My Newfound Relationship with Doors

So, this past summer I did quite a bit of home improving, choosing to challenge myself with various projects rather than paying a professional to fix what needed fixing. Of all the projects – painting, landscaping, creating a minimalistic vibe (except for my new office space which is packed with my life, packed with everything important to me– it was the interior door(s) that gave me the most trouble.

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Interior doors, I thought would be the easiest project to tackle. In my mind, after researching ways to replace the doors I discovered the “Pre-hung Door”, which arrives in its frame, the hinges and the door handle (hole) already in place. All I had to do was set it into the opening, the spot in which I planned to replace the door. Easy, peasy. Right?

Wrong.

I ordered one door. For my ensuite bathroom. A test I had given myself. Could I do it? Actually replace an interior door? Why not? I asked myself. You’re self-sufficient.  Hanging a door, regardless of the fact you’ve never done it, should be a no-brainer. Right?

Wrong, again.

The door arrived wrapped in plastic. And, yes, without knowledge about what I was going to suffer through, I was excited.

… here’s the kicker, though… I thought the frame around the door was simply protecting it while traveling to my destination, to my home. So. What did I do? I unhinged the frame and tossed it.

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Literally. Threw. It. Away.

Then I “tried” to put the new door into the door opening, only to discover it didn’t fit.

I. Was. Confused. Frustrated. Didn’t understand.

Light cussing. Bad words. Sprang into the air.

Believe me when I say I went through quite a bit of turmoil trying to figure out where I went wrong. Even after watching video after video and reading information, nothing quite explained my problem. Until it dawned on me, several weeks later, that I had thrown out, not a protector piece, but an essential part of the door.

So, I leaned that door up against the wall in my room and I ordered another door (seriously, I didn’t want to build a new frame around the door. No way!).

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I bought two doors, actually. I figured, I got it. I CAN do it, now. All I had to do was measure the original doors, side to side, top to bottom, choose solid or hollow ( I went with hollow – cheaper and lighter weight ) order them online, and wait for them to arrive.

Arrive they did. A month later. Two doors. One for the bathroom. One for a bedroom.

Yet, my confusion simply deepened. I now understood I had to keep the frame, but Why the heck wasn’t it fitting into the opening where the new door was projected to thrive? And then, again, it dawned on me. I had to take out the original framework before installing the new pre-hung frame.

During this second round, I decided to first replace the bedroom door – a more urgent necessity – so I began ripping out the heavy-wooded frame, making a mess in the hallway. I then proceeded to “test” the pre-hung door, placing it into the now (wide-open) opening, happy that it fit.

Yes! Now I’m onto something, I told myself, patting my back. 

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Until I realize that the frame (around) the new door didn’t extend to the width of the original frame (built with the house). Meaning, There is (not was, is) plaster board exposure inside the bedroom due to an inch difference in frame sizes. Plus, I had to chop off part of the bottom of the door to avoid it from scrapping (which is par for the course). What I didn’t think about, though, was that by cutting off an inch I cut the entire solid portion (sort of a sealant within the otherwise hollow door), exposing its inside, which means if a spider happens to wander underneath, it would find a prime spot to lay its eggs.

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Aside from all my mistakes, the door is in. Not perfectly. And surrounded by crude, unfinished work. But for now I am done. And I will admit that the unfinished work does not bother me. I, for some odd reason, like the reminder of how hard working I can be.

But, at the moment, I am over replacing doors.

Over it, until next summer, that is.

In the end, the bathroom door will remain leaning against the living room wall, outside of its frame. And it will remain there. As will the one in my bedroom. Both are now part of my interior design, which are actually my new, pleasing-to-the-eye conversational pieces. Ironically, they look like planned art.

Sometimes the planned takes a turn and the unplanned becomes the focal point.

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I

Roberto William

roberto baby

He was born with an abundant amount of hair. From the beginning I knew this small boy-child of mine was, and is, mine. He definitely possesses my looks, so I say. Everyone else seems to think he looks more like his dad. “Think what they want,” I tell myself. “He’s me.” Not only was the dark, newborn hair like mine, except for the fact that Roberto’s would stick up straight like blades of grass, but as the years passed, more and more of me – shrug it off-one day at a time-go with the flow-if it can’t be changed then move along-attitude flowed out of him. The way he thinks. About the world, and the people in it. Of course, his eyes match mine, only his somehow look more brilliant, and the shape of his face is definitely inherited from me.

