Friday, October 24, 2014

A Visit From A British Soldier; Vila Nova, Terceira


This entry is dedicated to my aunt, Aida Adelaide, my mother's sister who happens to celebrate a birthday this month.  This evening at dinner, my mother told me the following story about when the British military was stationed on the island.  The story was brought on about the real butter I had on the table, and the invention of margarine of all things.  The history of margarine, sparked a memory in my mother, and although I've heard the story may be once or twice before, tonight I listened a little more carefully.  It is a touching story, I hope you enjoy it.  Happy Birthday Tia Aidinha!!


During WW II, in 1943 the Royal Air Force was stationed on the island of Terceira, Azores.

My mother who was a child back then, still remembers their presence on the island.  She remembers that although it was a scary time, the British military brought a positive presence, and she felt safe knowing that some of them were stationed in her village.  She had heard stories of Hitler and the war, the rationing, and the military war planes noisily flying overhead her island.  Her father had even instructed her and her sister where to hide if Hitler and the Germans were to come to the island.  It was a scary and uncertain time, but every now and then, there would be a British solider who would walk down the street, or drive by in a military vehicle.  The vehicle would stop and  soldiers come out and would often say hello to the children.  They would greet my mother and her friends with lollipops and candy bars.  Their little faces had no doubt reminded them of possibly their own children, or younger brothers and sisters who were waiting for their return back home.  

On one occasion, as my mother made her way to her uncle's home, a large military vehicle carrying a cannon came driving towards her.  My mother remembers being so frightened she stopped frozen on the street in fear.  The driver must have noticed her reaction.  The vehicle stopped, and out of the vehicle stood a tall young man, with light blue eyes and a broad smile on his face.  He  presented my mother with the biggest chocolate bar out of his front pocket.  It was the biggest candy bar she had ever seen in her life!  She joyfully took the candy bar, and ran home to show her parents.  Unfortunately to her dismay, she had to share it with her younger sister.

There were a number of soldiers that were stationed up the street from her uncle's home in Vila Nova, Terceira, and they would often come down the street in the early evenings to socialize at a small cafe/cantina near her uncle's home.   They would gather there to drink and to play cards and converse among themselves, and try to communicate with the other men from the village.  As the evenings progressed, their voices and  laughter would progress to get louder, and sometimes, on occasion, a few proved to drink a little too much.  At those times, the soldiers' laughter would soon turn into tears as their conversations turned to their loved ones waiting in England, fellow soldiers, and the stories and struggles of the war.  Although most of the people who lived in the village did not understand their words, their emotions and expressions of sorrow and "saudade"needed no translation.

On one particular day, my grandfather was out and about carrying my aunt in his arms.  My grandfather noticed a soldier stopping on the street to admire the little toddler.  She may have been only 3 or 4 years old at the time.  My aunt had light hair, with blue eyes and the vision of her apparently touched him deeply.  My grandfather felt a little weary with his stares, but after a short time the soldier came up to him, with tears in his eyes, explaining to my grandfather how much his daughter reminded him of his own.  A few days later, the soldier came up to my grandfather, and asked if there was any possibly way he could see my aunt one night as she lay sleeping.

My grandfather was so touched by the soldier's sincere words, he felt he had an obligation as a father to  help.  That evening he came  home and told my grandmother what had happened.  Although my grandmother was hesitant about it, she soon found herself  touched by the story of the soldier and she readily agreed to help.  The next evening, my grandmother purposely put the best crocheted linens on the bed, and dressed her youngest daughter in her best night gown.  My aunt Aida had no idea what was going on, and quickly fell asleep.  While she lay there sleeping, my grandmother carefully combed her light hair to the side, and pinned a pretty pink ribbon.

My mother remembers this day like it was yesterday, and recalled how confused she felt.  She did not understand why a British soldier was coming by to see her sister.  Would he bring her more chocolate?  Did he want to steal her baby sister away?  Nervously she waited until the soldier finally arrived at the door.  My grandfather opened the door, and quietly led him into the house, to where my mom and her mother stood,  near the bed where my aunt lay peacefully sleeping.  He carried no chocolates in his pockets, but the expression on his face, brought tears to my grandmother's eyes.

