, so I told her pick the colors she wanted, with a promised vow that I would complete her blanket by the year's end.

It took a little longer than that of course, but it got done. It took a lot of dedication to get it done, and I think I actually surprised my daughter. I really had to get my mind set on completing this project. It happens sometimes; sometimes I surprise myself. I just wish I had more dedication like this all the time.

Until next time..


Saturday, October 1, 2011

30 Day Blogger Challenge--Day #3

Today I'm posted #3 of my 30 Day Blogger Challenge---never mind that it was posted, I don't know, almost a week from the last post. Hey, well, at least it is being done!

Day #3: Post a picture of you and your friends.

Obviously, the picture above was not taken recently. It was taken way back when I was still in high school, back in 1984. Damn. That was a long time ago, but you know what? It doesn't feel like it was that long ago.

It is very weird to come to the realization that this picture was taken over 26 years ago. Damn. This picture was taken at my 18th birthday party. I asked my friends to dress as people they admire. Leslie is dressed as Indiana Jones, Denise is dressed as some kind of Disneyland tourist, Samantha didn't come dressed, so we found a hat a scarf for her to wear, and Margaret is dressed as a punked out Texan. I was dressed as Boy George.

If you know me, and if you were a true friend of mine, you would know that I have always been a fan of Boy, aka: George O'Dowd, since high school. I used to cut out his image from the Star Hits magazines and plaster him in my bedroom. Of course this is after my sister moved out and got married and took down all the Bee Gee and Andy Gibb poster memorabilia. This annoying "friend" of mine, the one who used live next door to my grandma, said that "I was just joking about liking him..." She really wasn't a friend of mine.

It doesn't feel like it was that long ago. Okay, today, I can't say that I'm as big of a fan of Boy George as I was back in high school. Never mind, he is now a very much older, and chubby bald man who wears funny hats, convicted of being a drug abuser and rapist, and isn't allowed into the U.S. because of it. I am still a bit sad that his concert was cancelled. I still have his tickets from that cancelled concert. It was a major let down. WHY? Sure, I'm not crazy for the Boy like I was in high school, and I'm no longer sending him letters, or part of his fan club, and I am married to a man who HATED him and his music, but he was a part of my past--just like an old friend. He really can't be replaced by anyone else.

Remember when you were in high school, and you hung out with your friends, and you always thought, that no matter what, you'd still be hanging out with the same group of friends until the day you dropped dead? Well, of course, that doesn't happen very often. Sure, I still keep in touch with some of the women who are in this picture. Denise and I get together now and then when she is in town. I keep in touch with Leslie and Margaret on Facebook, and I reconnected with Samantha at the last reunion, and we exchange Christmas cards, but the distance and life in general has kept us as now being more than acquaintances rather that good friends. It's sad, but we'll always be friends--we'll always share the connection we had back in the day.

I would post a current picture of me and my friends, but that would be kind of impossible to include everyone. I have a broad array of friends, and not enough space for pictures for this entry. Some of the friends I do have, I don't even have pictures of. Furthermore, some of the friends I have, I have never met in person. Sooo....if you don't see your face in this entry, please be aware that you are really truly my friend--especially if you are reading this... :) Basically--you know who you are.

Thank you for being my friend. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

30 Day Blogger Challenge--Day #2.


It's day TWO of my 30 Day Blogger Challenge! The subject of the day is:


The word "Coelha" is a Portuguese word that means generally, a female rabbit. Translated, from Portuguese, my Blogger name have been: Pensamentos of Girl Rabbit. I didn't choose that name because it was too long, and most people don't know what "pensamentos" (thoughts) mean. I could have chosen: Pensamentos da Coelha, but that is just too Portuguese, and I'm sure it would be overlooked quite easily, and because I don't blog in Portuguese, I don't think it would be a good title for a blog written all in English. What's the point of writing something when you aren't targeting the right reader? Or, I could have just translated it all in English and have chosen: Rabbit Thoughts. Hmm...yes, that may have worked, but I wouldn't be attracting my Portuguese reading audience either. By reading my title, I might be attracting people who like rabbits--not that I have anything against people who like rabbits, for I also like rabbits, but perhaps they would think they came across a blog totatlly focused on the animal (which this isn't), or may be it would give the impression of this being a blog about farm animals, or a vegan blog....

In general, this blog is about a Portuguese/American woman; just little piece of my life.

I know what you are thinking. Why Coelha? Does she think she is a rabbit? Does she have rabbits as pets? Does she wish she was a rabbit? What is this fascination about rabbits? Is this woman nuts?

Hmm...well, I may be a little nutty, but let's just say I like the word "Coelha". It takes me back to another time in my childhood. It takes back to that Easter visit, a long, long time ago, when my cousins from far away came to visit us. My cousin, Jose, who was about the same age as myself (13) could not understand the whole concept of the Easter bunny. I was determined to make him a believer! I think he "believed" for about 30 seconds after I ran to the front door with a basket full of Easter treats, rang the door bell, and went back to the dinner table. It was worth the 30 seconds though. (I call this cousin "Coelho" now and then to this day.) :B

To make a long story short (I have a hard time doing this most of the time) the nickname Coelha just stuck. I have become attached to it. The name is MINE!! I have an AOL account under the name Coelha. Believe it or not, I've had people ask in email and instant messenger whether or not I would consider "giving up" my screen name. Can you believe it? NEVER!!! I cannot give up my screen name on AOL because I am the only Coelha on there. It's an original. I don't care if your last name is Coelha or Coelho---this screen name is mine! I don't want my screen name to be Coelha44 or 4Coelha, it's COELHA. I am hardly on AOL anymore but I can't give it up, because if I do, SOMEONE will take it. It's mine. Live with it.

Until next time..

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 1 of My 30 Day Blogger Challenge

Today marks the 1st day of my 30 Day Blog Challenge!! Nevermind I was going to start this over a week ago.. (Thanks Shermeen!) Oh well, as they say, better late than never!!

Day One: Include a recent picture, and write 15 interesting facts about yourself. 15?! Really?! Hmm..interesting facts...gee, I don't know if you can call of this interesting, but here goes:

1. I was born and raised in Santa Cruz, California-in a fairly small, pretty
coastal town in between San Francisco and Monterey. I would go to bed with my
window open, and the curtains flying. On quiet nights I could hear owls cooing in the distance, and seals calling from the ocean. I shared a bedroom with an older sister who plastered our bedroom walls with Bee Gee and Andy Gibb posters. One day she "flew" out of the window in her nightgown. I could go on with that story, but I think that is one of my sister's interesting facts, so I'll let her tell you about that one.

2. I'm the youngest of 4 children. I truly enjoy being the youngest child. Although it has it's benefits, it's not always easy, but I can't complain. I had a happy childhood, with one mom, and one dad, and one home. Now that I'm older, I realize that this is often a rarety in many families--mine personally. Throughout my life, I've moved quite often, and was a single parent. I know NOW how lucky I truly was/am. The home I was raised in is still there on Alamo Ave. If my father were still alive today, I am more than certain he would be right there with my mom, like always.

3. When I was younger, I was rather shy. Not many people I knew at school
truly knew who I truly was. When I came home from school I was a different child. My teachers all thought I was such a sweet and obedient child. I had them all fooled. At the office I'm a dedicated worker bee, and I get the job done-at home, I get it done, but I'm MOM. In this time of my life, I'd rather be at home and be MOM than at work. I'm a much more fun person outside of the office-I really am.

4. For some odd reason, my life always seems to revolve around the number 4! Here is a small example: I was born the 4th child, on the 4th month, on the 4th day, at 12:04 am. I got married on May 4th at 4 pm. I've been pregnant 4 times, (includes 1miscarriage), and presently, my husband and I have 4 children... I could go on and on about the frequency of times the number 4 comes up in my life, but it gets to be kind of ridiculous after awhile. For some reason the number just pops up, not on purpose, it just happens-no explanation. I was hoping my youngest would be born on the 4th, but he stubbornly decided to born on the 5th...

