Bad and Bookish

Last Monday wasn’t really Monday. I mean it was Monday but also it wasn‘t Monday because I HAD NO ALARM SET. My eyes opened when they bloody well felt like it, I had a cup of tea in bed as I curled up with a book for an hour and I swear I heard birds outside chirping “Yeeeah, girl. Live your best life.” Later that morning, I fulfilled a dream I didn’t know I even had by becoming one of those women who takes a Pilates class after 8AM on a weekday. I used to yell at these women in my head (and sometimes out loud in the safety of my car), “DON’T YOU PEOPLE HAVE JOBS!?!” I’m sorry, ladies, I get it now.  

I left my corporate property management job behind officially on Friday, June 30th and am finally focusing on writing and applying for grad school. Because I gots bills and need food to survive, I’m also working at two part-time gigs, one an adorable gift and housewares shop and the other a fantastic indie bookstore. Both stores are in South Park, my favorite charming little neighborhood in San Diego, and are around the corner from one another. On any given day, I can be seen skipping down the tree-lined street whistling to myself, entirely too jazzed to be going to work.

I’m off on Mondays and Tuesdays and work one or both jobs the rest of the week. My earliest start when working is 10 AM and some days it’s as late as 2PM; this means that working or not, I have enough time in the morning to get some writing done, enjoy that cup of tea or two and then dance around my room (literally, and full out) as I tidy up and then fit in a workout – usually Pilates or barre because I love supportive torture. I come home to get ready for the rest of my day, listening to an audio book or podcast as I splash on some makeup. I throw a little mousse in my hair for some structure and diffuse it lightly. I haven’t blown out my hair straight in two weeks – it’s wild and wavy and I’m kind of into it.

My first couple of weeks have been a blast. I’ve had the pleasure of opening and closing the bookstore (and pretending it’s my own) while thinking of creative ways to display new releases and crafting bookish puns to write on the sidewalk sign (like “Go On. Treat Yo’ Shelf.” *slaps leg and laughs at own pun*). I’ve learned about the book industry, ordering, taking inventory and gained insights into some great bookish news both locally and in the industry. I’ve sold gorgeous housewares, children’s gifts and stunning pieces of jewelry and more to people with a genuine appreciation for the art and effort that goes into curating products with purpose and displaying them with an eye for design. I’ve also been given free reign over organization projects as well as social media management and creating email blasts. Books, aesthetics, and the space to flex my planning/writing/organizing muscles: I am in my element.

The part I’m enjoying the most is how much I get to talk to people, an activity I think I’d forgotten I enjoy for a minute there. At my last job, I managed a resort-style, 500+ unit apartment community across from a private university, and while we rented to anyone who qualified, we did get a lot of interest from students whose parents could afford that resort-style price tag. Listen. A lot of the people I dealt with were great: college kids, military folks, families, young professionals, etc whom I was genuinely sad to leave behind. But MY GAWD, the handful of folks whose heady combination of money + privilege led them to think they could talk to my team and I like we were lesser human beings… they were the reason I often threw myself face-first on my bed at the end of the day and muttered, “I fucking HATE people.”

Really though, I love people and I remember that now. The cute kids who want to touch everything and squeal in delight when you give them something squishy or bouncy to play with, the husbands and boyfriends in search of a gift for their significant other, the parents who come in looking for books that will empower their kids and foster their love of reading… I love them all. I love when customers shake my hand or even hug me when I help them find the perfect little something, the fact that so many are regulars and remember my name. I love the sense of community, how wholly and incredibly different it feels to work for a small business as opposed to a huge corporation. This is all so new to me. It’s delicious.

I am never, ever bored. If I’m not rearranging or crafting some marketing material, my customers are my live theater. There was a woman who bought an oil-based fragrance from me just last week who raved about the perfection of its scent and emphatically recounted her long search for a fragrance that captured her essence. Somehow we veered off onto a tangent wherein she disclosed that she wears a necklace that’s actually a vibrator around her neck when she goes on dates. “If it doesn’t go well, I’m fine, you know?” she beamed.  “I don’t need him. I’m good! I’m good.” I laughed with her and hoped quietly that she waits until she gets home to explore the many utilities of her choice in jewelry.

