Song of the Day: “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)” by Eurythmics

Song of the Day: “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)” by Eurythmics

Some days, not as often mind you, I do wish I was a different person. Someone taller, thinner, younger, wiser, the usual litany of superficial and cosmetic “wants.” I will admit it was an obsession of mine, creating a false self to win others’ approval. I’d also project an image of myself built on other’s expectations or perceptions. That’s a lot to admit, but I’m a lot better about it now. Still, if left sitting in traffic long enough, those old ghosts like to visit me. That’s what I love and hate about this particular track from the Eurythmics 1987 release, “Savage.”

Hearing “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To) today made take pause. The song, and especially, the Sophie Muller-directed video remain a one-two punch in my mind. This confession of a bored and frustrated housewife, who represses her true self until the song’s end resonates with and motivates me for different reasons today. I loved the image of “housewife-turned-harlot” then. Now, I see the harlot of a symbol of freedom and color. For a moment, on the streets of downtown Los Angeles, I felt an exquisite sense of truth as I sang along with La Lennox. I’m not hiding any part of my true self anymore, even on the days I lose my focus and strength.  Then a car horn rang through, breaking me from my blonde-wigged reverie, moving me along to the destination ahead.

Listen to
Listen to
Listen to
I love to listen to
I love to listen to
I love to

Take a girl like that and put her in a natural setting like a cafe for example.
Along comes the boy and he’s looking for trouble with a girl like that, with a girl like that.
Who knows what they’ll decide to do? Who knows what they’ll get up to?
I’d love to know, wouldn’t you?

I love to, I love to listen to
Love to, I love to listen to
I love to, I love to listen to
Love to, I love to
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to

You think you know just what you want but you have used that weapon against me.
Did I tell you I was lying by the way when I said I wanted a new mink coat?
I was thinking of something sleek to wrap around my tender throat.
I was dreaming like a Texan girl. A girl who thinks she’s got the right to everything.
A girl who thinks she should have something extreme.

I love to listen to
I love to listen to
I love to listen to
I love to
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to listen to Beethoven
I love to

Songwriters: Annie Lennox / David Allan Stewart © Universal Music Publishing Group

 

The Armchair Tale

The Armchair Tale

 

“Too many people in this room,”  he thought. “Again.”

It was getting late. 6 pm to be exact, the hour where everything would shut down at the factory.

“Closing time,” he’d like to say.

The sun going down was the best alarm system ever devised for Dad. It meant quiet would be restored. It was the time when he felt most relaxed, when the world, his world, was in order. Dad sensed someone approaching. He prepared for impact.

“Hi, Uncle George!” the Person said excitedly.

Dad instinctually knew which of his smiles to engage.

Hola!”

He had quite the array of smiles in his arsenal; some were broad, others were veiled politeness. They were never fake or insincere. This one smile was one of his most appreciated because it had genuine warmth, even if he didn’t quite know the source of its heat.

Dad also learned a while ago that his speaking in Spanish was always the best way to keep contact with short.

“If you gave them too much,” he’d reasoned to himself, “they’ll stay too long.”

Communicating with people was never this hard, or maybe it was? How long had this been his “new normal?” Everything felt so hazy these days as if his mind was processing photocopies with very little ink.

Some times, the images before him (memories?) were shockingly bright, with each color pushing its vibrancy to the limit. It was then he couldn’t help but smile. He could see his world so clearly, shapes and figures that felt so familiar and real. Most of the time, he was a witness to an expanse of grey that threatened to dominate everything. Not today, though.

Dad used to miss the “beautiful noise,” as he’d called it before he got “sick.” It still happened from time to time, his recognizing it.  That once beautiful din was often too loud now, and it scared him, something that never happened before.  For Dad, this human tidal wave of sounds, letters, and languages pulled him under without a floatation device.  He couldn’t begin to sort it all out, taking his breath away when a room full of people reached its audible peak.