5. I met my first husband when I was 19 years old. After knowing him for two
weeks, I left the island, and we exchanged letters and telephone conversations.
I left in September, and he came to visit to me the following February. He
never left. We were "married" civilly by a retired judge on Valentines Day in my
mother's living room. The judge was annoyed that we didn't have rings, and he
got even more annoyed when we told him our REAL wedding was going to be in May,
after I turned 20. This was just for the "carta verde" (green card). We were in love, but we were too young. We didn't know eachother, let alone who we were. Before this marriage ended it produced two beautiful children. Although life back then wasn't easy, I don't regret any of it. I appreciate my life NOW more than ever because of it.

6. One of my most favorite memories as a child were vacations spent overseas to the
Azores. The island of Terceira will always be a second home to me, and I have my parents to thank for that. My father would work endless hours, and sometimes a job or two on the side to afford those trips, and for this I will always be forever grateful. We would spend entire summers surrounded by the beauty and culture of my family. It was truly the best gift my parents could ever give to us. We weren't rich by any means, but I always felt special because of those summer trips. I enjoyed ruining my new pumps on cobblestone streets, staying out way too late at nightclubs as a teenager, and truly enjoyed writing by candlelight in my mother's old kitchen.

7. I can touch my nose with my tongue. I know, this is a fascinating fact, but can you do it? Try it and let me know!

8. As mentioned before, between my husband and I we have 4 children. My two oldest children are from my first marriage, my husband has a son from his own previous marriage, and we have one son from this marriage that we share together. Nicholas is this son, and although he was quite a surprise birth for the both of us, having this child was quite a blessing. His birth just tied this family together, and I am so glad I share a child with this amazing man that I call my husband, Richard.

9. My two oldest children were born on their due dates. I'm not lying--it's true. With the help of Erik Estrada, (that's another entry) Lizzy was born effortlessly, and then there was Andrew who practically swam out. Nicholas wanted to make things interesting, so he was born two days early. All I can say is If I had that miracle shot, epidural with my older children, I would have had more kids; perhaps 8! I love kids.

10. I have a brother, an older brother that passed before I was born. His name was Edwin, and I've "known" him every since I was young. I grew up knowing NEVER to run across the street without looking both ways. I remember looking at his baby pictures, thinking they were of my own, and I remember those bittersweet looks from my dad telling me how much I looked like him when my hair was pulled back in a pony tail. I know it's possible to miss someone you never met.

11. I believe in ghosts. I do believe that life goes on after death, but I'm not that sure if there is life in other planets. I guess it is possible, but were you as disappointed as I was when they sent that robot to Mars and NOTHING happened? I don't know, I guess I was expecting to see some kind of life form come up to it and say hello or something. It was quite uneventful. I guess life in another universe is possible, but I tend to lean towards believing in things that I have seen more. I believe in ghosts--I've seen a few.

12. I remember laying in my crib as a baby. I remember seeing my mother looking down at me, and I remember a doctor looking down at me. I remember what I was thinking while I was laying there. You may think it's ridiculous, but I remember where my crib was located in my parent's room. Babies are smarter than what you may think.

13. I admire people who go out and act on their dreams. I admire courageous people who go against the norm and create beautiful things. I don't believe anyone has the right to tell you that "it isn't possible" because I truly believe that ANYTHING is possible, if you have faith within yourself. I try and remind myself this every day. What this world does not need is more negativity. I'm drawn to positive people. I see my glass half full than half empty. I love my family, my friends, Jesus and my faith, my country and I love Disneyland!

14. My dream job has always involved traveling and writing. Writing is always there. There is a voice inside me telling me to "write that book"...believe me, it hasn't shut up yet. There was a futile attempt way back when in my 20's, and the opportunity hasn't come up recently, but I hope to do some traveling in the next few years to places I've always dreamed of going. Perhaps this time next year I will more traveled. I've promised myself a trip to Rome before I turn 50...I've got 5 more years...wish me luck!

15. Okay, I'm at my last "interesting" fact about me. Besides writing, and day dreaming of traveling to Rome, and time with my family, I enjoy a good walk. I know it may sound a little old ladyish, but I quite enjoy it. I walk on a fast pace, and I like to pass people on my walking trail. I put my pink Ipod ear plugs in and I'm in another zone. I enjoy walking near the ocean, but I'll take a lake, or a mountain, or a walk through the redwood trees. I'll even deliver a few Avon brochures on my way. Oh yes, I am also an Avon lady part time--I am a Skin So Soft pusher.

Until next time... :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Did I Do That? Really?!

Have you ever automatically reacted badly or embarrassingly (is that a word?) to a situation that you didn’t have any control over? You discover that your natural instincts, and innocent reactions have taken over, and you don’t realize what you’ve done until it’s over, and there is nothing you can do to better the situation. It’s an awful feeling. All you can do is HOPE that no one saw you just do that. You can’t go back to that person to explain, because it would only make the situation worse. Well, unfortunately I’ve had a few of those embarrassing moments. Here are a few examples:

It’s one thing to have it happen in a public place with people you don’t know, but when it happens at work, it never goes away, no it just lingers. No one really talks about it—not to your face anyway. You are left NEVER knowing if “so and so” saw you do that, or heard you say that…. Sure, they will talk about it behind your back, perhaps in the break room with low voices and silent chuckles, but you’ll probably never hear about it. You are left to wonder, and ponder if you were caught acting badly.

In one incident, I walked into the women’s bathroom and almost caused a scene. In front of the mirror, washing their hands, I saw a tall figure. I immediately was taken aback. My natural instincts told me that I may have been in the wrong bathroom! Was that a man at the sink? From where I was standing, all I knew was it was a tall person, wearing manly loafers, very short hair, and wearing a long sleeve button down shirt, and low rise slacks. I felt myself stop in my tracks, and jump back a little, my eyes transfixed on the figure, until she came up to look in the mirror to fix her hair. I have no idea if she had seen my look of horror, and bewilderment or relief when she saw my reflection in the mirror. I looked like a deer caught in the headlights; I was in shock. Eventually, all I knew was I had to stop looking, and proceed to my stall as quickly as possibly, and try to avoid any further eye contact... I sat there on the toilet feeling really awful afterwards. What if I had said something horrible, questioning whether or not she was a man? Oh how embarrassing that would have been. Oh my God… I couldn’t even finish “my business” after that.

In another bathroom work place incident, I went into a stall to try and do my business, yet again, when I noticed heavy breathing coming out from the stall next door. It took all the strength I had not to knock on the stall wall and ask if the person next to me was “okay”. This person was heaving, and gasping for breath. I did not know that the person next to me was one of my superiors, who happened to be a larger woman. How was I to know that she always “heaved” and “gasped” when she was “doing her business?” I swear, I thought this woman was going to die in there. I thought it was a client, or another person working in the building. If I had said something, I don’t think it would have gone very well. Thank God I didn’t say anything. It would have been awful. I wouldn’t have been able to look at that woman in the face again.

For a number of years, I worked in a fairly small office, mostly with women. As the secretary, in this office, I became friends with all my co-workers, and having worked with them for a number of years, I grew to know them very well. I had met their boyfriends, children, friends, etc., family stories, and I was invited to a lot of the family/friend events. It was a very casual, and comfortable, close knit working environment. So, in comes a call for my friend Vickie. Her boyfriend, whom she had been living with for years, is on the phone and asks to speak with her. What do I say loudly across the busy, client waiting room? I call out:

“Vickie, your LOVER is on the phone!”

I’m so glad my friend Vickie has a sense of humor.

I’m getting better, but now and then I still squirm at the work place. I’ve caught myself assuming that people in the lobby are clients, when in fact they are judges or cops working undercover, and I accidentally told a person, who I thought was a janitor about some of my life history, when, later, I found out he was really a client, who happened to be a registered sex offender… I could go on and on, but there is one person in particular in the work place that makes me squirm each time I see him. He may have noticed, and I’m hoping he hasn’t, but I’m pretty sure he has seen me react badly at times when I see him. I’m afraid he has seen some weird looks from me—looks like I’ve just seen a ghost or something. He may think I’m really strange. I can’t help it, but from behind, this guy looks just like my ex-husband! So, sometimes, when I’m caught off guard, and forget he is around, I’ll suddenly see him walking towards me, and I cringe, and my heart stops a little, and I squirm, and sometimes I’ll make a face, like “someone just hit me in the stomach face.” Poor guy has no idea, and it’s embarrassing, but it just happens, and I can’t control it. I guess it’s okay if he thinks I’m odd, but I just hope he doesn’t think I find him attractive like the majority of the women in the building. He seems to have an ego, like someone “else” I used to know, which doesn’t help. I hope he doesn’t think: “Oh that Julie is gushing over me again…like, everyone else..” Squirm.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My Favorite "Butt Call"...

