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Showing posts from August, 2013

The Day I Became Diabetic - 2012

As a child I watched how my father’s family coped with diabetes.    My grandmother’s brothers and sisters all had it.    The moment “los t í os” went into the hospital and started losing a foot or a leg, it signaled the last fight against the disease. My grandmother never had it, neither did my dad. My younger sister discovered her legacy at an early age – Diabetes, Type 2. She kept it from our parents for a long time, trying not to worry them.    Then my mother had it. My youngest sister and both my brothers followed.    It was everywhere around me. They are all savvy as to the course it takes.    They share information.    They make jokes when they dig into a taco or fork into a dessert. It seemed to skip me. It made sense.    I resemble my dad and paternal grandmother.    Maybe I was the lucky one? My internist gives me meds for cholesterol and blood pressure.    She recommends a low-dose daily aspirin to keep strokes and heart attacks at bay.    I take these meds be


Every year I make New Year’s Resolutions.  I write them down in my journal and try to do more than just thumb past them as I scribble my daily thoughts. I actually work on them. Often I move resolutions forward from one year to the next, but that is because resolutions are meant to be permanent and do not have a “best if used by” date. Losing weight and keeping it off is a battle I will fight for the rest of my life.  Finishing my current work in progress will never end because it will be replaced with another manuscript and another and another. Though resolving to exercise more is almost laughable, (since one cannot measure “more” unless you start with “some,”) the intention is always there. I make resolutions/goals all throughout the year and not just on December 31 st .  I make them on important anniversaries or milestones, like my birthday, the start of a season, and the beginning of a school year (since the teacher in me continues to reference school calendars and n

Blame the Hamburger

I blame the drive-thru hamburger or the coffee shop with the creamy drinks.  I’ve been misled by the Mexican food restaurant with the bottomless bowls of chips and salsa and the to-die-for enchiladas. I’ve been snookered by bags of Snickers and seduced by salty chips, two-timed by an egg and bacon taco (or two), and hoodwinked by a side of hotcakes.   It’s  their  fault my belts won’t buckle and my jackets won’t zip. I blame  them  for my shortness of breath and my aching back as I carry armloads of Blue Bell ice cream and glazed donuts to the car. I know I am not alone, so I say we sue those who have made us this way:   they  force me to eat that taco (or two) for breakfast;  they  lure me with their double lattes topped with whipped cream;  they  snare me with their Number One specials (then try to mask the truth with side salads and diet sodas);  they  sing their siren songs after a long, hard day with their “Hot and Ready” pizzas and drive through dinners that come complete w

Code Switching

In my family, we jabber away in two languages, using both English and Spanish interchangeably.   Fluent in both, it is easy for us to substitute words, phrases, and clauses in one or the other language. We don’t notice what we do because to us the two are easy on our tongue. In our brain they are one. Someone will ask a question in English and get an answer in Spanish.  Someone will make a joke in Spanish and all the rejoinders will be a mix of both languages. Gossip about a relative is discussed at great length in both English and Spanish and no one notices, except for those who get caught in the middle of our barrage and speak only one of the two. Even then, they are able to keep up because it’s like listening to one side of a phone conversation. This phenomenon among fluent speakers of two or more languages is called code switching. It is a natural linguistic outcome when they share a similar syntax or phonology, like English and Spanish, but it is not unique to just t

Las Comadres Otra Vez

Shopping for a new dress, I heard two women enter the booth next to me. “Aye, Comadre, you take the dressing room.  I’ll wait out here until  the other one empties.” “No, Comadre, let’s share this one.  See?  It’s big.” “Bueno, sí.  Okay.” I heard muffled noises, hangers clinking,  and heavy breathing. “Aye, Comadre.  Help me.  I’m stuck.” More shuffling. “There.  Let me get the zipper.”Breathing. “Maybe they have a bigger size.” “No necesito a bigger size. This  is  my size.” “Sí, pero nowadays they use less material and charge you more.  Let me go see if they have it in a bigger size.” “No, no. I need to exercise.  Me dejé.” “No, Comadre, pero como?  It’s the style of the dress.” “Comadre, por favor, I can see for myself.  The mirrors don’t lie.” “We’ll go to the gym.  I, too, have let myself go a little.” “Aye, don’t yank on it.  I don’t want to have to buy it if it doesn’t fit.” “You can keep it in the closet as incentive.” “I am not going to the gy

Playing School

I was one of those annoying kids who gathered the neighborhood and forced them to play school with me.  My grandmother helped me and I would make math and reading books from used paper my dad brought home from the office.  I would copy math problems in one, and write stories and make up reading questions in the other. Since most of the neighborhood was made up of boys, I would agree to play with them if they played school with me and “played right.”  If they didn’t, I would never play with them again. They must have all been alpha males (or yellow-belly cowards) because none of them wanted to be the soldier/Indian/robber who died in their gun play. Sometimes they needed a human sacrifice to go get a stray baseball/football/kite from the neighbor’s yard, the one with the man-eating Chihuahuas.   When they cheated me of equal play, I would refuse them the next time.  I made them beg and super, double-dog promise before I agreed, always on my terms.  First, we played school

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – A Mama’s Perspective

When my older brother came back from Vietnam in 1970, we thought our prayers had been answered.  We were mistaken. The living person we welcomed home was not the brother who had left us twelve months before. In his place was a frightened, angry stranger. For the next forty-three years he struggled to be who he had once been, and for brief moments we saw glimpses of him, but for the most part, we lost our brother back in the Vietnam jungles.  My son is a Marine reservist and has been on three deployments in the last ten years, two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.  In all three he has been in face to face combat with the enemy.  He has seen and done things that most of us could not imagine. Like my late brother, my son struggles to reclaim the person he once was and has decided to advocate for himself and learn how to control his PTSD.  PTSD is more prevalent than the public realizes.  It is not limited to combat vets but to anyone who has experienced extreme trauma. My daughte

Adolescent Humor

Over the past year, I have occasionally blogged about my classroom experiences.  Some were sad, some were shocking, but I have decided to share three that were just downright endearing and silly.  1.      I always started my reading and English classes with fifteen minutes of silent reading. It was a directed activity where I asked the students to look or be aware of a certain grammatical or rhetorical device in their novels which would then lead into the lesson that followed.  The students became accustomed to this and on this particular day the room was deathly quiet.  Only the sound of pages turning could be heard, when suddenly a student farted.  It was one of those where the person was trying to suppress it but did not succeed, so it came out sounding like a whistle. I instantly knew who it was because the kids sitting around him looked at him and he blushed. To help him save face, I pretended not to notice and I tried to suppress a giggle.  I was not successful.  One giggl

Writing in the Company of Geniuses

Learning to write in the company of geniuses, I have writing experts for professors and my classmates are on bestseller lists.   And guess who is struggling to keep up? There is no secret formula, no succinct cheat notes, no clever apps to get from Novice Writer to Published Author. I read books on craft, highlighting and trying out suggestions.    I read best sellers and old favorites with a writer’s eye and emulate in bites and samples. Getting into Character  by Brandilyn Collins has changed my writing the most since I started on this quest. If you KNOW your characters well, everything else falls into place – plotting, dialogue, pacing, details. The novel  The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak has influenced me with its lyrical language - indescribable and enviable. I also have to give kudos to  The Friday Night Knitting Club  by Kate Jacobs.    A gymnast in sentence structure, this novelist does strange and courageous things to compound complex sentences.    I figure