Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Do You Really Want To Know.....

Well, you think you KNOW someone...

People change as they get older.  SHOCKER...

I'm finding this true with people from my past, especially with childhood friends.  In all fairness, I sincerely doubt I knew them well enough.  When do people really truly know themselves?

There was one girl, a childhood friend that could do no wrong.  My parents would use her as an example of good behavior.  Roxanne (not her real name) could do no wrong.  Roxanne was always at church every Sunday, and unlike myself, wore a smile because she sincerely wanted to be there.  She always did well in school, and was always on her best behavior.  Yes, I did resent her perfection.  We all slip once in awhile though....  No we aren't made to be perfect; that would not be fair.  

Then there was Pedro, (not his real name) who was the boy next door.  He was a good boy, handsome, funny; but may be too good.  His dad called my mom one afternoon, and asked if he could call me on the phone.  A real, good, old-fashioned, Portuguese-American boy, who spoke not a word of Portuguese.  He didn't even know how to pronounce his first or last name the correct way, but he he knew how to be a gentleman.  His hair was perfect, and his preppy clothes were always neatly pressed, may be a little too well...

All I have to say is, watch out for the quiet ones.  Later in life they may explode with loud bangs of unexpected behavior and become what you may consider unruly.  Well Roxanne and Pedro did surprise me, and a lot of other people.  It doesn't matter what they did-I'm not going to explain it here.  Good for them.  Perfection is over rated.  We are human and we are made to make mistakes.  (Yes I got that line from a Human League song if you are wondering why that sounds so familiar, but of course you wouldn't know that if you aren't a kid from the 80's.)

 I realize that I may be considered as one of the "quiet ones".  If I do anything out of character, just know, I tend to release my energy (restrained good girl sense) in little spurts at times, and these little episodes may lead to disappointment or unexpected gratitude.  I'm here to keep life interesting, if not for you, may be just for myself.  When we get older "appearances" don't seem to matter much.  However, please do restrain me if you think it necessary.

Thank you.  It's 3 a.m. and I can't sleep, so none of this is going to make sense!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

My Criminal Past

I still remember throwing that plastic baby doll through the half open window onto the back seat of my dad’s car.  Actually, it seems like only yesterday.  It was a day in my life that I could honestly say  I did the most brazen thing of my childhood.   I committed a theft!   It wasn’t  one of those  accidental thefts,  it was premeditated. 

It started when I saw this particular baby doll amid the other doll displays at the TG&Y.  It was a rubber plastic baby doll, wearing only a diaper, and a plastic bottle rubber banded around it’s wrist.  It had a cute little pink mouth, matching painted checks, blue eyes, and long black eyelashes.  I had to have it, but my mother thought otherwise.   According to my mother, I already had enough dolls that were much nicer.

At the age of 5, I already had feelings of entitlement.  I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t have it.  My sister had one, and she never let me play with it.  Because of this, I thought I should have one, and I was going to make it happen, even if I had to commit a crime to get it.  I knew what I was going to do was wrong, but I did it anyway.  As soon as I saw I was alone in the toy department, I reached for the doll, and tucked it away inside my sweater.  I remember walking swiftly down the aisles towards the front entrance.  I was nervous, and afraid, but there was no turning back.  I avoided all eye contact.  I quickly walked past the cashier, and I was out the front door , and on my way towards the car.  I remember looking  both ways before grabbing for the doll under my sweater, and tossing it through the window, miraculously unnoticed by my father who was sitting in the front seat.    

I don’t remember whether I waited there with my dad and stolen “baby”,  or if I went back into the store.  The store sold fabric, and my mother had a tendency of spending way too much time shopping for zippers, or buttons or mounds of polyester.  I only remember how my cover was blown on the way home.  My mother looked at me sitting in the backseat with the doll, and burst out shouting in Portuguese and broken English how I must have stolen that doll I was holding.  Silence had been broken, and the car was full of mad hysteria!  My mother was  upset,  and my father was even more upset with me.  I was guilt stricken.  I knew what I did was wrong, but at that moment the instant gratification of having something I truly wanted was fulfilled.   Although my father had threatened to drive back to the TG&Y for my confession to this crime, he never did.  However, by the time I got home, I honestly didn’t really want the doll anymore.