Dad was well aware something was wrong with his brain. He’d known for some time that things were off. Mom was still a mental constant, as was Sis. They offered him two of the few respites from the long days waiting for “quitting time” to arrive.

“Oh my god! Uncle George looks so good!” said Another Figure.

“This one was more excitable than the other,” Dad thought to himself. Still, something in her face made him feel the need to offer more than one of his pre-fab smiles.

Bien! Bien!” Dad offered as he excitedly patted this Person’s hand for extra measure.

Of all his Old World manners and gestures, the hand pat was his most friendly, the one he only used with people that meant a great deal to him. Perhaps the criteria had slipped a bit of late, but the importance of it hadn’t waned. Not yet, anyway.

More people arrived, breaking his repose. Suddenly, Dad’s leather lounge chair felt like a steel trap. He wanted to leave, but where?

“I know I’m still me,” he thought. A surge of emotion was making its way to his brain, a lava-like substance that took very little time to heat and explode forth.

“Dad’s eyes are looking tense,” Someone said.

Hija? Hermana?

“He’s going to start kicking people out!” Someone else added.

Hijo? Hermano?

“I’m not angry!” Dad wanted to shout.

He didn’t feel sure about who everyone was in the room. His eyes darted furiously about the den, desperately trying to find the familiar faces of Mom and Sis, but they weren’t around. That made him panic ever so slightly, the color of his eyes shifting from their charming hazel shade to something foreboding and stormy.

Hace mucho ruido! Tanto ruido. Chingados!” Dad said to no one in particular.

For the record, Dad NEVER swore. In any language. But a long-buried archive of Spanish language profanities had since been unearthed. All bets were off as to when Dad would decide to access it.

“It’s so much better when it’s quiet. Don’t these people know?” he heard from within his fussy and uncooperative mind.

It felt like these words were tumbling forth. Dad could feel his mouth moving, forming a declarative sentence that could restore order, but it was futile. Even if he did manage to say something, it would not have been discernable to anyone. All they would hear was a defeated sigh from the man they came to visit and love as he settled deeper into the isolating safety of his leather armchair.

Song of the Day: “Set Your Heart” by Cyndi Lauper

Song of the Day: “Set Your Heart” by Cyndi Lauper
Driving through the streets of Los Angeles is like watching a mini-documentary that changes on the daily.  My morning commute, like so many others, will dictate my mood for the day.  You have to brace yourself for the world moving before you, whether pedestrian, motorist, bicyclist, scooterist or whatever is using more than two feet.  It can be inspiring, enraging, hilarious, tragic, surprising, or a combination of all.   If I didn’t have my scores of iTunes playlists (no Spotify for me), I don’t know what I’d do to stem the surge of emotions triggered at every stop light or freeway entrance.

I was making my way through Koreatown today when a track from Cyndi Lauper’s 2008 album release Bring Ya to the Brink broke free from the archive of songs on my iPhone.

“Set Your Heart” is a classic disco homage, featuring lyrics that ring true to what I’m feeling these days, propelled by a beat that makes you want to dance as if no one is watching you under a mirrorball. I played it five times in a row, smiling a little broader with each fade out.

Music may not always cure what ails you, but it sure helps a brother out in his time of need.

Play it loud. Play it proud.

I wonder what tomorrow’s soul soothing track will be?
When your heart is beating black and blue
And a cold world’s looking back at you
When you’re fading low around the bend
Go on turn around you’ll see me
I will always be your friend

Set your heart free
Set your heart free

Said you can’t say much about today
Just that dark cloud coming back your way
And that your dreams are all worn thin
Well, you better stop with all that talk
Before it all starts happening

Set your heart free
Listen to your heart

When your heart is beating black and blue
And the old world’s knocking down on you
And you’re starting to become unglued
Don’t go there, come on, you know i love you
Set your heart free [Repeats]

Written by Cyndi Lauper, Richard Morel, Victor Carstarphen, Gene McFadden, and John Whitehead

Produced by Cyndi Lauper and Richard Morel

Filter for your thoughts?