Then there was the gorgeous, blonde, tattooed mom who came into the bookstore looking for “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” because she doesn’t want her daughter growing up with a Disney damsel-in-distress complex. She told her beautiful toddler that she could play with this cute stuffed fox we carry in the store but warned her to be careful with it since they would not be buying it. I locked eyes with that precious little munchkin and saw a very clear, "Oh yeah? in her expression as she proceeded to chomp down on its snout and rip off the nose. “Oops!” her her batting lashed seemed to say. “Guess we have to buy it now!” That little girl is going places, I tell ya. People are the best.

So. I get to write. I get to talk to people about books and beautifully curated gifts. Feeling useful and (slowly) knowledgeable while feeding the parts of my soul that were being starved in the name of traditional paradigms of “success” gives me a sensation that it’s taken me a minute to properly identify. It’s calm, it’s relief, it’s happiness. I'm bad and bookish, yo. Let's make that a thing. 

I leave you with a few little somethings that I’d like to start including with my blog posts. A little inspo, a little bookishness, a little peek into my current obsessions. Have a beautiful, productive, life-affirming day. Let’s stay in touch, ok?


Think Me: Take a risk. Let go of some of those I probably can’ts for a few but what if I dids and see what’s on the other side of worry.

Read Me: We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby. Sweet baby Jesus, this is the most quintessential example of honest, confessional and witty writing I’ve seen in some time. Irby is acerbic with her wit and embraces TMI to the fullest, most OMG-I’m-cringing-but-I-can’t-look-away extent. It’s a collection of essays that takes you through Irby’s challenging childhood through to her struggles to get her shit together as an adult. She holds nothing back and lets you know how much of a mess she is and has been in figuring out how to adult, how to live in her skin as a fat black woman, how to make room in her life for another person and how to deal with complicated loss. The best part undoubtedly is that between about a thousand oh no you didn’ts, you find these poignant emotional revelations that anyone with a less-than-linear love, career and life path will relate to HARD.

Drink Me: Genmaicha Tea. I love green tea and am discovering just how many blends of the stuff are out there. We all know I love me some matcha, but Genmaicha is another solid favorite. It has that traditional green tea flavor with an added layer of toasted rice. It gives the tea a different depth and tastes fantastic both hot and iced. I get mine from The Loose Leaf at my favorite farmers markets in San Diego.

Hear Me: Mi Gente by J. Balvin. That beat tho!!!! I used to deny liking reggaeton as a genre because frankly, some of the stuff makes me want to jam a pen in my eardrum, which is the same way I feel about EDM. There’s a new generation of reggaeton artists and some seasoned veterans doing some pretty amazing stuff right now though, bringing beats that blend the reggaeton sound with salsa, bachatha, cumbia and allll the things that make me want to dance. This jam makes me want to be a young hoodrat in a club shaking it for all it’s worth. So instead, I do it in my room with only my books and Benedict Bookington III to judge me.

 

My dancing offends Benny's British sensibilities.

My dancing offends Benny's British sensibilities.

Oh you thought I was kidding?

Oh you thought I was kidding?

Same Love

Last weekend I went to a wedding in Malibu for which much preparation was required, i.e. a solid round of stretching and the ingestion of copious electrolytes and carbohydrates. Any wedding with an open bar has the potential for debauchery, but when the wedding involves a group of friends I now like to call Spain Gang & Associates (SGA), you really have no choice but to up the anti-hangover ante.

Bride Nicole and groom Manny are a lovely couple who were brought together when another lovely couple, Victor and Leandra Negrete, asked each of them to be part of their own wedding party. Nicole had known Leandra since middle school, Manny had known Victor since studying abroad with him during undergrad in Spain. The Negretes apparently knew exactly what they were doing when they paired up these two crazy kids because they hit it off damn near right away. They may or may not have been spotted making out the night of the very wedding.

 A couple of blissful years of dating later, Manny and Nicole announced that they’d be moving to Virginia as part of Manny’s military commitment as a Naval Psychologist. Mere days before packing up their belongings to make the cross-country trek from SoCal, a group of us were invited to a beachside rendezvous under the guise of celebrating Manny’s 30th birthday. We drank Malibu and rum from reusable Starbucks cups and jumped around in an illegal bounce-house, then Manny proposed to Nicole with a ring pop while he and a group of his closest friends reenacted the “Nightman Cometh” musical from “Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” That sentence pretty much tells you everything you need to know, but allow me to take you back a bit further.

