just do it

i have a pile of books to filter through. lessons to lightly write. work to get done. yet. here i sit. unwilling to get on-task. me. a teacher. always reminding my students to stay on task. to concentrate. to get their work done. but, i am finding that the task, though necessary, has not quite found its way into my educator thoughts.

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in a while, i will sit in front of those school books. those teacher’s manuals. and i will review. yes i will. because, review i must. for my own sanity. and to ensure starting the year off right, properly educating students. who will be depending on me to fill their days with classroom ooo’s and aaah’s, and just as important, life lessons.

but first, i need to sit here and think.

“mom, can we talk?” brad asks.
“yeah, sure,” i say, with a smile.

i guess my teacher tasks will have to wait even longer to imprint my brain with information.

Un-coloring My World

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Painting walls in one’s home is big news these days. Be brave, brighten your rooms with color, color, color.

Well, now, I’ve been coloring-up my rooms for years and years. Not just one overall color throughout. But each room was given a personality. Walls dedicated to the person living in each space. Roberto danced in Florescent Green. Brad played Legos in Light Grey. Liz had friends spend the night in Orangesicle Orange. Rudy and I chilled in Olive Green. The living room, a light turquoise blue, matching a very small teapot, wrapped anyone sitting there with comfort. And the kitchen felt happy, alive in Buttercup Yellow.

Everywhere I looked the color spoke to me. Reminded me of milestones, friendships, hardships, laughter, serenity, and so much more. Life happened amongst those walls.

I loved the color. Until I was over it. 

So, I decided to paint every room in my house white.

Not a new concept, I know. I see those walls in buildings, in magazines, on TV.

White. White. White.

And I love it.

I’ve been coating the walls with Crystal Cut white. Soothing. Relaxing. Vibrant.

And the stories live on. Nothing has changed. Color still makes its claim. Among the white it speaks quietly or loudly, depending on its mood.

 

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.

#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.

When Two Becomes One

Remembering a time when…

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The sun was making its way into the blue-grey sky.
Wanting to warm the Honduran shore.
Beckoning to us.
To drown our toes into the soft, moist sand.
To dip our toes into the better than great salty warm water.

Rudy led the way.
Dove into the pristine surface.
And I followed.
Reaching for him.
He held my hand and I held his.
We splashed happily, contently in the ocean blue.
Swimming.
Alone.
Enjoying the moment.

As we returned to shallow water.
We lowered our bodies underneath.
Until the soothing water touched our chins.
While our feet pranced along the sandy bottom.
Allowing us to maintain eye contact.
As we both rotated in a circular motion.
Constantly.
Gently.

We talked.
About our life.
About how we met.
About our relationship.
About our children.
About everything.
As we felt one with the ocean, the sand, the sky.

And especially with each other.

We Buried Our Mom Today

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Mom, a volunteer in the United States Naval Reserves during WWII, was honored today with a ceremony performed by an honor detail, two members of the Armed Forces, in which taps were played by a bugler, followed by the folding and presenting of the American Flag to my brother.

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Mom (on the right), early twenties, ready to make a difference.

freeze frame

Imagine.
Two people.

A man.
And a woman.
Driving along.
In a racing green Jaguar.
A convertible.

He with his hair pulled back in a ponytail.
Loose strands whipping his face.

She with a brimmed red hat.
Tied under her chin.
Shading her porcelain skin.
Complementing her blue eyes.

The sun is shining.
A breeze is blowing.
As they drive along.
Down the wide open road.

Both laughing.

That image.
Is a memory.
I hold within my thoughts.

Of two people.

My dad.
And my mom.

Long ago.