I'm sitting at work, with the radio on, and suddenly a song comes on that brings a flood of memories to me. It was a song that was very popular a number of years ago, and it’s associated to one of my most memorable butt call.

Have you ever experienced a “butt call?”

You may be wondering what is a butt call. Let me explain. A butt call usually occurs with a cell phone, usually belonging to a man, dials a phone number unknowingly. Because, men usually keep their cell phones, among other things, in their pants, a call can be made when they reach into their pockets, or sit and reposition themselves, the "call" button is inadvertently pressed, prompting a call to the last number that was dialed. They are totally unaware they are actually calling someone until much later, or never, depending on what the receiver of the call decides to do. This can put all parties involved in a very awkward position later.

Well, during the 5 year span of my “single days” after my divorce, I received a few “butt calls.” Here is a story of one in particular.

One late evening, years ago, I was up late watching T.V. and catching up with some laundry. My two kids were asleep, and I was just about to turn in myself, when suddenly, the phone rang. It was past 11:30 pm, and it was very unusual to get a call so late. I was a bit worried, and wondered who would be calling me so late in the evening, so I hurried to the phone and picked it up. It served to be a true "wake up" call on my part.


No response. But wait, I think I recognize that voice…

“Steve? Hello?”

It was Steve alright, but he didn’t hear me. He was apparently too busy talking to another person. It immediately became apparent that I was a receiver of a butt call. I heard background conversations, and a woman’s voice, and a lot of giggling. I heard glasses, and a juke box playing, Rob Thomas’ Smooth. Wow. It sounded that the guy I was seeing at the time was at a bar, apparently with another woman! Hmm.. I started to wonder, should I hang up? Should I try and call him? Should I yell in the receiver and call him names? Should I just listen to their conversation? I decided to listen in. This conversation was interesting. I guess he wasn't with his daughter tonight like he had explained earlier that evening to me. May be “someone” was trying to tell me something. I felt a little evil listening in, but, hey I was the one who got called at 11:30 pm, so I had every right to listen to the drunk.

“You look so cute with that cowboy hat on,” said Steve.

Giggle, giggle, giggle...

“Thank you.” I responded.

Steve must have re-positioned himself on the chair or stool he was sitting, because most of the rest of conversation was mumbled, and unfortunately, I didn’t hear too much until, he apparently repositioned his pants once more and got up.

“Let’s go home….” Exclaimed Steve.

Giggle, giggle, giggle…

I never let my “butt call” know what I had heard that evening. I took it as him actually doing me a favor. To make a long story short, the last time I heard from Steve was when he called months later to let me know that he got beat up by his new “lady friend.” According to him, she had thrown a phone at him, and he was heartbroken. Poor Steve. How ironic, poetic justice, hey? At least I can laugh about it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Mom

My mother was born on a summer day, July 7, 1934 on the island of Terceira, in the small coastal village of Vila Nova. She was born in the rock walled home, her father, Francisco and her Tio Janeiro had built years before. Francisco had returned to the island after making his journey to America. He had worked on a dairy farm side by side with his brother Gilberto. Although it was very uncommon for people to return from America, he had promised his mother that he would come back to the island one day, and he made good with his promise. He met my grandmother, Maria Adelaide, soon after, and they made Vila Nova their home.

My mother was the third daughter born to my grandparents. Unfortunately, both of her sisters had died before their 1st birthday due to an infestation of ecoli found in milk products, that plagued the island in the early 1930's. Both of the sisters born before were lovingly named Aida, but when my mother was born, my grandfather insisted that this time, this daughter would be named Ana.

My grandfather Francisco, from what I've heard was quite the character. He had an infectious personality, and was a very comical and jovial young man. He loved children, and like many people of his generation, he loved carnival. His passion was his writing "dancas do carnival", and he was known throughout the island for his talent of writing verses. His passion for writing started at a young age, always reaching for his notebook and pencil at his side, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, because a verse that would pop his head. He just had to write it down, or he might forget it by morning! My grandmother had told my mother that there were many sleepless nights due to her father's need to write. One of his first verses/poems he had first written, as a child was entitled, ironically, "Ana."

Unfortunately, my mother would never to know her father. My grandfather passed away from throat cancer when my mother was only months old. My mother was to only know of her father by recollections of her mother, and those by her many aunts and uncles, and family friends. My grandmother, Maria Adelaide, who found herself a widow at the age of 27, soon was married again a few years later to the only grandfather I would ever know, Jose. Jose was a good man, and a loving husband and father to my mother. He was a good friend of my grandfather's, and would speak about him often to my mother. This union also brought another sibling! My mother now had a younger sister, who my grandmother lovingly named, Aida---my dearest aunt.

My mother lived, for what I'm guessing, in the shadow of her father's death for a long time. Her father had died at a fairly young age, and people spoke about him and his talent constantly. The village missed him, and they missed his music. You could say he was almost some sort of celebrity from the village that was taken away too soon. Perhaps they were waiting to see something of my grandfather's talent come out of my mother. My mother was a pretty, brown eyed girl who people found a bit shy, but did possess some of her grandfather's talent. She enjoyed being on stage. Her passion was singing and theatre, and she was good at it. She was also quite the fashionista. Sometimes there would be parcels in the mail sent from America from an Aunt with beautiful dresses inside. They were handy downs, but my mother, who is an excellent seamtress, made "it work." A cousin visiting from America had once told her parents upon seeing one of my mother's plays,

"If she was born in America, she would be like our Marilyn Monroe."

(Okay, my mother told me and my sister this years ago, but to this day, she denies it. But it is true! So from time to time, we tease my mom and call her "Marilyn", but we are doing it out of love...nothing else.)

Yes, my mother had many admirers. She would sometimes talk to them from a high window on Thursdays and Sunday afternoons. There was this guy that lived in the city, and that guy who was from Lisbon, and that soccer player, oh and let's not forget that guy named Lorenco, but from what I've heard, I think her only true boyfriend was my father.

My father was in the American military at the time he first met my mom. He was stationed at the American base in Lajes purely on a fluke! His tonsils had to be removed, and because of that, he was not sent to Korea as originally planned. He was to be stationed at the island. Ironically he was stationed on the island of his parent's birthplace, where there were many cousins to visit! Ironically, my mother's step-father was one of them. My mother was only 15 when she first saw my father, 7 years her senior, standing there in her kitchen in military uniform. It was love at first sight for my dad.

Years passed on, and many letters were written to my mother, with no reply. Eventually, my mother got older, and kissed my dad for the first time. In her words, "He is the only man I've ever kissed!" (Oh, if only it was that easy for all of us.) My parents got married on the island, and after the birth of my oldest brother, Eddy, they went to live in California. It would be 15 years until my parents would return to the island with their children.

There have been good times, and tragedies in my mom's life, but my mom is one of the strongest women I know. She can drive you crazy with her compulsion for high heels and JcPenny clothes shopping, but she is my mom, and I wouldn't trade her in for anybody else. I fondly remember trips to the Azores as a child, where my mom had at trunk full of just shoes. My father would complain, and they would argue each time, but the arguments always ended in roars of laughter. There has been a void in her life since my father has passed away, and that void cannot easily be filled. Life does go on however, and she has proven that it does.

Happy Birthday Mom!! Let's make it another 40 would not be the same without you!

Monday, July 4, 2011

An American Story - The Lost Letter

My great-grandparents, Maria & João Lima; Taunton Massachusetts 

The other day, I had family come over for a nice visit. My Aunt Cecilia, and two of my cousins, Susan and Kathleen and their children were able to visit with us for the day near the pool on a very beautiful summer afternoon. Between the distractions of the children, ages 2 to 8, and a drowned mouse, (please don't ask) we had some interesting conversations about my own family history. I know much more about my mother's side of the family than I do of my father's, so I particularly enjoyed listening to the stories my aunt had to tell. My Aunt Cecilia is my father's sister, and she had been to the east coast many times, and between her visits with her aunts and uncles, and my late grandmother's recollections, she had many stories to tell. The visit was a memorable one for me, and I had the need to write some of this history down so as not to forget it. It's part of my own American family history, and being that it is the 4th of July, I think it is a most appropriate day to share this with you.