Filter for your thoughts?

In case you haven’t noticed, being in a reflective mood is a big part of who I am as a person.

I’ll pause for the rolling of your eyes, dear reader.

Yeah, I think too much. I think too much about stuff that is hardly ground shaking anymore. I, too, suffer from that illness of wanting to make myself seem so fucking interesting. So much effort has gone into curating a self that could be deemed “fabulous” or “fascinating” by others that I now question whether it was worth it. Losing Dad last month has allowed for a sense of clarity to take over. Revisiting all of our struggles together, the endless array of pendejadas I’d craft just to piss him off. And for what? He forgot them all due to his Alzheimer’s. However, what took over was something totally real and true. Each time he smiled, I knew we were in a good place. We laughed and lived out some of the best years of our lives together with respect. It will be a gift that will keep on giving.

These many years of trying on and shedding personas were exhausting, for me and everyone around me. The irony? Going back to my OG self now makes the most sense. Take out the chaos and “big feelings” and I have a nice rack of lamb to offer the world. That’s what brought me back to Dad. With him, I discovered that life doesn’t need an excess of adornment. It needs to be tended to with care and purpose. You nurture the best part of yourself and the people you love with sun and air, not artificial light, filters, and the prism of a stranger’s validation. Why it’s taken me so long to figure that out has more to do with what I thought I wanted to “see” in myself and the world.

Born a preemie, I guess I was determined not to fade into the background since day one. I had to see what lurked outside the safety of Mom’s womb! Haha. Once I started going to school, it became apparent that I had a voice and the power to be heard. Shyness be damned, the first person I made laugh in kindergarten was a revelation! I was aware of what made me different from the other kids. In the end, my early interests would dictate much of who I would be as an adult. It happened organically thanks to the people who remain my role models, at home, school, the library that was my second home. Then, I started to doubt my own singularity.

IMG_2881When I think about our mania to be noticed today by being considered an “influencer” or a “public figure” on social media, I can’t help but marvel over how it is also doing us such harm. It’s just a setting, for crying out loud. Creating a false persona took real skill in “my day” and we could not depend on a filter to cover the flaws. To bear witness to the elements of sameness projected by people all over the world today scares the shit out of me. We seem less inclined to break free from the pack to fervently embrace this culture of uniformity. Copycat beauty is not a celebration of individuality, which contradicts a generation’s determination to eschew the context of the past. Many parrot the importance of fluidity in their lives, but they swirl around the contained space of a very specific and packed fish tank.

This concept of curating an authentic life is also just another variation of “keeping up appearances.” And whoever coined the term, “adulting” should be ashamed. We live in an era that invents so many terms and slogans to validate confusion and insecurity. Most people can’t even commit to a simple meet and greet because of their lives being so “hectic.” Yet, they still want to be praised for doing the things you’re supposed to do as an adult! Argh. But yeah, planning and taking photos of yourself at brunch and Coachella will take it out of you. This doesn’t apply only to the millennials, either.

Sigh. I’m rambling here, I know. That I’ve grappled with the same insecurity of being ignored and feeling irrelevant for so long is one of my biggest failures. The trigger point from childhood, when I stopped letting my own true self exist for fear of being labeled “different,” cannot be allowed to be pulled. Opting to create an exaggerated self with the threads of what made me different wasn’t any better, either. Dad wasn’t always enamored of my colorful self, but he admired my voracious need to read, watch films, go to the theater, and articulate what I loved about what I was watching or reading. (Except “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” He tore a companion picture book in half and threw it in the trash.)

I digress.

Dad believed in the power of words and I have found comfort and solace in recognizing that part of him. I know I won’t fade into the background anytime soon. My will to speak and write is too strong. However, the point is to allow our words to count. Empowerment and courage will forever exist in words, even in a fish tank.