The soldier stood there above the bed for a little while.  He smiled at the little girl, as he mumbled a few words in English to himself.  He knelt down, and stroked her check carefully with his finger, and then arose from the bed, smiled again, and mumbled a few words in English once more, wiping a tear off of his own cheek.  The soldier then quietly left the house in silence and a few muffled words, perhaps trying to communicate to my grandparents his thank you.  My grandparents followed him out the door, and watched him make his way on the road, sympathetically.  The soldier then turned around to them,  and waved a goodbye to my mother at the window.

My mother wondered if the British soldier would ever return to visit them again, but he never did.  Years later another soldier would come, during another war, and from a different country.  That American soldier would later be my father.

Below you can see a movie on You Tube from 1943, when England set military base in Terceira.  The video does not say which island they were occupied on--just "The Azores".





Friday, October 10, 2014

I Don't Miss It

It's been about 3 months since I resigned from working at my former place of employment, and I must say, I'm finally adjusting to it.  Frankly, I can't believe it's been already over 3 months!  It seems like a month at  most!  I've been keeping myself so busy, and time is just flying by.

The first month out of work was strange.  I felt like I was just taking a long vacation from the office.  I was still getting questions from work via email.  I still had email access to my former employment.  People were actually requesting me to run CII reports, or change cases, and I would respond telling them I no longer worked there.  Yes, I didn't work there anymore!  Why are you asking me this?  Because of this, it all seemed unreal to me.  I still felt "connected" to the office in a weird, ghostly way.  Of course I had mixed feelings about it.  I wanted to be there for the person I had trained before I left, but at the same time, I felt angry.  I felt like I was still being taken advantage of by my employer, and I wasn't being paid for my time regardless.

When the second month came around, I asked to be taken off the email, and I requested not to be contacted again.  I felt a little badly for the new person, but the cord had to be broken.  This was all too ridiculous.  At this point this had to end!  I confess that I missed checking the email.  The connection I had to a place I had invested over 26+ years of employment was now gone.  It was bittersweet, but, it was finally over.

By the end of the 2nd month, I finally met up with a friend from work.  I've worked with this particular friend since she first starting working for the county, about 24 years.  She is one of the very few friends from work that has not yet retired since I started working there.  Naturally, I do miss not seeing her every day at work.  We would share our frustrations of the work place during the week, while walking around the office by the river.  I missed our walks and friendship.  We decided to meet up for another walk.

I purposefully suggested that we have a walk near the ocean.  It was a beautiful September day, and it was a perfect excuse not to walk around the river, near the office.  I have no desire to "bump" into any supervisor or any member of management on a walk.  I guess I'm still angry, and I believe I do have a reason for feeling that way.  I was not in the mood for nice, fake small talk to anyone of those idiots.  She luckily agreed to a walk near the ocean, which I was very grateful, especially when I drove into the office parking lot I felt a knot in my stomach.  Ugg.  I was very grateful that she was already waiting outside.

We had a nice, informative walk.  The sky was beautiful, and the surfers were out in the ocean, and people were walking their dogs and enjoying the day.  My friend told me of all the happenings and going ons around the office since I had made my "surprise" departure.  Apparently, the office hasn't fallen apart yet since, but they are weeks and weeks behind in work.  The girl I had trained my position was moved to a different office and doing other work.  She in turn trained a new person, whom apparently was a transfer from another department, who was taking a lot of vacation time off, so the work was even more behind, and she really didn't know what the hell she was doing, but she was slowly accomplishing it.  Other parts of "my former job duties" had been reimbursed to aids, and other people who were none to happy.  My former supervisor asked my friend, to ask me if I was willing to come in a few days to "catch up".  I laughed.  I guess my former supervisor was too embarrassed to call me personally.  I hope she doesn't call.  I relayed to my friend to tell her I thought that was very funny.

