Monday, November 26, 2012

Going Down Alamo Avenue


I was having one of those restless nights again. I was tossing and turning, and I just couldn't get comfortable. I finally just gave up and found myself just lying there, thinking about the day's events, hoping it would induce some much needed sleep, and for some reason, I pictured my self back in my old neighborhood on Alamo Avenue.

When I was younger, and couldn't fall asleep, I would lie there in my twin bed, and try and listen to the noises outside my window. The noises lulled me to sleep, like a lullabye. If I was really quiet, I could hear an owl from a distance, perched on the light pole near the canyon; a cow softly mooing in the pasture beyond the canyon, and if I remained very, very quiet, I could even hear a seal crying out from seal rock, out in the ocean.

I started to think about those sounds, and suddenly I started to remember all the childhood friends from that same neighborhood. It had been years since I've even thought of most of them, and as I remembered each and every one of them, my memory had lost the faces. I remember who they were, and where they lived, but for the most part, their faces were mostly a blur to me. If I saw one of them today, it would be highly unlikely I would recognize their faces, and sadly a few of them have already died. This left me to thinking and asking myself. Is this what I have to look forward to as I get older?

There was Joey who threw Disco Duck dance parties, Kelly who made fun of my Winnie the Pooh outfits, that nameless girl on the side of the block who had dolls whose hair would grow when you twisted their necks, who had that canopy bed must suitable for jumping, there was Ricky who lived at the corner who I traded a dollar for a quarter, and that other girl who had the mean mom; and the noisy family with all their daughters, but still there are a few friends that I will always remember.

I remember my "first boyfriend". His name was Sean, and he lived down the street. He had a little sister, and they lived in a two story house with a big stairway to the front door. One memorable day, while playing in his backyard, he gave me a kiss on the cheek under a small cherry blossom tree. Later he held my hand and walked me home. I was five years old, and I really didn't think it was a big deal, but before he left me by my front door, he warned me in a very serious voice, "Remember not tell your mom I kissed you!" I was confused. Was his kiss on the cheek a bad thing? Nevertheless, I kept my promise and to his day, I never told my mother about the "forbidden kiss". Sadly, as soon as we started kindergarten, we were forced to part ways. Having a girlfriend in the same class, and hearing the constant tauntings of "Sean has a girlfriend!" proved to be too stressful for the both of us. I never got a second kiss, and he moved away a few years later. I saw him years later in junior high school. He went to a rival junior high, and his high school jazz band was performing at our assembly. I just watched him play the saxophone and said nothing to him.

Kim lived a few houses down the street across from the canyon. Kim was from Texas, and her parents pickeled pickles in large barrels in their garage. She had an extensive doll collection in her room, with multiple outfits which we played for hours with. She was a few years older than me, but still liked playing with dolls, so we enjoyed eachother's company. I remember her stories about growing up in Texas the most. She once told me that she actually went to school there barefoot because it was so hot. I often wondered how she didn't burn her feet while going to school barefoot, but I didn't ask. Kim was really good friends with the young couple that lived in between us, and for some reason we used to go there quite often. I never went by myself, but Kim would go there constantly. I don't remember why, but they were very nice to us and always gave us fruit or ice cream. This couple must have been in their 20's and they drove an antique style van, and I don't really remember their names, just that the woman was pretty and had long hair, and her husband also had long hair. He reminded me of "Meathead" character from that show "All In The Family". Kim moved away, and the cool couple moved soon after in their antique van.

Then there was Freddy. Freddy lived down the street from me and he is someone I will definitely never forget. Freddy had bright red hair, wore glasses, and freckles covered his little chubby white body from head to toe. Freddy was my age, but had a learning disability. I don't remember exactly how we first met, but I remember playing "school" in his room almost every other day. I was the teacher and he was my student, and he had the most addicting giggle you ever heard, and he was a very sweet friend. He would come to my door, and say to my mother, "Hello Anne. Can I play with Julie today?" Years would pass and I would see him around town almost on a daily basis, as I drove by. He never really changed much through the years. I would say, "There's Freddy!" and wave, and he would wave back, although I was never sure if he knew who I was. One day, I stood in line behind him at the grocery store. He was holding a gallon of neopolitan ice cream with a girl who I assume was his lady friend. I said hello, but I saw no sign of recollection on his face when he looked at me. I smiled and told him to have a nice day.


There was another red headed boy that lived down the street who was a little bit older. I don't remember all of the circumstances of the day, but I do remember throwing a rock down the canyon at "some boys" who were calling my friend names. I didn't even see the rock hit anyone, but I did hear a loud yelp coming from the canyon. With that, us girls ran as fast as we could away from the scene. I had the longest run up the hill to my house. When I got there, I quickly hid in the back bathroom and waited. Sure enough a doorbell rang, and my mother, who had no idea what had happened was talking to the red head's mom at the door. All I heard was mumbling, the door closing, and my mother shouting out my name, "Ah Juliana!" A few days later, I saw the kid at school with a big ole' bandage on his forehead. For some reason his class was visiting under classmen and he volunteered to play a board game with me. It was then I learned that he wasn't a bully afterall, but to this day, I swear his mother gives me the evil eye each time I go visit my mom on Alamo Avenue. I don't think she is ever going to forget me.

Soon after all this, I heard a train whistle, and fell fast asleep.





Saturday, October 13, 2012

The old man, and Bob the Gnome.



When I was a child, and when I wouldn't go to sleep at night, my siblings and I were told of an old man, "o velho" who walked down the streets at night with a large sack over his shoulder searching for noisy children who misbehaved and would not sleep at night. If he came to a house where there was a noisy child, he would knock on the door. If the child persisted to not sleep after the knock, he would go through an open window, search for the child, and put him or her in his large sack. At the end of the night he would throw the sack in a river.