First of all, I am an American. I was born in California, 45 years ago in a fairly small coastal town of Santa Cruz, California. Santa Cruz is primarily known for it's Redwood trees and beautiful beaches. Santa Cruz is a desirable place to live--not just because of the ocean, but it's known for it's lifestyle, and easy way of living.  (More about Santa Cruz: My grandparents liked Santa Cruz as well. They enjoyed visiting during their summer vacations, and spent their days at the beach, away from the hot valley weather of home. They eventually decided to retire and move there in the early 1950's. My grandfather had sold the ranch in Winton, California, and at the age of 50 decided it was time to rest ocean side, and live the American dream. Not too shabby of a feat for two immigrants from the Azores, traveling in the "steerage" area for weeks, bound for America.

My grandmother, Rosa Lima was the eldest girl of 12 children. She was born in the Azores, Terceira, in the village of Agualva. Her mother depended on her to help care for her younger siblings, and her days were always filled with a never ending list of chores, and as I lovingly remember her say, "endless changing and cleaning of diapers." During the precious moments she did have for to herself, she would retreat to the attic area of her rock walled home into a crawl space so she could read her "novelas" (romance novels)and magazines in peace and quiet. Her cousins thought of her as a quiet type, who was somewhat of a dreamer. Like many teenagers her age, she had visions of going to America one day. She heard stories and read magazine articles of life in America, and it all seemed so exciting and different.

Her older brother, Manuel, had traveled to America a few months earlier. He had left on a ship with his best friend, and second cousin, Francisco. Francisco de Melo Borges--who happened to be my mother's father, and my grandfather. Manuel and Francisco traveled together in a large ship to start a new life. Manuel was going to look for work on the east coast, and Francisco was on his way to California to meet up with his brother Gilberto and sister, Maria whom had taken the journey a year before. They spent their time in the ship under many unpleasant conditions for weeks. They shared food they had brought with them from  home, shared stories, and their dreams. To pass the time, Francisco, who was known as the entertainer, wrote poetic verses on the ship and practiced and sang them to Manuel and the other passengers in the steerage area.

Manuel and Francisco reached Ellis Island, with soot on their faces, and with weary but heavy hearts. Their month's journey together across the Atlantic was a long one, but their journey had just begun, and they were to part ways now. They said their tearful goodbyes never to see each other again. My grandfather,  Francisco left onto another ship bound to San Francisco by way of Argentina, and Manuel stayed in New England, to settle in Massachusetts to find work at a factory.

Rosa's father, my great-grandfather, Joao, (John) was to make the same trip with another older brother six months later. Manuel had written home to say that he had found a good job in a factory that made copper pans. Rosa's mother, my great-grandmother, Maria, urged her husband Joao to meet their son there.

My great-grandmother Maria was the driving force to take her family to America. She was known as a very strong-willed and courageous woman. My great-grandmother wanted a better life for her children, away from the hard life, and hardships of the time. The island was experiencing awful weather, and sickness was plaguing the island. By the great urgency of his wife, my great-grandfather half heartily took the trip with his other son, Joao. They crossed the Atlantic and reached the east coast during a cold winter. My great-grandmother, Maria immediately begun to make preparations to meet them there later. It was soon discovered that she was expecting another child, but that did not hinder her from planning her trip at the least, in fact it made her more determined to have this child born in America.

It was cold, and it was a bitter winter in Massachusetts. It was the first time my great-grandfather had seen snow! Being older, my grandfather felt out of place in this new country. He was an island person, who had land and cattle in the Azores. He had grown his own food on the land. There in Massachusetts there were only factories, no land to work on, life was busy and was confusing!  It was not what he was accustomed to. His son, Joao, had an easier time adjusting.  He found a job working side by side with his brother Manuel.  However, my great-grandfather was frustrated.  After months of searching, he was unable to find a job.   Out of desperation, he wrote a letter to his wife, that went something like this:

"Our son Joao has found a job working with his brother Manuel, and they are working hard and making good money. I however, do not like it here. I cannot find a job. I miss my land, my wife and my children. The weather here is miserable. It is cold, and I think it best that you not come as we had planned. I will make arrangements to come back home at the end of winter......"

The letter arrived to my grandmother's house one winter's day. Rosa and her siblings all rushed around her as she excitedly opened the letter. Everyone was happy, and excited, but not more than my great-grandmother. She happily read the letter out loud to her children. As the words of her husband were read, the smile on her lips quickly faded. Upon finishing reading the letter, she immediately held it over her head, and ripped it into pieces in front of her children, and sternly told them all:

"We NEVER received this letter!"

She told her children that they would never speak of this letter, and they were to leave for America as planned at the end of the month. They were bound to America--no matter what the circumstances were. The letter, as far as she was concerned got "lost" in the mail, and that was that.  End of story!

Yes, my great-grandfather was a bit surprised to see his pregnant wife and children there waiting at the dock the day of their arrival. The letter he wrote had apparently never arrived.

My great-grandparents, with much work, and sacrifice eventually settled in a nice little town in Massachusetts called Taunton. My grandmother found a factory job at a thread factory, and at a social gathering, eventually reconnected with a friend of one of her brothers,  her one and only true love, Joao Costa, aka "John", my blue eyed grandfather.  My grandfather had traveled over the Atlantic from his native Terceira that same year, and with him he brought visions of life in California.  At that time there were many opportunities there primarily in the farm and diary industry.  My grandparents were soon married and made their life there, working hard, digging ditches, and doing any farm work they could find.  They pinched pennies, and made necessary sacrifices, often living without many simple luxuries, to eventually owning a ranch, and raising their four children: my Uncle John, my dad, Joe, and my two Aunts, Cecilia and Addie.

It's hard to think that a letter could have changed it all. Thank you great-grandmother Maria for ripping that letter. I owe you, as well as my children, and their children.  I'm proud to be an American, but most importantly I'm proud of my Portuguese American heritage. God bless America--may this country always be known as a place that welcomes all who have a dream of greatness!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Onions & Roses

It's a summer morning, and suddenly, I'm a kid again, wearing my brown leather clogs, and my white and red checked dress with matching bloomers--yes the one of the many dresses my mom had made me that summer, and suddenly I realize it's 1976. My hair is in two thick braids and is tied at the bottom with red ribbons. I'm walking down a dirt road towards my aunt's house. It's not a very far walk, but the dirt of the road is getting in between my feet and my clogs. I stop for a moment, and lean against one of the white washed walls, and take my clog off to shake the dirt and wipe the dirt away from my foot. I notice quickly that now my hand is full of white dust from the white washed house I was leaning on. Oh dear, I think, is my dress dirty too? Sure enough, I see some white dust on my bloomers, and I shake it off quickly, and proceed on my way to my aunt's house.

I usually don't make this walk alone, because walking to my aunt's house involves walking through the main road of the village, and I'm too shy when it comes to people I will surely meet on my way. I usually make this walk with my sister, who is more of a talkative person, and I can usually get away with just a smile. But today, I am alone and feeling quite brave. I see a few women in the village plaza, on the paved and cobblestone street, in front of my cousin Maria's house. They are waiting for the bus, and they are looking in my direction. I also see a man in a hat using the phone to call a taxi. An older woman is approaching me, all dressed in black, with a scarf tighly tied under her chin, holding a plastic bag of groceries. She looks up at me with tired looking blue eyes and acknowledges me with a nod.

"Bom dia menina."

I smile and nod back. I'm much too shy to say anything.

I suddenly remember why I need to get to my aunt's house so early that morning. My mother needs an onion, and she is waiting for me at home, so I need to get to my aunt's house as quickly as possible, so I begin walking at a quicker pace. As I make my way through the praca, I feel like someone is there watching me, and as I look up, I notice two women on the other side of the street looking down at me from their windows. They look like sisters, one at each window, side by side, wearing glasses. I smile, and pass them, and they stare down at me and continue talking. I hear their conversation as I pass. They are commenting on how fast I'm walking, and speculating on where I'm going. They are also saying that I am a big girl for my age, and that I have my mother's face.

