Tag Archives: childhood

Growing Up George: Ch. 3 The Navigator

When I was seven, I remember a strange man came to pick me up from school once. He was wearing a gray suit with a red striped tie. We had parent-teacher conferences that week and I was supposed to get out early. He had a stubble beard and the librarian looked for me to tell me my uncle was there to get me.

I didn’t know I had an uncle. But if I did, I didn’t want to ruin my one chance to meet him by saying I didn’t have none. So I just asked what his name was. And I forgot what the first name was but I remember our last names were the same.

He had a really nice black ride, shiny like a mirror, with automatic windows and leather seats. It still smelled new. Back then I was barely getting into all that so I want to say it was a BMW but not a hundred percent sure. It was like an M3 Coupe and it was playing real loud Santana. I think he said his name was Jesús or José or Juan. It started with a “J.”

He asked what my favorite food was and took me to the best spaghetti joint in town. I ordered like three desserts that day- everything Aunt Matty couldn’t afford for me. He asked me if I was happy living with my tía, if I had my own bedroom, when was the last time we went shopping for clothes… pretty personal stuff, now that I think about it.

I didn’t have my own bedroom at the time because my grandma had come to visit for six months from Mexico, but I didn’t want to get my aunt in trouble, so I just told my “uncle” everything was as good as it gets. I told him I had my own bike (that was true) and we were setting up a game room with a 120″ television and a Play Station.

“You know how to swim?” he asked over a tall glass of beer.

“Yeah I took classes last year and this year we’re gonna build our own pool. With a water slide. We have a big yard, you know? It’s bigger than the kinder playground at school. I think we’ll get a trampoline too.”

He told me to order something else. Whatever I wanted. I wanted to order something for Aunt Matty but couldn’t decide whether I should lie and tell him it was for me and then give it to her. I didn’t want to order for my grandma though cause she was mean and would’ve just said she didn’t like it. Probably would have fed it to our dog Sancho, and he was fat enough.

(Sancho was an old dog we used to have. He had short brown fur on the bottom with black on top. We had him since before I was born but he died when I was twelve. Now Aunt Matty says she can’t afford to get a new dog).

So this man in the suit, he drove me home without asking me any other questions, not even my address. When we arrived, he parked on the street and asked if I had any questions for him.

I asked him for help on my math project but he admitted he sucked at math. He asked if my aunt was home and said he’d get out to see her.

I ran up the long dirt path to the front door to try to warn Aunt Matty that this really nice impostor was invading her territory. But she was already standing at the doorway when I got there.

Tía there’s a man here. He says he’s my uncle. He gave me spaghetti but he sucks at math. Do you know him?”

She hit me on the head with the weekly coupons newsletter and told me to get inside and stop asking so many questions. I hid under the desk behind a chair so I could listen in.

“Matilde. I brought you Strawberry Crepes. Are they still your favorite?” the man asked as he came up the porch. My aunt took the bag he handed her.

“NO. What are you doing here?”

“You told me to cover the conference for you.”

“It was just the conference, Menso. Why you gotta go taking the boy from me?”

“We just had lunch. That’s all. He’s home now.”

There was a long silence after that and I really wished I could see from under the desk.

“Well won’t you come in?”

The man sat on the sofa and my aunt pulled out the chair from under the desk. I covered my head with both my arms, expecting the worst.

Ah que chinga-” My aunt stopped mid cursing and turned to look at the man, rolling her eyes. “Very funny George. Get outta there. We’re trying to have an adult conversation here. Go to your room.”

She meant Grandma’s room. I obeyed. Grandma was sitting in my old bed reading a book. I told her in broken Spanish there was a strange man visiting and she went out to check up on it. I crawled out the window, went around the house, and crept under the living room window. The three of them were arguing in Spanish. Something about the boy- whom I assumed was me- and not having a father. Something about money. Grandma was cursing and someone shut the window.

A little while later, I watched from behind the corn patch as the man drove off in his shiny black car.

I don’t remember ever seeing him again until nine years later, after soccer tryouts. He was leaning against the fence, drinking a Gatorade like one of the coaches. Same stubble face. Same red tie/ gray suit. I wondered how long he’d been standing there, if he was going to say anything or if I should just walk past him and pretend I didn’t know him.

Well, a good lunch was a good lunch and I’m pretty sure I never thanked him back in the day so I directly approached him. “Hey man, what’s going on? My aunt call you?”

“George Ballesteros. You remember me.”

I did a 180°. Pointed at the back of my jersey.

“George Lara. My bad. Hey listen I’ve got meetings all day and have to run but there’s an issue I need to tell you about and I was writing you a letter but figured you’d think I was a coward if I didn’t deliver the news in person.”

The field was clearing out. Everyone was heading back to the locker room. The head coach yelled out he’d post the list on the gym door the next day.

My “uncle” handed me a Gatorade.