I cannot tell you the countless times "o velho" visited our home throughout my childhood. The sound of the knock would send me to a frightened state, and all fell silent.

"O velho!" my mother would exclaim in her most distressed voice.

At the announcement of "o velho" at the door, I quickly closed my eyes tightly and try to sleep. I would listen intently as my mother would continue to recite her nightly prayers whispered in Portuguese. That and a song of Ave Maria would usually do the trick, sending the old man back to his walk down Alamo Avenue.

Eventually, after years of his visits, we all knew that there was no "old man" walking the streets at night, and that the knock on the door was really my mother or father knocking on our bedroom wall, or any wall nearest at the time. Yes, we all eventually found out it was all an evil hoax, but the threat of the old man was enough to still make us silent. Even through our giggles, we would make a serious effort to fall asleep. We would even knock on the walls ourselves to mock our parents, but eventually we would go to sleep.

The old man story was a scare tactic brought down from generation to generation--it was used on my mom, and her parents before her. Who knows how long "O velho" had visited this family throughout the years. It may sound like a cruel and frightening way for any child to be coaxed to sleep, but I will say it did work, and I do confess I have tried it with my own children, but with little success; especially with my youngest child.

No, Nicholas did not buy the idea of an old man walking the streets with a sack over his shoulder. I had to think of something different. It would be years later, that Nicholas would confess to me his constant nightmares of a little garden gnome that sat on a swing in our backyard.

Yes, instead of "o velho" we had Bob the Gnome.

Bob the Gnome was bought at the drug store one spring day. He wore a little red hat, and sat on a swing. I immediately fell in love with this little garden gnome, and I happily brought him home. My husband hung the little man and his swing on the little cherry blossom tree that was growing in the corner of our backyard. The children named the gnome "Bob" and everyone seemed to enjoy his silent presence in the backyard, everyone except Nicholas.

I hate to admit this, but when Nicholas misbehaved, I told him that Bob was not happy. Nicholas would look outside the sliding door window to see if it was really true. Bob was sitting on his swing, but I warned my son that he could easily jump off that swing and pay Nicholas a visit if he didn't behave. The thought of this garden gnome coming to life must have shocked Nicholas, and soon only the mention of the name "Bob" would set the boy into sweet silence. It worked, and there was temporary peace, and that is all I cared about for that particular moment, but of course the older children in the household had a field day with this. They enjoyed telling their younger brother how upset Bob was going to be with him if he didn't stop crying--stories that I probably don't even know about.

One day, the cherry blossom tree, Bob's home for a number of years was chopped down to make way of a swimming pool, and Nicholas could not have been happier. It was then that Nicholas confessed to me his many dreams of Bob the Gnome. Apparently, Bob would visit him at night in his dreams. His face would peer at him through the window, and sometimes Bob would at time be chasing him throughout the house with a branch from the cherry blossom tree. Needless to say, Nicholas was not going to miss Bob. All of this naturally made me feel horrible, but Bob had filled his purpose; he did his duty, it was time for this little old man to retire.

Bob and his swing now sits in a box in the attic; waiting for a new generation and a new tree.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Smuggling Chocolate


It's a dark night. My car is parked in an alley, and I'm in a dark room alone, with a cardboard box sitting on a table before me. It is full of Hershey's Chocolate candy bars. I know this because the cardboard box is partially opened. I know the candy well because it's a childhood favorite of mine. I'm now faced with a dilemma. If it had been any other kind of chocolate bar, it wouldn't have been an issue, but this was Hershey's milk chocolate candy, without almonds. This was the candy bar I would ask for as a child. This was the candy bar, I found myself reaching for time and time again. But now that was part of my past. I no longer went out seeking it's forbidden sweetness. I learned to take steps to avoid it. I learned to ignore it, and refuse to be tempted. But, now there was no hiding. I couldn't just simply ignore it. It was now sitting there in front of me, as if it was taunting my childhood emotions. A partially open box of hundreds of Hershey's candy bars were now calling my name.

I suddenly realized the many years I've deprived myself from this candy. Was this really necessary? I thought to myself, and tried to justify my sudden urge for milk chocolate. Was I really helping myself from resisting this taste of chocolate? How was it really benefiting myself? Why was I denying myself for so many years? It has been awhile since I unwrapped a Hershey's candy bar. It would be so easy to just take one, and have a taste. Who would I hurt by doing this anyway? But, I had a job to do. It couldn't happen! This box needs to be delivered to a secret location. This is my job. A lot of people are counting on me on this delivery. It has to happen. I must not be tempted!

Still my inner voices were wrestling madly over it all. Would they notice one missing candy bar? Really? Let's be rational I tell myself. I'm sitting there, staring at the partially opened box. I convince myself that one missing candy bar would go unnoticed. Surely, it would be written off as a packing error. Packer 14, aka: Lois at the factory must have forgotten to recount or maybe she misread the packing slip. It was a mistake that could easily be done. No one would question it. Packer 14, Lois, who proudly packed this box may have had an off day, or may have found herself tempted as well.

It was all so easy, after all, the box was already opened!

Without giving it another thought, I take a candy bar, and rip off the wrapper without abandon. The silkiness and creaminess of the milk chocolate melting in my mouth is pure ecstasy! I now remember carefree childhood days of my youth. Oh how my mouth had yearned for such richness! How could have denied myself this simple pleasure of creamy goodness?!

It is only afterwards do I realize my mistake.

The box of chocolates is still in front of me, the box partially opened, but to my horror, there are only 3 chocolate bars inside. I'm bewildered. Where was the once full bounty of chocolate?! There must have been hundreds of chocolates in that box moments before. It is at that moment I realize that I'm surrounded by hundreds of ripped and torn candy wrappers! My heart is pounding now. My guilt is now literally written all over my face-chocolate everywhere, on my lips, clothes and on my fingers! Packer 14, Lois was in the clear. I was in trouble. I would be found out. It was over.