I'm making my way near the cinema, and I hear the sound of men talking amongst themselves. I am feeling apprehensive now, I'm not quite sure why, but I do. I decide to just walk past as quickly as possible so not to draw attention to myself. There are two men in particular talking very loudly. Perhaps they won't notice me. I just want to get to my aunt's house and get an onion. May be I can convince my cousin Adelaide to come back home with me. I make my way past the cinema, and suddenly the men stop talking. It's silent. I can hear my clogs on the cobblestones, it's that quiet, when suddenly I hear my name being called out:

"Ah Julia, aonde tu vas?!"

I look up and I see my Primo Carlos calling out me from the top of the stairs at the cinema. He is asking me where I am going. He knows that it is unusual for me to be walking alone anywhere. I can feel my face turn red, and I hestitate, but call out to him to tell him I'm going to my aunt's house to get an onion. My response brings an unexpected uproar of laughter from the other men sitting above near the cinema door. I wave goodbye to Primo Carlos, as I hurry off as fast as I can, pass Lucia's store, and towards the hill towards Canada do Boquierao.

As I make my way up the road, I see a familiar face at the window of another house. It's Prima Fatima. She is at the window looking at me approach closer, as if she had known of my arrival for hours. She is smiling down at me, waving. My heart leaps, as she motions me to come and visit her. I tell her that my mom needs an onion, and that I was on my way to my Tia Aidinha's house. She laughs and tells me that she has plenty of onions, and motions me to come inside. I go to her front gate, and open the creaky wooden door, and ascend the steps up to her house. I've been there many times before, and as I reach the top of the stairs, I'm struck by the wave of the many beautiful scents from the roses that meet me there. I used to play there as a child. Prima meets me at her front door, and gives me a tight squeezed hug. I look into her eyes, and her eyes are welled with tears, but she is smiling. A tear falls from my cheek from out of nowhere.

I follow her to the backyard, through the garden past the wash house my sister and I used to climb on top of and sing from. Those were happy times I think to myself. I follow Prima to the little cellar in the back, through the green door. There on the floor is a large burlap bag full of onions. She hands me a white plastic bag, and she proceeds to fill the bag with onion after onion. Oh my mother will be so happy I think to myself. She will have enough onions to last her the whole summer now!

I thank Prima Fatima for all the onions, but before I leave, out of nowhere, she hands me a bouquet of white and pink roses. I've never seen a more beautiful bouquet of roses in my life. I bring the roses up to my nose and smell them. The intoixcating smell of the roses surprises me. I never smelled anything so wonderful before. Prima tells me that they are for me and my mother because one can never have enough roses are onions. I kiss her goodbye, my hands full of smelly onions and fragrant roses. I make my way down the stairs. I'm back on the road again, I turn around, and say my last goodbyes to Prima who watches from her window.

I'm walking slowly now. I proudly carry my onions and roses. I am happy and I find myself singing to myself. I exchange hellos with the people that pass me by with no hestitation. Everyone I see is smiling. A man tips his hat to me as I pass the cinema. I see a plane flying by overhead. As I approach the mouth of the plaza, from a distance I hear the church bells ring. Why are they ringing? They keep ringing, and ringing...they are trying to wake me up, but I'm not ready! I still have to get home and show my mom the roses and the onions! The church bells continue to ring until everyone and everything stops. I stop..

I wake up.

Then, suddenly I realize it's 2011, and I smell roses.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Time To Re-Boot!

Okay, thank God Blogger still remembers me, because frankly I'm not sure if I remember my password. It's been a long time since I've made an entry, so I'm doing a meme to try and "re-boot" my brain. Feel free to play along. I copied this from someone else--I hope they don't mind.. :)

From my camera: This is Nicholas at the San Francisco Zoo in the tarantula room. He had a lot of fun at the zoo last week. We went there and met three of my cousins: Susan, Kathleen & Tom. They live in San Francisco and Pacifica, and they all have children around Nicholas' age. Nicholas had a lot of fun with the kids and I really had a good time re-connecting with the cousins-it's a shame we don't see each other more often, but I plan to see them again real soon. :)

Outside my a swimming pool glistening under a bright and sunny early evening. Through the vertical blinds I can barely see it because of the numerous bathing suits and random beach towels and clothing hanging on the deck railing set out to dry, but I know it's there--somewhere. It's been a busy place lately, but right now all is quiet, and all is good.

I am thinking...about the weekend. Should I go to the grocery store now, or should I go tomorrow? Right now I'm doing nothing--perhaps it would better to go now-after all, best not to put off things that can be done today for tomorrow. Still I'm not in the mood. My body doesn't want to do it. I need a break--I think I deserve a break... Why do I worry so much? I always gets it done eventually..

I am thankful much. Where do I begin? I am thankful for my supportive and loving husband who has never asked me to change-other than NOT TO make any more big dinners during the week. See, I can't complain. Yes, I am thankful. :)

I am wearing...a skirt, and a t-shirt, and barefoot. My hair is still wet from swimming in the pool today. As you can guess I'm not expecting the Queen of England to visit me today!

In the office...I wish I remembered where I put that Paulo Coelho book I was reading! I had it outside with me last week, and I haven't seen it since. I was missing it at work the other day. I needed to take a break at my desk, and I was completely bored out of my mind. I took a walk instead. Perhaps that was a better idea; I had a good walk and crossed paths with some interesting people. I wasn't at work today, so I'm guessing, it's dark and empty right now. The green glow of my digital clock radio is the only light in the room. I didn't miss that place today, although for some insane reason I checked my work email. WHY do I do that?!? People at work are going to think I don't have a life.

I am remembering...all the cool party stuff I bought at the Dollar Store the other day. Gee, I saved a lot of money on Hawaiian themed paper plates and napkins--oh and don't forget the paper tiki totem men and pink flamingos decorations! I may even go back tomorrow! Exciting stuff.

I am going... to spend more time with my cousins Susan and Kathleen next week--I'm looking forward to it. We are going to Gilroy Gardens with the kids--I'm looking forward to riding the white swan again with Nicholas. He loves that place.

I am currently mentioned before, IF I CAN FIND IT, Paulo Coelho's "Veronika Decides To Die"... So far I'm liking it. I hope I find it again...urrrr...

I am hoping
...I'm not coming down with a cold. I noticed my nose is a little runny, I have a dull headache, and my throat feels a little sore. Oh I hope I'm not coming down with a cold!

On my mind...the party on Sunday, getting my son settled in a new school this fall, my work schedule, upcoming trips, my husband's company moving to another building....mostly all good stuff, so counting my blessings..

Noticing that...I enjoy working 10 hour days at work when it means I don't have to drive my commute more than 3 times a week...

Pondering these words..."I just miss real people..." I overheard this while walking downtown the other day. I passed a man talking on his cell phone saying these words, and it stayed with me for some reason. Perhaps it was the tone of his voice as he spoke these words. He sounded helpless, and defeated. Sadly sometimes I wonder myself where the real people are---they certainly aren't on T.V.

From the kitchen... nothing is cooking today at the moment. The boys are out and about with their girlfriends. Lizzy is at the mall working until 11 pm, and Nicholas had an early dinner. I had a bowl of cereal, I think Rich just ate some chips...

Around the house...just Nick in the back room playing video games, and Rich and I in the living room. All is quiet and content and somewhat clean--no clutter is allowed--it makes me nervous. I'm not kidding.

One of my favorite things is....lately, it has been sleep. I wish I was kidding.

Note: As you may have noticed, I changed the picture of my blog. It's from a wedding in Vila Nova, Terceira, Azores. My mom is the young girl second to the left. Her cousin, and childhood friend, is the second young lady at the end to the right. This blog for this month is in memory of her. She passed away last month on Mother's Day. Gone now but forever in our hearts, RIP Prima Fatima. My memories of Vila Nova will never be the same without you.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Landlady Chronicles, Part I

When I was a landlady, years ago, I met an array of different people. I had some good tenants that the neighbors hated, and tenants that the neighbors loved, but were hard to deal with. I could go on and about the lady who bounced her checks almost monthly, or the guy who was married to a young Columbian woman who later had an affair with another neighbor, or I can tell you about the lady that almost was my first tenant.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent..or not so innocent.