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 10.36.35 AMHaving the courage and will to express myself is what will get me through this next chapter without him. Nostalgia has also proven a great source of empowerment, lessons that were buried only to resurface as I contemplate my own future. For example, when I was a kid, visiting the family in Tampico, the tíos thought it would be great to get me on a horse. I was about 4 or 5. Tío Paul was so proud to see me ride. Instead, he saw me fall off, which wasn’t unusual for me. Graceful athleticism was left out of my DNA stew.

I didn’t get back on that horse. I often wonder what life would have been like if I just got back in the saddle again.  No filter, either. It speaks volumes to me today. I don’t need a horse anymore, but I do know I won’t be staying down if I fall. I’ll just dust myself off and keep on moving forward as my singular self. Witnesses welcomed, but not required.

 

**My dad is dying… (A Work in Progress)

**My dad is dying… (A Work in Progress)

It was 12 years ago when Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and we are now honoring the end of his extraordinary life. He turned 94 in February, itself a remarkable achievement given his health issues. We witnessed dramatic changes since the start of the year. Pneumonia, spots on his lungs, bouts of anger, incontinence, more anger, physical pain, falls to the ground, returns to the hospital, prolonged episodes of sleep, more medications.

He’s not eating.

He won’t take a drink of water.

He can’t walk. He’s in a hospital bed in the living room.

We are living out a vigil now.

My childhood home is now hospice.

Every day that passes stands as a potent reminder of our collective mortality.  I can still see with such clarity the Dad before Alzheimer’s. I can see him working so diligently on my Pinewood Derby racers for Cub Scouts. The memory triggers something in my nose, this pungent smell of burning wood being shaped into champion cars. I don’t ever want it to lose that space in my brain.

I remember the day after my big performance as Charlie Brown in the high school revue when I asked what he thought of the show and my “star” turn. He said, “Mijo, you’re a lot of things, but you’re not an actor.”

He’s right. I was just a still-gestating drama queen, not a drama student. But even he recognized my abilities as a writer and he’s encouraged me to keep writing ever since. (Even if Mom secretly wanted me to be a doctor.)

I haven’t been able to cry over seeing Dad look so helpless and small as he as has these last weeks. That streak ended on a cloudy Wednesday night in my boss’s office. The emotion was piling up on the shoals of my brain, finally overwhelming me amid a deadline.

Dad is shutting down on us.

I don’t blame him.

Dad’s done so much for so many people, family, friends, co-workers, St. Hilary Church, strangers, anyone whoever needed help. He merits a final rest. I see Mom’s struggle with her own hurricane of emotions, barely keeping in the surging waters threatening to break through a weakening levee. But she endures. She is spectacular to behold, but she is also human, and I worry more about her than Dad most days. Every day, to be honest.

The truth is I want to Dad to find the peace of mind to close his eyes and exhale that one, last perfect breath, the one that punctuates the end of an extraordinary life lived on one’s own terms.

We are not supposed to wish our parents to leave this earth. But I do, and I feel guilty about it. Aren’t we supposed to want to keep everyone we love close to us forever? But what about a person’s quality of life?

I smile at Dad, he smiles back. Every time. It is giving me life these days. I have so much I want to say to him. Thank you, mostly. That he was right about so much. That I forgive him his trespasses when I came out to him 18 years ago.

That I will never forget every loan, every lecture, every time we fought, every time one of stormed out the door, every life lesson shared and learned, every time he showed up to my school events, tennis matches, football games, school plays, everything, even though he had a factory to run.

The lunches at the factory from the lunch truck, that juicy peach he bought me one summer or sharing his favorite sandwich tip with me, pastrami con huevo, those visits to McDonald’s off Lorena St., when he said to the cashier, “Don’t we look like brothers?” The visit to Baskin-Robbins when he said I could have ice cream, but I ordered the pineapple shake, and as we walked to the car, he told me never ask for more than a person is able to give without asking. I realized he couldn’t have a cone, and he loves sweets something awful because he only had a certain amount of money on his person.