We walked back to my car, and I dropped off my friend at the parking lot at my former work place.  I cannot tell you how happy I felt to actually drive out of there one more time.  I probably will go back again because of my friend, but the thought of walking inside that building makes my stomach ache.  I like my "new work place" a lot better.  It's home.




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Just putting it out there...

Although I publish most of what I write on here, there have been some recent entries that I have chosen not to share on social media, namely, Facebook.

I'm not sure of who actually subscribes to this blog, if any.  (I've noticed that most of the people that I have followed in the past, have not been submitting entries.  For some bloggers it has been literally years.)  So this may be seen by only a few or a dozen people.  It really doesn't matter.  Because of the sensitive and personal material, I'm not sharing publicly for a number of reasons, that I will not disclose, but at the same time, I'm not going to make any excuses for not expressing myself on my blog.

The last thing I want to do is humiliate or offend anyone.  I'm writing entries for myself; no one else.

Take it or leave it…

Flat Tire

On some days, I just feel flat.  I feel deflated, and light-headed.  It as if someone just let out all the air out of me, and I'm just beyond tired.  I've been feeling this way for the past few days, and I think my body is really just trying to fight off a cold.

I think my car is too.

There is nothing more aggravating than driving around town, doing errands when you see that signal on your dashboard telling you that you have a tire that is losing air pressure.  Lovely.  The first thing I immediately picture in my mind is being stuck on the side of the road, unable to go to all the places I need to be.  Luckily I made it home, and had enough air pressure to finish what I was doing and safely park my car in my garage.  I know how you feel, dear Bleu.  (Yes, I named my car Bleu, because it's the color blue.)

Poor Bleu has been working overtime.  Sure he isn't driving over Hwy 17 as much as he was now that I'm not working, but boy, he has been busy.  I've taken him to San Francisco, and a not very pleasant trip to Oakland quite recently.  I don't know my way around the city very well, and poor Bleu has been honked at a few times, and been scared trying to follow instructions around the scary streets of Oakland.  So, fortunately, Bleu lost tire pressure a mile from home, and not on Telegraph Hill Rd---for this I'm very grateful indeed.

I've only have had experienced that scenario once before, years and years ago, (knock on wood) with two young children in a car full of groceries, on the side of the road with a flat, with no cell phone.  A nice woman on the road stopped in front of me, on the side of  the highway, and let me use her phone.  I was so grateful, but embarrassed.  I tried to quietly explain to the husband (ex) at home my unfortunate dilemma.  He was none too happy he had to leave and come to my rescue.  He was having far too much fun in front of the computer screen, chatting with some woman on Portuguese Chat.

It was on that day, driving back home, I realized (again-I had been in denial for years) that I had a much bigger problem than just a flat tire.  Sure, the husband (ex) eventually showed up, changed the tire, and put on the spare, (cursing under his breath the whole entire time) but that was just a band aid to a much bigger problem.  After a tearful drive home, the groceries were put away.  The kids were fed, and I watched them hoping they would be too young to remember what a terrible afternoon it had been. I could overhear him laughing again in front of the computer screen.  Things were back to "normal".  Normally dysfunctional.

Sometimes the best way to take off a band aid is to do it quickly.  It is so much worse than pulling it off slowly.  It had to happen eventually.  I was losing air and I was suffocating.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Voices Unheard





one bruised arm
one black eye
one more walk into the door
broken dishes on the floor
i tried to hide
and i lied
but honey there isn't enough Cover Girl in the world
that can cover
this or shut the voices
inside

another bruised arm
another black eye
another excuse
not to run
push it away that glass of red wine
cleaning off the stain
from my face
broken pieces strewn across
leave without a trace
hide the evidence

one loud shrill
one loud crash
one little girl holding a suitcase
i'm shouting down the hall
loading up the car
and my soul
with what is left
what was always there
left unkept and silent
far too many years

open up the box
open up the book
let the moths fly out
I lost the ring
I buried it
I burnt it
with the letters and denial
let the voices attest
My Lady you have heard me
how I prayed and cried
I tried until
the door finally swung open
and the lights inside
sang with loud voices
I could not deny








Sunday, September 7, 2014

Things That Chirp In The Night...