I never really played with the doll, and to tell you the truth, I didn’t like playing with it.  It just brought back anxiety and the guilt of that day.  Each time I entered the TG&Y I wondered if anyone had seen my crime.  I thought everyone knew, and one day I’d be taken to jail, although it never stopped me from going back to the doll section, or the paper doll section of the store.  However, I was never tempted to steal again.  I was living with enough guilt.  

It is almost amazing that I still remember this particular incident, and to this day, I never stole anything from a store again, intentionally.  Okay, there was that time as a teen that I was looking at belts, and accidently walked out of a store holding one, and there was that one time I was looking at earrings with my daughter, and noticed that one pair of hoops was hanging on the button of my shirt when I got into my car, and let me not forget the one afternoon, I was walking my cart in the parking lot at Target, when I realized that the cashier forgot to ring up that box of dishes that I found on clearance...but other than that…ooh, and the boob tape I was holding for my cousin for her wedding dress.  Oops.  Okay, I may be a criminal.  I confess….  

Thursday, August 1, 2013

For My Dad

I remember the day before my father passed.  I had just arrived home with the kids from a trip to Disneyland.  It was already evening, and I was  in the living room unwrapping the little porcelain miniature Disney characters I had purchased, setting them up on the coffee table.  My father seemed impressed by them, and I was surprised by his curiosity.  My father was sick, but he looked well to me, sitting on the couch, I could tell he was a bit relieved to see that I got home from Los Angeles alright.  My father could never rest until he knew I got home safe at night, when I was younger just starting to drive, and even now after I moved back home again after my divorce, and even after his diagnosis, I still caught him a few times standing outside on the drive way waiting for me to arrive at night.  And according to my mother, at night, he would not fall asleep until he heard me at the front door.    

But now I was home, and safe, and the kids were restless and needed sleep, and there I was sitting in the living room, with my dad admiring my Disney treasures, not knowing it would be the last evening on Earth we would be sharing together.  Suddenly, out of no where, he spoke of a little visitor he had earlier that day.  It was a little bird.   I sat back on the couch, a little surprised by his unexpected candor. Apparently he had been sitting in the backyard earlier that day, and a little bird came to him while he sat by the lemon tree.   It stayed there with him for quite awhile, keeping him company.  He apparently was very impressed by it’s little visit, and the way it sang to him.  I did not know my father was such a nature lover, and his words almost made me laugh to myself in surprise.  His face lit up magically as he spoke of this little bird, and he chuckled, and his eyes were bright and smiling.  It was a bit out of the ordinary to see my dad this way.  First he was admiring nick-nack souvenirs he would normally not bother to look at, and now he was communing with birds?  Something was different.  I saw a gentle, childlike side of my dad that night, a side that I will never forget.  He seemed somehow at peace with himself. 

To this day, when I hear the sounds of birds singing, I think of my dad.  When I see a bird at my window, I feel he is near.  When I hear a bird singing, I remember that special night, and the light in his fading green eyes. I cannot believe it has already been 11 years, tomorrow since he has been gone. 

Little bird

Sitting on the fence

Sitting in the lemon tree

I hear your song

Luring me into your melody

Oh little bird who comes visits me

I’ve waited for your company

Where have you been?

What have you seen?

I long for you to take me with you

Somewhere far

Under your wing

We shall sing

Together and forever

To the stars

To the sun

That shines so brightly in your heaven

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jumping off a cliff in a green and red bikini.....

Hello Maria ---  It's been a few months since you've "gone"..  

I can't believe you are actually... gone.