It’s all rushing through my mind in fast forward. I want to stop and relive those details, but they’re a blur to me now. I feel the macro of the emotions but can’t stop to make sure the micro of detail is also preserved.

I’ll never forget the King Tut ticket.La Brea TarpitsNHM with HelenSingin’ in the rain with the Pico CrewStar Wars –  then and now.Losing him at Bloomingdale’s and Disneyland.ScaringhimonTower of Terror.Empty frame — you project the art you want to see.Or Mexico (Cuatla sulfur springs, the cousins, competitiveness)…ScoutsTheFactoryMexicoandappendicitisMexicoSummerof78onandonandon.

This is just one more thread in our life with Dad, but I know I am running out of materials. Sooner or later, I’ll have nothing else to add to the loom. Sooner or later, the cosmic machine giving him life with cease operations.

I just hope it’s a little later. Please?

**Dad passed away at home on Tuesday, February 26, 2019, at 9:10am. I started this piece in early 2018. It was supposed to be his eulogy. He’d been suffering from pneumonia, and his health was deteriorating rapidly that January. We thought we were going to lose him. We didn’t. We had a little over than a year more with him. I can see now my wish was granted.  Later happened after all, but an ending was destined to occur. After Dad died, I tried to retailor this piece to fit a different emotional and mental landscape. That’s why the time references are all off. Leaving well enough alone, I just walked away and waiting for real inspiration to strike. It did. 

 

Eulogy for My Dad or #Poppadoodlesforever

Eulogy for My Dad or #Poppadoodlesforever

IMG_7617My sister Nancy coined the name “Poppadoodles” way back when. I instantly loved the sound of it, both frivolous and absurd, two words you’d never use when you wanted to describe Dad. He was Big George, Jorge Sr., Tío Jorge, but never Don Jorge, or Jefe. He represented many things to many people.

Dad passed away the morning of  Tuesday, February 26 at the age of 94 at our home in Pico Rivera. It didn’t rain that day. The sun was out. He was surrounded by family and our closest friends. Alzheimer’s was also his nefarious companion during the last 12 years of his life. It finally left us alone, but it never fully took Dad away.  Jorge Sr. knew where he was and who was the source of the love in that living room space that day.

Writing about him in the past tense makes me want to scream. Thinking about him in the past tense makes me want to cry. That is why I choose to focus my emotion on words these days. Words were my best friend as a chubby, eccentric kid. Words were what kept Dad entertained as he shuttled us all over Los Angeles to meet rock bands at record signings, shows, musicals, sports, everything. A carefully folded newspaper or magazine was also with him when he played chauffeur to the exciteable brood that was us.

I never did ask what he read about or what he even thought about what he read. I just know that when it was time to take us home, he carefully folded the material back up and we’d begin the journey. That slice of peace and quiet was always obliterated by our breathless stories about who or what we saw. He’d smile and listen as we cut through the city with caution because his precious cargo was aboard.

God, I wish I did ask him about those articles in the Herald-Examiner or Newsweek. One time, he even stood in line with my brother and me at Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. We wanted to meet the legendary child known as Boy George. Talk about your culture club. (Boom.) When we got up to meet George, we told him our Dad was a George, too. A huge smile stretched across the Brit crooner’s tastefully made-up face. Wouldn’t you know they launched into a nice little chat? Like neighbors stopping for tea. It was something George did not have time for with any of gallery of nightcrawlers and club kids that were desperate for a similar audience? Dad had no idea who Boy George even was, saying “That’s a nice young man” as we walked away. I wish Steve Jobs had already conquered the world for an iPhone! Imagine the photo, heck, the footage! Still, the memory remains a treasure, regardless, and unfiltered all these years later.