Her name was Ophelia. Ophelia was the first person who answered my rental ad. She made an appointment to see my condo one afternoon and she seemed to be a really nice, down to earth person. We were in a hurry to rent the condo, and I was still pretty new to all this landlord stuff. I hadn’t had a clue of really what to look for; and I was just anxious to move out, rent my condo, and move into the home we were planning to buy. Ophelia, I thought seemed to be a really nice lady with good intentions of keeping the condo nice and clean.

Well Ophelia liked my condo so much, she asked to come by the next day and have her “boyfriend” come look at it. Ophelia walked her boyfriend through the condo excitedly. We'll call the boyfriend, Anthony. Anthony seemed to be a nice enough guy. He seemed really interested in some of pictures, and other things around the house that screamed: “I’m PORTUGUESE!” Was it the statue of Maria de Fatima, or was it my little souvenir dolls? I’m not quite sure. Anthony finally asked me if my family was from the Azores, and it wasn't long before we went on to talking, and then learned that his mom was also from the islands. He seemed to be a nice Portuguese guy with good intentions, so I thought.

I pretty much made up by mind by then that Ophelia was going to be a good tenant, and I was ready to call her with the good news, but later that day, there was a knock on the door, and who should be standing there, alone at my door, was Ophelia’s boyfriend, Anthony. I was a little surprised, to see him there.

“Hello Julie, I know this is kind of strange, but I feel the need to tell you something about my girlfriend, Ophelia.”

In short, Anthony went on to explain that his “girlfriend” was a nut case. Lovely. He went on and on to tell me in detail all the reasons why Ophelia would not be a good tenant. Not only was she messy, but she could not pay rent, and he had some documented incidents of her going off the deep end, where the police had been called. One incident involved her throwing a brick at his windshield, and then there was Christmas dinner at his mother's house. Apparently, Ophelia had flung the Christmas ham across his mother's dining room table in a fit of rage.

“Julie, you seem like a very nice person, and I can tell you have a very nice Portuguese family. I would feel badly if I didn’t tell you what a mess Ophelia really is. She will wreck this nice place up."

I was saddened to realize that my search for a tenant was not over like I had hoped, but I was appreciative of Anthony's warning. I went on to explain to Anthony that I was glad he had come by because I was just about to call his girlfriend and offer the place to her.

“Just tell her you ran a credit background check on her, and you won’t have to explain a thing to her.”

Good advice. Duh.. I didn’t even think of running a credit check before offering her the condo. I told you I was all new to all of this.

Well, I thanked Anthony again for his warning. I felt like he did me a great service. I guess he thought he owed me one because both of our moms were from the Azores. My Portuguese souvenirs and the statue of Our Lady pulled through once again. I did still feel very badly when I called Ophelia telling her that the condo was no longer available, but at the same time I thought her boyfriend did me a favor. I didn't want anyone to tear my place apart, nor did I want someone so impulsive and looney toon the way her boyfriend described her. Why they were still together still didn't make sense to me though.

Months went by, and while at work, I ran across Anthony's name. This is not good. I mean, I work for a county agency for Probation, so whenever a name “pops up” for someone, it’s not usually for good reasons. No, Anthony was not as good as he seemed, and then I felt badly for his nice girlfriend. I wondered if they were still together. That was all but years and years ago, but today, his file is back on my desk. Without getting into specifics, let us just say this guy is a criminal who lies so very well. So, now I don’t know if Ophelia was in fact a nut case who threw the Christmas ham across the poor Portuguese mother’s dining room table. It all could have been just another bunch of lies, but WHY he wanted to “protect me” from the “nutso” who he called his “girlfriend” still boggles my mind. May be he just didn't want her to move.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Soul Expressed

This entry is about my son, Andrew. The kid never ceases to amaze me. He started writing poetry when he was 13 or was it 14? I couldn't really tell you when to tell you for sure. It started with him and a few friends meeting after school during his Jr. High days at a friend's house, listening to beats, and playing with rhymes. I had no idea what was going to become of it. At the time I remember, sitting in the car waiting for Andrew to finish practicing beats, usually he was late getting out of his friend's house, and usually, I was quite irritated about it. Nicholas, who was a baby at the time did not like sitting in the car, and usually he was quite fussy in a hot car waiting. Who was I to know it was the start of something special. I had no clue. But, this hobby did not stop there. Soon it turned into all night sessions in his grandma's closet, with a microphone hanging from the ceiling. Who knew my mother's sweaters would provide just the right sound. Studio sessions are now mainly at home in his walk in closet. Who knew, my little, shy, cautious, skinny little boy would write poems, and perform on stage so naturally, from open mike sessions or on his high school stage. Who knew really!?

Years before, a "psychic" told me of what my kids would become in adulthood. She mentioned great things for both of my children. She went on to say my daughter would accomplish many things, and that my son would turn to music and become very successful in that field. I was glad to hear all these predictions, but I wasn't quite ready to take this woman's predictions seriously. I never really saw my son Andrew, who was 5 at the time gravitate to music, or pick up a musical instrument. Sponge Bob Square Pants was his musical favorite, and he loved to recite the songs from that cartoon, but other than that he didn't seem very interested in music. I bought him a toy piano for Christmas anyway. He hardly used the thing.

He won the poetry slam last Thursday night, and the following poem was the one he recited on stage. I wish I could attach the video to this entry, but alas, me, Mom, obviously does not know how to use a camera correctly. I'm hoping one of his friends will share the video so I can one day share. He usually performs with music, but he didn't need it. He expresses himself so well...he amazes me every time. I may sound like any mother who is proud of her son, and yes I am. I say that proudly. This might be the start of something bigger, or not--but I'm his biggest fan of course.

I wanna spit something so great and find a way to escape.

Someone help me out this mess cause I've been twisted by my fate

I speak emotion pronouncing punch lines till my mind is weak from this poetic potion

So make a motion to express

Show devotion cause nothing less will shift my ocean

I'm more than just a kid man I've proved myself up off these battle grounds

Sometimes I break down cause my attitude is different now

Different how?

My will is passionate

Ration this then my life will end, not quit

I spit until my lungs give out like heart attacks I'll clog you out

Rush the ink inside my veins

My pain is simple yet sustained

See advice from the wise keeps my eyes open wide so I can understand this life and find a better way to survive

Feel a thrive to show whats inside I stride to glide across the sky

An out to the universe

But surely you'll break apart an cry

Cause the one you love will scar your heart and die

My soul is petrified beyond the rhyme rhythm and whats left of time

Watching the one you love the most drifting away in the distance becoming possibly a ghost

Literally or figuratively either way it won't make sense

No ones parallel to my prison cell so to you this won't make sense

I'm tense drenched by reality and reflected by fatality

Tears dripped off my cheek writing this its actuality

Something real!

Something true!

Something for just me an you!

Glance upon this fairy tale like the story is ya point of view....(silence)

Then I flew away from all this pain an death

My breath is kept whispering the meaning of life

An that whisper I might never hear

Some fear that its the end for them

But I'm happy in this atmosphere

Even though bliss may not be it

My path will surely balance it

Life attacks the soul strong an its up to you to challenge it....

So challenge it

Diminish the evil inside your heart and grasp the essence of whats pure

Cause no matter what you say or do we probably won't ever find a cure..

Just a way to escape from it all

An me

I've found a way to be free from it all

What I speak right now

What I write there and then

To liberate my soul within

Is Simply Soul Expressin

- Sincerely Soul Expressed Copyright @ US ADMINISTRATION OF COPYRIGHT

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Courtesy Flush

I once took a picture of someone that I didn’t really much care for, ripped it up in tiny pieces, and flushed it down the toilet. Wouldn’t you know there was a piece with the entire face of this person still in tact, and as I watched the smiling face whirl in the toilet water I felt a feeling of utter satisfaction mixed in with a pinch of silliness and guilt.

