Monday, February 23, 2015

Dispatch #34: Ramon Vasquez In Memoriam

Ramon Vasquez
by Lupe Fernandez

February morning, the pallbearers wheel the casket into St. Joachim's Church and leave it before the altar. During the funeral service, I wonder what the Ramon I knew from Burbank Elementary school would think of this service.

What if Ramon and I, at age nine, discovered a time machine, I would be scared to use it and Ramon would encourage me to go with him.

I was a shy kid. Ramon was funny, artistic, well-like and handsome. He took an interest in me at Burbank to bring me out of my silent shell. Sure we did a few things that were unlawful - the trash fire in the bathroom was a good test of the school principal's fire extinguishing skill - but Ramon was a good kid. Okay, Ms. Roberts, my fifth grade teacher, didn't want me associating with Ramon; she thought he was a bad influence on me. But Ramon allowed me to hang out and play with the other guys. George. Joey. Martin. Mark. Tommy and others.

Girls liked Ramon. He flirted with them. I enjoyed it vicariously.

Ramon and I travel from the year 1972 to 2015 and find ourselves inside a church.

"That's you!" I point out Ramon's casket to Ramon.

"I wonder what I look like. Let's good look eh?"

I hide while Ramon sneaks a peek at his body.

He finds me. "I look bad," he says.

Ramon recognizes his weeping family. People he doesn't know, people older than him. Crying.

"Everybody's so old." he says.

"That's you," Ramon points to a bearded man with glasses. "You got a girlfriend." He refers to a red-haired woman holding my hand.

"I do?" I'm amazed. Girls scare me.

"You got fat," he says Ramon looks at my skinny body and then at my adult self. "Too many frijoles."

People in the back row tell us to be quiet and ask about our parents. They stare at our clothes.

"Let's go back," Ramon says. "I don't want to miss Sanford & Son." One of his favorite TV shows. He loves comedian Redd Foxx.

I wasn't Ramon's best friend. Our kids didn't grow up together. The ground we played on, the elementary school we attended is razed. The lot abandoned. A new school built across the street.

Old Burbank Elementary Lot/New Burbank Elementary across street

The mural he created on the wall of La Mexicana Tortilleria on A Street is covered over with new paint. After I graduated from high school, I left town and didn't keep in contact with anyone.

Through Facebook I discover Ramon's obituary.
Ramon C. Vasquez July 28, 1961 ~ Jan. 29, 2015 Resident of Hayward Ramon, son of Adrian and Esther Vasquez, born in the small town of Zinaparo, Michoacan, Mexico and lived in Hayward from the age of 4. Ramon Graduated from Sunset High with the class of 1980 with high honors and innumerable academic awards and recognitions.
I attend the funeral with my wife, Angel. I don't know what ailed him. I don't know if he had kids. I do know my fellow high school Alumni grieve. Everybody liked him. Respected him. Ramon's body is buried in the green fields of Chapel of the Chimes.

He lives forever on the playground of my childhood.

Monday, February 16, 2015

"Hilde, wake up, your blog post is due!"


By yeah, you guessed it, me, sleeping like a baby.  
(No photo available of the current me, sleeping selfies are not a thing yet).

by Hilde Garcia

One of my biggest struggles is coming up with a blog idea consistently that won't bore my readers.  Last night, I stared and stared at the screen, daring it to talk to me, checking my email constantly, wishing someone would send me an email so I could do something other than write, and I just woke up… holding my computer… without a post.

Monday morning.  I missed my deadline.

Hmmm.  There has got to be an easier way.  I need some transformation.

What do you do when you are just not feeling it?  When you just feel like it's futile to even try?

Google it.  (It needs to be a new verb in the dictionary).

So I did.  I typed in "quick ideas for writing a blog post."

And Google came up with 176 million links!


I was more than a bit scared.  Truly, that much on how to write a blog?  Oy vey.  And why didn't I do this sooner?  Am I that disconnected with the technology world that I didn't think to use the resources all around me?  So many ideas?  No idea where to start!