It is fitting that Dad made his living as a textile engineer. The yarn spun on the daily at the factory was no less important and as strong as the family ties he weaved at home. It never frayed. Even when it was pulled to maximum tautness, we didn’t break. Sometimes the words I exchanged with Dad were in anger, punctuated by the slam of a door or the start of a car engine. Even our silences carried the weight and text of our thoughts. That wasn’t the case once he began his travels with Alzheimer’s. I’d be damned if I’d let that bastard of a disease rob me of my time with Dad. I fought against the ALZ hard with smiles, laughter, and talks, real talks. It started out in English and then transferred to Dad’s native Spanish when his mind placed me in that category of awareness.

IMG_9499

I have no regrets. I only possess this incredible want to have him here for a little while longer. I was able to say what I carried in my heart to him way before he left us. It is my most treasured moment with Dad. It happened at the Arboretum in Arcadia early last fall. Walking was tough for him, so I got him a wheelchair. We ventured around the gardens. It wasn’t a particularly beautiful day. In fact, it was grey and humid. The grounds were going through some pruning and renovations. The only added color that day was the famed peacocks, which were plentiful. I chose to tell Dad that I loved him and that he was right about so much. That I was sorry for all the hell I put him through. He was quiet for a moment, then, he asked if it was alright if he pushed me around the gardens, that I’d done enough. I said, “I don’t mind.” He answered, “Okay.” Then he started to comment on the peacocks, saying they don’t do anything. Just walk around and show off. I laughed. “Dad,” I said. I can’t believe you’re arguing with a peacock.” He just smiled and folded his hands on his lap. “I want to go home,” he said. So, we did.

Dad’s burial services were on a sunny Tuesday morning in Pico Rivera. I had the task of speaking, along with my brother. Writing his eulogy wasn’t easy, but when I started to write it, the words didn’t fail me. As my dear friend Ann said to me as my grief was in its upswing:

“He may be gone, but please know, as someone said to me when I lost my Dad, “The conversation continues.”

And it does…

A Eulogy for Dad by Jorge Carreón, Jr. 

IMG_2403When you’ve been blessed to live a life as long, rich and vivid as Dad’s, the brevity of a eulogy seems cruel and unfair. Six paragraphs and out. I couldn’t do that. You only have to stop, pause, take a breath and take a look around a room like this and see the emotion and extent of the impact one life can make. You take comfort in knowing that this speaks volumes to the character and respect generated by Jorge Ramirez Carreón. Words were his power, and words are the inherited power we wield today.

I remember the day after my big performance in a high school play when I asked Dad what he thought of my “star” turn. He said, “Mijo, you’re a lot of things, but you’re not an actor. Write. It is what you do best.” He was “right,” for lack of a better word. He was pretty much always right about things.

I’ve been staring at a blank screen for days, crafting this message of remembrance and goodbye for Dad. All I could hear in my head are messages like, “Is this going to be enough?” followed by “I can’t do this.” When I finally sat down to put these words up on a laptop screen, it was surrounded by his spirit at our family home in Pico Rivera. Flowers, his favorite slice of nature, were everywhere. Music, the songs inspired by his varied tastes, provided the underscore. It made sense to me here. He made sense to me here, the house that raised my siblings and me.

My brother has composed a fitting testimony to his life, the details and achievements of a life less ordinary, but extraordinary. He ventured from the security of his home and living in Mexico to venture into the unknown territory of the US. He met Mom, married, had four children; he built the life of their dreams. The palm tree that graces the center of our home in Pico is that perfect symbol of our family history. It stands taller than ever before. It has bent with strong winds, never breaking, even when it felt like life was too much. It is the summation of who we are as his people, his family. You find a piece of who we are with each frond. Lil’s maturity and leadership as the firstborn. Nancy’s devotion and selfless protection of us all. Ernesto’s poetry and introspection. Mom’s love of life and strength. It is resilience incarnate.