My first time hanging out with Manny was back before he or I had ever met Nicole. I was living in San Diego and had come up to LA to visit Leandra and Victor for the weekend. Manny was in town from Northern California so we went out to dinner in Hollywood, and thus began an evening that culminated in Manny’s shirtless Flamenco dance-off with a stranger at a local bar. Afterwards we all went to McDonalds and Manny climbed onto the roof of said establishment; meanwhile Victor asked the drive-thru dude for a McNugget for Caramia, Leandra’s pet Chihuahua who we’d picked up for the short ride to Mickie D’s. Back at Leandra and Victor’s place, Manny and Victor purchased the domain name www.whatwouldcharliesheendo.me . They made shirts with this WWCSD slogan and later wore them proudly for Victor’s bachelor party kick off: Tough Mudder. (It should be noted that this all went down years ago during Charlie Sheen’s “winning!” days, for as I sit here and edit, some unfortunate news of Mr. Sheen’s health has just been revealed).

Not long thereafter, Manny moved down to San Diego to commence a rotation at MCAS Miramar. Little by little, other members of SGA became San Diego residents as well and I was pleasantly surprised to have a new set of friends in my hometown. Soon Nicole was a part of the bunch and the good times kept rolling: examples of pre-gaming activities includes zombie shoot-outs, Call Me Maybe dance parties, or a fun little game wherein participants take a drink each time Sting says the name “Roxane” during the song of the same name.

Two years ago, SGA made its way to Palm Springs for a post-holiday Gatsby-themed celebration at the home of Nicole’s grandmother. We played Jenga and Twister and got iced in between, then came a round of Cards Against Humanity fueled by shots of Fireball. I was somehow delegated to yell “I VOLUNTEER! I VOLUNTEER! I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!” each time someone volunteered to take a penalty drink in someone else’s stead. Our friend Jefe had to take a drop of bubble-bath to the eye, proving that the whole “tear-free” bit on the label is a giant pile of lies. Later we ordered pizza and jumped in the hot tub in our costumes. At some point, Manny put on a Spiderman suit and gave his favorite William Wallace freedom speech to an audience of tipsy faces that had been painted Braveheart blue.

Then there was the time when my friend Celina quit her job and sold her house to travel the world for a year; her going away party entailed an entire weekend of 90s themed shenanigans. SGA strolled the campus and surrounding streets of she and Manny’s Alma Mater UC Davis, clad at all times in items like homemade light-up sneakers, pagers with troll doll accents, acid-wash jeans and all the flannel you could ever hope for.  We took over a local dive-bar, hijacking the juke box to play strictly 90s hits – that is, with a small interlude for the Harlem Shake and Elvis Crespo’s Suavemente. At one point during the weekend, Manny and Nicole sat us all down for a special surprise – a reenactment of sorts of the Baywatch theme song, red swim trunks and high-cut one-piece included.

How then could this wedding of dynamically fun-loving people be anything short of amazing? Set to the backdrop of a picturesque Malibu beach around sunset, the bridal party walked down the aisle to a medley of songs that included Mariah Carey’s Fantasy and Billy Idol’s White Wedding. Our place cards were each hung delicately off bottles of everyone’s favorite sweet and syrupy beverage: you guessed it, Smirnoff Ice. Groomsmen Robbie was the wedding’s surprise Sexy Sax Man, whose rendition of Careless Whisper had half the room roaring on its feet and the other half going, “Who the hell invited this guy?!”

The DJ had us screaming the lyrics to Don’t Stop Believing like it was last call, except it was only 7:46 PM and the night had quite literally just begun. I busted out Britney and Beyoncé choreography like I had any business doing so and a group of the fellas proved that Ace of Base is the best music to grind (with each other) to. Friends Romo and Tyler tried to recreate the famous leap from Dirty Dancing only to be one-upped by the groom who fully committed to that leap and ended up with a facial bruise as proof. There were photo booths and props, non-stop dancing, and parking lot parties at McDonald's afterwards. My friend Julie and I ate half a package of Double Stuft Oreos at 1:00 AM that we may not have paid actually for… and all of this was documented via an epic 500+ second Snapchat story.

Before the bacchanalia and dance-floor frivolity though, Victor and Leandra gave a lovely wedding toast in which they took turns speaking humbly of their role in Manny and Nicole's union. Victor shared hilarious anecdotes of their first arranged meeting (thanks for taking a bathroom break Vito, we owe this wedding to you). Then Leandra summarized their compatibility with one perfectly eloquent thought: Manny and Nicole are so, so different in so, so many ways, but the way they love and approach the things they love is the same. Swoon.

