#21 Something That Scares You

Yes, you read right. That there title says #21. If you will recall, I said this 30 Blog Challenge (I should stop calling it a challenge already. I lost that long ago) will have no deadline and no particular order. So, there! … That’s what I thought!

So, I’ve been trying to fit in my Jane Fonda every now and then. Ya know, do like Fergie and work on my fitness. Every time, Penny mistakes the sneakers and sports bra for walk-time and does that adorable dance where she wags her tail so hard her entire lower half looks like it’s well-versed in the salsa. She doesn’t think I’m jogging in place for my own benefit, but strictly to amp her up for the big W, as we refer to it in our household. So, she puts the salsa moves into high gear until it hits her that Mama ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Then, she just lays down in the hallway, sighs a big ol’ sigh and watches her mom five-six-seven-eight every last exercise motion she can remember.

Oh, I guess you should know that I do all this while pumping my iPod headphones loud enough that anyone within five feet can sing along.

So, I’ve got Nicki Minaj on blast and I go into a classic Jane Fonda move. It’s a floor exercise that involves pelvic thrusts on repeat. See the image below, if you will.

pelvic-floor[1]

I’m doing these moves in perfect coordination with the beat. Up, down, up, down. Five-six-seven-eight-and-one … When, out of nowhere, Penny comes prancing in doing, not the salsa, but a dance I have NEVER in all my dog-owning years seen a dog do. She is wagging her tail, trying to stand on her hind legs and simultaneously humping the air all at once – in perfect rhythm to the beat. And getting uncomfortably close to her mother. If there was a doggy nightclub, it would’ve been the equivalent of Penny hearing her jam, rushing out to the dance floor and moving it like she had no problem making a baby right there. It was so … provocative.

All I could say was, “PENNY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? … STOP IT. NO, STOP IT. … I DON’T LIKE THIS!”

My dog got so hurt when she heard that. She slowly started for the hallway and turned back to look at me with those big “You don’t like my nasty go-ahead-and-get-yours dance” eyes. She went right back into the hallway, slumped down and tucked her head real low. I’m still not sure if it was an act of shame or one of rejection. Either way the whole thing was massively disturbing.

But, I got it over it. Cuz that’s what you do when beads of sweat are racing down your forehead and your heart rate’s right where you want it. I did some jumping jacks and the ol’ step ball chain for a minute and then went into another floor exercise that involved pelvic thrusts.

Watch out, y’all, her jam’s on again!

Here comes Penny wagging her tail, trying to stand and hump the air all at the same time again. She’s looking at me like, “Yeah, girlfriend! Let’s get this party started right!” Like she’s waiting for a Jack Russell Terrier to pop out of nowhere with shots and a limbo stick or something.

This time instead of scold, I just stared. I wanted to recount for Jake every “Up in Da Club” gyration, thrust, and naughty grind I witnessed. That lasted all of 10 seconds and then it was back to the scolding.

I couldn’t help but think about the sweater incident in which my family and friends swore up and down that our Pen Pen was *loud whisper* a trollop. Jake and I couldn’t see it for the life of us. 

That, of course, made me think of a girl I went to junior high with who we nicknamed “Annie Mascarenas All I Want is Penis.” When I say “we” nicknamed her, I mean ME, yours truly, X. (Like I’m gonna pass up taking credit for that one!) Anyway, her madre and padre had NO clue their daughter was blowing little boys every day after school. They seriously thought she was an angel because she got good grades, went to Catechism and still insisted on sitting between them in the front seat of their Cadillac when they picked her up from school.

Dude. Are we just like Annie Mascarenas All I Want is Penis’ parents? We’re constantly saying Penny’s an angel. She never gets into the garbage, she doesn’t chew things and — oh my God — she insists on sitting between Jake and I on the love seat when we watch TV!

Ay dios mio.