Suddenly, a piercing sound interrupts the darkness! It is the phone ringing loudly in my ear! I frantically reach for the phone.

"Hello?"

Silence.

An apprehensive voice finally is heard on the other line, saying, "Oh, I'm sorry Mrs. Langley, I thought I was calling Lizzy's cell phone."

I suddenly realize now that I'm no longer in a dark room, with an open box of missing candy bars. My fingers are no longer covered in melted chocolate. I'm in another dark room, but now I am in my bedroom. I am no longer in trouble. I say my goodbye to my daughter's nervous boyfriend, but he shouldn't worry. It may be 2 o'clock in the morning, but the guy did me a favor. I am in in no means angry with the poor boy, on the contrary I am grateful to be saved from this horrible dream of chocolate and anxiety! I lay there now in my bed, with my husband snoring by my side, as I wait for my heart to assume it's natural heart beat, and to fall back to a sweet, restful slumber.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Never Forget.



Yesterday was 9/11.. I remember that day well. It was day of tragic loss. It's a day the devil came to town, and his visit shook us all. It's a day that no one should forget. I remember that day, and those years that followed that year...

Those years in particular were years of many struggles. It was another of year of being a single mom, raising two kids on her own, with bills to pay, hardly getting by with no support from an ex-husband who apparently was having too much of a good time hiding in New Jersey with his new internet love match. So, forgive me if I sound a bit bitter, but when I see pictures of him, paying homage to 9/11 of he and his lover on the internet, with the Twin Towers in the background, all smiley and lovey dovey, knowing that during that time, "HIS" life was the ONLY life that he cared about, it does make me a little upset.

So pardon this entry, if I sound a little off my guard.

I'm doing much better now though. The best revenge in life is to live a happy life. I am happy, but I NEVER forget. I can forgive, but I WILL NEVER forget. When you hurt my kids--when you abandon my kids and not even leave an address or phone number, you show me what you are made of. THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET.

Be well and happy, far, far away.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Only In My Dreams..


I've had a few bizarre dreams lately. There really isn't a reason for them, I mean I'm not taking any cold medication or any other drug that would possibly bring on such lucid dreams. I admit, the dreams are more hilarious than frightening, however, I don't see the humor in them until I actually wake up. Lately, I've been laughing a lot each morning. I think my husband is wondering about my mental state at this point.

Last week, I had a dream about being at church with my mother. There was some kind of festival going on, and the little mission chapel of the church had been renovated, with a huge garden and many new religious statues. I don't remember what we were doing there, but I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, I don't remember all these statues!" It looked like a museum, or more like we were walking through some ancient ruins in Rome somewhere. The statues were huge though, and I remember trying to climb on one in order to get a picture, which would really be very inappropriate thing to do. Then we walked towards the parking lot, and got into a car. My mother, who never learned to drive or ever got a driver's license is driving! Now I'm really nervous. We are driving along, and I remember being on the edge of my seat, the whole entire time, getting rather agitated by her behavior after she decides to turn up the radio so she can start singing to her favorite song. Suddenly out from the corner of my eye, I see an old woman followed by two other people crossing the cross walk in front of us. I scream in horror, as I see the face of Betty White hitting our windshield! All I can see is a blur of white hair and red lipstick! Mother stops the car, and I frantically get out to check on Betty. She is fine, but her lipstick is all over the windshield, and my mother is quite upset about that.

I wake up, my heart beating rapidly in my chest. Until I eventually realize it was just a dream, I let out a big sigh of relief. As I lay there, thinking about the events of this dream, I realize it was quite silly, and I can't contain myself, so I burst out laughing. Doing so, I wake up the husband.

"What's so funny, honey?"

I'm almost too embarrassed to say.

Well, last night I had an equally bizarre dream. This time I am on a mission, and I need to get somewhere very quickly, so instead of driving, or taking a train or a bus, or a plane, I decide to fly by way of hang-gliding. So I take off, and fly over the town, take in the sights by the ocean, until I reach my mother's home in Portugal. Yes, I actually cross the entire Atlantic ocean. My mother is please that I arrived so quickly and wants to hang glide back with me, so I share the harness with her and we proceed to hang glide back home to California in the nick of time! Then my cousin Adelaide decides to tag along, so I let her hang glide with me back to the boardwalk near the ocean so we can go on the Giant Dipper roller coaster. Wow.

I wake up, and try to make sense of it all again. I really don't have much of an explanation. Perhaps I'm watching a little too much television? This time I'm not frightened by the dream, because it was a happy dream, but as I remember and consider all the silliness of it, I proceed to burst out laughing again.

This time my husband didn't bother to ask, as I proceeded to giggle until I went back to sleep.

I'm thinking now, and I'm realizing that these dreams are all about my mother. She is on vacation, and I haven't seen her for over a month. From the phone conversations that I have had with her so far, I can tell that she is really having a good time and is enjoying her vacation. She isn't complaining. She is out having her little adventures with her sister, and is really enjoying herself. My dreams are showing her in a new light. She is actually having fun--something she hasn't been doing for a long time. I just have to accept it, and not worry.

She is having fun, but am I? In the first dream, I'm not having fun whatsoever Perhaps I've been feeling a little uneasy with her being so far away, and yes I worry sometimes. The second dream, I'm not all that worried about my mother going off to hang glide, so in a respect, I've set her free to live and fly away and have fun.

Isn't weird, that roles, of mother and daughter are being reversed here? It happens. I just worry about my mom and I miss her.