Awhile ago, my mother called me at work with a problem.

"Julie, I have a problem.  There is a sound in my house, and I haven't been able to sleep the last two days."

"What kind of sound?"

My mother went on to explain that it sounded like a cricket, but she wasn't sure, because the "grilos (crickets) in Terceira (Azores) sounded different."  I joked with her and pointed out, that all crickets "spoke" the same language of course, but my mother didn't think it was funny at least.  She wasn't able to sleep and she was exhausted.

She tried everything.  She looked all over the house looking for this "bicho" (bug) but was not successful.  She checked the windows, the door ways, the vents in the heater, and the attic.  She turned on the vacuum cleaner some nights hoping to scare off the little critter, but with little success.  According to her, it would stop for a few minutes, and as soon as she put the vacuum away, it would start again.  The sound proceeded to taunt her throughout the evening.  Even with the pillow over her head, did not prevent the sound from keeping her awake.  She was always afraid that she would awake with a cricket next to her pillow.  It was driving her crazy, and praying on her rosary was the only thing she could do to help her sleep a few hours.

I went over to her house that day to check it out, and honestly, I heard nothing.  She told me, "It only comes out at night, right when I fall asleep.  It knows."

Lovely.  Was my mother going completely crazy?  "It knows."  I questioned my mother's sanity for a moment, and wondered if I should just spend the night to hear this "cricket" for myself.  I continued to reassure her that it was probably just a cricket, and it couldn't hurt her, but that really didn't ease her concern.  She was afraid it was something else, perhaps "something more dangerous." She went on to say that she would ask my older brother to check it out, because in her words, it was more of a job for "a man" and I let go the responsibility cheerfully.  In the meantime, she would continue to sleep with a flashlight and her "nervous pills" close by along with her white crackers, and 7UP.

A few nights later, my dog, Max started to bark for no known reason.  It was then I heard a sound coming from the hallway.  It was a small little beep sound.  Hmm..I wondered, what could that be?  I thought it might be one of the older kids who just got home, or my youngest was still awake and playing  a video game.  I got up from bed to investigate.

At first, I didn't know what it was or where it was coming from.  I checked the bedrooms, and all the kids were home and asleep.  I just happened to look up, when I heard the sound, and saw a green light coming from the the fire alarm detector.  Of course, Max was following me through the house and helping with my "investigation" barking nonstop each time the thing beeped, which alerted my husband, who proceeded to take it down  from the ceiling.

My husband reassured me that it was probably a dying battery that was setting it off, but of course we checked the house for smoke, and fortunately didn't find any.  It was after we went back to bed I realized that the beeping sound could be the same chirping sound that was keeping my mother up all night for the last week.

The next day I called my mother and asked her how she slept last night.  She told me that my brother did not find where the sound was coming from and she had another sleepless night.  I told her about what happened to us the night before, and she didn't seem to believe, it was coming from her fire alarm, but was hopeful that it was.

"Ah Julie, nao e possivel….mas vem ca e ver!"

 In other words, Julie it's not possible, but come and see!

I drove over to investigate.  The last thing I wanted was my mother climbing on a chair and trying to take the alarm down by herself, and break a hip.  When I arrived, my mother followed me into the hallway near the kitchen where her alarm was on the ceiling.  She already had the chair sitting directly underneath the alarm.  I got there just in time.

"It's not making any noise now!"  my mother explained.  "It only comes out at night!"

I got on the chair and twisted the alarm off and pressed the button.

"BEEP"

I looked down at my mother.

"Is that the sound you have been hearing?"