With Dad’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s 12 years ago, the first impulse was to think life was over, that he’d forget us all quickly, that the damage to his mind and body would be relentless. We were scared he’d never be able to partake in our lives most crucial moments as adults. We were cursed and doomed. Yet, in the end, it was a gift. My father getting lost in the haze of this infernal disease allowed me to find him again. It is a personal detail that I will never let go.

My family mobilized upon the Doctor’s word. Nancy and Ernesto led the charge in researching every facet of treatment programs, medications, insurance allowances, anything, and everything to make sure Dad would live his best life with us beside him. That he was with us for as long as he was, glowing with color and filled with energy, is a testament to everyone’s role in keeping Dad healthy and alive. We involved him in all aspects of our lives. He wasn’t “sick” Dad. He was chingón Dad for us, for everyone he’d offer a smile. That’s the lesson of his life. Don’t fear the illness; make it fear YOU.

Like many Latino men, we like to live in our memories, tasked with the preservation of our family lore. Being Jorge is not just sharing the same name. Being Jorge means living as the chief chronicler of my family. You should see the epic collection of slides that remain encased and boxed, dutifully scanned by my sister Nancy with Smithsonian-like care. That is why I was compelled to record all that is Us before Dad’s mental files were purged entirely of data. My family and I will never forget the outpouring of emotion felt by many of you who never had a chance to meet Dad in person but were witnesses to his life in other manners.

My name now carries a stronger aura of poetry and romance. Yet, Dad is singular, the original creation. My task is never to let his memory fade, preserving that beautiful handprint in my heart, in all of our hearts.

Back to the power of words. Dad era creyente, a devout believer. He was a voracious reader, informed, an elegant debater who loved a good match of wits. I ask you all to take a moment at some point today to think of a word that personifies what Dad means to you. Share it with us today, tomorrow, whenever inspiration strikes.

As for us? Let me tell you: Dad is adventurous, sage, loyal, devoted, humorous, strict, careful, silly funny, lover of the song “Guantanamera,” classical music and Lerner & Lowe showtunes, Howard Stern-listener, admirer of Trini Lopez, Willie Nelson & Glen Campbell, damn good long haul driver, world-traveler, Christmas card address monitor, abstract pancake maker, mistaker of wasabi for guacamole, Nescafe drinker, eater of canned tuna fish in Italy, church leader, Eagle Scout motivator, industrious, a textile engineer, cultivated, Catholic, mustached, bald, native son of Celaya, Caballero, Mexicano, husband, father, tío, hero. He is forever our Poppadoodles.

We love you, Dad. Te queremos mucho, Pa.

**This is a video produced by my brother Ernesto for his Mateo & 8th line of home decor. We played it during the rosary services in honor of Dad. Hearing his voice sound so confident was shocking for a moment, then, restorative and calming. I hope you give it a view. 

***Please consider making a donation to one of the following charities:

Alzheimer’s Los Angeles: https://www.alzheimersla.org

Alzheimer’s Association: https://www.alz.org/

Hilarity for Charity: https://hilarityforcharity.org/

The cult of mediocrity

The cult of mediocrity

“It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares any more; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity.”
― From “Revolutionary Road” by Richard Yates

In this era of trolling, we opt to wage our agenda of malcontent from the comfort of home. We choose to disconnect ourselves from what could be bold or brave or courageous. We are Generation Meh, the era where it’s never good enough. We’ve engaged the codes to launch the comment box apocalypse, a spiritual ground zero that destroys all in its path.

How did we get here?

When did we accept mediocrity and started using anger to cover our fear of progress and change?

When did we just put our heads in the sand?

When did we accept the status quo because it was “easy?”

I see the rebellion in the form of people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Beto O’Rourke, and Kamala Harris. What do we do? Tear them down.

What is “enough?”

What will turn this societal Titanic around?

What will make us all smile again?

It only takes one kind word.

It only takes us being able to say “I see you with respect.”

It only takes a moment, and you will see the difference.

A moment can change more than your patch of blue.

It’s just like falling in love.

That’s how we can change the world.

Cross fingers.