The truth is, I feel much like a fraud.  Why should I give anyone advice on anything about writing?  I am not published.  I have no claim to fame.  I don't even have an agent, someone who thinks I will eventually be a published writer, but here I am, dutifully giving some type of advice or sharing something "interesting" every three weeks with everyone and anyone who stops at our blog.

DO I even have the right?  Shouldn't I be someone of worth or merit?  Someone with credentials?  Or at least consistent writing habits?  My daughter just published an article in her school newspaper.  It's her 4th one.  She's only 10 and she's already worked on her school newspaper, interviewed her cheer coach, and even Mr. Richard Peck!

When I grow up, I want to be her!

But truly, I think the conversation goes deeper than that.  It goes to the core of who I think I am as a writer.  And I tie the act of writing with the success of writing and truly, they are two different facets of the same thing.  But when I write, I worry about how I will come across, what will people say, will anyone think I am worth the read?  And I stop believing that I am a writer.

I should just write.

But I don't.

However, it is never to late to start a new year's resolution, and lucky for me it's only February, so I have a whole lot of year left.  So I have a plan.

Here are the first ten links of the 176 million links Google found on "how to write a quick blog post".  I am going to go to each link and explore… and try each tip.  And I will share with fellow writers how it felt or what I learned in hopes that someone feeling rather "fraudish" can find his/her way too.

A place to start.  A plan.  I'll take it!

Happy Valentine's Day Weekend.

May you love everything you write or at the very least the road you took to get there.

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  • Monday, February 2, 2015

    Dispatch #33: What Is Love?

    by Lupe Fernandez

    What is love? Where does it come from and who's responsible?

    Let's ask our panel of experts:
    - Roselio, two months  
    "Love is naps. Cookies. Playing with Mr. Teddy. Splashing in mud. Pulling out pumpkin brains at Halloween."
    - Roselio, age 6

    "I can't wait for Mrs. Masked Marvel to come on at two. I know how to tell time. I have Mrs. Masked Marvel figure and secret closet with lots of dresses.
    - Nadia, age 7
     "Love? Bleech! Ya gotta me kiddin' me! Girls? Sheesh! They play stupid games and always laughing and doing stupid stuff like playing with dolls." 
    - Jose, age 8
     "Girls? Gulp. Uhhhhhh...(swoon and faint)" 
    - Calaveras Cal, estimated age 10
    "You Know Who's the most beautiful girl in my class. When she looks at me, I hid behind a tree."
    - Angel, age 11 

    "This boy in my class leaves me love notes and candy Valentine hearts. He's always staring at me. What's wrong with him?"
    - Georgina, age 11
    "Love. That's what a boy says to get in your pants. He's all over you with his hands behind the gym and says, 'I love you so bad.' They're only good for getting cigarettes and beer."
    - Marlene, age 14

    "I can't stop thinking about her, man! I mean it ain't fair. It's like I ate a bad bag of Cheesy Crunchies and I can't get a dookie. Her green eyes. Her Russian accent. Oh man, I'm getting a Perestroika in my Pants."
    - Roger, age 16

    "He was everything. The present. The future. I don't care what people said about him. I wasn't forced. We were together. It was like my body felt every note ever heard. Every taste ever tasted. Filling me up. I saw outside myself. Other people's rules don't matter."
    - Anhelica, age 16

    "He's the heat of summer. The wrap of a blanket in winter. The crisp crunch of leaves ready to fall. He's fresh cut grass in spring. Yellow sunflowers kissing the sun. Ice cold glass against my hot forehead. Sweet red fruit juice running down my arms. He's sunset and promise of a new day."
    - Violet, age 15

    "I don't give it much thought. I suppose I'll get married some time after college. I would be suffice if my future husband as in the Aero-Corp like me."
    - Julia, age 17

    "It hurts my heart. I dig deep inside me when I think of her. What could have been. What should have been. I feel her lips taste mine. Memories of her are slow motion anguish that I can't be with her. When she touched my chest, God filled me up. She was the first person to make me feel needed. She waited for me in class. Her eyes lit up. I will always love her for that. Always."
    - Roselio, age 18

    Well, there you have it folks.

    The experts have spoken.

    What do you think?