My mother crossed herself and smiled.  I proceeded to pop in a new battery in the alarm, and twisted it back into the ceiling.

It was kind of strange that the batteries in my own fire alarm happened to get weak the same time my mother's, but somethings in life are just unexplainable.  Operation "cricket" was successful and my mother finally enjoyed a restful sleep, and was able to put away the vacuum cleaner and flashlight, and that is all that mattered.





Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bye, Bye…..

I took the link of my former employer's email off my computer.  It was book marked, but I deleted it.  It's gone.  Now I won't be tempted to check the email to answer more questions.

The questions haven't stopped, but they are getting less involved, so I think it's going to be okay. (Why should I care---I'm angry with myself for caring so much.)  Hopefully now they will get the hint and know I'm not available.  They will probably resort to calling me on the phone.   I have vowed to myself not to answer their calls.  (Thank God for call screening.)  I haven't been an employee for the last 2 weeks, and I'm not getting paid for this.  It's really not suitable for me to be available to them now.  I wrote a fricken manual people…read it!

You can ring my bell, but I'm not picking up.

I also quit selling Avon.

I'm on a quitting spree.  Avon is robbing me blind, and I'm their best customer.  After announcing my termination from being an Avon lady, I've gotten two calls.  One from Avon in Pasadena--from a very annoying person who was being very overly concerned with my welfare, and wanted to know "why I was quitting, because I was doing so well.."  I was doing so well?  Really?  In what way?  Paying for all the mistakes and overcharges for the products I bought?  Oh please. They wouldn't let me return products, nor did they do price adjustments for me.  I was making no money whatsoever-Avon was---so of course they are "sorry to see me go". Then I got a very annoying call from a woman named Jennifer who works from the local office.  I've never met Jennifer,  and I'm sure she is a very nice person, but I will not miss her annoying emails.  She would send an email almost every day, and if I was late for a campaign, I would get phone calls.  She called me this time with a not so very chirpy voice, wondering who I was going to refer my customers.  Gee, lady, I can count all my customers in one hand.  No one is going to die because they can't order their mascara from me this month.

Ding Dong…this Avon lady is done.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Extended Vacation

It's been a week since my last day at work, and how does it feel?  Basically, it feels like I've been on vacation for a week.

It's been a busy week.  Last Monday I took my mother to a doctor's appointment, to lunch, and I took my son to the beach.  On  Tuesday I went grocery shopping, and went swimming with my son.  On Wednesday, we went to an amusement park.  On Thursday there were more errands and afterwards, we went swimming.  On Friday, we went to the zoo and met up with some family relatives in San Francisco.  On Saturday, we stayed home, went swimming.  In the evening we celebrated my husband's birthday.

Today I stayed home recovering from a little accident I had in the parking lot from the night before.  Without disclosing too much information, and without risking me sound really stupid, I wasn't paying attention, (neither was my husband) and we left the parking lot without thinking.  I swear--I did not see the "arm" come down on my head when exiting the lot.  No, there was no alcohol involved in that unfortunate accident.  Yes, I have a very small bump on my head.

I had to remind myself what day it was today.  I'm afraid the days are just melting into the next right now, which actually is a good thing.  I'm on vacation mode, and the next week ahead has already been planned with more exciting and fun events.  After all, it IS summer vacation, right?

 I won't be going to work tomorrow, or the next day…or the next.  But that doesn't necessarily mean that I won't get an email or two from work.  My former employer has not taken me off the mailing list so I still have access.  I'm guessing they are prolonging my access so the person I trained to do my job can email me with more questions.  True, I'd rather answer an email than answer the phone, but at the same time, I'd rather not have either.

I think it's time to cut the cord.