“Hey man, no offense, I don’t even know who you are. You took me to lunch way back when. Thanks for that. But as far as I know, you’re a distant relative. My aunt wasn’t happy to see you last time either. She won’t be happy if she knows you came out here today.”

“I understand.” The man pulled out his phone and checked the calendar. “A ‘distant relative’ has passed away and I think you ought to go to the funeral.”

“Who was he?”

“My brother.”

“Who are you?”

“I gotta run. I’ll call your aunt with the details. I’ll leave her a message. She never picks up.”

“Wait up, wait up, just call me.” I had managed to afford one of those prepaid smart phones from helping neighbors clean out their yards all summer.

The man stalled. “I legally have to run this by your aunt. But yeah give me your number and I’ll text you the details.”

As he saved my contact to his phone, walking backwards toward the parking lot, his SUV beeped open. Shiny black Navigator. But what was that prep’s name?







Becoming a Worser Writer

Have you noticed my writing has actually gotten worse over the months?

I was feeling vain and went back to read some of my old posts and I notice I really have trouble getting through the more recent ones without skipping whole sentences.

The older posts are far wittier and engaging!

What is happening?

To me?

You see what I mean?

I have trouble typing meaningful sentences.

I did hit my head back in July and have had periodic headaches on that same spot since.

When I looked up where the damage was, it turned out I damaged the part of my brain that interprets speech.


Leave it to me to damage the one part of my brain I was relying on to make a living.

It’s called Wernicke’s Area.

I think I can still be an interpreter as long as I rebuild the word bridges between the neurons that were there before the accident.

Besides, I would blank out while interpreting since before the accident, so I can’t blame my shortcoming entirely on that.

What happened was that I asked my husband to move something heavy and he said it would take him an hour and a half to come to where I was, so he basically said to just move it myself.

Then my friend was helping me move it but I didn’t lift it on my end as fast as she did so since it was heavy, she let go of it and it hit me on the head.

This is only one of many ouwie-a-la-tête.

The first one was when I was 3 or 4; I rolled off my bed and hit the back of my head on the metal handles of my dresser.

The truth is I can hardly recall anything prior to that moment.

In elementary school, absorbed in thought, I crossed a tether-ball’s trajectory.

Then a basketball’s.

I wish I had gone to the nurse or something; my head really hurt on both occasions, but back then I was always going to the nurse to get out of class.

There’s only so many sick excuses you can use up in a school year without the admin bringing your parents into the picture.

On top of these, I have very bad spatial perception.

I hit my head quite frequently on cupboards, car frames, doors which I am in the process of opening, etc.

Lately I have had dizzy spells too.

Today I’ve had three.

I don’t know what’s going on with me.

Why I’m such a boring writer all of a sudden.

Or maybe it’s my life that’s more boring?

Or is it me? Am I boring?

What does a person do when they find themselves boring?

It’s not like you can just ditch yourself and go into a more interesting person.


I’m stuck with me.

Somebody help!

A Post About Teenage Incompetence

Ok, I can understand a teenager not passing their drive test.
Driving is in fact a very complicated task and not for everyone.

But what about not being able to use public transit?
Do 16-18 year olds really need to be given a ride everywhere they go?

When I was 18 I already had an A.A. Degree and was planning my wedding.

Not that I’m an example to follow…

But still, I’ll never be one of those parents who chauffeurs their almost young adult everywhere, or pays for fancy shmancy trips with their friends, or buys them clothes and food and stuff.

In true Mexican custom, my parents made me and my brother work for everything.
We had to serve and wash our own dishes, buy our own presents…

My brother’s taken the opposite approach to his kids.
The white upper middle class approach.
The “you’ll be lucky if your kids know how to dial long distance from a landline” approach.
-Something I had to teach my current new coworker.

But she’s not a teenager.
She’s just incompetent.

Just kidding.
I was overwhelmed with a project at work and my manager, (who has since asked me to refer to her as “our CFO”- not my manager, even though I’m technically not even an employee of that company) has hired me an assistant, who happens to be a church friend of mine.

This is the same assistant who filled my position when I almost moved to Europe that one time last year and met Leo.

Leo is this guy who saved my life in a park in Rome but he didn’t take advantage of me like some might argue he should have.

I don’t know his last name or profession.
All I know is he lives in London and has friends in Florence.
And he has in-depth appreciation of fine art.

I imagine it would have been better to have loved and lost.

Anyway, I eventually came back to my job because.

Some people at church thought maybe my friend was going to keep my job, myself included, but no, my boss and the CFO are way past the point of no return with me.

Which is too bad because it’s not exactly my field.
I don’t share their passion for root canals.

I don’t know why I came back to my job really, why couldn’t Leo just take advantage of me?!?

Thus ends an informative post about teenage incompetence.