I told myself I was going to try and give up that feeling of guilt this year. Why do I find myself worrying constantly about whether I did or did not do the right thing? I’ve been constantly told that I “worry too much” or “care too much” or “I’m too nice”. I guess I like to treat people the way I would like to be treated, but I can honestly say, it makes me expect too much from people. I must stop expecting people will do the “right thing” because, the majority of the time they don’t. It makes me second guess myself. I mean, do I really know what is the “right thing?” Apparently, my right thing, isn’t everybody’s right thing.

Does this make sense?

It might not. I realize this. Flushing the picture of that person down the toilet may not have been the right thing. Believe me, silly as it may seem, I felt guilty afterwards. It almost felt like I actually flushed this person down the toilet whole, and I felt guilt that I plunged this person into their watery grave. The smile on the face still haunts me.

What purpose did it serve to flush the picture down the toilet? True, I don’t have to see the picture pop up anywhere unexpectedly. Perhaps that it is why it was upsetting to find, although I didn’t do it right away-I thought about it. There was a thought process involved. It wasn’t done in the heat of the moment-it was not passion driven. Why did it cause me to feel so uncomfortable, just knowing it was around? Am I really that insecure? Perhaps it shows weakness—yes, that is probably why it still bothers me.

After I met my boyfriend (now husband), I gathered all the paperwork and evidence from my previous, messy divorce in a pile and burned each and every scrap in my gas fireplace. I don’t regret doing this. Every piece of “evidence”, every hurtful and tearful fact of betrayal that I kept in file was destroyed. I wanted to close that chapter in my life completely, and, I must say it was very therapeutic. It made me happy, and it made my boyfriend happy; I was ready to get over it, and lead a new life. The negativity was behind me. Sure, I cut a few pictures, but only a few, but I never flushed my ex-husband’s face down the toilet. I did burn the love letters to his married Canadian lover that I did find on the computer, but I didn’t burn any of his pictures. Sure he proved to be a major disappointment, but I certainly don’t wish him ill. I hope he lives a happy, long, lovely life, far away from me.

Last night I found myself going through old, filed away documents, for someone and I came across hundreds and hundreds of pay stubs from garnished wages child support checks. I saved every single stub thinking that some day I would need them. I found myself gathering them all up, and throwing them all in the recycle bin. Funny how things can change from being important one day, to worthless the next—or should I say, 15 years later.

I guess I’m just human. I will continue to treat people the way I like to be treated, but I’m not going to expect anything in return-no matter how disappointing. So sorry for the flush---I slip sometimes.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Haunted Disney

As mentioned before, I took the kids out to southern California last month, and went to Disneyland. I usually go every summer, but last summer we didn't go because we had a lot of other things planned, not to mention a wedding, and a trip to the Azores. When I was a kid, my parents never took us to Disneyland, but don't feel too sorry for us. Instead of Disneyland, we went to either Pismo Beach, or we went to the Azores, and we lived in Santa Cruz, a coastal town known for its beaches, and boardwalk with roller coasters and rides. We weren't deprived in no means, and I don't regret any one of those trips to the Azores whatsoever, but I always wondered why we never got to go to Disneyland as children. So, at the first opportunity as an adult I went, and I've gone ever since.

We usually go in the summer or spring, and this was the first time we actually went in February. It was less expensive to go this time of year, and it was a little rainy and colder, but it all mean't less people and shorter lines. On the first day we were there, we got on every ride with a minimal line wait of 5 to 7 minutes if that. As it got later in the day and darker(and wetter) the lines were pretty much non-existent. As we approached one of the last rides of the evening, the Haunted Mansion, it was easy to see why my youngest, Nicholas was not going to have anything to do with the place. I had to admit, the mansion did look more daunting than usual. The tall mansion, in the rain, lighted only by the dim lights and a full moon in the middle of darkness truly looked like a haunted mansion. So, while Liz and Andrew ventured inside, Nicholas and I stayed away in search of a drinking fountain.

I've heard many stories about the Haunted Mansion, including the disbursement of human ashes inside the ride. Stories of people actually bringing the ashes of their loved ones to the ride fulfilling their last wishes of forever to be in the "happiest place on earth." Here's a link to a related article:

It's a little unsettling, isn't it? I guess some Disneyland enthusiasts would love the idea of having their remains forever locked in the Haunted Mansion, or live with the mechanical pirates on the Pirates of the Caribbean. I don't know about you, but if I had to make a choice of what ride to be "scattered" in, I would pick a happy ride, where I could see smiling faces of children each day, like the Peter Pan ride, or the Dumbo Ride. Oh, and yes, It's A Small World is a very happy ride, if you can handle hearing that song over and over again---it might be just a living hell.

The next day I went on the Haunted Mansion ride with my older son Andrew. It certainly wasn't the first time I've been on this ride, but I wanted to pay closer attention to it. I was determined to find something that I had never noticed before. The ride, in the beginning proved to be pretty uneventful, familiar and predictable, until of course it stopped three times right in the middle of the graveyard, and by the knocking, and vibrating doors that sounded like heartbeats. Lovely.

You know, when you are gliding by through the ride, and it's "spooky" little scenario scenes, it really isn't very frightening, until your buggy gets stuck right there in the middle of it. I have to admit I was feeling a little uncomfortable sitting there in my buggy in the middle of the graveyard, admid the singing and flying ghosts. I found myself wondering, gee, may be there are real spirits of people in this ride having a little fun. Then suddenly, from the ride you hear the narrator's voice go on the loud speaker to announce that the "spirtis" were disrupting the ride again, and that ride would resume once the "spirts" have "moved on." Lovely. Finally, after what seemed like several minutes, the buggy started up again proceeded its way towards the end of the ride.

Right when the buggy starting moving, I heard a small knock on the side of my buggy. I was a little startled by it. I waited to hear Andrew tell me he had heard the same knock, but apparently, he didn't. I didn't want to frighten the boy, but I was left to wonder about this knock throughout the rest of the ride. It didn't help that I was thinking of all the potential scatterings of ashes that may have been lurking inside the ride right before I actually heard this "unexplained knock" that I only heard. And, of course, I did not want to mention this knock to Andrew because I didn't want him to get scared or anything. I still haven't told him about it, because I'm still questioning it myself. I have wondered perhaps if it was the people in the buggy behind us who knocked on our buggy, but I don't think that would be possible, or perhaps it was someone walking around the ride that did it. I've heard that there are actual people who run the ride that dress in costume with the sole purpose of frightening ride goers, but I did not see anyone. Let's just say I left the ride wondering about it. Apparently, I still am. The little ghost doll at the end of the ride, with the mocking voice who said goodbye to us didn't help matters either.

The mysterious knock on my buggy wasn't the only freaky experience that happened during my Disneyland visit.

We stayed at the Paradise Pier Hotel near the park, and I ended up having to buy a new pair of sunglasses at their gift shop. You see, we had gone on the Indiana Jones ride earlier that afternoon, and I apparently looked into the eyes of the Goddess Medusa, which prompted my sunglasses to fly off my head, only to be lost in a river of lava for all eternity. I went to the hotel's gift shop in search of a new pair, when I encountered the most strangest woman. I don't know if I looked any more suspicious than the average customer, I mean, I don't think I fit a profile of someone who would likely steal or commit a crime. When shopping a lot of people think I actually work at the stores I shop in. (It has happened to me for years, and I don't really understand why.)

This woman was working at the register and I could definitely feel she was staring at me. I was not the only person in the store, but I could tell she was very intent to watch me as I shopped around the carousel of sunglasses . There wasn't much to choose from as it was, but this woman made me feel so uneasy, that I ended up buying any pair just to get out of the place. When I finally made it to the cash register, she started talking to me, and was pleasant enough, but she still had that weird look in her eyes. It wasn't her appearance, but it was in the way she looked at me, like she knew me for some place or somewhere. She had a sort of blankness in her eyes, and when I explained why I needed glasses (she made a comment about the glasses), she responded with a very serious tone of voice, and went on to say that she always wanted to work on that ride because of all the lost items that are thrown off and lost, but, she then said that my glasses were probably somewhere broken by now with a concerned look on her face. I wanted to tell her that I could care less because they were a cheap pair of $10 sunglasses, but I just wanted to get out of there and not invite more conversation with this weird woman.

