You Are Who You Choose to Be

I am positive. I see what’s right. What’s good. What’s relevant.

When negativity slips its way into my thoughts, I won’t lie, bad vibes can take over the way I’m feeling.

Because well,

It’s hard not to feel anger, spite, and bitterness, but for me, it’s so much easier to embrace the good. To reflect on all the positive happenings around me.

When I do that,

pull strength from one of my greatest attributes, being positive, my shoulders relax, my headache withdraws, and my demeanor lightens.

And I feel fine.

That’s who I choose to be.

I just have to say…

I feel 

kind of zoned out 

and somewhat stressed.

Which brings on fatigue

and

sore muscles.

BUT,

to help me push through

those feelings

and

physical aliments

I find joy

in every day,

in various ways.

Because

in order for me

to feel content,

to feel calm,

to feel healthy

I need to embrace

happiness,

true happiness,

in

the most

simplistic way.

In other words,

I need to

roll with the punches.

And 

move on.

 

Ode to Chris, my Sis

Chris had always been a person in my life, a sister who, no matter what, came through, was always there for me. Sitting here, thinking about her, how she was a part of my life, my relationship with Rudy and eventually the perfect aunt for my kids, I’m remembering when Elizabeth, was born, and how Chris needed to take charge because Rudy and I, both thirteen years younger than her, were very anxious about me giving birth, an unknown territory for the two of us.

Chris, the oldest of 11 children, knew exactly what was going on (not only because she was like a second mother growing up, but because I don’t even know how many times, she helped feline after feline, dogs too, give birth to their new offspring). You wouldn’t know it, but I’m telling you, those lessons she learned were a definite asset for anyone feeling the pains of labor. She could read the situation and help the process move along smoothly. Chris knew the signs of “It’s time!”

When I was in labor with Liz (yet didn’t realize it) and Rudy, assuming I was just a little uncomfortable (because that’s what I told him “Oh I’m just a little uncomfortable”) was grabbing his jacket and heading towards the front door just as Chris walked into our tiny apartment.

“What?! She looked at Rudy, stared him down. “You are leaving? Going to work? Why? She is going to pop this baby out any moment! You can not leave! I won’t allow it.”

My sister. My older sister. My only sister was the boss. At that moment, regardless of any reason, viable or not,  she was not going to let him leave.

“I don’t think so! She’s in labor. Daphne is going to have this baby today,” my sister said, giving Rudy no other reason to dispute her. “You need to call work! Tell them you will not be in.”

“Alright,” Rudy mumbled, which is not an easy task, trying to sway Rudy to an opinion other than his own. But, I think like me, he sensed arguing was pointless. Chris seriously knew her stuff.

I suddenly felt a jab, a painful ache, something more defined than I’d experienced as the days of Lizzy’s birth grew closer.

Chris was right. Rudy needed to get me to the hospital.

Driving there, a 20 minute trek, seemed to take forever. And the fact that the pains grew stronger didn’t help.

We were both anxious.

Nervous wrecks.

“It will be okay. You will do fine,” I heard Chris’ voice tell me. She was in my head.

“We are going to be fine. This is it!” I told Rudy, cringing as another contraction surged through me.

Within the next several hours, three to be exact, our dark-hard baby girl was born, using every inch of her lungs to cry out, as if telling us, you did good.

And there was Chris, waiting in the lobby, waiting for the news. Is the baby a boy? A girl? Is Daphne OK? Rudy walked up to her and hugged her. Tight.

“Thanks for making me stay home, for making me call into work to say I couldn’t go in.”

She hugged him just as tight.

He walked with Chris to the baby window, arm around her shoulders. They both smiled. Gazing at Elizabeth, a wee child that Chris would spend a lifetime adoring.

I’m White. He’s Not.

The summer sunshine reminds me of a time, long ago when the shade of our skin was one of a few times color defined Rudy and I.

We made plans to spend the day at Huntington Beach in southern CA. We gathered a few what we thought of as necessary items to enjoy the day: a radio, towels, an ice chest full of snacks and drinks, magazines, and baby oil.

Baby oil?! Seriously, baby oil?!

Well, I’m telling you, at the time it made perfect sense. A quick way to color the skin.

A BIG MISTAKE, to say the least.