Nicole probably wasn’t looking for a man who on the eve of his wedding would gift warrior spears to his groomsmen after cutting a Star Wars groom’s cake with a Samurai sword to the tune of The Final Countdown. She got one though and he’s perfect for her, for he loves passionately, outrageously, and genuinely – just like she does. I raise a glass, a Smirnoff Ice even, to that same love, the kind of love that makes these two wonderful and distinct personalities such fierce friends, gracious hosts, empathetic listeners and lovers of life. Congratulations to you, Manny and Nicole. May we each find someone who loves like you do, like we do, and never let them go.  

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Crying In My Car

It finally happened. In May of this year, after 34 combined years of service as a U.S. Marine and in the U.S Postal Service employee, my father retired! It almost snuck up on us, to be honest. He’d worked so hard for so long to get to this point, which always seemed an eternity away. But he made it. We made it. Free at last, free at last…

My mother, brother and I planned a surprise retirement party in secret that took place just a couple of weeks later. We invited tons of friends and family and hired a taquero like the good Mexicans that we are. For entertainment, we brought in an act that my dad had seen and loved at a family party long ago: a comedian and musical impersonator who takes on the likes of Vicente Fernandez, Juan Gabriel, Antonio Aguilar, Paquita la del Barrio and more. All you paisas out there are with me so far and would have gotten a kick out of it; the rest of you are probably lost as f*ck, and there really isn’t much I can say here to clear things up for you. Sorry, dude.

Dear ol’ dad was absolutely blindsided, totally believing the lie we told him about taking my mom out to dinner the night before Mother’s Day to avoid the crowds. The party was a success; the food was delicious, the company great and the entertainment was a huge hit. The entertainer apparently woke up with a terrible cold the morning of the party which could have been a disaster; however several shots of hard liquor supplied by my brother seemed to help the guy hit the high notes, which in all honesty probably made the Chente experience that much more authentic.

Señor Diaz dove into retired life, scheduling visits with friends and family, heading to a Dodger game in LA with my brother, even jet-setting off to Guadalajara with my aunt for a quick trip to see some extended family. It all seemed like sunshine and roses with one minor thorn in his side: he’d recently been diagnosed with osteoporosis. To make a long story short, my obstinate father convinced himself that certain digestive issues he’d suffered for years (you read that right: years) were a perfectly normal occurrence in the life of a perfectly healthy person. They weren’t, of course, and we unfortunately learned that in suffering through this condition for so long, my father had essentially gone years without properly absorbing much nutritional content from his food. It was time to seek treatment and make some major changes to his lifestyle; though begrudgingly, he made the adjustments.

Then a few weeks ago at 5:57AM as I was loading my gym bag into my car, I received a text message from my father that read, “Call me asap.” I dropped the gym bag on the floor and onto my foot as I dialed, toe now throbbing and stomach uneasy as the dial tone rang in my ear. I know my dad, and he wouldn’t ask me to call him early in the morning like this if it wasn’t urgent. I quickly learned that he’d been in the emergency room for hours waiting to be seen. He’d been suffering from pain in his abdomen for a couple of days and had reached the point where he couldn’t stand it anymore. 

I was relieved, to be honest. The more I probed into his symptoms, the more convinced I became that my father had appendicitis. Painful though it might be, it didn’t appear to be life-threatening. The doctor saw him, checked him out, sent him off for a CT scan, confirmed appendicitis, and scheduled a same-day surgery. His appendix was swollen but had not burst, so that was good news.

I sat with my mother in the waiting room and waited a couple of hours for my dad to get out of surgery. At one end of the room was a TV monitor displaying a list of patient ID numbers each color coded for status; one color meant the patient was in pre-op, another that he/she was in surgery; a different color meant the patient was in the post-op recovery area, another that he/she was being moved to a bed within the hospital. There were throngs of us packed into the same waiting area, each staring up at the screen with impatient eyes like DMV patrons waiting for our number to show up. My eyes were glued to the monitor when my mother touched my arm- my father’s surgeon had entered the room and wanted to speak with us.

Dr. Poon pulled us into the hallway and said the surgery had gone well. The appendix had been removed without much difficulty but the mass was in a difficult extraction spot, so he ended up having to excise both the mass and a chunk of the colon entirely. He kept on talking, explaining that since he’d cut open the abdomen instead of the originally planned and less invasive laparoscopy, the recovery would be more complicated. We’d know in a week what the pathology of the mass was; the results might further explain some of my dad’s recent digestive issues.