It is too surreal for me to comprehend.  I wasn't able to sleep last night, and the visions starting coming to my head.  There you were, smiling, and laughing in pink and white, running up a path flanked with dark green ferns and beautiful exotic flowers.  Suddenly you came to the cliff at the water fall, and there you were in a green and red bikini--your very fair skin, and chubbiness all out for the world to see.  But you know what?  You didn't care.  You were smiling your smile, and loving ever second of it.  I could have sworn you said to me, "Julie, who cares!  I'm happy!  I don't even know how to swim!"

And there you went..  There went Maria, flying up in the air, performing a very impressive back flip somersault!

I then closed my eyes, and had a restful sleep, knowing you were happy.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How Joe met Ana

This is the story how my parents met.  I'm not sure if I've written about it before, but I think it's worth writing about again.  It's July, and it's my parent's birthday and anniversary month.  Although my father is no longer with us, today is his birthday, and I feel inclined to write about how he met my mother.  Did I ever mention that all my siblings were born in the months of March and April?  Well, 3 of us were born in April alone---approximately 9 months from the month of July.  Yes, July was a "hot" month apparently for more reasons than one.

 My paternal grandparents,  Joao (John) & Rosa, emigrated from the island of Terceira, Azores.  They were married in Taunton, Massachusetts, and moved to California to start a new life and raised their family.  My uncle John, my dad, Joe, and my two aunts, Cecilia & Edalina (Addie) were born and raised in Winton, California.  In those days, it was very rare that you ever came back after leaving your homeland.  You came to America to start a new life, and you never looked back.  In the early 1950's, during the Korean War, my father enlisted in the US Army.  I don't know all the specifics, but I do remember him saying that he rode his Indian motorcycle down to the base in Monterey, California.  He was stationed there for some time, and it was the first time he had ever seen the ocean.

My father was to see many other places in the world during this time.  Frankfurt, Germany, Paris, France, to name only a few.  But there was one destination that was quite unexpected.  My father suddenly became ill, and he had to have his tonsils removed.  Instead of going on duty to Korea as originally planned, he found himself stationed on the United States Air base in Lajes, Terceira, Azores.

What were the odds?  My grandparents were astonished.  They could not believe that their son was actually stationed in the Azores, on the island of their birth.  They naturally were very excited.  Upon learning that my father was stationed there, my grandmother made sure that he do the right thing, and visit his relatives on the island.  There were so many to visit.  There were uncles and aunts on his father's side to visit in Fontinhas, and his mother had family in Agualva and Vila Nova.  Like a good son, my dad made the pilgrimage to visit each and every one.

These visits led him to my mother's door.

I know what you must be thinking.  Was my mother was related to my dad, you ask?  No, not really; let me explain.  My mother's father, Francisco Luis Borges de Melo, better known as, "Chico Roico" a very well known writer/carnival extraordinaire (they named a street after him, if you don't believe me) died when my mother was only 9 months old.  My grandmother, Maria Adelaide remarried years later, to the only grandfather I ever knew, Jose Machado de Gloria.  He happened to be my grandfather's best friend, and a cousin of my paternal grandmother.

So, my mother who was only 15 at the time, was minding her own business, when there was a knock on the door.  Back then there were no phones, only word of mouth that a handsome American soldier was in town visiting relatives.  My mother had no idea that she was serving a cup of vinho cheiro to her future husband.  My father apparently could not take his eyes off my mom.  Word of his admiration broke loose, and there was one occasion where my maternal grandmother overheard that her daughter was going to be married to him while sitting on a bus.

Back then you really didn't need phones.

After my father's visit, letters suddenly appeared.  Letters from my father.  My father was apparently very much the romantic.  The letters did not cease.  Unfortunately, the letters were all written in English, but that did not stop my dad.  My mother would bring them over to her cousin's house.  Her cousin, Fatima's husband Carlos, worked at the base, and could read them, and then he would translate them  to her.  My mother thought the letters were quite humorous, but never responded.  Years passed, and the letters did not cease.  My paternal grandmother heard of the letters, and wrote one of her own to my mom in Portuguese, pleading to my mother to correspond back to her son, saying that her son really did like her a lot.  My mom really didn't know what to make of it all.