Oh well.. Who knows what I will dream up next. Perhaps I'll win a Nascar race.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Little Bit Of Lemon Juice



Bitterness..

What causes people to become bitter?

It could be a number of things. Perhaps it comes from being wronged by someone they once truly trusted. It's natural to feel that way. It's also natural to feel some resentment or jealousy. Most of us have been there at one point of our lives. But when is the right time to just, "let it" go?

Some people seem to can't let it go. There are some who continue to feel bitter, simply because it's comfortable. It's easier to go through life blaming someone else for their own unhappiness. It's harder to own your actions, as it is to your own faults, and responsibilities. These people will be more than willing to point fingers of blame. Their hands are clean. They did all the right things. They don't deserve to feel this way, or to be wronged the way they have been. They live for the day when karma should come to tear the other person to their knees. Until then, if the day ever comes, life will continue. Sometimes karma takes it's time, but misery does love company.

We've all met these people. At least I have. No one wants to hang out with them, unless you are having a particular bad day. They will agree with you, and listen, but nothing you say will even compare to what they have been through. Sometimes these people are good to have around, but after awhile, they stop talking to you because you seem too "cheerful" or "happy". How dare you feel that way, and you deserve to be "wronged" because you let it happen. You are just too nice, and therefore, boring, careless and stupid.

I'm far, by any means perfect. Sometimes a little bit of bitterness comes back to haunt me, and at times it doesn't really take that much to bring it on. Sometimes it just takes a photograph. You just want to take it, and tear that smug look on their faces and proceed to throw the pieces into the toilet bowl, release the flush and watch those smiles flush down in a whirlpool. (cackle...cackle...cackle..)

Then all is good.

The sun is shining, and I am surrounded by good people and good things. Then I will feel silly for a few days, and then it's all forgotten. I admit, I feel kind of silly right now.

P.S. No, this entry is not about YOU. :)

Until next time...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Pillow Talk



It's Thursday, and nothing really exciting to talk about, so I will talk about my bedroom.

Since my time off of work, I've decided to redecorate my bedroom. It needed a fresh change. It all started when I decided we needed a new comforter, so I went to Ross and found a comforter for a really good price, so I bought it. When I got home, I discovered WHY it was at such a good price. It was just hideous. I thought the colors were pretty, gold and brown, but once out of the package, the design on the comforter resembled endless strands of gold chains, very poorly made with dozens of loose threads sticking out of the seams. It came with 4 pillows, all with the same design. To say the least, I wasn't too happy with my purchase and wanted to return it, but I didn't think I would be able to fit everything back in the plastic zippered bag it came it, plus, after getting the bed skirt under my Cal King mattress by myself, I really didn't want to take it out until I could replace it.

Lizzy said it best when she said:

"Mom it looks like a comforter you'd expect to see in a Gotti bedroom. All that's missing is a line of coke on the the night dresser."

My husband reminded me, "You get what you pay for." So, I guess I felt that was license enough to just go a little crazy and spend more money. So we lived with the gaudy Gotti comforter, that was already falling apart, and it's matching pillows for about a few weeks. I think Rich cursed under his breath each time he took each pillow off the bed before going to bed each night. He really hated that comforter as much as I did.

The new comforter arrived to the house, along with the matching sheets, and husband and I fell in love with them. We really like them a lot. But, of course, something seemed amiss. It didn't match with the rest of the decor of the room, so I had to do a little more shopping. Rich didn't complain when the glass jar of random shells appeared, or did he say anything about the other nautical nick knacks that suddenly made their way in the room. Nor did he complain about the new pictures on the wall to match with the new comforter. I mean, those green framed pictures of the flowers that had been hanging in our bedroom were getting a little dull and old, not to mention under all those years of dust. (I really need to remember to dust more.) I replaced them with happy beach scenic pictures of fishing boats, and umbrellas on the sand; things we both love.

Of course, if I'm going to change the pictures in the bedroom, I might as well change the ones in the master bathroom as well, right? So, I hurried over to TJMaxx and found some really nice pictures to compliment the bedroom scheme. I was expecting something from Rich then, but nothing. He seemed content. I think he was happy I took down the framed poster that was in there. It was a Renoir river scene with a people sitting at the river bank of the Siene staring at you when you look up from sitting on the toilet. Now, all you see are grassy, white sandy beach scenes. Much better. The pictures actually remind me of the place where we got married, so it doesn't get better than that.

Today another box arrived at the front door. New table lamps. Yep, I broke down and bought new lamps for the nightstands. I'm wondering if today he (the husband) will say anything. I'm sorry, but I really think the table lamps he inherited from his parents like almost 20 something years ago really need to find a new place in the attic. They don't match our bedroom scenery anymore. Okay, so I have the table lamps in, and I've only made one other purchase that still hasn't arrived yet. It's another canvas for the bedroom wall. Then, I swear, I'll be done. Swear.



Saturday, August 4, 2012

Where Did June & July Go?



I haven't posted since May, I know. Forgive me.

When I last posted I wrote about the upcoming graduations of our three older children. It all went extremely well and smoothly. Matt's graduation was first, followed by Lizzy, and lastly by Andrew. The graduation party that was thrown at the house in June was a lot of work, but with the help of my homemade sangria, it all went well. We had a house full of family and friends and even a few neighbors and I must say it was a grand success...as far as what people have told me anyway. Immediately after the party, Lizzy left with a few friends to New York, and completely fell in love with the city. my in-laws stayed with us for a good week, and after Lizzy returned from the Big Apple, one of my closest cousin's, Adelaide and her family came to visit us from the Azores and stayed at the house--all so much fun, I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was to have her and her husband and kids at the house. All in all I have about over 3,000 pictures in my computer to describe where June and July went, but at the moment it's all just a blur.