I'm not getting paid to answer any questions.  I really don't want to invest any more time to "that place", but there is a little tinge of curiosity that lingers.  How is this person going to know how to do my job, and do it correctly?  I shouldn't even care, but at the same time, I feel like I'm leaving "my baby" since I basically had to "learn" my job as I went for years, without anyone to ask questions to.  No one there exactly knows what my job entailed, and no one cared to.  After all, it was a clerical position.  Who wants to know what I do?  No one.  Perhaps management will now have to investigate.  I should have taken all the manuals I typed up and threw them all in the river.   It isn't the new person's fault, so she is not the one to blame, but at the same time, it certainly isn't my problem; not anymore.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Snap, Crackle….POP!

I'm not the kind of person that just "quits" at anything.  No matter how predictable the storyline is, I have to finish reading the book, even though I know there is no happy ending.   I will be the last person in the stands until the game is over, and the one at the stage at the end of the concert.  Forever hopeful, I'm the person who is always waiting or expecting a miracle.  Sometimes I get what I'm waiting for, but most times I don't.

 I always hear, if you don't expect much in life, you'll never be disappointed.  Life would be so much easier if I followed that rule.  I'm just your everyday, happy go lucky, positive person.  If I do well, and  do my job correctly, I will be noticed and rewarded.  I will win friends, and earn their respect.  I'm a "people pleasing" kind of gal.

My father used to always say this phrase, "You are only helping yourself."   I often wonder what the meaning was behind that saying.  It puzzled me as a child, and I still don't understand it today.  I know he was trying to inspire me in some way or offer some wise advice.  Was it not to please others before yourself?  I'm not sure, and I can't ask him now.

 I put in 110% into my work everyday.  I leave my office with a clean desk each night knowing that I've worked an honest day.  Anyone who knows me, will tell you how rarely I say the word "no".  I'm a dedicated, loyal and can be trusted to work both well alone and with others.  It is who I am, and how I was raised to be.  I guess this can all be interpreted to some people as being a fool, a sign of weakness, and to others, I am someone to be taken advantage of.  I can accept that.

BUT…

If you choose to test me, wind me up, and stretch me out like and old, worn rubber band,  I will eventually SNAP!

Take advantage of my dedication, loyalty and trust, and I will CRACKLE!

Punish for me for doing my job too well, and I will POP!

What was that sound?

I think someone just shot himself in the foot.








Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lady Jams

I have a new office.  It's great--mostly because it's nice, new and quiet, and away from most of the activity upstairs.  This all means I don't have to over hear conversations involving clients, (which  depress me) smelly people and burnt popcorn from the microwave.  It also means that on many occasions, I have the entire office to myself--right near the front door, near my car, next to the exit, and across from the bathroom.  Oh, and I also have my own window!  It's pretty perfect and I cannot complain.

Well today was one of those glorious days!  I had the whole office to myself!  Hurray!  It was all nice and dandy at first, but after a few hours of working in silence, it became a little too quiet.  I reached for my radio.  Unfortunately, my crappy old, radio does not get good reception in the building, so I only had one radio station option.  It was the radio station from the  university, and it was the morning segment of "Lady Jams".  Lovely.  I was listening to a combination of tunes sung by only women artists including, Doris Day, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey and Cher.  It was entertaining, but at the same time I was glad none of my co-workers upstairs came down to hear what I was listening to; it was a strange and bizarre combination of music from the early 1940's to the early 90's.  The student DJ sounded like she was high on something.

After a few hours of "Lady Jams", my radio reception became all together nonexistent.  There is no good explanation of why this happens in this building.  Radio station reception in this building always seems to get "interrupted" along with the heat and cooling system.  I'm either freezing cold, or burning, with good radio reception, or none at all.  (I'm pretty sure this building is haunted-but that is another story I will have to write about at another time.)  In haste, I  continued to search for another station, but came up empty.

I then remembered the cassette tape.  Yes, my radio has a cassette player--it's that old.  This cassette tape had been in this radio un-played for years.  I was unsure if it even worked anymore.  It was a tape I had made from some of my all time favorite tunes.  We are talking about music from the 90's, early 2000's when I still  recorded music on tapes.  There I was newly, separated/divorced, with nothing better to do.  I was suddenly re-living my lonely teenage years.  I was recording sad songs on cassette tapes on lonely Saturday nights, singing along to them in a dark living room.