Then, years later, there was my dad again at my mom's door.  My father was very persistent.  He asked my mother if he could "court" her for awhile while he was stationed there again on the island.  My mom could not say "no" to the handsome solider with the green eyes at her door.

My parents were wed a year later in Vila Nova, Terceira on July 10, 1955.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Spirits In The Machines?

The other day my husband came home from work with a story he knew I would enjoy hearing. 

One of his employees, Hop, an older Vietnamese man who has worked with my husband for a very years, came up to him earlier that day with much concern.  For the past week or so, three of the laser machines were not working properly, and maintenance had to be called in and parts had to be ordered.  It wasn't unusual to have routine maitenance to be done, but for all three machines at once, it was a little out of the ordinary.  However, Hop didn't think it was just a coincidence. 

“Mr. Rich, I know you are going to think I’m crazy,” Hop exclaimed wearisomely, “but I think we have ghosts!” 

My husband knows that I believe in ghosts, and he knew I would be "fascinated" by Hop's revelation, so he knew he had to tell me about it.  At first I thought it was funny, but after I heard more of Hop's concern, I did feel a little worried.  Hop went on to explain to my husband how his brother in-law, who happened to be a herbalist/spiritualist believed that there may be spirts causing havoc at the shop.  The shop may need to be properly "cleansed" before the shop can run smoothly again.  Hop was very serious, and it was very hard to take his concern seriously, but Rich reassured him that everything would be fine once the maintenance was done.  It took a lot of self control apparently for Rich not to laugh in front of the poor guy.  He of course thought it was hilarious, and it just left me wondering if I should burn sage or something.  Rich looked at me, and left me with a smile, probably thinking I was just as crazy has his employee.

My husband had put up these security cameras all over his shop, and every now and then, when he is at home, he will check to see how a job is running, and whether or not the shop is closed.  Usually there is really nothing to see, other than sparks flying off a running machine, or empty offices, with the occasional dust particle dancing on the screen.  I've seen enough episodes of Ghost Hunters to know what to really look for--it's those glowing orbs you have to look for.  Well, guess what my husband showed me the other day? 

Here comes Rich, with his little Ipad, calling with a big smirk on his face, "Hey Julie, what do you think this could be?"

There on the screen, on one of his machines I see a cluster of moving glowing orbs, moving up and down, and side ways.  What the heck is that?!  Hop's brother in-law may be on to something. Rich doesn't know what it is, and it sure doesn't look like dust, but he does not believe that anything supernatural is happening at his machine shop.  Of course, it is a little odd for spirits to be in a machine shop--usually they like hanging out in hotels, old homes, brothels and bars, but who knows!  All I know is if I hear anything about that machine breaking down today, I'm running to the store to get some sage and holy water! 


Friday, March 22, 2013

Church Lady -- for all my HOMIES in Santa Cruz, CA

There is this woman that sings in church.  She has a nice voice, and she usually sings at a particular mass.  She and her husband even help with the liturgies.  My older kids think she is annoying, and sometimes, her unnatural perkiness seems to be a little forced, and I will admit, at times she even annoys me, but I'm sure she is a good person and means well, and enjoys doing what she does.  God bless her even, but I'm sorry, each time I have the opportunity to actually speak with her, I always get a real negative feeling.

Years ago, I went with my older son to a catechism class, and I was sitting at her table.  We had just moved from our hometown and we were still new to the area, and the church.  My son was still in fact going to school in our old town, and I would drop him off before I went to work.  So, coming to this class was another "new" thing for my son to adjust to, and no, he wasn't a particularly happy 16 year old.  So here we were sitting at the table with the "annoying lady", and there she was with her happy, perfect toothed smile looking at us.

"Hi, I'm Dina, what's your name?"

We politely introduced ourselves to her and her son.  She quickly asked what school my son Andrew attended, and so I went to explain that he was still going to school in Santa Cruz.  Dina (not her real name) immediately looked at us with what looked very much like a grin of distaste, like she just bit into a lemon, and explained,

"Oh, that weird town with the hippies.."

