Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hide And Go Seek

My old Texas friends and I were seriously serious about hide-and-go-seek. We'd do whatever it took to win, and we took some pretty close calls.

And I especially loved it when idiots got to play 'it'.

But it got really difficult when expert hide-and-go-seekers were 'it'. If you were hiding and an expert was about to find you you have three options:

A. Let them find you.

B. Pull off a super-awesome-unearthly-way-too-close-call.
C. Pee
So anyway, we were experts. Then one day I became the hide-and-seek-leader of our group. Slowly the group found each other and searched for each other, and finally I was the only one left to be found. They couldn't find me.
I was hiding in the living room chandelier. They split up into groups of two. Phillip and Molly would search upstairs, and Evan and Erin would search downstairs. They finally decided to search the living room. Evan was climbing up onto the chandelier and I had to make an amazingly silent and quick leap out the window.
I hid there until I heard their voices coming outside. I made a break for the tree next to the roof when they decided to search outside, and I had to climb up to the very top to avoid being found. And then there was Molly.

She landed on the trampoline (thank goodness) and everybody found me after that. Molly was okay, just a little dazed. Then they crowned me hide-and-go-seek leader of our group.

ME: I don't understand...

FRIENDS: Only a serious hide-and-go-seeker would try and cover up her hiding place by almost murdering her finder.

ME: Thank you for summing that up.

They gave me a crown and ever since I have been hide-and-go-seek champion.