For me, anyway.

You see, Rudy has lovely brown skin. I am glow-stick white.

There we were, slathering that oil on, all over our exposed skin. Both of us looking nice and shiny. Feeling satisfied, we horizontally positioned ourselves, side-by-side, each on our own colorful towel, relaxing, to the point of snoozing under that hot sun.

Rudy noticed I was turning pink, said as much, but let the issue go when I said, “Oh, it’s okay. I’m fine. I’m getting a tan!”

As mid-afternoon approached, in the heat of the blazing sun shining brightly in my eyes, it was hard to tell if I managed more than a slight coloring. I felt I should continue to sunbath, just a bit more sun, a bit more color but, it was time to leave. So we did. Plus, we were hot, and tired.

We stopped at a mini-mart on our way home. A cold ICEE, Cocoa-Cola flavor, please! was in order. As I stepped out of the car, my skin – especially behind my knees – hurt. Not too bad. Just a slight irritation.

My reflection spoke to me from the glass of the store window. “Oh, wow, you did get some color. Definitely!”

I looked towards Rudy and noted that he had tanned nicely. He looked all chocolatey-brown, not milk-chocolate but rather dark-chocolate, like Hershey’s Special Dark. He was looking good, real good!

Cold drink in hand, I eased myself back into the car. I could feel the sun soaking in, doing its job of coloring me.

Ah, what a soon-to-be joke!

When we returned home I asked Rudy if he wanted to go to the pool, to cool off before we headed to our little abode, our own personal space. “Sounds good to me!” he said with interest.

The pool was somewhat crowded with other residents living in the apartment complex. The water felt good, soothing. It seemed people didn’t want to look our way, but they did. “Hum, am I looking good with some sun on my lilly-whites, or what?” I modestly questioned under my breath.

Or what? was the answer to my ridiculous thought!

30, maybe forty, minutes later, when we entered our place I immediately walked to the bathroom to shower off the day’s debris. “Oh. My. Gosh!” I sort-of yelled as I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. “I am so red! My face looks like a cherry tomato!”

“You are red. Really red.” Mr. Good-Looking-Dark-Chocolate-Brown casually stated. “Seriously red.”

I’m Red. He’s Not.

Admitting You’re in LOVE has to Begin Somewhere

love note 1984

“I’m hungry,” Rudy confessed when he saw me looking at the few slices of the least-expensive white not the most nutritious bread he could find and a half-empty can of bean dip.

We went out to eat, my treat.

The next day I brought him a bowl – well, a thermos full, really – of hot Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup and some toasted, buttered bread.

Rudy was living in a by the day, week, or month motel room. Number 19. It was all he could afford. Ironically, the Vagabond was located just down the street from Disneyland – The Happiest Place On Earth. Rudy wasn’t feeling too happy during those days. Life was hard and trying to make ends meet wasn’t an easy task for a 21-year-old foreigner. He just wanted to be part of the American Dream.

Doesn’t everyone?

When we first met, before his motel days, Rudy was living with a group of buddies in a three-bedroom apartment. Life was fine. Partying like young guys do, just living it up. One day at a time.

We had been dating for about a month when I stopped by to check in on him because he’d mentioned he was feeling sick. Sick enough that he did not even want to get off the couch, which was so unusual for Rudy. This guy would never just lie on the couch just because he could. Never.

His roommates were gone for the day, which was good because I could take care of him. In a sappy girly way. I put a pillow under his head. Made him tea and toast – good stuff when you don’t feel like eating. Which Rudy didn’t. Eat. He was feverish. I wiped his brow with a cool cloth. He slept. He woke. He dozed some more.

What amazed me though was that when Rudy did wake after a short snooze he was determined to go to work. He needed the pay. Seriously. He would literally sit up. As straight as he could. Then he would struggle to stand. He couldn’t. He was too weak. I convinced him to relax. He needed time to recuperate. I even offered to call his job site, tell them he wasn’t feeling well. And after much convincing, he allowed me to call in his excuse for not showing up to the local Holiday Inn where he worked as a dishwasher, mostly, but helped the chef whenever he could.