I smiled back, and nodded my head.  I wanted to secretly kick her.  Sorry God, for I have sinned.  I was thinking evil thoughts about the lady that sings at your church.  My son Andrew looked at me immediately with eyes that said, "I want to leave now!"  Luckily our introductions were over, and we weren't forced to make any more chit chat for the rest of the evening.  At future classes, we purposely  sat away from the church lady.

Well, Dina and her darling husband naturally have a lot of kids, and of course her youngest child is in my son's class at school.  And, unfortunately for me, she attends all of the class field trips--naturally.  Well, I was able to avoid her from the first field trip, but "lucky" me had to sit with her on the school bus for a few minutes.

Now, I did try and be positive.  After she sat down next to me, I was hoping for a positive experience.  Of course she didn't recognize me.

"Hi I'm Dina!  What's your name?"

I politely introduced myself to her.  She asked who my son was, and I pointed to Nicholas who was sitting directly behind us on the bus.  She looked at him, and said that she remembered him from preschool and kindergarten classes, which was complete nonsense because I had him start in school in San Jose in the 2nd grade.  I explained to her that he was in Santa Cruz during that time... and before I could fully explain, there it was!   That look of utter disdain!

"Oooh... Santa Cruz?!"

Damn I wanted to kick her in the teeth.  Forgive me God!  What in the hell is wrong about being from Santa Cruz for God's sake?!

Well, luckily for me, Dina had to move out of my seat to make room for the other class, and I sat with my son.  Thank you God.

Sorry, Dina.  You've insulted my hometown twice in a span of 5 years.  You may sing like an angel, but I still don't like you very much.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Saying Goodbye To A Friend

A week ago I remember waking up from a bad dream. I don't remember the content of this dream, I just remember waking up with a terrible sense of foreboding death. It was so intense that immediately crossed myself like a good Catholic girl, and recited an Our Father and the Hail Mary until I fell back to sleep. The thought came back later in the day, and for the next few days afterwards. I tried to ignore it, and eventually it went away. I convinced myself and reasoned that the bad dream came from the recent crime and senseless deaths of two police officers in my home town, and nothing else. The atmosphere at work was also tense, and I just reasoned that it was that anxiety I was feeling and nothing more.

Yesterday I had awoke in a fog. I wasn't able to get a good night's sleep the night before, but I forced got myself out of bed, got my son to school, and ventured into another fog-the morning fog. I blamed it all on Daylight Savings. I thought I was running late, but miraculously, I got onto the highway at a good time.

As I got onto the highway towards my way to work, the fog slowly lifted, like a blanket, to a beautiful blue sky. I remember thinking to myself, "What a beautiful Spring day." The sky, the green trees against the sky, the air--so fresh and clean. It looked like as if it was the beginning to be a perfect day. Even the air smelled sweet. I could smell a different fragrance in my car. It wasn't that "new car smell", and I just couldn't pin it what it was. Was it my new moisturizer? I don't know, it must be. Boy, did it smell good. I turned on the radio, and wouldn't you know, it was playing my favorite songs, all in a row. I smiled and sang along. As I reached my destination to Santa Cruz, and the little white church of Holy Cross, a sense unexplainable happiness and peacefulness engulfed me.

I got to work, parked my car, and prepared myself at work with my usual routine. Files awaited for me at my desk, along with some pink and blue documents; cases waiting to be entered and assigned. Back to reality of work, but it was good. I had my coffee, I was ready for anything I guessed.

Then that call came. The call I've been dreading; the call I hoped never to receive. It was Betty. Her voice was cracking. She really didn't have to explain anything more, I knew it was about Maria. My friend Maria, my "coffee buddy" from years back that I had missed for so long. The letters, the cards, the flowers could not bring her voice back to me. The suffering that she chose not to foreclose to me had ended the day before. Betty went on to tell me more of what happened, but all I could think of was Maria's dark eyes that sparkled when she spoke. I would never see those dark eyes again, nor her laugh or her smile. She was gone and there was nothing I could do about that.