August arrived and at the present time, my once full house is now slowly getting empty. My cousins left a few weeks ago back home to the Azores, and last week my daughter left with my mom to join them there for the summer. Andrew is practicing his car driving skills, trying to pass to his driver's test so he can drive his girlfriend out to dinner before she leaves for the military later this month,and my husband's son Matthew is leaving for college. Nicholas starts school around the same time, so I took a few weeks off to spend with him before he is back in his school uniform, but frankly, I think we are both a little exhausted. We've been filling in these last days with days in the pool. The weather so far has been beautiful, so we have been pretty lucky.

So, at this point as I look back at the first 6 months of this year is gone. With all the excitement and madness of it all, it's sad to see it gone.

Later this month, school will start again. Andrew will start his first semester in college, driving to classes--yes, that stresses me out a little for sure. Lizzy will be back home, and will start pursuing her career--hopefully not too far away, and Matthew will be at Penn State. Wow.

Nicholas is starting the 3rd grade. Okay, I think I can handle this.

Until next time...

Julie

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May Madness..



I’ve been an emotional mess lately…

The other day I took my son to the tuxedo place to get him fitted in his tuxedo for prom, and we were there longer than expected. Of course, that is to be expected when you come the day before the actual prom, when EVERYONE is there to pick up their tuxedo. Anyway, for our “entertainment” they were showing professional wedding videos on a big screen in the waiting area. Being the romantic that I am, I found myself fully immersed in the video…perhaps a little too much.

I was truly impressed by the professionalism of the videos they were showing. They were all so beautiful—it made the Kardashian wedding look like pure garbage. It wasn’t hard to be fully immersed—the video captured every emotion of the wedding party. The tears of the father as he gave away the bride; and the capturing of the tears of the groom as he sees his bride for the first time walk down the aisle. Oh my God. I started to tear up myself.

I immediately thought of the weddings of my children. None of my children are engaged or close to being getting married, but as I watched these videos, I couldn’t help thinking of their weddings and all the emotions that were bound to be involved, including what everyone would be wearing, the venue, the church, was my daughter’s father make it to the wedding, etc. Luckily, my son finally got out of the dressing room looking quite dashing in his purple tie, and immediately all those emotions were slamming back at me again. Oh my God, I realized, this is my son’s last high school prom.

Don’t even get me started with the graduations.

My step-son graduated last week, my daughter is graduating from a private Art college this week, and my middle son is graduating from high school next week. I was shopping for graduation cards the other morning, and as I was browsing from each card, reading the sentiments inside, I felt myself getting emotional again, tearing up after deciding on each card. Oh dear Lord, this is getting ridiculous.

Why or why do our children have to grow up so fast? Why can’t they stay little, and not outgrow my lap? I know it’s just something every parent has to face, and some parents embrace the day when their children finally leave the nest, but I don’t think I’m going to take it very well.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fantasy Island, Revisited

Remember that T.V. sitcom from the 1980's called, Fantasy Island?

The visitors of the island flew in small private planes to an island to fulfill their fantasies. They wrote letters to Mr. Rourke asking for their fantasies to be fulfilled, and the people who were involved in the fantasy were either flown in from another location, or they would suddenly appear on the island as if magic. If I remember correctly, most of these fantasies involved unrequited love or passionate revenge. No matter what it entailed, Mr. Rourke would make it all happen. No fantasy was too hard or impossible for Mr. Rourke.

I don't know what kind of super human powers Mr. Rourke had specifically, but he had some. The show never really revealed how Mr. Rourke was able to do all that magical voodoo, hocus pocus, we only saw the gleam in his eye, and could only assume that he had a beaucoup amount of endless cash; I mean, he owned the island! No matter how he did it, he made it happen. Whether it be a time warp entry on the other side of the island, or even if it mean't bringing back someone from the dead. Perhaps he wore those white suits because he was an angel. Who knows. We will never know, will we?




Watching the show, you never really could predict what was up Mr. Rourke's sleeve. Even his little companion, Tattoo, Mr. Rourke's right arm man, always seemed to be in the dark most of the time. "But, boss, what are saying, boss?" Mr. Rourke was the man dressed in white, looking sharp, standing tall, raising his very tropical looking drink to his guests exclaiming with a smoldering Spaniard accent, "Welcome to Fantasy Island!" Then the music would come on in the background. A sinister sounding music joined with a raised eyebrow would clue the audience, that the fantasy would not be exactly what his guest was waiting for.


For a moment, let's pretend Fantasy Island really existed. Would you want to go there? Do you have a fantasy you want to fulfill? Perhaps you need to reconnect with a lost connection? If you personally got an invitation from Mr. Rourke himself, would you accept? I'm always surprised by people who are invited to the Jerry Springer show, who actually show up. But, if Mr. Rourke was a real non-fictional character, I think I would still think twice about accepting his invitation.

As I was driving on my commute this morning, I wondered about this. How I got to thinking about Fantasy Island is beyond me. I just remember singing the theme of the Love Boat, and realized that Fantasy Island did not have a theme song.

Fortunately, I don't have any real regrets in life, but if I could go back in time, I would turn the clock back to the year 1987 and go to that interview for that technical writer job that I never showed up for. I've been kicking myself for years over this. True, I got the call unexpectedly, and I could understand hardly a word the person who called me had said; only that it was for a technical writer position for a Asian based company I had never heard of, and that I was referred to by my English writing instructor, Mrs. Farias, at the business college I had just graduated from. He gave me the address for the interview, but all I could make out from the conversation was that it was in a location somewhere in San Jose.


So this is my "fantasy": Meet with the Asian based company on the island for that interview. Exciting, huh? Instead of a business suit, I'd be interviewed by a guy wearing a straw hat and Hawaiian shirt with puca beads. I know it doesn't sound romantic, but throw in some Mai Tai's and some palm trees and give me a lei and I'd be happy.