Saturday, March 19, 2011

My Great-Grandfather El Tio Jenaro

By Lino Gutierrezo

>First of all, I apologize to those of my and previous generations for writing in the language of Shakespeare rather than that of Cervantes. I guess I'm thinking more of future generations than our own. Since Tio Jenaro spoke English very well, I'm sure he would not have minded.>>It's been over a month since he passed. His passing marked the end of the generation of Abuelo Lino and Abuela Eugenia's children, and what a group they turned out to be: Lolita, LinĂ­n, Tom, Guiche, and Jenaro. They were remarkable people: all extremely talented, some more artistic, some more athletic, all poets, all with the flair and baggage of their generation. They were good, productive, patriotic citizens in their native land. They married, had children and grandchildren, and contributed to their country and society. But one day, against their will, they were forced to leave their native land to start anew in a new country. Against all odds they succeeded in providing for their families and in making a mark in their new surroundings. During their lives, they suffered through dictatorships, hard times, natural disasters, untimely deaths, and exile. They moved around quite a bit: Las Villas, Matanzas, La Habana in Cuba, then to far off> places like Cali, Los Angeles, Tuscaloosa, and Jackson, Louisiana. Quite a life they led, and quite an example they remain to those of us who are still here.>>Jenaro, of course, was the youngest of the group. He was 12 years younger than my father, so I imagine the older siblings had a big part in raising him along with their parents. I remember my father (who would have been 92 on February 27) calling me "Jenaro ... I mean Lino," throughout my childhood. When I catch myself calling my granddaughter Silvia "Susie," the name of my youngest daughter, it reminds me of my father calling me by the name of his youngest brother.>>My early memories of Jenaro in Cuba were those of a cool uncle who used to visit us and was always joking. He was a doctor, and the family was extremely proud of him for having become one. He had been an excellent student, but he also had an irreverent side that some may not have not known about. There is a famous story about Jenaro that took place when he was a medical student at the University of Havana. Apparently an anatomy class was scheduled for that day, and a real cadaver, with organs exposed for the students to learn, was to be used in the lesson. Prior to the lesson, Tio Jenaro sneaked into the classroom, and placed a piece of ham into the cadaver, hidden between some organs. When the class convened, and the instructor started pointing out the organs, tio Jenaro moved forward, took a good look at the organs, and casually reached in, retrieved the piece of ham he had previously left, and started eating it. Apparently some screamed, others> fainted, and a riot ensued. Or at least that's how the story was told to me.>>He studied in the U.S. for a time. Years later, he told me a story about looking for a small apartment in New York. He was shown an apartment, liked it, and prepared to sign the lease. When he signed "Jenaro Gutierrez," the landlord had a worried look in his face, and said, "I'm sorry, but we don't rent to Puerto Ricans." No problem, said Tio Jenaro, proudly, "I am not Puerto Rican. I am Cuban!" "Same s---," said the landlord and tore up the lease. (For years, I retold this story many times, believing it was true. Only later did I find out it had never happened! Another of tio Jenaro's famous jokes.)>>I remember my parents and I used to go out to dinner with him in Cuba. For some reason I remember going to the "Embers" restaurant with him and ordering spaghetti (which is what I always ordered at age 8). I also remember Tio Jenaro visiting us at La Panchita, the small oceanfront village in Las Villas where the family usually went for summer vacation, and recall that he was an excellent swimmer, as were his brothers. Later I heard that Jenaro was practicing medicine in Jaguey Grande, a town in south central Cuba.>>Then Fidel entered (and ultimately changed) all of our lives. My parents supported him at the beginning, and I recall that Tio Jenaro did too. I heard that, as a doctor, he had been pressed into service by the Castro militia. When the Bay of Pigs invasion took place, it was near Jaguey Grande, where Tio Jenaro was, so he was taken to the front. If I remember correctly, he barely escaped death when a bomb exploded nearby, but he survived the conflict safe and sound.>>My parents had lost faith in the Revolution long before, and soon thereafter, Tio Jenaro underwent a political transformation as well. My father joked that one day, Jenaro had a picture of Lenin on the wall. The next time he visited, he had removed Lenin and replaced him with a painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I don't know if the story is true or not, but it became part of the family lore.>>Within the next few months, those of us in the family who were still in Cuba began to leave the island. Tia Lola and her family were already in the U.S. My mother, Tia Josefina, her four children and myself, left Cuba on June 12, 1961 for Cali, Colombia, where Tia Guiche and Tio Rogelio welcomed us. After a few weeks, with five rambunctious kids in the house in addition to three of their own plus newborn twins, they may have had second thoughts! Soon Tio Tom, and later my father, were able to leave the island and join their respective families.>>Jenaro stayed behind. The next time I saw him was when I was in college, I believe in 1970. By then he, his wife Herminita, and children Jenarito, Leandro and Pedrin, left the island and came to live with us for a while. In that time I really got to know and appreciate my uncle. What I had not realized is what a humorist he was. He could have made a living in show business. He could do impressions -- his impression of Fidel making a speech in the countryside about importing hairy oranges from Siberia was hilarious. He could recite poems, often with double entendre. And his best performance was in a famous ode to ... well, I'd better tell you about that one in person. But I had never seen my father with tears in his eyes from laughing so hard.>>He was a Renaissance Man: an excellent doctor, a lover of music, cultured, well read, with a talent for languages. He could speak some Russian, and he taught me some words. He had no difficulty in quickly receiving U.S. accreditation to practice medicine, and found a job at a local hospital.>>He did have one contretemps when he took his driving exam from an Alabama state trooper. Apparently he did not parallel park his car (a 1966 Valiant, if I recall) to the trooper's satisfaction, so he flunked the driving exam. Boy was he mad! He cursed generations of State troopers, policemen, Alabamians, and anyone else who happened to be around on the drive home. Of course he passed the exam the next time, but we kidded him about it for a while.>>After some time in Tuscaloosa, he moved his family to Jackson, Louisiana. I remember visiting him a couple of times there, usually on the way to New Orleans. After that, I joined the Foreign Service, and saw him very few times through the years. I always invited him to visit me in my foreign assignments. He never did, to my disappointment. He would have enjoyed Santo Domingo, Lisbon, Paris, or Buenos Aires. He certainly told me a few jokes about some of the inhabitants of these cities.>>I saw him in Miami a couple of times in the 1990s. Later, when he became ill, I called him on the phone a few times, but it was clear that talking too much tired him. I wanted to see him one more time, so I drove to Louisiana from Washington in May 2009. We did get to talk, laugh a bit while he drank coffee and smoked his "cachimba." That was the last time I saw him.>>So that's what I remember about el tio Jenaro. I'm sure my recollections are imperfect, and others have a lot more vivid ones about him. I just wanted to pay homage to my last remaining uncle, a good man, a patriot, a loving parent, brother, and son, who made many of us laugh. When I think of him, I will smile. And maybe someday I'll get to hear him recite "Paco y Ursulina" or imitate Fidel in another, better place.


Jenardo was my great-grandfather and he passed away recently. I never got to see him.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Running Away (With Guest Star Izzie) Part 2

I bought train tickets. I paid to put my bike in storage and then I waited for the train.When the train came I hopped on board. The captain said it was a little over 3 hours to reach Vermont, and the train had wifi. I decided to check in with Izzie when a girl slid into the seat across from me. I remembered the oldest saying, Mom says never talk to a stranger. My mind snapped and I thought it meant that this stranger was bad and if I talked to her she'd hurt me, so I went into shock and just stared at her.
I finally worked up my nerve and told her my name. She told me her name was Tiffany. I told her why I was running away, and she told me she had run away at my exact age and had been on the go for thirteen years, so she was twenty three. This was a fancy train and it had a dining car and she bought me some pizza and we talked. Tiffany only stayed on for an hour because she was dropped off in NYC, and she gave me her cell number so I could call her later. I had to switch trains and get onto some sort of Subway-like train that was super dirty.
It was about four in the morning by the time I reached Vermont, and I walked into a restaurant and my email buzzed.

MOM: You're kidding.

ME: I'm not kidding.

MOM: Tell me you're kidding.

ME: I'm not kidding.


ME: But that'd be lying and you always say


ME: Oooookkkkaaaayyyy... I'm kidding.

