The Hanger

Here is my attempt at the weekly DP Challenge. I wrote it in the view of a clothing hanger I found on the street.

The Hanger

The Hanger on the street

The Hanger on the street

He left me here on the street, on the corner of J and 15th streets.  He didn’t look back. He just kept running in a hurry. We were holding on to his middle and index fingers but I was empty. I was in between his striped black suit jacket and matching pants. At home, he was debating which suits to take on his trip. He was talking aloud to himself trying to decide which suit he would look best at this conference. His fingers ran lightly through all of us hangers. I felt the softness of his fingertips land on the suit and pants. I have his fingertips memorized with his index finger having a small bump. I was in between. I had been empty for some time now. Days are unknown for us as we mostly stay inside a small dark room.

Today I see nothing but sun and clouds rolling by. When the sun is clear it shines and makes me hot, but when the clouds hide the sun, the cold from the pavement quickly cools me down. I’ve been here for some time now after I slid off his fingers. As I landed on the cement, my side bent. I wish I could say that it hurt but I’m made out of metal.  Now I’m sitting here motionless with my name tag – 120 RND.  I guess I should have introduced myself. I am 120 RND and my owner left me here on the street.

I don’t know where I’ll end up next. People walk by. Some have big shoes, small shoes, shoes with heels, tiny shoes. None of them seem to look down but walk on by in a hurry. Some of them are smiling as they walk and others have this rhythmic flow as they walk almost dancing. I keep looking up to see if my owner comes back. I am sure I would recognize his fingertips if he touched me. Now I am here with no clothes on me. My job is to keep my owner’s clothes wrinkle free and organized.  It feels strange to just lay here naked on the pavement.

I can say that I have seen more things laying here since I was made to keep clothes hanging from a pole. Where I lived it was mostly dark except for the occasional switch of the light. Some would say it is rather boring to just hang there but most of the times I am dressed in suit or a nice smooth silk shirt. It feels warm and it feels like home.  I even get a tie put around my neck as well just like my owner. I feel rather uncomfortable laying here but this freedom of seeing trees and birds flying, roaming around wherever they please, is satisfying. But I miss my home and the fingers of my owner.

Now I have this person taking a picture of me. Maybe I’ll end up in a milk carton box so my owner can find me. Maybe he’ll look for my owner. I will wait here….I feel fingers picking me up but these are not my owners. These fingers are rougher but they belong to a woman. She examines me, bends me a little. Her face is dirty and her clothes smell. She throws me on her cart like the one my owner threw me on when he bought me. She puts an old brown jacket that’s torn around me. It’s warm but doesn’t feel like my owners and this doesn’t feel like home.

Wine tasting vineyards in Amador County

Villa Toscano

Provided by Villa Toscano

About a year ago, I discovered a little town called Plymouth in Amador County, California. It’s a small town with a population over 900 about 45 minutes east from Sacramento. It has the sleeper town vibe going on. It doesn’t even have a stop light. I used to live in one of those towns. And as you drive in and you see a Mexican restaurant, a Shell gas station, a grocery store, the fairgrounds, you begin to wonder what the hell you are doing here in the first place. Over the past year, I’ve been to this little town so many times I can’t remember.

Although the town might have its charm, I have not actually set foot in any of the local places. I skip the town and head straight to the Shenandoah Valley, northeast of Plymouth, where 30 plus wineries reside all within minutes from each other. Forget going to Napa! It’s overpriced and crowded. Spending a day at the Shenandoah Valley wineries is a picnic. One day is not enough to get through abundance of wineries. As many times as I’ve visited, I haven’t managed to make it to all of them. Mostly known for the zinfandel wines, the valley grows more than 2,700 acres of grapes and with vines said to be more than 60 years old and some dating back to the 19th century. It is a red winos heaven.

The variety of wines to taste from at Villa Toscano Winery

The variety of wines to taste from at Villa Toscano Winery

Unfortunately, I am not a big on red wines; however, coming to this place has introduced me to some great red wines as it is a mostly red wine producing valley. The first time I showed up at Villa Toscano Winery one of staff members told me I was at the wrong place to taste white wines. He told me I would be disappointed as I would mostly be drinking red wines but by the end of the tasting I would be a red wino. He wasn’t wrong. I don’t know if was because they serve around 10 of their wines and I had a major wine buzz going, but by the end of the tasting, my friend and I left with six bottles of wines plus we became wine members. One of my favorite wines thus far from the valley has been the Barbera, which is incredibly smooth and doesn’t have that bitter aftertaste. But you will also find some great Tempranillo, Syrah and amazing Port wines.