Aside from Roberto’s mostly not completely predetermined mom’s DNA personality, he is himself. His own unique person.

roberto youngster

One of the most obvious stand-out physical attributes he has are his eyes. His blue, blue eyes. The stops and stares began way before he could understand the compliments people tossed his way, admiration of his Paul Newman eyes. “He has the most beautiful eyes…,” they’d say. I agreed with all those wow compliments, yet I always made sure to tailgate them. “He also is such a nice boy, and so smart, too.” I didn’t want him to grow up thinking it was his handsome face, his pretty eyes that would take him safely through life. No. I wanted to ensure he knew how to stand strong. As a person. Less so as a look. As he grew, began to understand what people were saying to him, he also began to roll those baby blues. He’d heard enough. He wished he could paint them brown. Just to stop people from saying anything.

When he was about four and a half years old, I would drag him along with me to watch his only sis cheer for the local pee-wee football team. I soon realized that it wasn’t a drag for him, it was the beginning of a booming talent. Entertaining people, without trying to.

While the little girls were dressed to the tee in their white and dark blue cheerleading outfits, standing in front of all the adoring parents, he stood off to the side. Far enough away so that the crowd didn’t spend their time confused wondering if he was part of the cheer squad yet, close enough to copy exactly what moves the girls made, the shouts they cheered.

Roberto stood there. Or, no he didn’t. He really moved to the music. He never just stood. It was the girls who should have been pumping up the crowd but it really was him who brought smiles and laughter to the field on those fall mornings. The cheerleaders spun, bent, jumped, shouted, tossed, ran, raised arms, clapped. They did what cheerleaders do. Cheer.

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So did he. He cheered. Wearing his jeans and a neatly tucked in t-shirt. Little did anyone realize that during practices, before the big game, he was watching every move. Every must do it right move. He practiced. And practiced some more.

He was the entertainment. Sometimes even more entertaining than the game itself.

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Not much later as a group of girls danced to the Spice Girls in the garage, he would take over the show. Steal the limelight. Not intentionally, he just did. He was Mr. Personality. When the youngsters decided to perform for the other families in the neighborhood he was center stage, singing and dancing. The girls dancing and singing behind him joyfully laughed along with everyone else.

roberto's shredded pants

I remember once upon a time, Roberto was just a young 6 or 7 year old, when he decided it would be cool to shred the bottom portion of his jeans. Let his personality take over, I believed. Creative, artistic, funky jeans were all the rage for him that year. So creative. So cool. So him. He wore them everywhere. I thought it was fantastic. His ingenious idea.

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The garage bathroom door needed to be painted. “Let me do it,” he said, the lilt in his words told me it was really a question. I took the door off its hinges. Removed the doorknob. Lay it flat on the ground. After I painted the background an ocean blue and let it dry he began drawing using a pencil. For whatever reason, I never asked, he drew a picture of his dad and his sister holding hands. He wrote the word el baño on the top portion. For his dad. He speaks Spanish.

Roberto has always been an interesting character. A unique one. Someone everyone should be so lucky to share their life with. I watch him. Admire him. Am proud of him.

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As a young adult now, he truly does appreciate his good looks, his big blue eyes yet it’s his kindness, his spark for life, his energy, his personality that he really likes about himself. I do too. While he is lovely to look at, it’s his concern for everything that I am most content with.

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My Daughter, My Friend

Elizabeth Cecilia

me and liz, 2011

“Who are you looking for?” the unfamiliar preschool teacher asked me. “Elizabeth,” I responded. Miss I can’t remember her name checked me out, looked me up and down, and stated rather bluntly, “Are you her babysitter?” Surely, you pale-skinned and overly-done blond-haired person belong to some other kid, she seemed to be thinking. “I’m her mom,” I said, with a smile. “She’s mine. Definitely my daughter.” Elizabeth ran toward me wearing clothes full of dirt, her dark hair dangling into her face, her small hands pushing it away. Elizabeth’s olive-toned skin glistened in the sunshine.

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The first time I took Liz out into the world it was her spirit and her happy smile that caused people, generally women and young kids, to claim “She’s so beautiful” and “She must resemble her dad”. I laughed and wrapped those compliments around my expanding heart and admitted that, Yes, she got her father’s Honduran looks. Little girls and boys would hold Elizabeth’s hands, touched her baby-soft skin and coo to her. All she had to do was smile and the people fell in love.

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When Liz grew into a toddling child I had purchased a variety of my style clothing. 6 outfits in all. I figured if she didn’t look like me, maybe she could at least dress like me. I put one outfit on her after another. And click click went the camera. There was something dark-purple with polka dots and lime green tights, pin-striped blue-and-white overalls, a light pink like cotton candy sweatshirt dress, a barely there pink jumpsuit, a second jumpsuit, this time green, and turquoise shorts topped with a tie-dyed all the rage t-shirt.