On the way to the interview however, I would come across an older bunch near the seashore. The older man would be reading a newspaper on a large easy chair next to another man, sitting against a rock who is writing studiously on a pad a paper. In the water in front of them are two older women, chatting away, while soaking their feet in the water. Those would be my long lost grandparents-most of whom I have never met. Upon seeing my approach, my grandmother would quickly come to my side and offer me a piece of her lemon meringue pie. My other grandmother would take a brush and comb my hair in a thick braid. The older man reading the paper, looks up and gives me a smile, his blue eyes sparkling. The other grandfather quickly gets up and recites a poem he just wrote to me. He smiles, gets up and playfully tugs my ear.

What's your fantasy?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Well, that was awkward...

We've all had those awkward moments. Moments in life we find ourselves caught in the headlights; having the wind knocked out of you. It could be from something you hear, or something you see. Usually these moments are ones we can all do without.

I remember one awkward moment from my childhood in particular. I remember sitting in the parlor of my mother's home in the Azores. We had just arrived, and my mother's aunts, God bless their souls (they are no longer with us), were all gathered there visiting. My mother's aunt, was sitting there happily reading a letter out loud. It was a letter written by her daughter and she could not hide her excitement. We had brought this letter with us from the States, and my mother's cousin had come over to bring it with us, but I don't think it was her intention to have her mother read it out loud in my mother's home. Tia Ana was so happy to read this letter, and she apparently wanted everyone in attendance to hear it. Fortunately, my mother was busy in the kitchen and did not overhear the contents of this letter. Tia Ana happily read the following out loud: (translated in English):

"That silly Ana (my mother) did not have room in her luggage to send the gifts I had bought for you. Perhaps if she didn't pack so many shoes there would be room for the gifts I wanted to send to you. She is so stupid."

Tia Ana just continued reading away and didn't even bother to stop. The other aunts in the room all looked in my direction. I wish I could say there was some awkward silence involved, but there wasn't. Tia Ana must not have realized what she just said, or may be she pretended not to. I just know that I pretended I didn't understand. Okay, it was no secret that my mother liked to dress well. I didn't bother telling my mother, mainly because I knew it would only cause unneeded drama, but I remember my face turning a little red, and I remember giggling away from the room.

Pretending awkwardness never happens works, sometimes.

I think the worse awkward moment was the day I caught someone, an old family friend, go through my purse. What does one do in such a situation? I whisked away as fast as could hoping I would go unnoticed. I thought some situations are easier to deal with when you pretend not to notice. I found myself pacing in the bathroom pondering what to do. I thought of my options. Approaching the subject, and asking the subject what the heck she was doing in my purse would more than likely cause a very uncomfortable/defensive environment. Should I just let it slide? I asked the house. It was an old house, with what I thought had a lot of spirit, and a lot of wisdom. I wondered what my dad would do. After being in the bathroom for at least ten minutes, I decided that it would be easier to all involved to just let it slide. I let this person off the hook, but apparently, I can't honestly say I've let it go yet. The rest of her visit, which was only a few days longer was hard. I did my best to laugh it all off, and try and get past it. But it honestly bothered me. What was she looking for that she couldn't ask me personally? Did she need lip balm? A tampon? What? Was she looking to see if I worked for the FBI? Did she need my passport? Honestly! I didn't notice anything missing from my purse-at least anything I noticed was missing. I just think she knows that I know. Yes, I know what you did that summer, and that just wasn't cool.

Awkwardness. Is that even a word?


I could go on about a number of other awkward moments, but I'm afraid it might just get me in trouble.

But here are few personal, somewhat awkward ones:

Being in the drive-thru with my kids and the Burger King, in front of an unlocked bathroom: A unassuming man opens the door wide open, and there is this guy sitting on the john with his boxers down at his knees staring at our direction in shock...

Walking into a bedroom and catching sight of an older man in his boxers in the middle of getting dressed. This guy actually had knee high socks complete with garter belts.

Being at a family wedding, chatting away with cousins in the bathroom, when in comes a person in a full tux. I tried to alert my cousin, but I was too late. "Sorry sir, but this is the women's bathroom!" "I am a woman!"

Sitting in church pretending not to hear the stomach sounds coming out of the older man sitting next to you.

Talking to a someone, and end up staring at the piece of spinach stuck on their front teeth.

Talking to someone and pretending not to notice the booger hanging at the end of their nose.

Pretending not to notice that your boss has a huge red leakage stain on the back of her dress. (I was afraid of that woman. I didn't know how to tell her.)

Pretending not to notice your significant other just farted in public.

In a intoxicated moment having someone confess to you that they've had a crush on you for years, but never had the courage to tell you.

(What do you say after that??)

Having an undergarment slip off from under you, and finding yourself kick it to the side.

Discovering that the friends with kids who came to visit left stains on your couch pillows, and the parents hid them by turning them over, thinking you wouldn't notice.

Learning that your child really did need to use the bathroom, and pretending not to notice that big puddle in front of the Pinocchio ride at Disneyland.

Being asked by your ex-mother-inlaw who is ill, why you and her son are no longer together.

Pretending you don't know someone anymore, because doing so would only make for an awkward situation.

Feel free to share your own.












Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cocktails and Dreams


The other day, while driving around town, doing my errands, I noticed a sign on the side of a bar. It read, "Cocktails and Dreams" and it made me laugh out loud. From where this bar was, in the middle of a strip mall nudged between a Taco Bell and a Dry Cleaners, it was hardly the place a person would be looking to capture some "dreams" perhaps a drink, but dreams?