Part of the unique experience of wine tasting in the valley is that the majority of the wineries are locally owned and family operated. As you drive around to the different wineries, you begin to feel very much the family spirit as you get know the people who work there and the patrons showing up to drink. At the Borjon Winery, we were sitting outside enjoying our tasting and the owner sat with us (we had no clue he was the owner). We talked for hours and he even offered us a bottle of wine (we’re just cool like that).

A view from the Young Winery

A view from the Young Winery

When I first started going tasting, most of the wineries offered free tasting, however, that was changed sometime during the year and most wineries now have a $5 charge. If you’ve ever been to Napa, you know have to wait more than 20 minutes to get served plus pay more than $20 for three tastings. At the majority of the wineries here, you’ll get to taste anywhere between five to 10 different wines for a fraction of the price and without that unpretentious feeling. If you manage to make to the top of the valley, you’ll also get an amazing view of some of the winding river canyons and the sierra. So if you’d like to get away for the day and drink some amazing wine then I highly recommend Shenandoah Valley vineyards.

List of Vineyards

Directions to Plymouth, CA

Viagra and the Parents

Sometimes I like those shares my Facebook friends post for “Mexican problems” or “Latino Problems.” They tend to be really funny and mostly true.  This little anecdote I am about to tell tends to fit into that category but really anyone who has parents who don’t speak English in this country can relate to it. See, my parents only speak Spanish and ever since I can recall, my siblings and I have had to translate information for them. We’ve all shared our duty of going to the doctors, the mechanic, or even to the grocery store in case they needed us to translate.

It really was no big deal for us as they are our parents. Yeah, sometimes when you’re a teen you don’t want to be the one telling your dad the doctor just said he might have cancer but that’s just the way it is sometimes. However, there are moments when translating for the parents can be awkward but incredibly funny. In my case, it involved my parents and Viagra. Yeah, Viagra!

It was and is very common for my mom to sometimes ask me to translate letters for her. So one day (I won’t say when), my mom gave me a letter in English from their health insurance provider. She said it was for my dad and for me to read it. I had read these letters before, and they were pretty standard letters explaining benefit changes – always the same thing, very boring information. So I took the letter and put it aside and began to watch TV. It lay on the sofa for a while. I ignored it purposely. Finally, my mom asked what the letter said and I said I’d read it soon. She scolded me so I read it.

My mom continued her normal routine – cooking and cleaning. I opened the letter. Pretty standard information: Name and address, ID number, etc.  The letter opened with the usual sentence. “This letter is to inform you that Medical will no longer be covering the following medication: Viagra ….” Wait, what?! Be kind, rewind? Will no longer be covering Viagra? For my dad?! My eyes widened, I turned red, and started to laugh. Then my laughter immediately turned into anguish. How was I going to tell my mom that my dad would no longer be covered for Viagra? This information I did not need to know and I am sure they didn’t want me or anyone else to know.

(I have to take a minute to explain something about my dad. He has diabetes and takes medication for it as well as other medication and some of this medication, well, it affects the libido. Hence, the reason for his needed to take Viagra. End of explanation.)

Another thing, my parents are the strict Mexican Catholics, who attend church every Sunday, and never talk about sex. I mean never! We never had the birds and the bees conversation. If sex is on TV, we change the channel without hesitation (Latino Problems). I heard my mother ask me from the kitchen what the letter said. I panicked. I mumbled from the room and said a lot of ‘Ums’ and ‘Uhs.’ I took the letter with me and told her that the medication stated in the letter would no longer be covered. I didn’t mention which one but she kept insisting and insisting to tell her which one. Even in my adult age, I couldn’t say it. So I did the next best thing and pointed. She was annoyed and snatched the letter away from me. She looked at it and then at me. After realizing what it said, her face went from anger to embarrassment. We looked at each other and she quietly walked away with the letter and went to the room where my dad was at.

I could hear them whispering in their room. My mom came out and continued her normal routine – cooking and cleaning. I pretended like I knew nothing. It took my mom a while to ask me to translate a letter again. I’m guessing she screens them to see if Viagra is ever in any letter before she asks me or any of my siblings to translate. No one really wants to know their parent’s sexual needs or desires but it can be rather entertaining and comical in the least.

Keep Calm, Google It

There is nothing more annoying to me right now than when someone tells me to ‘Google it.’ Let me explain why this little phrase gets on my nerves. I am not a lazy person and I use Google all the time to search for information. I like Google! I think it’s great and convenient to find everything you want on the Internet through this search engine. ‘Google it’ is even a pop culture phrase seen in movies and TV shows.