Well, in the end, dressing like me didn’t pan out too well because as she grew older, I quickly discovered, for the most part, Liz’s choice of clothing is the opposite of mine. I wear jeans, t-shirts, and either a sweatshirt or a cardigan all the time. My hair is always pulled back. She prefers dresses. She allows her hair to flow gracefully over her shoulder.

I like the comfort of tennis shoes. Elizabeth? Heels.

How about when it comes to exercise? I love, and I mean love, to wear baggy too big for me workout gear. Liz? Well, of course, everything is fitted nicely and looks so modern. So hip.

So, it may seem that Elizabeth and I are different. In looks, sure. Clothing, yeah. Mostly. But in how we feel about each other. We are equals. I love her. More deeply than she will ever know. She loves me, unconditionally. Faithfully. This world is a better place because Liz is in it. Her smile enhances life as we know it daily. Elizabeth is my daughter. Elizabeth is my friend.

Dear Elizabeth,

I brought you home with me, 27 years and seven months ago. I held you in my arms while you slept. Fed you when you cried. Bathed you, soothed you. Your smile has grown with you, never wavering. You have maintained a kindness I wish the whole world could embrace and make their own. When you were a young girl, you would hold my hand – knowing I would always be by your side, guiding you. You looked up at me with a love I had never known before, a love only a child can give. So innocent, yet full of life. As you grew into your teens, you continued to open up to me, let me be a part of your life. You trusted me, I trusted you. I cherished the fact that you would come to me, talk to me, tell me everything knowing I would help you figure things out. You, Elizabeth, have made mothering a wonderful experience for me. I am very proud of the road you travel. The calmness you possess. The friendships you hold close. The love you share. Everyone should have an Elizabeth in their life.

I Love You truly,

MOM

P.S. Hug me all you want. Warmth is a wonderful feeling.

#tb 5 years ago…

Bradford Ramon Antonio, age 11

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There he sleeps, that child of mine. I’m sure he’s dreaming about all the things he wants to do in his young life. His innocent life. His right-now life.

Sunrise to sunset, that kid is on-the-go either physically, or mentally, or (of course) both those things at once.

The minute he hops out of bed, he puts on his favorite baseball cap. Angels! At the same time his feet begin to shuffle. Swish! He slides his left foot across the wooden floor, kicking it straight out in front of him. While that foot dangles in the air he quickly raises his knee, and just as quick he stomps that foot back down. The other foot takes its turn and begins to also stamp. Now both feet are shuffling back and forth. He spins his body, grabs the brim of his cap and twirls it backward, then forward again in a rapid, smoothly-planned motion. His whole body is moving. His feet are gliding, stamping, and being raised high off the ground. The techno music in his head eventually stops, so then does his dancing.

He settles on the couch, waiting for a hot cup of tea. While he waits, his fingers, all ten of them, begin to intertwine. His hands move as if they are dancing. A hand dance. His arms shoot out as his hands continue to twirl, round and round. His arms twist around each other, like slithering snakes; his fingers continue to lace loosely together, then apart, and his arms maintain their own motions, to ensure that the fluidity of the dance is just right. The hand ballet stops when he reaches for the sugar-and-milk-filled cup of tea.

He’s a DJ. He uses the computer to spin a record, to jumble the original music in an interesting way. He adds voice overtones to create definition, character to the song. The techno music adds a certain flavor to the whole effect. He works it, over and over, in various ways. Both his hands are moving rapidly, spinning up, spinning down, spinning to the right, spinning to the left. Then his feet begin to shuffle. All his skills are joined together into one fantastic show. His motions don’t stop until the music does yet, his heart still sings. He knows his skills are working, working the crowd. He knows because they all scream for more.

So sleep well, my son, sleep well. Dream your dreams. Tomorrow is another day. Tomorrow is another day you can move. Another day to perfect your real-life ambitions.

Just Do It

I walked into the apartment, looking somewhat relieved, yet nervous about Rudy’s reaction. “I quit my job, today,” I told him. He looked at me, not sure what to think. He looked at my tired expression and then at my swollen belly. “Why?” he asked. I knew I had made the right decision for me, for our future yet, I knew it wasn’t fair to Rudy that I hadn’t consulted him about leaving a job that brought in money to help pay the bills. I wrapped my hands under my pregnant belly, six months of baby inside me. “Well, I drive by the university everyday on my way to work and everyday I tell myself that someday I will return to school to finish what I had started long ago.” Rudy approached me, put his hands on my shoulders, and said that it was okay. “We will manage. We will figure it out.”