As I laughed and drove away, I began to wonder about my own dreams. Most of the dreams I had in high school have faded into reality, and only thought of occasionally if ever at all. My priorities in life changed. As I grew up I realized that most of the dreams I had were more impossible than approachable. Or are they? Why must I wonder? May be I should take the sign's suggestion and drink more. I mean, really? Are things more "possible" when your thoughts are altered? Is being too logical and sensible the main cause of defeat?

Remember when you were younger, and nothing seemed impossible? Sure, you "thought" you knew "everything" about life, and you were so convinced that your parents and most grown ups where so clueless and so boring that there was no way in hell you would end up like them. Then you found yourself suddenly thrown in the adult world of reality. You suddenly have rent or a mortgage to pay, and you had to be responsible. Then, you have kids. Okay, game over! It's no longer about you--it's about them.

I remember getting married at a very young age, and for most people I knew, they thought we were both crazy. Sure, I was still going to community college, and my husband had no college education whatsoever, and sure, his command of the English language was a little limited, but that didn't stop us. We worked, we bought a house and we had jobs, and did pretty well considering. While my friends from school, who just got out of college were struggling, we were making mortgage payments, having kids and traveling. We didn't have a perfect life by no means, but we loved each other, and we weren't afraid.


I was always the designated driver. I didn't drink, and now, when I look back sometimes, I think I should have been doing most of the drinking. I did let him leave to pursue his dreams though. Did I really have a choice? You can't make people change their dreams--especially if you don't belong in them. It doesn't matter how warped or wrong you may think of another's "dream" - they are still going to pursue them, no matter how many people it hurts along the way. Sometimes it feels "safer" to not dream at all. It was a mutual parting of ways. And I think that was the best decision we both made, but I can only speak for myself. My dreams are still in drive. I'm still working on them, and I don't think I'll be done anytime soon, but it's work in progress. My dream box has no reverse gear.

Cocktails and dreams? It's a lie. It's just an illusion. It's the "afraid" part that will always get you. Afraid of failure; afraid to be alone...afraid of old age, sickness...death. Time to live is now. Live your dream. You don't have to be famous, nor do you have to do something the world will love you for, and don't do something that is expected of you. Do something that means something to yourself because that is all that matters. I'm not writing this to counsel anyone; just myself, but if it inspires you, I'll take it as a compliment. I raise my glass you! Cocktails and dreams..

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A New Dress Deserves A New Bow!

Easter is upon us, and I'm sitting here thinking of Easters of my childhood. Most Easters involved my mother making new Easter dresses for me and my sister. Of course the dresses had to be matching, and made of the same material. Sometimes, mother would change things a bit and coordinate with different colors. Sometimes one dress was light blue, and the other one was pink. I would usually get the pink one because I was younger, and I had "big rosy cheeks". Sometimes the style of the dress would be a little different, but it would definitely be of the same material. If there was any left over lace or ribbon, she would make a big huge matching ribbon for our hair.

"A new dress deserves a new bow!" my mother would exclaim.

I would be lying to you if I told you that I enjoyed wearing these creations of polyester and cotton. I hated it. Not only were the dresses uncomfortable and scratchy, it made the whole Easter and church ritual something I didn't look forward to. I was jealous of the other girls my age who went to church in jeans and casual clothing. I felt like my dresses only brought on unwanted attention, especially on Sundays when we arrived late (which was quite often). It's not everyday you see two chubby sisters enter a church in matching dresses and matching enormous bows on the top their heads. I felt ridiculous and juvenile. The ruffles on my dress made me feel like "George Washington". Or the checkers on my polyester pants made me feel like, "Chubby Checker". I could feel the stares behind the big pink bow piercing into the scalp of my big rosy cheeked, chubby head. I would complain to my mother and tell her that I didn't like the way everyone would look at me at church. My mother's reply would always be:

"Oh Julie, they are only looking at you because you look so pretty."


I didn't believe her.


One day, years later, a stranger came up to my cash register at work. I was newly divorced, working two jobs, and feeling pretty exhausted at the end of a 12 hour work day, when a woman came up to my register. As I was ringing up her purchase, she told me that she still remembered me from church. I looked up at her suddenly to see if I knew her, but I didn't recognize her as someone I remembered. She was at least 10 or 15 years older than me, but I grew up in a fairly small town where everyone looked somewhat familiar.


"Really?" I asked.


"Yes, I sure do remember you. You and your sister always looked so pretty at church. I remember seeing the both of you and your family sitting together every Sunday."


I guess mom was right.


Still, I promised myself I would never have any of my offspring go through such an ordeal. My daughter has no need to worry for unlike my mother I have no talent when it comes to being a seamstress. I did try. I bought a sewing machine and made a futile attempt on a dress for myself. I purposively went into the fabric store and bought the most simplest pattern and style dress I could find. As I entered the store, I was flooded by childhood memories. The aisles of Harts Fabrics, where I would run through the aisles as a child, through what seemed to be hundreds upon hundreds of different colored fabrics. It was a playground of bright colors, patterns, and textures. Books and upon books of different patterns, and the buttons! My favorite part of picking the material of a dress were the buttons. Hundreds of different buttons to select from! I left the fabric store fully inspired and confident that I would create a beautiful dress! Apparently the dress pattern however was not simple enough.


My dress came out crooked. The sewing machine was then put away, and dreams of becoming a seamstress faded into the darkness.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Travelling Meme...

I've neglected my blog for too long. I decided to put in an entry in, but couldn't think of anything in particular to write about so I found myself doing a Meme. Feel free to play along!

How old were you when you first travelled?

I was 5 years old when I took my first big trip.

What is your favourite form of travelling: car, bus, train, or plane?

I like traveling by car the best. I love the concept of hitting the open road, and having the freedom to stop wherever and whenever.. You can’t do that on a plane, or a bus, or a train.