However, what really gets on under my skin is when someone is telling me about something, and I have no clue what they are talking about, and their response is to ‘Google it’. This common type of conversation usually happens through text or some sort of chat form. Let’s say a conversation went something like this:

ME: Oh, so what did you get for Xmas?

THEM: blah, blah, blah, an UP Band, blah, blah.

ME: What’s an UP Band?

THEM: Google it

ME: (a perplexed and annoyed look on the other side of the phone)

Google it? Why should I have to Google it? I may not know what ‘it’ is but if you are the one telling me about something and I ask you, then you should know, right? The best response from them should have been an easy explanation of what I asked since they obviously know. Is it just an easy way of getting out of explaining something because you assume everyone has a smart phone (which I do, but that is beside the point here) and can Google it? Why can’t you just explain what ‘it’ is since you obviously know? Why make it more complicated for the other person? Is it just plain laziness on the person’s part to not give the answer straight away or am I the lazy one for not wanting to ‘Google it’?

I wish I could say this ‘Google it’ response was coming from one individual but I’m getting it and hearing it from many people. It’s valid to ask someone to Google directions because you may not know how to get to a place or Google something when neither party knows anything about it.  However, if you know what ‘it’ is, don’t tell someone to Google it. Just explain it!

There is definitely something else I would like to respond when they tell me to Google it. But I am too nice to really say it.  Am I the only one that gets annoyed by this ‘Google it’ phrase?

New year, new resolutions

402416_10150658978137306_1802578978_nTwo years ago I started a ‘tradition’ for myself to give up something every year starting January 1st. I put TRADITION in quotation marks because it’s a loose tradition. This is only the second year so I’ll call it a tradition 5 to 10 years from now if I am still doing it. I want to continue to give up something that I really like which mostly likely involves something to do with eating. Two years ago I started by giving up chocolate and cookies. Since 2012, I have not had an ounce of chocolate and let me just say it has not been easy staying away: from my family and friends torturing me with chocolate cake and waving Snicker bars in front of my face at every chance they can; every time I walked down the grocery store’s candy isle just to look at it; Halloween terrorizing me with mini-size chocolate bars; or just any day I stepped outside into the world.

Giving up chocolate was like a junkie giving up drugs cold turkey. I ate it almost every day because, let’s just say it, chocolate is probably like being in heaven. I haven’t been to heaven yet but I imagine it having fountains of chocolate with strawberries gardens, the benches made of Kit-Kat bars, and when it rains, little chocolate chips fall. For a few weeks I was having withdrawal symptoms. I was grumpy, moody, and wanted chocolate so badly that I would go to the corner of the office and rock back and forth, sweating profusely (Okay, so this last part didn’t happen but it sure felt that way). I had dreams and still do of eating chocolate and they feel so real. And when I wake up, I can taste it – the smooth, creamy chocolate melting in my mouth… Worse, I wake up feeling guilty because I really think I have been eating chocolate, and I felt bad I had given up so quickly. But I have been clean for 730 days now. And yes, I miss chocolate every day! It was like my best friend. It made me so happy, made me forget all my problems. And dear I say, it is better than sex. Okay, maybe not but it is darn close to it.

A Nice cold Lagunitas IPA

A Nice cold Lagunitas IPA

Last year I gave up potato chips. It wasn’t as hard as giving up chocolate and it was mostly done to try to lose some weight. This year I am stepping up the challenge by giving up cheese and beer. I have to admit that I love these two things. I love how on a hot, California summer day, a drink of a nice cold IPA beer is the perfect way to relax and cool off against the 98 degree heat. I am a social drinker so it’s not like I’m giving up beer because I have drinking problem.  I like to go out and be social and have a beer as I socialize so I know this will be a challenge. I don’t like drinking hard liquor, and this isn’t me giving up one thing and picking up on another. I want this to be a real challenge just like chocolate has been. I want to have dreams of beer rivers and lakes and swimming in a beer ocean.

Melted brie and other cheeses

Melted brie and other cheeses

Cheese on the other hand is not a social activity. I like eating it at home whenever I can have it. I make quesadillas with my mom’s homemade flour tortillas with Tapatio hot sauce, melted brie on ciabatta bread, or gorgonzola cheese fries. I am a cheese fiene. I am already regretting giving up these two lovely things as I sit and write this blog. It’s been less than 24 hours and I am salivating just at the thought of eating cheese and can literally smell beer. And I only have 364 more days until I can taste them again! Will I make it? I sure hope so.

An imperfect family sticks together

I got to spend five days with my family over the holidays. I wasn’t planning on staying this long but since my brother, whom I hadn’t seen in over a year, made a last minute trip home, I decided to stay the week for Christmas. I grew up with what I consider a close family. We are not the perfect family. We don’t always show affection to each other but it doesn’t mean that we don’t care for one another. It has taken a lot of growing up for my five siblings, parents and myself to really appreciate the type of family that we have become. A family that is diverse in the way we think but ultimately united by our familial bond.

