Tag Archives: american dream

Having It All

23 Sep

“Monkeys, do you have your lunches?”
“Yes!” they cried out in unison.
“Let’s go! Backpacks on, grab a sweater, and make sure you have your lunch packed away in your backpack.”
“Ok mommy!”

After dropping off Bella and Iza at school to make an 8 am call where I had to present, I drove off guilt ridden that I was leaving them on campus so early in the morning – read 5 minutes earlier than usual.  I coaxed myself to shake it off, to remember that they are loved and well-cared for little girls who can handle an additional 5 minutes away from me.

As I pulled into the parking lot at work and reached for my purse in the backseat, my eyes focused on a cute black tote with a panda face smiling at me – Iza’s lunch bag.

I ignored it, ignored the fact that the school would be calling me soon to notify me, ignored the fact that I had 2 minutes before the call started, and dashed up the stairs in my stiletto heels, click-clacking my way to my office where I quickly dialed into the conference call in time to hear the global roll call.

I sent a quick text to my fiancee ‘Iza 4got lunch will drop off after call in case school calls’ as I pulled up my notes for my presentation and silenced my cell phone.

As I was introduced, my phone buzzed with Iza’s school’s phone number flashing at me.  Bad Mom! it read.  As I ignored the call and it rang again it screamed, Terrible Mom!, before I ignored it again.

I placed my hand on my chest and leaned forward into my computer screen to calm my nerves and the chatter in my brain.  I stuck to my script a lot closer than I meant to and probably came off sounding like a robot dictating an essay (thank God I wrote it out and emailed it to myself the evening before!).  As soon as the call was over I got a couple of encouraging notes from colleagues congratulating me on a good presentation which I really appreciated.  I chose to ignore my internal questioning if the praise was deserved or not, and sat back and appreciated the kind words.

I waited a few minutes in case anyone followed up with any questions before I called the school back and apologized for ignoring their calls (I’m not a terrible mom, I promise! I have this thing called a J-O-B which I’m trying to make into a C-A-R-E-E-R), grabbed my keys, cell phone (work lifeline) and ran to my car.  As I pulled into the school 8 minutes later (I strategically live a short distance from my life’s priorities: the girls’ school and work) and dropped off Iza’s lovingly packed home cooked meal at the front office, I took a moment to smile (laugh at myself).

My mother would have kicked my ass if I had forgotten my lunch at home and had the gall to have the school secretary to call her at work and ask her to drop everything to bring it to me.  I started laughing out loud at the absurdity of the thought.  My mother never packed lunches.  She was too busy working as a grill cook an hour away in LA traffic for a 5 AM – 2 PM shift on her feet.  Her J-O-B did not allow the flexibility to “drop by” my school to deliver a home cooked meal.  I never wanted to be a nuisance to this mother of 5 whose idea of a better American life necessitated an additional job on the weekends as a cashier to afford the mortgage payments.

I smiled at the thought of my mother who continues to inspire me with her strength and will to move forward in life.  I smiled at the thought that I seem destined to feel guilty throughout life.  Guilt of being a nuisance as a child to hardworking parents and guilt as a mother for not predicting every minute need that my children may have.  I smile because I wouldn’t take either of those experiences away – my childhood nor the precious childhood that I shape for my girls.

Having it all? I say yes, one crazy (but well planned) day at a time.

What can you do but smile? On my way to Deliver Iza's Lunch.

What can you do but smile? On my way to Deliver Iza’s Lunch.

 

Suicide is everywhere – How Do We Help?

13 Aug

Suicide is everywhere

In the Media
In our closets, with belts carefully hidden away
In our medicine cabinets, full of long-forgotten pain killer prescriptions
In the bathroom, full of razors
In the freeway, over and under each overpass
 
Suicide is Everywhere
In our Classrooms, kids lost in quiet agony
In our home, where it hurts the most
In our work environment, where we may perpetuate it the most
 
Little by little
Bit by Bit
We poke at it
We prod it
We dump more work on it
We walk around smile-less, pushing it away
 
Suicide is Everywhere
A human terminal illness
Surrounds us everywhere
 
Can we stop it? 
Can we see it? 
 
If we did, would we?
   Take the time to offer an embrace
   A listening ear –
       Un-Interrupted with swipes on your phone to check the time
       Stolen glances to your email
 
Would we take the time
To be Human?

It all began with the Los Angeles Dodgers

29 Sep

My dad was an unpaid pollero, a coyote, an illegal boarder crosser. He was a young restless man, unfit to lay still in the small town he grew up in, he ventured North to the United States.

Prompted by the throbbing earth underneath, he’d jump up from his crouching position and run like a madman in pitch darkness alongside the iron monster that was his ticket out. Timing the passage of the passenger cars he’d jump and toss his body towards the train as he clambered up the side steps until he was in relative safety of the rooftop of the humming machinery that kept on going on no matter what new passengers were now clinging on to their new life.

