Tag Archives: home

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?

 

 

 

 

 

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Home for Lunch

Not sure when the last time I went home for lunch was, but it’s got to be-

I’m not sure I’ve ever gone home to have lunch since I moved back to the States from Mexico!

Sure, I’ve often gone to my parents‘ home for lunch, and once I even made my husband lunch at their place, but it’s not the same.

I’ve only been in this new house for two and a half weeks, and we don’t even have a bed so we’ve been sleeping in the trailer…

It’s actually really romantic; the window from the bed has an awesome clear view of the northern sky.

Our neighbor right behind us got really mad that we put our trailer out there and told my husband he’d sue us.

I feel bad for the neighbor, I really do.

Sometimes I want to invite him over to our yard so he can appreciate the view again.

The guy’s pretty old so my cousin says to just give him a couple years.

Maybe I’ll paint a mountain scene on the side of the trailer so he doesn’t miss the view.

Today, I went for my trial run at the new Receptionist job that’s only a few minutes from *home.*

They’re really disorganized but other than that, I really liked it.

For example, at my present job- I’ve only not been able to find one chart in the two years that I’ve been there.

But today, at this trial job, out of about ten patients, we only found three.

And I didn’t even find them myself- the doctor’s daughter did.

I scored zero on that task.

But I did fairly well, I think, on others.

So the doctor asked me if she should schedule training me in a software, which I interpret to mean she means to make me a formal job offer.

I didn’t expect her to make that type of proposition til the end of tomorrow.

I made chitchat with her while I ran the pros and cons in the back of my mind.

Pro: home for lunch.

Con: can’t find patient charts.

Pro: five minutes to work.

Con: i don’t really know her.

Pro:  five minutes from work.

Con: there is a depressed beta fish in a tiny fish bowl on the front counter.

Pro: not a 1 hr 45 minute daily commute…

You get the idea.

I had to tell my present-job manager what’s going on because she asked me if we should hire my temporary assistant permanently.

I couldn’t think of a way to withhold the information about me leaving while still giving her enough information to make the best decision for the company.

Of course, she and the doctor offered me a raise.

And a signing bonus.

After roughly doing the math, I would still make significantly more in this simplistic local receptionist job once I average out hours invested + gas + car repairs.

My manager said I am crucial to the company and there is no one who can just come and replace me.

“Well yeah, that’s exactly what I said a month ago when you told me there’s a ton of people just waiting to do my job!”

I didn’t really answer them like that.

What’s the point of rubbing it in?

I’m not six years old.

They’re losing me.

What could be worse than that?

The point is, I got her to admit it.

Maybe I’m getting too cocky.

Maybe it’ll all fall apart tomorrow.

I had such a huge headache this morning and body-aches because my body actually has this way of going into self-destruct mode any time I rely on it to perform well.

In other words, I always get my period on very important days.

But after I came home for lunch… I felt so much lighter.

I felt…

Content.

So when I was going over the pros and the cons in the back of my head while making chitchat with this new doctor today… I also prayed about it.

I’m not a prophet, but God knows exactly how to talk to me.

Exciting News. I guess.

I remember the Golden Age of blogging.
Back then I’d get up to 2 page views per day.
Once I even got 4 likes.
Nowadays I’m lucky if I have one visit per week.
Blogging is in a way Survival of the Fittest, I suppose, but I just refuse to quit.
My third grade teacher told me I was going to be a writer and I’m sticking to that.
Still… Some days I can’t help but wonder what she saw in me.

Sure, we got the house alright, and that is super exciting and all, and I would have shared the news here first…
With the loyal readers who are intimately familiar with my dramatic backstory…
How I was so poor after college and totally suicidal and then pretty much homeless six months ago, living on less than $1000/month (trust me, that’s nothing in Southern California)…
And now in what seems close to a miracle, suddenly a homeowner.
And not just any home…
A creek runs through the back yard (or would run through it if we weren’t in a drought)…
Tons of squirrels…
Lovely neighborhood in which we literally saw Magneto walking down the street the other day.
The town is a haven for painters, playwrights and musicians.
I fit in.

Yes, I am happy, and I want to tell the whole world.
But my loyal readers are more of an abstract concept than real people, so this happy ending didn’t get the momentum I would’ve enjoyed.

I was going to post the following pics on Facebook but my husband says it is insensitive of me cause a lot of people at our church are losing their homes.
Yeah.
I’m so insensitive.

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As you can see, the house is plagued by giant pink happy cloud monsters.
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...again, under attack.
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Our realtor brought us this house warming gift.
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This isn't manipulated. There actually were two giant birds on our bodies.
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Random anonymous new homeowner's (cute) feet.

Morning Free Write

I woke up today a little more excited than usual so I am funneling that energy into a 5-10 minute free write.
My husband and I are getting ready to buy our first home.
He is already on Zillow even though we usually don’t get up til 8:15 on Saturdays.
Well technically we’re still in bed, but we’re both wide awake.
Our cats are staying with my parents since their home is a lot cooler than our temporary RV home and wow why am I talking about the weather.
There is something that has me perturbed in the back of my head and that is that my manager has decided to send me on a business trip.
Last week I was fed up with being bullied by my coworker and being the monkey in the middle of all the communication mishaps so I got a couple of job interviews.
One was supposed to be today, and it was for my type of dream job, taking photos of pre-school kids.
The problem was it’s commission only and no gas-reimbursement.
I still have a huge student loan to pay off so it felt irresponsible and too risky to switch into photography again.
I also feel like my boss and manager are depending more and more on me each day and it is overwhelming at times.
In my new role I am doing the job my coworker used to do 6 hrs/day plus what I would do 4 hrs/day, compacted into an 8 hr. day, which is usually only a 7-7:30 hr. day because I, uhm, arrive late and tend to take long lunches.
Ok so maybe part of the stress is my fault, but still, sales are growing considerably and we have two new distributors, one in Europe and another in Africa.
All of this should be reason to feel excited but me, I’m just overwhelmed.
Maybe cause I don’t get a cut of the sales growth… I don’t know.
My husband says that I can go back to part time if I want but I need to pay off that loan and also I have my heart set on a Tesla.
I’m just not career-motivated I guess.
Though I’d still like to become a certified interpreter.
Good grief, who gets me?
If you are wondering how my mom is, she is better.
Thanks for wondering.

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Donut Cloud is an omen of good things to come

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.
Everyone.
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.