Wait - mass? What mass? I outwardly maintained my composure as I politely asked what mass he was talking about; in my head, the questioning went more like, “What the f*ck do you mean, ‘the mass?’ What mass? This mass and I have not been properly introduced. We aren’t bloody familiar, Dr. Poon!” My mom wasn’t as surprised; she knew there was a blockage in his colon. She knew because my dad had told her, but only very recently; he’d kept it to himself for some time. I made a mental note to slap the taste out of his mouth once he recovered.

I was upset, but I still felt optimistic in spite of my flash of anger. The surgeon had after all parted by letting us know that the type of blockage he found ends up being benign more often than not. It was more the shock of finding out the way I did, from a stranger in a white coat with my father recovering from surgery nearby. I have told my father once, twice, if not seventeen hundred times that he needs to be honest with us about his health. He does this every time though: he says he doesn’t want to worry my mother, brother and I, but ends up giving us a cardiac episode when we find out whatever he's been hiding inopportunely.

He was in post-op and still very groggy when a nurse came by to tell my mom and I that we could see him one at a time for ten minutes each. Mom went in first but Dad was still pretty out of it: he kept asking for his wife when she was there holding his hand all the while. In the meantime, I ran to my car to charge my dying phone.

I took the opportunity to contact two of my best friends to cancel my plans to visit them in LA the next day. One of them was going to ask me to reschedule anyway since his girlfriend had tickets to see the Anaheim Ducks playoff game. He apologized and said he felt especially bad since he’d be leaving to Europe for almost three weeks shortly thereafter, a fact he swore he’d mentioned previously and I was adamant he had not. I knew I had to stay with my dad, I mean: duh. Not even up for discussion. In my emotional state though, given that he was only home for the summer from law school and for so many other stupid reasons, all of this news made me spiral into an emo fit. I sobbed right there in my car and he listened patiently. I missed him and felt stupid for crying about that when my dad was in the hospital, then cried because my dad was in the hospital. This was hard. 

After getting some good tears out of the way, I pulled it together and made my way back inside. It was my turn to see my dad, and I felt my hands start to shake as I approached. Lying there tucked under a blanket, hooked to an IV and breathing tube, machines beeping and booping every few seconds in that sterile room with curtains separating beds from one another, my six-foot-tall father looked so pale, so small.

I came close to the bed in silence as he appeared to be asleep, then felt a hand digging its way out of the covers before closing its grip on my own. He squeezed hard as he writhed in pain and it felt like a stab in my chest. The nurse watching over him told me she’d asked for his pain level on a scale from one to ten and that he’d given her an eight. She said that kind of pain level more than warranted at least a mild painkiller, to which he replied, “Then never mind, my pain is a four.” He hates taking medication, even when he’s been sliced open.

I lightened up a little when he whispered in his Godfather voice that I needed to help him break out of this place; I smiled through glassy eyes and told him he’d need to take it easy for a few days, then outright laughed when he replied, “That’s ok. I’ll get your brother to get me out of here. He’ll help me.” And later on, he really did try to conspire with my brother to stage a jailbreak. If you know my dad, this isn’t much of a surprise.

Then I was reminded what it’s like to feel like all of the air has been sucked out of the room and ice water poured down your spine. He opened his eyes for a few brief moments and looked straight into mine and said, “I just wish I’d gotten to walk you down the aisle. I’m sad I won’t meet your babies, my grandchildren. Take care of your mom. You and your brother, please take care of her.”

Panic. Panic, panic everywhere. My brother walked in at that precise moment when I felt like my eyeballs had been doused in hydrochloric acid, and I’m convinced that his arrival was Jesus doing me a solid: “Oh boy, she’s about to lose it. Quick! Send in the brother NOW!” I walked down the long hallway back to the waiting room choking back sobs that threatened to strangle me. My mom and brother’s girlfriend made conversation, and I engaged but only vaguely remember doing so.

Before long, my father was admitted to a regular bed up on the fifth floor. A slew of family members came in spite of my dad’s request to keep visitors at bay. Hours passed and he became more lucid. My mom would spend the night with him, so my brother, his girlfriend and I say our goodbyes and left to grab a late-night bite to eat.