Now I'm left to wonder, why, or if I had been more persistent in seeing her if could have changed anything. My letters, my cards--did they ever reach her? Did they really tell her that I had been thinking of her; wishing her well?  Did it make a difference? Did my silly letters that attempted to make her smile just a little, help? All I needed was a note, a phone call--but now that just seems so self-serving.  Why did I need any sort of verification? It doesn't make sense to me now--it never really did. Things had changed since I've seen her last; a distance that I can't really understand, but even that doesn't matter anymore either.

No Maria, it doesn't matter. What's done is done. Thank you for the sunshine the other morning, the sense of peace, the scent of your perfume, your happy laughter harmonizing over the radio. It all makes sense to me now. Thank you for your visit yesterday morning-it's all I ever needed. I will remember you the way you wanted me to. Your smile, and your laugh is forever in my heart. I'll see you in my dreams. Thank you, Maria, until we meet again, adeus amiga, adeus.

You know how I like my coffee.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Our Valentines

We celebrated our Valentines early this year—my husband and I. We left the house in the early afternoon, off to a day and evening “sans les enfants!” We were free! What do two grown adults do when they are “free”?

First, we headed out to a car dealership. My husband’s current mode of transportation (Mustang) has been declining in “health” lately. Rich wanted to test drive a few cars he had been doing research on, so there we were sitting in cars, and taking test drives. It was like watching a little kid in a candy store; the new car smell can be intoxicating, and all those new gadgets! They actually make cars that can "touch" you. Yes, the car will “nudge” you on the butt cheek if you change lanes without first using your car signal. Yes, it’s true. If you change lanes to the left, you will get “nudged” on your left butt cheek. Change to the right lane without using your blinker—hey, guess what? You’ll get nudged on your right butt cheek! Unbelievable genius! Rich had a lot of fun changing lanes WITHOUT using the turn signal; almost too much fun.

Then it was to the movie theatre! Yes, the theatre parking lot is pretty much empty on an early Saturday afternoon. We were kind of surprised to find a parking spot right in front of the theatre. Even more surprised to find a perfect seat without annoying people around us. We saw Identify Theft. It was funny, not hilarious, but funny enough to be called “entertaining.”

After the movie, it was time to check into our hotel. This hotel was a nice hotel…and as we entered the lobby, we were immediately alerted to a streamline of men in tuxedos and women in ballgowns. I did of course feel just a tad under-dressed. There were apparently two very formal events happening at the hotel. We would later "crash" one later during the wee hours of the next morning.

We got to our very nice room, and got changed for dinner. Of course it was cold out, and I forgot my coat in the car, so we waited for one of the valet guys to fetch my coat. Of course, they “couldn’t find our car” and it was parked way in the back, so we waited a good 20 minutes. Meanwhile, we continued to watch the stream of handsome men in tuxedos, and lovely ladies in gowns coming into the hotel. Rich noticed a group of guys in front of the main bar. I guess he didn’t want me to get too excited and cause a scene—like really? Did he think I was going to go crazy and take pictures of something? After they left, he then told me they were a group of comedians-one of them was “Larry” the guy from According To Jim, the guy who played the the brother-inlaw on the show. Apparently "Larry" could tell Rich knew who he was, and have him a big smile as he walked by. Apparently I didn't make the connection.

The valet finally came down with my coat, looking rather ridiculous hanging from my hood on that fancy gold luggage wagon all alone. After tipping the valet, we walked outside next door, and had a nice dinner at a restaurant that served the best filet mignon I’ve ever tasted, and made the best margaritas..yum. It was quite chilly out, but I think the drinks made us warmer as we walked a few blocks toward the comedy club. We got there 10 minutes before the show, but as luck would have it, we got seated right in front at the stage---near the stairs..