Eh, who am I kidding? So, she likes to … dance. Look at this little girl! An angel, I tell you. A pure angel.

halloween.getback 085

#14 Something You’re Thankful For

il_fullxfull.193304266[1]

Coming off the weekend I just had, this one couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, my girl Charlotte tied the knot recently and celebrated with a reception in Utah this past Friday. I flew into town for the occasion. When I booked my flight I wasn’t thinking about the best way to spend my time. I was thinking about the best way to spend my money. With this objective, I arrived Thursday at midnight and planned for a departure Saturday afternoon. Hello and goodbye. In and out. Holler atchya girl, Utah.

That was the plan, anyway.

I hadn’t seen Charlotte in a long-ass time. Boyfriends, babies and bullshit got in the way. Anyway, she was on bride duty during the reception so we only had a brief moment to catch up. During that time she told Miranda, Samantha and I that she really missed our friendship. I could hear the sincerity in her voice and see the girlfriend void in her eyes.

We agreed my bachelorette party would be a much-needed reunion and we said our goodbyes. Several hours later, on the night of her reception, Charlotte sent the three of us a text. She wanted us to know how much it meant to her that we made cameos and again said she missed us. The thought of her in a wedding gown, high heels kicked off, probably fixin’ to slip into some bridal lingerie —  but first texting her girlfriends that date back to Robert Frost Elementary– made my heart smile.

168915_1682151370002_1124126506_31727545_5533448_n[1]

But, that was nothing compared to what happened earlier that day.

Before the wedding reception, I spent all day Friday with my madre, Clair. I was pretty sure Salt Lake wouldn’t be the city in which I’d find my wedding gown, but I wanted the shopping experience with my mom, so I booked a couple appointments.

First boutique, first gown: We’re both tearing up. I managed to fight mine, but the madre lost her battle. I don’t know what she was feeling, staring at her daughter in a dress that appeared to be ”the one,” but as the daughter staring at her mother I knew I was experiencing a gift. I wanted to remember every detail so I could replay the scene in my head whenever I’d want or need to in the future. 

Oh my God, did I really just find my dress? To be sure, we visited two other boutiques for the sole purpose of me wiggling into a half a dozen white wonders, looking in the mirror and saying no to the dress. Me and the madre went back to boutique one, The Brides’ Shop, and met with a seamstress. I found the gown and I found it with my mom. What a day. What a moment. What a gift.

I spent Saturday at Clair’s. She prepared a dope brunch for the whole familia. After all us “kids” and the real kids (Chet and Lizzy G’s three boys) stuffed our faces, everyone gathered around to present yours truly with a late birthday present. A sparkling amethyst bracelet to “start rebuilding my jewelry collection” since the burglary depleted me of most of it. I ordered my tears not to make an appearance and thanked my thoughtful family for the beautiful present.

10116_1168672749869_1619465937_428545_4822056_n[1]

Over the next few hours, we embarrassed ourselves in front of the XBox Kinect. We even managed to coax my oldest nephew G into debuting his dance moves. He’s nearing the end of his teens which might explain the willingness to be part of the fam again. It really couldn’t get any better.

As my flight time was nearing, my favorite tio (that means uncle, gringos) called. I spoke to him briefly and told him I loved him. I realized as I listened to his aged voice tell  me an injury might force him into retirement that I hadn’t spoken to him in a decade. I’m hanging up with him and Serena’s dog, Harry, is at my feet. His face looks like an old man’s and his legs shake when he stands on them now.

All of it — missing my friends, having a once-in-a-lifetime moment with my mom, the thoughtful gift from the familia, dumb fun with my siblings and nephews, my favorite uncle’s and Harry’s old age staring me in the face — hit my heart all at once. Finally, my tears found the nearest exit and I lost it on the couch in my mom’s living room. I’m talking a can’t-catch-your-breath kind of cry. Like bees to honey, my mom and sisters swarmed me with concern.

I was online changing my flight to Sunday, and paying twice the amount I was originally trying to save, in a matter of minutes. The homesickness kicked my frugalness’ tight little ass to the curb.

Clair, Serena, Venus and I spent that night bonding. Like, real bonding. Clair told us the kind of family secrets that make telenovelas seem totally plausible. We looked through old pictures and reminisced about good times.