MOM: NO YOU'RE NOT!!!!! Jane, come home, RIGHT NOW or I'll come get you

ME: But it's complicated, see, izzie ran away and

MOM: I don't care about izzie!! THIS IS ABOUT YOU! COME HOME RIGHT THIS INSTANT! You're grounded forever already!

ME: But mom...

MOM: NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

*BarbCoop89@gamal.com is no longer online*.

I couldn't believe it. I was there. I HAD BEEN SO CLOSE. Now I had to turn back. I emailed Izzie saying I was sorry and then I came back home. It is now March 12, 2011 and yesterday I got back. But someday I'm going back. Izzie says that she'll go back to Texas one day too, but I was talking about going up to VERMONT for HER. I was going to get back there. I WAS.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Running Away (With Guest Star Izzie) Part 1

When I was four years old I ran away. For like ten minutes.
My sister's blubbering and sobbing brought me back home, and I knew that I had to come home because I had only seen Ana that upset one other time, when she broke her collar bone. I also came home because she had already spent half of her life racking her brains making mischievous schemes to hurt me, and I would've thought she'd be happy that I'd run away. Putting a bucket of water over the door? That was too old. Ana was completely original.
But the idea of running away had not escaped my mind. One day when I was ten years old I was so angry I was sure to run away and never come back this time, but while I was packing my laptop I noticed my friend Isabel wanted to chat with me.
I couldn't believe it. She actually had the guts to do what I could never have done. I started typing frantically.Izzie told me that she had gotten on a plane on March 9th 2011. She claimed that she hadn't run away, she had just ditched school. Going to Vermont? That's running away. I needed proof. I couldn't believe it.

ME: Izzie, take a pic of yourself out in the snow, because I know there's no snow in Texas where you live so you out in the snow I'll know you've run away

IZZIE: But why can't you just believe me?

ME: Just please.

IZZIE: Okay.
Sent it.

ME: Izzie. That's totally fake.

IZZIE: Geez! Fine I'll take a pic of the ticket then.
sent it, but the text is backwards. You know how cameras are.

ME: Yeh. 1 sec.

I shone the picture up to a mirror to read the passport.ME: Oh.
U DID RUN AWAY!!! I have to go...

*janecooperninesevenonehahaha971@gamal.com is no longer online*.

My Isabel. She was just a few states north of me. Isabel was eight years old, she NEEDED ME. I didn't know how long she proposed to stay but I had made up my mind. I was going to run away.

I packed up my bags and at midnight I headed outside. I rode my bike five blocks to 7-11 and then I was so exhausted and sleepy I stopped to rest outside.

I went inside with my money for a snack, but the man said they were just closing and he couldn't serve me. But I was so hungry.
The man finally gave in and let me buy a pack of M&Ms, and then he shooed me outside and hurried into his car, and then he drove away. I stuck the M&Ms into my backpack and rode a little ways further, and then I knew it was pointless. I couldn't reach Vermont on a bicycle. And then I noticed something.

To be continued...

Mwahaha! I'm so mean!


PS: This post id dedicated to my now-teenager sister Ana. HAPPY 13th BIRTHDAY, ANA!!!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Cha Cha's Art

My great 'aunt' Cha Cha only met me once before she died. I was one year old, and you see, Aunt Cha Cha was an AMAZING abstract artist. That is when I got my passion for art.
After Aunt Cha Cha died I had no spark for my art. I developed a passion for writing, but never again did I draw another picture. Until one day I was so upset I grabbed a pen and drew the best picture I've ever drawn.
I gaped at the picture.

I was seven years old.

I showed Mom the sketch, expecting her to ship it off immediately to a museum and for the money to start rolling in, but all she told me was that I had inherited Cha Cha's art gift. I stormed off. I didn't need to take this. I was a real artist, and I didn't care if she didn't care. So for the next week I painted and sketched and painted anytime, anywhere, every minute of every day.

My Mother finally snapped when I went too far.MOM: Sweetie, just because Cha Cha is gone doesn't mean you have to carry on her tradition just because you've inherited her talent for drawing.

ME: Yes, it kinda does.

MOM: Sweetie, maybe you should take a break. You're drawing too much. I'm not saying you should give it up entirely, but there are other activities in life. Reading a book, writing a story...

ME: Drawing pictures to help tell the story...

MOM: Honey. It's embarrassing how you draw certain things. Maybe you should take up fiction drawing.

ME: Fiction?

MOM: Yes. Untrue things. Such as unicorns...


MOM: Okay... bad example. But you can draw pigs with wings...or flying cars... basically anything not real. I have to go to work. Think about what I said.

And I did. When she came home she saw me.MOM: It's a story based on a adventure you had when you were little.

ME: Except for the parts I made up to make it more interesting. I also added little pictures that show what's going on.

MOM: I see. Hey!! Oh my goodness! You should keep a blog!

ME: What's a blog?

MOM: It's where you can show almost everybody in the world what's going on and stuff. Come on, I'll show you.

And thus, the blog of the century was born.