I'll have to remember to put my sunglasses in the net in front me on the ride next time, and not look into the eyes of Medusa. This woman at the gift shop wasn't really rude, she just reminded me of a zombie from that movie, the Night of The Living Dead. Her eyes were missing a certain brightness and soul to them. She was just plain spooky. "Come back again!" she called out. I don't think so...

Monday, February 28, 2011


(This entry has nothing to do with the lovely Doris Day, but if my GPS system was personified, she would be a lot like may be this entry has a lot to do with Doris to decide...)

Driving home from L.A. in afternoon traffic, a black convertible sports car whizzed past, blasting Madonna's "Material Girl." The driver of car was a bald African American male, with large sunglasses talking loudly on his blue tooth. His license plate read: 1FunGuy I tried to get past him in traffic to take his picture, but the traffic did not allow it. He must have turned off at an exit, never too be seen again.

I should have known better to leave Disneyland after 2 pm, but I was hoping that a holiday Monday would be lighter in traffic, but of course I was wrong. It seemed that everyone had the day off, and that everyone was either enjoying the dry weather, or on their way home from the long weekend like we were.

"Extreme traffic ahead, recalculating..." my GPS woman exclaimed this almost every 5 miles throughout our journey out of the city. Can you say irritating? Nothing would shut that .itch up..

Let's call GPS woman, Doris.

I have a love/hate relationship with Doris. Sometimes she gets me to where I need to be, and I am very thankful for her company, but there are often times where Doris directs me to places that I shouldn't be, or don't want to be, and places that I never knew existed.

While in Marina Del Rey, Doris took us to a non-existent movie theatre, located in the middle of a lovely condominium duplex, one wrong exit, and a closed restaurant. There was a moment there where I was very tempted to throw Doris out of the window, but I didn't. I think Doris needs to be updated--it really isn't her fault. She does take me to the right place most of the time, but there was a moment there when she directed me off of Hwy 5, to an exit in L.A., looking over the city, where I seriously feared for the lives of myself and my innocent children. It was like being in an episode of Southland. I expected to see gun shots exchanged, or a high speed police chase happen in front of me. AND, still there was that exit Doris directed me to take because of more "extreme traffic" warnings, where she directed me away from Hwy 5 yet again, to avoid the Grapevine, where I found myself driving through Palmdale, onto Hwy 138--Avenue D.

Lovely Avenue D

Avenue D - Highway 138 proved to be a stretch of 38 miles through the middle of nowhere. It's a lovely road of nothing on both sides, only road kill, abandoned vehicles and little more. True there were a few ranch homes there, and some lovely hills in the background, but nothing else. In my daughter's words, "It's a place you are brought to be shot and left for dead." It was also a place where people apparently had abandoned many vehicles. We counted quite a few and we drove past. Who knows what or who was inside of them.. If it wasn't for the fact that I did have a full tank of gas, and had my vehicle fixed and checked beforehand, this place would make me very, very nervous. It's not a place you want your car to break down on.

Highway 138, Avenue D (D for Dead or D for Doris?) is a two lane highway, with slow trucks. One must pass the trucks to go faster---and, yes, I did. I passed 4 trucks, and I swear one of those trucks sped up when I was trying to pass it. Luckily, it was still daylight out, and I was not alone. Seemed like other vehicles with corrupt GPS systems, such as Doris, had directed other motorists in the same direction. It made me feel better while I was dodging trucks to know that I was not alone. I didn't know later that this stretch of highway had nicknames like "blood alley" but I could understand why. After finally getting off of Avenue D, back to Hwy 5, I was very tempted to throw Doris out the window so she could meet her own demise, but I don't throw expensive toys out the window, and it's the only thing that saved her.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Afternoon At Sears Optical

The other day I had the great honor of taking the Queen mother (my mom) to the optometrist at Sears. Wow, it was quite an experience! I couldn’t believe the characters we ran into at that place. There must have been a week of a new moon, because the people we encountered there were out of the ordinary. My mother and I spent a good portion of our time just sitting there in the lobby taking it all in, sometimes laughing and snickering in Portuguese. (Knowing a second language comes in handy sometimes.)

My mother immediately pointed out one customer that looked like the cartoon character, Peter Griffin from Family Guy. I was surprised how quickly my mom made that connection. I was unaware she even watched Family Guy. My mom is just full of surprises! This guy WAS in fact a dead ringer for Peter Griffin! He had the hair, the clothes, the glasses, only difference is he was wearing Birkenstocks with blue turquoise socks. Okay, he was a Santa Cruz version of Peter Griffin. Of course, guess who got to sit across Peter Griffin in the lobby while my mom got her eyes tested? Yes, I did, and wow, I quickly learned that Peter was quite the conversationalist! Lucky me!

It wasn’t long until two other cartoon characters walked in. This time, it was Hank and Dale from King Of The Hill, personified. Both of them walked in wearing glasses and high rise wrangler jeans. They were wearing t-shirts, tucked into their jeans, both revealing a pair of swollen beer bellies. All that was missing was a can of beer in each hand, and a cigarette hanging out of Dale’s mouth. My mom and I exchanged glances at one another, and tried our best not to burst into laughter. It wasn’t as much as their appearance, but the way they approached the lobby. They slowly entered the lobby like deer caught in the headlights. It was very strange. They were apparently both on a mission.

We all got an ear full of their “mission” while I politely conversed with “Peter” while my mother was getting her eyes tested. We overheard, “Hank” complaining to the salesman, as he tried to bargain on a price for a new pair of transitional lens glasses for his brother, “Dale”. Apparently, he “bought his brother a pair with his Sears charge card three years ago, and the lenses aren’t turning into sunglasses when he goes outside no more…” Let’s just say Hank was not amused with the price to replace his brother’s glasses.

“He is actually bargaining with the sales clerk!” exclaimed Peter.

The atmosphere was getting a little heated before the salesman got on the phone to speak to the manager. Meanwhile another guy walked in to pick up a pair of glasses. This guy looked like Elmer Fud. He wasn’t wearing a hunting cap, but I wish he had been because he had this large dry scab on the top of his bald head. The sales girl couldn’t find his second pair of glasses, so Elmer sat there, waiting for the salesman to get off the phone. He went on to chat to the poor girl, telling her stories of how he had already out-lived his parents, and how he saved himself from drowning in a creek. He never said anything about his head injury, and I’m quite surprised he didn’t because it looked rather serious, and I would have thought he wanted to impress the girl with yet another story about how he had gotten it. May be it’s from when he “saved himself” from drowning in that creek. May he hit a rock?

Well, meanwhile, Hank and Dale finally got the negotiated price they hoped for the glasses, and Hank’s voice went down a few notches. Dale said nothing. I don’t think he even spoke once. What seemed to be eternity, my mom finally got out of the exam room, and Peter Griffin finally went inside with his turquoise socks.

My mother chose a nice pair of Sophia Loren glasses. After waiting 15 minutes for the sales clerk to finally find my mom’s prescription for the glasses that were right there at the register, he sat down with us and it wasn’t long before he was pitching to my mother the wonders of transitional lenses. By this time, we were tired of hearing about these glasses---Hank and Dale’s situation did not help the cause. I guess this sales clerk was a little disappointed when my mother said no to them. She had to tell him three times before he finally got a clue. This sales clerk had a very stuffy nose, that he was constantly clearing while he sat with us. It was not pleasant. Let's call him, Sneezy.

Sneezy explained that he had some kind of disease (he explained what it was, but I don't remember) that made his sinus’stuffy, and eyes water. Too much information. I think he was trying to impress me. He kept on asking for my name, telling me that I could pick the new glasses on Valentines Day. Wow. The waving of my left hand with my wedding ring, did not phase him. He did fix my mom’s old glasses though—I will give him that much. Apparently the reason why my mother has been feeling dizzy, and why her handwriting has been a little messy lately isn’t because her prescription was too old, it was because the person who put them in last put them upside down. Mystery solved!

After 3 hours at Sears, we finally left the building. The people we met that day unfortunately will be remembered for a long time. No, I did not go pick up the glasses on Valentines Day. The glasses are still there.

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