Yes, those days were hard.  Sometimes, back then the only thing that helped was listening, and making my own "Lady Jams".  These "jams" included a little of Alanis Morrisette, Sheryl Crowe and some Natalie Imbruglia, to name just a few.  They were all songs I could relate to at the time, involving cheating husbands, and jaded love.  As I hit the play button, those years came to live again.  Their words full of memories of melodies  flooded the office and through my mind.  Paula Cole was on there singing, "Me".  It was like opening a lost and forgotten treasure chest to my past.

I went on to the piles of files on my desk, listening and remembering.  I chuckled to myself, and I was surprised that I still new the words.  It's really interesting looking back on those days.  The songs that I recorded at the time reflected where my life was at that moment.  My life back then was so much different than what it was today.  Sure it was sad, and scary back then, but it was also an exciting time of my life.  I was finally "free" from an unhealthy relationship.  I was in control now; no more excuses, no more hiding.  I was on my own for the first time since I was 19 years old.  Everything was different.  I was ready for life to start over again at the age of 31.

Happily, it did start over, but sometimes all I need is a few songs on my "Lady Jams" play list to remind myself where I was, and appreciate that life is good now.  I grew up, and I'm not going back, but I can still remember.



Sunday, March 30, 2014

VaVa's

When I was younger, one of my favorite things to do was go to my VaVa's (grandmother's) house.  It has been years since I've been there, to that pink house, lined with pink roses on Escalona Drive, and even though I will never hear, that distinctive door bell ring again,  I can still remember that low toned "ding dong" that echoed throughout that house and the memories that it held inside.

I remember playing with the steel heater near the front door, the old stuffed animals she kept in the closet, and the sight of the decorative living room ceiling with the large turquoise couch, the matching chairs, and the pink rocker, and the easy chair, that my VaVa would sit in, the fireplace, with my father's military army picture, behind my Uncle Johnny's, and my aunt's graduation pictures from college sitting on top of the mantle.  The console T.V. and the large ocean oil painting my Tia Edalina had painted above the couch.  The dining room, decorated by various works of art in crayon by the cousins,  was adjacent with the kitchen, with the pull out wood board that VaVa would knead her sweet bread on, and that red plastic cookie jar that was always filled of those Stella Dora cookies.  I also remember seeing those white plastic canisters from Linda Vista market with the liver.  VaVa Costa loved cookies and liver and onions.

The small hallway of the house would lead to my grandmother's bedroom, the pink and blue tiled bathroom, the bigger room with the twin beds that used to be my aunt's room, and the room in the back that Uncle Johnny slept in that was usually kept shut.  I remember walking into my grandmother's room which was always immaculately kept.  Her dresser was always filled and decorated with various perfume bottles that never looked like they were ever opened, along little jewelry box trinkets.  This image has always been with me, and my bedroom dresser today looks a lot like hers, and yes I still have those same perfume bottles of emeraud.

The hallway that lead to the bedrooms had a little shelf of various knickknacks, and below it was a black phone on a little table and sit bench.  Vava's phone was a  party line phone, and sometimes, I would pick up the phone and hear the neighbors speaking to one another.  They would hear the phone click and sometimes say, "Oh, that must be one of the Costa grandchildren on the other line…"  I would quickly hang up afterwards, but sometimes they wouldn't hear the click, and sit there and I would hear about sale at the market or the dinner party someone was throwing, and try not to laugh.

My favorite room however, was the twin bedroom room for it was filled of what I thought was lost treasure.  The room had an old fashioned Singer sewing machine in the corner of the room, and always a baby crib at the corner for the baby cousins that would visit.  The closet was filled of my aunt's old Catholic High School year books-which were interesting to look at.  Everyone looked so much older, and all the teachers were very stern looking nuns.  There were also boxes and boxes of black and white portraits pictures of long lost relatives wearing funny hats, and my aunt's old hoop 1950 hoop skirts. I could spend hours looking through that closet.  The twin room was almost as interesting as the garage.