About 10 minutes later, here comes Jim Belushi in front of us walking up the stairs—I almost tripped him. Larry and the others were soon on stage, and they were all hilarious. Belushi’s son, Robert (who looks nothing like him) was performing as well. The show was quite entertaining. We were so close, I could see up Belushi’s nostrils-which were clean, I must add. After the show, they all walked down the stage, where they were greeted by Rich who gave them all a handshake. (Yes, he had a few drinks during the show—very happy guy..)

After the show, we made our way back to the hotel, and as we made our way near the main lobby live music was heard , and people were starting to dance. We stayed there at a table near the dance floor the rest of the evening, drinking a few more drinks and enjoying the atmosphere. I think those few hours near the dance floor was the highlight of our evening. We talked about how we first met, and how life was back then, and how far we both have come, and Rich got very sentimental with me. The cognac may have helped him express his feelings...ha ha. We people watched, did a lot of laughing, and danced. The singing and music was very good. There was one older gentleman in particular that really was something else. He danced for hours with a mutltiple of younger dancers; really out there cutting the rug, non-stop. Rich was quite impressed. He finished the evening with one younger woman in particular, and continued to chat with the youngster well after the band was packing up for the evening. This older gentleman was only one of the few enteresting characters on the dance floor. Who knew you could buy body socks in leather-quite peculiar looking.

"This is better than the 10 o'clock news!" Rich exclaimed.

After the band put away their instruments, we decided to crash one of those fancy loud parties, because we are thrill seekers, but no one cared or noticed we were there, or about 20 years older than everyone else. So we took a walk around the hotel. We took pictures in the elevators, and checked out the empty lobbies. Yes, we acting like children again, but, once in awhile, it's good to do. My feet were starting to hurt and when I informed Rich it was already past 2:30 am, he could not believe it. Wow, we are way past our bedtime! We went to our room and had a very pleasant end to a very perfect evening.

Happy Valentines!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mr. Flores Makes It Happen

Used car salesmen: You just don’t hear too many positive things about them, however, there is one in particular that I will never forget.

Let’s go back to the year, 1998. I was driving a green Ford station wagon that seemed to start to fall apart around the same time as my first marriage. I clearly remember signing papers with our realtor to start the proceedings to sell our house with the ex-husband. From one of the large windows of the building, I noticed clouds of smoke coming out of the hood of the station wagon, with my two kids still inside. I left the building as soon as I could, to see what was the problem. The realtor, followed quickly behind me, and kindly put water in my engine, and advised me to see a mechanic. The ex, who apparently wanted nothing to do with the problem, left quickly in his truck.
From that moment on, for the next two years, I was taking that station wagon to various mechanics, until finally, one of them told me that it was leaking oil, and it would continue to leak oil, and it would never be permanently fixed, and that I should just go to a dealership and “get rid of it.”
So, with my two kids in tow, that is what I did. I drove over in my leaking station wagon to a dealership. I wasn’t expecting any favors, and I knew I would probably not get much as a trade in, but it was what I had to do. That is when we met Frank Flores. Yes, I still remember our salesmen’s name. I don’t think I’ll ever forget him. He was true angel in disguise.
Sure he came up to us almost immediately after we got out of the station wagon. I could see the many other salesmen spying at us as we made our way around the lot. But he approached us first, a stocky , middle aged man in a brown suit, and smirky grin, he offered his hand in a handshake and offered his services.

“Hello! I’m Frank Flores, how can I help you today?”

I was a little nervous, and apprehensive about it all. I knew my credit at the time was not what you would call “stellar”. I explained my situation. I was a single mom, with a fixed budget and I needed a reliable car. I was honest. I told him that station wagon was leaking oil, but I needed to trade it in, because I didn’t have any other money for a down payment. He looked at me, and smiled while saying:

“We’ll make it happen Julie!”

I’m not quite sure if he appreciated my honesty, or he took pity in me, or if it was the cute angelic faces of my children that really “made it happen”. He took us around the lot, and showed us a few cars, but then showed one in particular that he thought was the best. It was an used Nissan Altima. It was a few years old, but it was nice, and according to Mr. Flores:
“I’ve driven the same car for years, and it’s the most reliable car I’ve even owned.”
I test drove it around town with the kids, and they were quite impressed.