Another time, a few weeks or so later, we were sitting on the patio, a small square of cement surrounded by a wood-slated fence, when Rudy began pacing back and forth. I figured something was up because his behavior was again! unusual. “I need to ask you something. I just don’t know how,” he stated rather bluntly, yet with concern. “Anything. Ask me anything,” I honestly answered.

“Oh, this is so hard. But I don’t know who else to ask. Well, I was just wondering if you had any money I could borrow. Just twenty bucks. I do not have a penny to my name…..” He tried to continue. Telling me he was sorry, that he shouldn’t be asking. “No problem,” I said. And I meant it. I knew he really did need the help. I pulled a twenty out of my purse and passed it to Rudy. He just hugged me, not sure what to say. That evening, I’m sure, a bond tightened. A bond we were already developing between us.

It was several months later, after the 20 bucks situation, when I saw the bread and beans in the motel room. By this point I knew how hard it’d been for Rudy, trying to prosper. I had been there with him, when things began to look bleak. The same evening I brought him the chicken noodle soup we decided to take a walk. A walk to the Anaheim Hilton. The hotel had become a place to stroll, to just find some kind of quietness for us. To talk. To get to know each other. We just talked and walked through the lovely hotel.

That particular night, a mid-December night, we had been talking about how most likely Rudy would need to return to his homeland. To Honduras. He just wasn’t seeing a future for himself in the states, particularly in expensive California. As we were talking, and walking very slowly, a what are we going to do? walk, we found ourselves in a small room with tables, note paper and pens. I didn’t think, I just wrote.

I handed the note to him, unembarrassed. Rudy accepted it.

What I didn’t realize was that right after he read my short love note his thoughts began to change. He now had a reason. A reason not to leave. A reason to keep trying, to make a life for himself. And I was the biggest part of that reason.

We embraced. Rudy smiled at me. I smiled back. I sensed something had happened. Did Rudy feel like I did? We had never talked about love before. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t need to. I knew, right then, that he loved me, too.

Relationships all begin somewhere. Ours began in Orange County, CA. In 1984.

Teach Me Teach

IMG_7089

I was sitting behind the reception desk, filing papers, answering the phone, and rubbing my pregnant belly when I decided to leave the workforce and return to school. Without consulting Rudy, I walked into the head-honcho’s office and verbally resigned, giving him two weeks to find my replacement.

Back then, I had allowed myself to somewhat give up on my education because combining a fulltime job and being a fulltime student had become overwhelming. Rudy and I needed me to work more than I needed school, so I temporarily dropped out.

Which meant, I soon discovered, that I was working for the sake of working. Simply showing up day-after-day, earning a bi-weekly paycheck. What I really was seeking, besides a monetary compensation, was the feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life. I was six months pregnant, with our first child, when I quit the receptionist job, and found myself joyfully walking onto the local university’s campus, ready to fulfill my goals of earning a Bachelor’s of Arts degree.

My daughter was born the day after my first semester ended and on occasion, she continued to tag along, sitting in on lectures with me, quietly coloring or pretending to take notes, absorbing the value of an education. As a transfer student, it should have taken me two years to meet my goal but, being a new mother, I needed to balance my homelife with my academic one, so I cut back on my courseload, in order to accommodate both.

Ironically, after graduating, Rudy and I decided I needed to, once again, return to work. More focused, and determined not to give up, or give in, I found employment working with young children, which filled my days with satisfaction. Fulfilling my dreams of working with impressionable youth.

After three years of involving myself with preschool children, I once again gave my resignation notice, knowing that once-and-for-all I was going to complete the necessary steps it took to earn a Clear Professional Teaching Credential. I returned, to a different college campus, with my second-born, a son, holding my hand, as I walked him to the onsite children’s center, while his sister attended second grade at the near our home local public school.

A year of daytime, and nighttime classes, resulted in my receiving a credential. Finally, I would be able to structure a classroom not only filled with academics, but also a safe haven to instill a belief in all children that they are valuable.

Several years later, I became a student once again. Yet, this time, I was a student simply enhancing my skills as an educator. I had another personal goal to meet. I earned a Masters of Science degree, while attending to not only child 1 and child 2, but also while caring for my third, and final, child.

Not only am I happy that I pursued, and met, three major educational goals for myself, my hope is that I have instilled in my children to never let any obstacles block their way and that they live life the way they choose, regardless.