The garage was another place I would to look and explore; filled with rusty old tools that were left untouched for years since the passing of my VaVo (grandfather) who I never met.  I would sometimes imagine, when playing there, that he was there, as I touched his old tools, and looked into his old steel tool boxes.  I would clang and make noise to pretend to play "mechanic" with big, old wrenches.  The neighbor across the street rented some of the space and stored boxes in it, which included boxes of old Playboy magazines.  How scandalous that was!  Who knew the dad across the street that we saw in church every Sunday read and looked at that.  Interesting.  I don't think he thought we Costa grandchildren would find it, but it was discovered by most of us-of course we never dared to tell anyone.  It did leave us to  wonder if his wife knew.  How scandalous.  I don't think VaVa Costa knew.  She would not have approved!

My grandmother's backyard was filled with bushes of hydrangea flowers, that grew along the entire fence line, lawn and on the other side there was a vine that sometimes produced the most sweetest of black grapes.  Her next door neighbor had an instructional swimming pool, and I would often look through the holes of the fence to see the whimsical float toys surrounding the pool, and the smell of the chlorine sifted through.

The most interesting part of the backyard however was the door that lead to underneath the house.  There was enough crawl space there to walk around, and that is where my VaVa, who loved to garden, kept some of her garden tools, along with other boxes of books.  It was also another storage area, and that is where my parents kept my brother Edwin's car.  It was one of those cars you could actually could sit in and kick with your feet---like a Fred Flintstone car.  I never dared to go near it not because I thought it was haunted or covered with spider webs, but more because it was too special.  I would look at it only from a distance, and try to envision a brother I only knew from old black and white photographs, drive it down the sidewalk.

After  weekend dinners, which usually included ham and Lawrence Welk T.V. programs,  I remember pleading with my parents to spend the night.  If my VaVa was feeling well, they would always say yes.  They would pick me up the next morning, after a breakfast of eggs and bacon.  I remember saying goodbye to them as they drove away at the window above the steel heater.  I would later settle into one of the twin beds, and after a goodnight kiss from my VaVa I would close my eyes and listen to her pray on her rosary in Portuguese.   Hearing VaVa's repetitive prayers  coming out of her bedroom, down the hallway gave me comfort and always lulled me quickly to sleep.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Where's My Egg McMuffin?

A receptionist tells her boss that she is going out for a morning break to get something to eat around the corner.  The boss is hungry too, so hands her a $5 bill to get something for himself.  That was at around 10 am.  A few hours later, the boss is still sitting there at the reception desk taking calls, with his stomach grumbling with hunger.  No egg mc muffin, and no receptionist.  Without any explanation to why, at the end of the day it becomes quite apparent that the receptionist was not coming back.  Days pass, and weeks, still no word of the missing receptionist.

Was she  abducted by aliens, kidnapped, or may be she got picked up on a warrant?  No one knows.  I really shouldn't assume, she just took the money and made a run for it.  From what?  To what?

We may never know.  It really isn't that important.  Sadly.

I often wonder to myself (more than usual, the past few years) what would happen if I just left my job.  Of course, I wouldn't leave with my boss' money promising to return with an egg mc muffin.  No matter how tempting it would be, I wouldn't do it that way.   I would do the right thing and give my two weeks notice.   I'm pretty predictable and responsible that way.  If I just picked up and left people would say, "Gee, that is so out of character of Julie to just leave like that.  She must be going through a mid-life crisis, or may be she dropped dead."  There would be some confusion, and people would talk about me for a few weeks, may be a few months, but eventually they would just stick another poor soul at my desk, and life would go on.

Sadly, no matter how much you think you are irreplaceable at work, you really are.  Work goes on, just like life.  The office won't stop without you.  You can get an egg mc muffin at almost any street corner. Don't wait for the receptionist.  Go get it yourself.