I sometimes look at other families and I notice how grateful I am for the one I have. I hear friends complaining about how they don’t get along with their siblings or their parents. I don’t always understand it but I am not in their situation. I have always seen my family like those few people who will share this unique life experience that no one else will ever understand and who will always have my back no matter what.

I don’t know if this is an Anglo thing or an American thing, but I notice in American media how families are portrayed as this complex unit who doesn’t always get along especially during the holiday season or funerals or any big family gathering. I notice how it seems like a forceful situation to go home to visit family. I get it that it’s the media and it’s make believe, but it comes from the culture because Americans relate these themes in movies or TV shows. But it’s not just the media. I often hear co-workers (mostly white) complain about their families. For me, it has always felt the opposite of forceful. If I don’t get to see them for periods of times, I feel like I am missing out. I don’t know if this is a Latino thing because family is usually an important aspect of who we are. And I am not saying that all Latino families get a long and it is just one big fiesta and everyone is all happy taking shots of tequila (although this latter part does happen at get togethers quite frequently). But what I have noticed in many Latino cultures is that, no matter what, family is number one especially during times like the holiday season. We go out of our way to be with family.

We want all of our family members to be gathered and just be there reminiscing about when we were younger and how back then we really couldn’t stand each other. Now in times of reunion, we look back at those moments and laugh at the stupid things we did. All those little moments that we couldn’t appreciate while we were growing up, we can now see them as fond memories. Memories that will be passed on to the nephews and nieces and the ever expanding family from those who are being introduced into our family. I appreciate my family and the moments that we have because I know this won’t always be the case. One thing I can say for certain is that I love my imperfect family just the way it is.

Breaking up through email/text: the new normal

Men use to write love letters on pieces of paper and would take days if not weeks to reach their destination. It used to be a grand romantic gesture that women would swoon over, fall madly in love and even books were written about this kind of romance. Now with the invention of the Internet, this romantic gesture seems to be long gone. Yes, people send emails confessing their love but more importantly, and might I add cowardly, men are suing emails and text to breakup with their lovers. Songs have been written about it (mostly by Taylor Swift) but it shows this growing trend of making the breakup less personal and a lot more digital. There is no face to face, no seeing the other person cry, no begging your lover why he is doing this. This digital breakup is a quick cut, leaving the other person high and dry and baffled and stunned. Breaking up is never easy, regardless of the relationship, but to do it over an email/text shows how men are cowards. A poll done by Cosmo (I know not the best source for information) showed that that 27 percent of women claimed they were dumped via a digital way. Although women, you are not free from committing this relationship crime either. A PEW research poll showed that 18 percent of woman are doing it as well.

I noticed this trend when it happened to a close friend of mine, a cousin and me. I just thought my breakup was a unique one since I was living in a different country than my partner, and I was baffled when I received a Facebook message in all capitols that said we were never NOTHING, but that is for a different story to tell. But my friend and cousin’s situation were a lot different. The men were living in the same city; however, these classy guys decided the best way to end their perspective relationship was through the digital world. In an episode of “Sex and The City”, Carrie gets dumped through a post-it note and when she reads it, the guy is long gone.  When she runs into the ex-lover’s friends, she makes a fool of herself by going off on the guy’s friends over this post-it breakup. Carrie’s burst of anger is what many feel when these email/text breakups occur.  It creates a heightened sense of animosity.

So why do men feel like this is the most appropriate way of ending their relationship? Do they feel that avoiding face to face encounter will bring the worst in women or their lover? Is it much easier and faster to avoid all that pain and anguish that breaking up causes by doing it over email/text? I get it. It’s uncomfortable to breakup with someone whether it be a four month or a three year relationship, however, doing it over an email only shows that you have no balls. Men are constantly scratching them and making sure they are there so why not use them to get some courage and be respectful of that person and let them know that hey, things aren’t working out. Use the line, “It’s not you, it’s me,” but at least give them the respect they so rightly deserve regardless of how crazy you think that person is and let them know in person that it’s over.

This email/text breakup is never okay. Yes, emails/text are a fast way to communicate your thoughts and feelings to someone, but ultimately we are still human and part of being human is interacting humanly. The temptation might be there to breakup digitally because it’s so easy but suck it up! Men, please grow some balls, and the next time you decide to breakup with your girl, don’t send them a text. It not only makes you look childish but you will be forever known as that guy who broke up over an email/text, whichever the preference may be.