Sunsets would set and mornings would rise with a promise of new territory, a new land that welcomed exploring.

Being a resourceful, hardworking and possessing a well-liked disposition, or so he claimed, my father would survey a new town (one on the good ol’ USA) and jump off the train several hundred feet before the train came to a stop to seek out employment while he felt out his new surroundings. He usually found work in the fields, picking fruit or in the cattle ranches as a skilled ranch hand.

On one of his trips to the North, my father led a couple of town mates to seek out their own versions of a fortune in the land of riches: the land of Hollywood telenovelas, shiny new cars and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They followed the trains as they snaked their way out of Mexico to the U.S. with little consequence except their light frames from days of hunger. They stopped in the outer fields of Phoenix, Arizona along the way and crawled along the fields to scope out the reception immigrants received. This being the late 60’s, you could never be too safe but they were welcome as laborers. My father quickly befriended a ranch owner and secured jobs for all four in his party in the horse slaughter house.

“It was the easiest and most well paid job I ever had. All I had to do was push a button as the stunned horses came through to pass them through a chute that led to the slaughter house, I never had to see the blood or worry about handling the tools that actually killed and tore those animals apart.”

My father’s young town mate quickly grew restless from the Arizona ranch life. His dream to see the Dodgers play in Los Angeles’ Dodger stadium was what drove him North and he begged my father to lead him there. My father had no desire to leave this secure and warm receptive place but he felt an obligation to deliver his paisano to his relatives in Los Angeles so he promptly spoke to the owner and told him he would be leaving in short time.

The owner dropped them off near the train depot and the two of them, my father and his friend, slept near the train tracks so they could catch the 1 AM train that would lead them to Los Angeles.
Their eyes wide awake with anticipation and anxiety from missing the iron monster kept them awake.

Before the rumbling from the ground would rustle a squirrel from its tree, they were up on all fours ready to run and jump onto their ride.

The air whipped his face with the arid cold wind that the dessert howled around these parts but he kept running, even after he heard an odd thumping sound, he ran until he was on the train. He climbed the side stairs and waited for his friend to answer his call but nothing came but the unforgiving cold. He called out again and again as he started towards his friend, running as quickly as he could from train car to train car until he knew that he wasn’t aboard. The train had picked up speed and only a madman or idiot would think about jumping on or off to their death but without much of a second thought, my father wrapped his coat over his face and hurled his body off the train and onto the unknown darkness underneath.

It seemed like an eternity before he stopped rolling and when he finally felt the ground still below him, he tried to stand and hoped that he was in functioning order. He ran for hours until he thought he was deliriously imagining that his friend had not made it aboard and worried that he’d let him go along guideless. By noon, he finally made it back to see the tree where he’d slept near in the horizon and as he neared he saw a figure on the ground unmoving. As he crept closer he saw the light rise and fall of his friend’s breathing mangled body and gently flipped his body to see his face.

“Hmmmaaaaaaooooo!!!” His friend cried out as my father saw the wide gash across his skull, he had to press down the flapping skin to hide the whiteness of either bone or fresh flesh underneath. He took his bandana and tied it tightly across his friend’s head to prevent some of the bleeding.

“Estoy mal?” “No, estas bien pero deja voy por ayuda para que te limpien la mazeta.”

He dragged him to the shade to protect him from the scorching Arizona sun and went for help. He arrived at a gas station and could not find anyone that spoke Spanish but a crowd quickly huddled close and jabbed fingers, shoved his chest back and demanded something he could not comprehend.

Words cascaded all around him, cutting in deep but failing to penetrate his comprehension.

A young boy was missing in the town, his mother had not seen him for hours after he’d gone for a bike ride. My father – Mexican, brown, dirty and his shirt full of blood stumbled in amongst the frantic search.

In desperation he grabbed on to the nearest stranger’s shirt and dragged him towards the direction he’d come from pointing insistently to follow him. The wild despair in his eyes was tempered by his focused determination as he dragged the crowd a few miles to where his friend lay, covered in blood.

“What happened? What were you two doing?” When he shaked his head, they repeated, “Que hacian you dos?” in broken Spanish and a dance of flying hand motions. He motioned that his friend was running and tripped, carefully avoiding the train subject altogether.

The ambulance came and my father quickly slid into the back with his friend to avoid the local police hauling his Mexican ass back to some unknown area of Mexico.

His friend spent a year in the hospital. My father got his old job back and would visit his friend regularly. He was eventually released to a local nuns convent for further recovery and it was then that my father bid his friend goodbye as the local police was growing unreceptive to outside labor.

The trains beckoned once more and he rode them all the way to Los Angeles where he notified his friend’s family members of the convent and where they could find him. Years later, he ran into his friend again, a reformed, religious and nondrinking man.

His friend never did see the Dodgers but my father found something in Los Angeles that caged his restless spirit and tied his roots to the land of the baseball team he traveled hundreds of miles for a friend to see.

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