165587_1687741046252_1619465937_1544573_3645806_n[1]

I can’t tell you how great it felt. When Clair and Serena dropped me at the airport the next day I didn’t want to let go of their hugs and walked to the check-in counter wiping tears that were officially overstaying their welcome.

The entire time I was there I felt like my hometown was saying “Hello and goodbye, huh? In and out, huh? Holler atchya what?” while slapping me upside the head. Thank you, hometown. I needed that.

I’m thankful for the events that transpired over those three days, but I’m even more thankful that I have a home to be sick for. My friends pick up right where we left off. My family makes me not want to leave them. My hometown is still home.

#13 Your Favorite Teacher

28038Q26_061707_1[1]

I thought she was somethin’ special. And I think it’s safe to say she thought I was somethin’ special, too. Just a guess, but the fact she wanted me to jump from 1st grade to 3rd kinda clued me in.

Her name was Mrs. English. She wore a long winter coat, had a delicate frame and could crack a hilarious joke when her largely government-assisted class needed it most. Outside of my parents, Mrs. English was the first adult I really looked up to as a role model. Oh, and she happened to be black. In my 1st grade head this little fact translated to all black people being just as amazing as Mrs. English. This showed up in many ways, but the one my siblings love to recount is the way I would watch a game show. It didn’t matter if it was The Newlywed Game, Supermarket Sweep or The Price is Right, if there was a black contestant that’s the only person I thought deserved to win. When Venus or Chet would question how I came to my decision, I’d just shrug my shoulders and say I could tell they were the nicest. Or the coolest. Or the funniest. Or any other quality that my teacher coincidentally was, too. But, they knew that I didn’t actually see a random black contestant. I saw Mrs. English.

This was around the Reaganomics times, which I like to remember as Nothing-to-eat-but-rice-and-beans-for-months-enomics times. My dad, Cliff, couldn’t find work and we struggled like a mo’ fo’. We lived kitty corner from a real live whore house, for crying out loud. I sat on my front curb one day, with the rest of the neighborhood kids, and watched every last prostitute get cuffed and shoved into a cop car one afternoon. Yes, in good ol’ Utah. We surely qualified for government assistance, but Cliff was a proud man and refused it.

I remember a girl in my class, her name was Tricia, who came to school a few different times rocking a black eye. She cried one morning because she was so embarrassed about facing the class. Mrs. English told her not to worry. “I’ve been walking around with TWO black eyes my whole life!” she told her. It took a class of 6-year-olds a minute, but one of us finally got it, explained it to the rest of us and pretty soon we were all cracking up – even Tricia.

One day in January, Mrs. English gave us a very special homework assignment. She wanted each of us to go home and find out who said the words “I have a dream.” Oh, man. I couldn’t wait to find out who it was and what on earth made those simple words so great. I went straight home, tapped Cliff’s shoulder and asked the question. That moment right there turned Mrs. English into more than just the lady who put smiley faces in the zeros of the 100% scores on my papers. For Cliff, a man deeply involved in the Civil Rights Movement, it turned her into a woman who might actually be worthy of his daughter’s undying admiration.

When I told Mrs. English all about the fellow who fought for black people’s rights, she was impressed. I don’t know what impressed her more, that or the advanced math and reading skills my dad’s unemployment afforded me. The two soon enough had introductions and that sealed the deal. Mrs. English was my favorite teacher and Cliff’s favorite teacher and Clair’s favorite teacher.

I didn’t want 1st grade to end. But, and this might come as a surprise, it eventually did. I moved on to 2nd grade, only to be utterly disappointed that no one bothered to tell this new blonde teacher that yours truly hung the moon. Turns out Mrs. English was the only teacher who got that memo all through my grade school years.

When the padre landed a good gig a few months into 2nd grade, my parents bought a house in West Valley City and moved us on out of the ‘hood. I found Mrs. English at recess one day to tell her the news. She was happy for me and made some comment about “movin’ on up.”