What no one knew was that I’d stolen away to my car again earlier in all the commotion, shortly after my dad lamented, fearing the worst of his condition, that he’d never get to see his firstborn child and only daughter as a bride. I sat there in my Altima coupe with the windows rolled up and cried my F*CKING face off. My chest heaved, my mascara ran, my breath became elusive. He’d hit me where it hurt. There I was, Miss Love-Will-Find-Me-When-Its-Meant-To, the girl who believes that love can’t be rushed and is best when it happens organically, suddenly reevaluating all of my life’s choices. It was silly, really. He was just groggy and would probably be JUST FINE. But what if he wasn’t? What if for once my insistence on positivity in the face of his worrying was misplaced? What if he really was sick and all the time I thought I had was suddenly stolen from me?

I spun out a little. I started to overanalyze every detail of my past relationships and asked myself if I would and should have been married by now if I’d done things differently. I thought maybe I should give an ex who keeps on contacting me a second chance, even though my heart isn’t really in it and never really was. Then I cursed that wretched, gushing heart for its insistence on loving a man who would not love me even when I told (and tell) it to quit that sh*t. I chastised myself for being so picky- maybe it wasn’t so bad if a guy used “your” when he meant “you’re,” and perhaps I should stop judging guys online so hard for their gym selfies. I resolved to give online dating a try for the umpteenth time; not a minute later, I saw that a self-proclaimed pansexual couple on a dating app had messaged me to compliment my exotic eyes and propose that we arrange a mutually pleasurable encounter. God has a sense of humor.

I fixed my face before heading back up to my dad’s room, no trace of a tear left as I joked with family about my dear dad’s stubbornness. With each day that passed, though my father was in pain and clearly stressing over the pending pathology of that stupid mass, things got a little easier. In typical fashion, he repeatedly questioned various health professionals on the possibility that his surgeon had removed the wrong organ; he kept sneaking down the hallway by himself even though he was on strict orders not to get up without assistance. He even got up and shaved when he wasn't supposed to, having to kneel down and take deep breaths between shave strokes to steady his dizziness. He could have fallen and knocked himself unconscious, but he'd sooner do that than go another day without a clean shaven face. His refusal to listen was maddening in the moment but of course made me laugh in spite of myself. I remember thinking that these were the types of behaviors that have always made my dad such a character, and how much I'd miss him if he weren't around to be a pain my ass.

You’ve all heard it before, you probably hear it every day. If someone isn’t telling you that life is short and unpredictable, then a Facebook post or some Instagram inspiration remind you to live life to the fullest and to carpe the sh*t out of each diem.  You’ve probably become desensitized to it by now, and I don’t really blame you. I’m still going to tell you though that it’s all true; life is precious, and I beg you not to wait to fully grasp that until your dad is saying his goodbyes, premature or not.

A few days later, I got another text from dad, this time with a much happier message. I stole away from the office I’m working at for the summer and practically ran to the parking garage, once again breaking down in my vehicle as soon as I’d shut the door. I cried harder this time, a cry that started way down in my stomach and exploded on my face in maniacal, tear-soaked laughter. By the grace of God, my daddy is going to be ok. His one-liners will continue to serve as writing material. He’ll proudly ask me to sign a copy of my first published book someday. He’ll continue to spend way too much money at the USC bookstore each time we head up to catch a game. He’ll walk me down the aisle someday, whenever that is, sporting a mixed expression of pride, joy and utter terror; he may or may not cry, but God knows I will sob. He’ll spoil my children rotten and feed them gummy worms and Cheetos even when I ask him not to, and he’ll love them in a way that he’s been waiting to do his whole life.

I recently told my dad that he is one of my greatest inspirations for writing, so now every time he does or says something ridiculous, he follows up with "Are you going to write about that? If so, please remember what my own dad used to say: 'No digas que soy terco, soy fino!' Hehe!" ("Don't say that I'm stubborn, I'm refined!")

So this one is for my padre fino, may he give me creative fodder for years to come.

When my brother had surgery last year, my dad brought a stuffed Ninja Turtle to the hospital as a good luck charm because my brother loved the TMNT as a kid. When it was my dad's turn to go under the knife, my brother got him this little guy. Excuse me while I go sob.

When my brother had surgery last year, my dad brought a stuffed Ninja Turtle to the hospital as a good luck charm because my brother loved the TMNT as a kid. When it was my dad's turn to go under the knife, my brother got him this little guy. Excuse me while I go sob.

Bookishly yours,

Vanessa