My first semester as a transfer student was somewhat difficult. Not only did I have to renew my mindset to student but I was preoccupied with the fact that I would soon become a mother for the first time. I was uncomfortable physically, and mentally I felt overwhelmed. Tired, sure, but more than that I was determined to walk a steady line. I completed the semester with all my work turned in, finals finished. The following morning, my baby daughter was born.

me-newborn lizSix weeks. That was the amount of time that Elizabeth and I had bonded, with no distractions. Well, as it always happens, time runs out. In mid-February, semester number two began. So then did a whole new challenge. How were we going to do it all? Rudy was working the graveyard shift (as in 11pm to 7am), so he was constantly trying to adapt to some kind of sleep pattern. A new baby added a new dimension: Will we ever sleep? While he worked through the night, I was at home caring for Elizabeth, waking up every few hours to feed and change her. Then, just before the sun rose, I began gathering my school things while getting dressed. Plus, I needed to do another breastfeeding session, swaddle Liz in fresh linen (cotton diapers, delivered to the house) and soothe her, gently rocking her while we waited for Rudy to return home. Then, he’d take over while I went to morning classes.

He looked exhausted as he walked through the front door, but he reached for Liz, held her close, and began babbling quietly as I rushed out the door.

rud:newborn lizUpon my return, several hours later, I would quietly enter the apartment only to find Rudy lounging on the couch. His feet splayed out in front of him, his head tilted forward, chin against her head, and his arms tightly, yet gently, wrapped around our wee child. I didn’t want to interrupt Rudy’s much needed nap but I knew it was best to get him into the bedroom, close the door, and let him sleep for as many hours as he could manage. Not easy, though, when the bedroom window faced the kindergarten playground of the neighboring elementary school. I then spent the day caring for Miss Lizzy, doing the best I knew how. When she would fall asleep, I would gather my homework and study. As late evening approached, after Rudy had eaten something, anything, he would kiss us goodbye,  and then the cycle would begin again.

liz&meGRADUATEAfter two and a half years of adjusting to our “situation“, the I just wish I could sleep! situation, Rudy tiredly took pictures of me with a cap and gown on, Elizabeth in my arms, smiling at the camera.

I knew I still had an additional year of schooling to complete, in a credential program somewhere, anywhere, before I could teach solo in a classroom. Unfortunately though, I needed to return to the work force, full-time. Sleep deprived or not, I was confident that  eventually I would return to school. “I will,” I told myself.

And I did. I eventually enrolled in a credential program, taking evening classes so I could continue to work during the day. And by this time, our second child, Roberto, was three years old, the same age Liz was when I earned my Bachelors Degree. The day I left for my first day at work, as a certified school teacher, was the same day Roberto began kindergarten.

Here it is, twenty years later and I reflect on those days and wonder how I did it. How we did it, Rudy and I. Well, I’ve determined that we just did because, honestly, we had to.  We tried (very hard) not to reflect on the downside, but rather on how to make the most of our situation, or probably more accurately, we just plowed through it, hoping for the best. Those obstacles seriously molded the way we continue to approach life. With perseverance. Whether we sleep or not.

Lemons and Liz

IMG_8262IMG_8164Liz is my pal. My friend. My daughter. And when she talks, I listen. When she gives me advice, I’m focused. Tuned in. To everything she has to say. Including healthy advice. Things she’s learned about eating properly, ideas that make my day brighter, lighter, uplifting, and overall body-better feeling.

So, when she brought up the importance of drinking lemon water I couldn’t wait to get home and slice up some of those sunshine-yellow nuggets.

I know. I know. Nothing new. Heard it before. Just a reboot. An old idea renewed. But a valuable idea nonetheless. And, honestly, coming from Liz, it’s an old idea that she believes needs new attention. And, well, I consider her a valuable healthnut guru. Why? You might ask. She’s healthy, love-wealthy, and definitely wise, I’d answer.

Therefore, I’ve been drinking it up. Water saturated with lemons. So good. So refreshing. So easy. So worthy. So me. So Liz.

i am a writer

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As far back as I can remember writing had never been my thing, the thing one thinks of as a passion, a lifeline, something one needs to do to feel whole. I have always loved the written word, yet I never considered myself as a writer.

I even proved as much when, during a teacher prep course in college, I wrote a very mundane story about me, a bathroom, nine brothers, a sister and a waiting line. I had no clue how to make what could have been a hilarious tale into an interesting read.

Years had passed since that book was turned in, and the only writing I had done since was scribbling my thoughts into a personal journal.

Until one day, several years later, when Rudy moved to Arkansas, to take a job out of necessity. My writing journey unexpectedly began with stories about us, living separate lives. My thoughts, tingling to my fingertips, spilt onto the page, revealing true, heartfelt bona fide affairs.

It was then that I knew I could write, pulling from emotions that are always on the edge of my mind, waiting for their turn.