“Mom, let’s get it!” the kids said excitedly.

I wasn’t quite sure if Mr. Flores could actually “make it happen”, but I was willing to try.
Once we got back to the lot, Frank took us inside, and we waited patiently for the manager to give the okay, and check out my pitiful wagon. Mr. Flores reassured me that I would get a good down payment with my trade in.

“But, Mr. Flores, I’m afraid there is already a puddle of oil underneath the engine of the station wagon.”

Mr. Flores shrugged and reassured me that “he wouldn’t see it.”
So we sat there for about a hour. I could see the manager coming back from the lot, and to me he didn’t seem very impressed. They ran the credit check, and checked for current insurance. I was sensing negative vibes everywhere. After a number of visits to the ice cooler, and a bag of chips from the vending machine, the kids were getting restless. I was almost at the point of considering to give up and leave the premises in shame. The only positive thing in the building was Mr. Frank Flores’ smile as he came out with the papers.

I don’t know how this guy did it, but he made it happen. As he handed over the keys to our “new” car, I was finally free from my oil guzzler station wagon, along with it’s unhappy memories that were attached to it—now I thought, perhaps, it would give all three of us, the kids and I a new little beginning.

On the way home, the kids went on and on, and made up a song about Mr. Flores. He was the hero of the day for sure, and he will always be remembered, for he “made it happen.” Although that car is no longer with us, it saw a new marriage,a new combined family and home, and many other happy beginnings and memories. Mr. Flores was right. That car was the most reliable car I had ever owned. Thank you again Mr. Flores for making it happen!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year.....new entry...

Well lookie! It's 2013, and we are alive. The ancient Mayans were wrong; the world did not end! (Not like I was really worried or anything, although some people I know seemed to be way too concerned about the prediction.) The way I see it, any day can be the last day of the world! More reason to be thankful for each day, and do something positive.

I've decided to do something different with my journal. I've decided my subject for each entry will be devoted to good things that happen, so when I look back on 12/31/13, I can read all my entries to remind myself of the year. It's like the note in the jar concept--only I have to do more writing about it. I cannot just write an occurrence with only one phrase--I don't work that way.

So, you won't be reading anything negative on this blog. I hope this does not disappoint you. There is an abundance of negativity already in the world, and I don't think I need point them out, express my frustrations about them or voice out my own problems or short comings here either.

I will start from the beginning--because that is the best place to start:


It's New Years Day, and I'm happy to report that ALL our children are home this morning from a night of celebrating with their friends. This does not happen very often. Nicholas is with my mom enjoying the title of #1 angel--he is being pampered like a little king, and I'm sure he is enjoying breakfast in bed.

I'm getting really hungry myself. It's about a quarter to 11 when Rich exclaims:

"Hey, let's go out to breakfast, just the two of us."

Wow, that hasn't happened for awhile. Now that the children are older, they come and go whenever they please pretty much, and it's very unlike ourselves to treat ourselves on our own. I must admit, I did feel a little guilty for eating without them, but I reminded myself of all the times they would leave and eat with their friends--free of guilt, without bothering to mention their plans, as I slaved away over the stove.

We left the house, almost like we were sneaking away like two teenagers, hoping not to wake our parents. It was fun--really fun. We got to the restaurant and waited a hour to be seated (New Years Day is a busy day...duh...should have known.) but it was worth it all.

As we sat there looking at our menus, Rich made an announcement.

"I'm going to order something crazy!"

"What are you going to order?" I was getting curious. Usually he is very predictable with his breakfast selections. It's usually a Denver omelete with an english muffin.

"I'm ordering a side of chocolate crepes! It's a new year, so it's time to try something new!"

Wow, now that is surprising! Rich never orders anything close to foreign. I laughed out loud, and told him that was a great idea.

The new year started most excellently---alone time with my dear, sweet husband, sharing a chocolate crepe.

Happy New Year!! :) May your new year be sweet, and joyful, full of happy moments!

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