Where did you go on your first road trip?

It was a family trip, across the U.S., from California to Massachusetts. I still remember sitting in the backseat of my dad’s Chevy Nova, singing John Jake Jingleheimersmidt over and over again.


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It was a green Chevy Nova similar to this one above, but it was a 4 door. My brother had just turned 15 and had a driver's permit. My dad let him drive, and we were always on Highway Patrol lookout because of it.

Where did you go on your first bus ride?

Reno, Nevada. It was not a planned trip whatsoever. We were on our way on a trek to the east coast when my dad’s Honda Civic broke down in Lovelock, Nevada. We had to take a bus trip to Reno to get a rental car, and tow the Honda back home. It was horrible. I remember my sister and I had to sit next to an intoxicated man who kept on fantasizing out loud how he was going to “hit the big one” on the slots that night. Oh, and I will never forget that vision of waiting for our Greyhound outside while they were “evacuating” the plumbing of another bus.. Eww..



Lovelock, Nevada----try and avoid this town as much as possible. I will never forget that night when "Bubba" tried to flirt with me in that tow truck, and later finding that dead fly in my hair.

Where did you go on your first train ride?

I took the BART to San Francisco with my best friend from high school. It was Halloween weekend, and we were off to find some costumes in the big city. We didn’t find any.


Bart...it was exciting knowing that we were in a train, under the bay, remember Denise?

Where did you go on your first plane ride?

Azores, Portugal. It was very exciting. I was only 5 and didn’t know exactly where I was going, but I had a new TAP shoulder carry on bag with my favorite doll in it. I was ready.


TAP-Transportes Aeros Portuguesas, or roughly translated: Take Another Plane! Seriously, it's the best airline I've ever flown in. Unfortunately, you have to fly first class to score some bottled wine. I was given 3 bottles when I flew when I was 13. No I didn't drink them--I still have them.

Motion sickness? Treatment of choice?

Don’t have a treatment for that, I just try and avoid it. Never sit in the back seat on a winding road trip, and never look back from the front seat to speak to the kids sitting in the back seat on a winding road. Keep the window open. Never read in the car! Bring wipes, plastic bags and 7-Up and water. I speak from experience.


Bear Creek Rd., Boulder Creek - We have another name for this road. We call it Barf Creek Rd. It was here that my two boys barfed simultaneously with each other. A very windy road, with lots of deer darting in all directions, although very picturesque.

Where would you like to go that you haven't been?

Rome, Paris, Madrid, Lisbon… Anywhere in Europe.


Awww, yes Europe...

Where would you like to go back to?

Hawaii. Went once with some girl friends who just wanted to eat, drink, get their nails done and get henna tattoos. I just wanted to go to the beach. I couldn’t get over how beautiful and romantic it was there. Good place to take my husband—(I didn’t know him back then).



Travelling alone or with someone?

Never alone! With someone! How can you truly enjoy yourself if you aren't sharing the experience with someone you care about?

Your ultimate travelling dream?

Traveling by train through Europe with no deadlines, just a camera with a very high memory card, good walking shoes and lots and lots of Euros… Feel free to send your donations to my email. (Never mind that most of Europe is broke right now. I'm willing to help jump start the economy.)




Monday, February 27, 2012

Hello Eloise...




The other night, as I and my husband lay quietly in bed, drifting slowly to sleep the phone rang. Startled, I jumped off my pillow! I blindly reached for the phone sitting on the nightstand next to my weary head, and let out a groan. I hate getting late night phone calls. They always scare me--especially the unexpected calls. All the kids were home and counted for. Who on earth could be calling at this time of night if something wasn't wrong? Usually it never is a good reason for calls like these. Like my husband always says, "Nothing good ever happens after midnight."

I answered the phone cautiously.

"Hello..?"

"Hello!" a very unfamiliar women's voice answered. In a deep southern accent she asked, "Did I wake you up?"

Wow, I thought to myself. Whatever gave this woman that idea? Was it my half awake voice, or did she conviennatly forget that it was 12:30 am?! Is this normal for people to do at this time? Who did she think she was calling? Some celebrity like Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan? I may have been having a real nice dream lady! How dare you! You scared me! A rush of annoying thoughts towards this woman swirled in my head, but I apparently was too tired to voice them. I did not know this woman on the other line, so I tried to sound as annoyed as possible.

"Um, yes, you did wake me up. Who is this?"

"It's Eloise!" the cheerful southern voice answered.

This woman's cheerfullness made the call even more irritating.

"I don't know an Eloise. Who are you calling for?"

"Karen."

"You have the wrong number."

Eloise apologized and we both hung up. Finally I could fall back to sleep. However, not a minute had passed when the phone rang once again. I knew it must have been Eloise.

"You have the wrong number!" I exclaimed.

"I'm so sorry, but can you give me some information on this number?"

What?! Are you kidding me?! Really lady! No matter how many times you call this number you are not going to speak to Karen! At this point I was tempted to slam the phone down on Eloise, but instead I have her the "information" she asked for. The nerve, really..

"My number is 225-3317, and there is no Karen living here."

I hung up on her second apology.

Afterwards, did I go to sleep right away? No. All I could think about was this woman named Eloise. I tried to picture in my mind what she looked like. I wondered who Karen was. I have a sister-in law named Karen, but she couldn't possibly be looking for her, or could she? Did this Karen have a similar phone number to mine? Did Eloise dial the wrong area code, or did she write down the number wrong? Why on earth would she be calling Karen this late? Was Eloise calling from a different state? Perhaps that could explain her southern accent. May be Eloise was calling from Georgia, or Alabama; and then suddenly I visualized one of the actresses from The Help. My wondering went on for hours. I think I finally fell asleep at 3 am.

I woke up craving biscuits and grits.