I went back to Washington Elementary just before I graduated college. I wanted to tell Mrs. English about my accomplishment, but the teachers there had no idea who she was. I tried the phone book, but wasn’t successful there, either. It wasn’t until about four years ago that I heard her name again, when Clair called to tell me she’d just read her obituary in the newspaper. My eyes welled up for a woman I knew for 9 months of my life. I sent a floral arrangement to the funeral home and signed the online guest book, telling her loved ones the impact she had on me.

This past October, her daughter emailed me to express her gratitude. We had dinner when she rolled into town a month later. I told her her mom did what teachers are supposed to do: She made me feel special. Very special.

#12 Best Christmas Present You Ever Got

cabbage-patch-kids-party-favors-2[1]

Alright, it all started with a present Serena got for her 4th birthday, which was in April. My mom had to pull me aside and have a one-on-one with me to break the news about the gift my bratty little sister would be opening on her birthday. I’m sure it started with something to the effect of “You know Cliff and I love you very much, right?”

I don’t know exactly what came next, but I do know that I was bawling my eyes out by the end of it. Serena was going to be the first person in our family to have a Cabbage Patch Kid?! … Devastation. And more motivation for the Oppressed Middle Children Strike I’d been secretly planning for years.

After I wiped away my last tear, I did the most mature thing I could think of at the time. I asked Clair if I could see this bastard child my little sister would soon be adopting. She obliged and even opened the box to put my future niece in my arms. Aside from the fact this thing had a bigger noggin than my own, it was the most beautiful little girl I’d ever laid eyes on. She had big brown eyes and gorgeous long, thick dark hair. Clearly a Latina, just like her Tia X.

31KrZqq2JXL._SL500_AA300_[1]

Before I could start rocking her, Clair tugged that little girl right out of my arms and reminded me that Christmas wasn’t that far away. Even though it was April, I acted like I’d never seen a calendar and watched closely to see where Clair took little Odetta Ariel.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple weeks between the time I got the devastating news and Serena’s actual birthday. During those two weeks I would come home from school, take Odetta Ariel out of her box and rock her to sleep. She was very distrustful and slept with her eyes wide open, but the bond we were forming was unmistakable. I’d sing her songs, peek at that wild tattoo on her butt and play with her hair until Serena came home from pre-school. Sometimes I’d even explain to Odetta that mean people would be taking her away in a few days and putting her in the arms of a little girl who was half my age and therefore unfit to be a mother. She’d just smile, flashing those cute dimples, never pointing out that putting her in a dark box every night probably made me unfit, too.

Then Serena’s birthday came and my world crashed down around me. I don’t know if everyone was actually staring at me when she opened her big present, but my 8-year-old imagination sure thought they were. Serena was overjoyed. I tried to smile, but I seriously felt like that mom the “Today Show” would do reports about every morning while I ate my bowl of mostly sugary milk and a few corn flakes. She was a surrogate and grew so attached to the baby that she was trying to keep it as her own. After a judge finally ordered it, police had to go to her house and tear the baby from her arms because she wouldn’t let it go. There was a lot of screaming and sobbing, police cars and paparazzi. Never mind that I was in 3rd grade. I knew EXACTLY what the infamous surrogate mother felt like.

I ran out of that birthday celebration a blubbering mess. Never one for drama, I yelled “this is so unfair!” instead of “nobody loves me!” While Serena gave Little O, as she came to be known in our house, hugs and kisses upstairs, I was downstairs making the signs for that strike.

The next eight months went by about as fast as the cold tongs do at the gyno’s. That’s when I started a different after school ritual. It involved going downstairs to the storage closet and staring at a another little girl in another plastic box. Forget that I was spoiling my own Christmas Day surprise, she was the most beautiful thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Her name was Sheila Rebecca. She had glasses, dimples, a pink binky and short, curly blonde hair. Clearly she wasn’t a Latina like her soon-to-be mommy, but I was always a proponent of inter-cultural adoptions and loved her like my own.

tcS9[1]

In case you were wondering, Serena got a little boy that year. A kid named Ruben who wore a clown costume everywhere he went. There were no surrogacy episodes. Perhaps because I found the clown thing a little creepy, but I was too busy being a single mom to fuss with all that, anyway. Oh, and the Oppressed Middle Children Strike was put on hold. I put it back into action, though, when Chet was given a generous curfew a few months later.