A Place Called Home

I should leave before my parents come home.
But I’m so comfortable here.
The closest thing to “home.”
The walls I grew up in.
I used to look out these windows and yell at my friends to wait up.
And the whole property was our playground.
We used to picnic on the roof. 🙂
We used to climb up the side wall of the building that is covered in bricks.
Up two 90° stories of bricks.
Who the hell was watching us?
No one.
My husband and I thought about buying a house around the corner.
It’s $1,800,000.
Give or take.
That was short lived.
But it’s ok.
My childhood is here; not necessarily my adulthood.
God knows where that is.

daily prompt if i had a hammer

Daily Prompt: A Hammer for Justice

Remember that song by Peter Paul & Mary that they made us learn as kids?
“If I had a hammer…
I’d hammer in the mo-ohr-ning…”
Yes of course you remember; that’s the reason behind the prompt title.
I just like to sing while I write.

At my elementary school they made us sing all the time.
We learned Geography playing Oregon Trail on green-screened Macintoshes.
They’d also make us square dance barefoot in the cafeteria.

But back to the prompt:
Wouldn’t it be great to actually have a hammer that hammers out Justice?
I tried it once for a while; I went around with a giant inflatable hammer and hit people on the head when they’d say something stupid.
It was great.
But it didn’t exactly hammer out justice.

…Whatever happened to that hammer?…

Also the hammer would have to hammer out Danger.
I believe that is a metaphor for…
…Obeying traffic laws.

And most importantly, the hammer would hammer out Love.
Is it just me or does that sound like domestic violence?

I think the hammer in my life represents negotiation skills.
When you are able to discuss something negative and turn it into something positive for those who have interests at stake- That’s a great skill to have.
Also CPR and Heimlich Maneuver. Probably.

To wrap up this topic,  I always hated dancing barefoot.
It felt so dirty.
Why couldn’t we just wear shoes?
What was the logic behind that?

Also, am I the only one that now has the song Hammer-Time stuck in her head?

In response to Daily Prompt: If I Had a Hammer

Is Mexican Barbie racist?

Is Mexican Barbie Racist?

Is Mexican Barbie Racist?

I watched Erin Burnett Out Front on CNN last Thursday and heard arguments about whether or not Mexican Barbie depicts racism.
I’ve read both positive and negative comments about the doll coming from women with Latin-American last names.
The woman on the show arguing against the doll pretty much hates Barbies in general.
She says the dolls set unrealistic standards of beauty for little girls, that they are the reason young women grow up anorexic, bulimic, depressed, suicidal, etc.
She also said it was wrong for Mexican Barbie to have a passport and a Chihuahua.

Is Mexican Barbie Racist?

Here I go:
I have Mexican friends who own hot pink frilly dresses.
This particular dress is the regional attire for cultural dancers in the state of Jalisco.
Sometimes my friends throw parties to get together and dance on stage in front of everyone.
(If you don’t believe me, you can watch the video minute 11:37).
I also have Mexican friends who own Chihuahua dogs.
Not because it is a Mexican breed of dog, but because it is a small dog and us Mexicans tend to have less real estate than say- White people.
So having a small dog if you live with several other people in a small house is just more practical.
As for the passport?
I have lots of Mexican friends who have those too.
What’s the big deal? Don’t white people have passports? I think Black people do too.

Mexican Barbie isn’t even a new thing.
When I was little, I had 16 Barbies and two Kens and one or two babies.
Not all the Barbies were white. Barbie had racially diverse friends.
One of them, a tanned brunette sold by Mattel under the name of Theresa, was my favorite. In fact, I still have her.
Plus another red-head variation wearing a typical Mexican knit dress my grandmother made for her.
Is that racist?

Is Mexican Barbie Racist?
Some women in Mexico knit dresses for Barbies and then stand them up on toilet paper rolls.

I had my dad make them a Barbie dream house to my specifications, plus they had a Barbie mall and a Barbie ranch, and of course, the Barbie Corvette.
My friends and I would sew clothes and make minute jewelry for them which they would sell and buy at the mall, where they would also have their hair done.
While Barbies were at work one of the Kens stayed home to cook and do laundry.
The other Ken tended to the ranch with another Barbie.

But there was always something funny about the way Barbie looked.
It didn’t have to do with her dimensions.
Let me explain.

When I was eight, my friend Elenita and I were creating soap-opera style dialogues for our dolls.
One of the Kens cheated on his wife with another Barbie.
It started as a kiss.
But then Elenita took their clothes off and- well- you know.
Ken had no penis.
Barbie had no vagina.

So obviously I grew up knowing Barbie dolls are not based on actual human anatomy.
I didn’t expect to look like her as an adult any more than I expected to look like a Cabbage Patch doll or stuffed Teddy Bear.

And as for the Bulimia/Anorexia thing?
Honestly if parents blame something that serious on the way a toy looks, maybe they just aren’t taking responsibility for their communication faults?

Is Mexican Barbie Racist?
Cat-Beast thinks Barbie is inoffensive.
Do you disagree?