#11 Your Favorite Thing Right Now

RHBH[1]

OK, well, if my ass would’ve had the time to write this here post a couple days ago, or even a couple weeks ago, hell, even a couple months ago, the answer would’ve been easy: “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” Yes, I’m one of those.

In fact, forget the Beverly Hills part. I’m just obsessed with Real Housewives, period. I even watched every episode of the D.C. franchise. I’ve finally decided that I need to scale back. These bitches are taking over my life. You’ve got two franchise episodes a week, followed by “Watch What Happens Live” (LOVE Andy Cohen!). Then, just when you think you’ve wasted enough of your life, the reunion episodes hit you with a one-two punch and then you’re told that a a week later will bring an episode of “never before seen footage.” It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

If you’re like me (and I hope you’re not, for the sake of your dignity) then you also read the blogs, watch the bonus scenes and check out the “before they were housewives” photos on bravotv.com. Jesus, if, after reading this, my loved ones aren’t waiting at my house with forlorn expressions and a strange guy who just wants me to take the help he’s offering, I will feel very unloved. 

I’ve told myself I’m scaling back. I was all prepared to give up the NYC chicks, but then Bravo went and replaced them with the Miami Latinas. I gotta watch my people Housewife it up. And, like Otis Redding before me, I’ve been loving Orange County too long to stop now. So, the addiction continues…

**********************

But that’s my guilty pleasure. My REAL favorite thing right now — the one that I don’t feel an ounce of guilt taking pleasure in — is a young woman who is changing the face of hip-hop. That’s right. She’s putting a little lipstick, MAC Pink 4 Friday to be specific, on its lips, brushing on some NARS Orgasm blush and screaming to the world that she’s . . .

A MOTHER FUCKIN’ MONSTER!

And, I’m just one among 989,300 who’s listening (as of this week). Her name is Nicki Minaj and she ain’t no joke. She also ain’t no Li’l Kim. She’s not trying to tell us what her boyfriend does while she watches cartoons or how many Sprite cans she can fit in her nasty mouth that would be better off stuffed with bars of soap. Yeah, she raps about sex here and there. But she also raps about sports, relationships, jealous women, soul-searching, hard times, ol’ boys clubs. She has depth.

Before her album, Pink Friday, dropped, I was looking up the videos she’s featured in on YouTube and fast-fowarding through the main artist, just to get to her part. Kanye, Jay-Z, Mariah, Drake, Li’l Wayne? Yeah, yeah, yeah — where’s Nicki?! Oh there she is, upstaging those fools on tracks they thought were theirs.

Look, I started resenting new hip-hop music. No one was impressing me. I started thinking I was going to be one of those people who talks about how music was great in their day, but this stuff kids are listening to now? Garbage! Except homegirl changed all that. No one in the game right now flows like Nicki Minaj. I didn’t say no female rapper flows like Nicki Minaj. I said NO ONE flows like her. That means no female rapper, no male rapper, no white rapper, no black rapper. No one in the game right now flows like Nicki Minaj.

HANG IT UP. FLAT SCREEN.

Her wit and clever way with words literally gives me the goose bumps. Yes, I know how to properly use the word “literally.” That’s what she does to me. This woman inspires me. She has restored my faith in hip-hop. She makes me want to write the shit out of something. She is, hands down, no doubt about it, my favorite thing right now.

Here’s a glimpse at why. Warning: You’re about to hear LOTS of naughty language. If you’re still in, remember you have to fast-forward to get to the good part. Oh, and you should also know she’s a little schizophrenic. But it’s the finest case of schizophrenia your ears have ever heard. :)