Confessions.

After proudly completing my First Communion and prancing around in my tiara and princess dress that I personally designed at a Wedding boutique in San Fernando, I did one of my first confessions. But, let’s talk a little about the dress before we get into confessions. So my dress was fabulous. I went window shopping with my mom one Sunday afternoon and after looking at many dresses at many stores I figured out what I wanted. I said “Mami, quiero que me hagan el vestido como un vestido de boda.” My mom said, “Que? Estàs loca?” I said, “I’m crazy for my perfect first communion dress.” After we got in the car to drive home and discuss my dress options, I argued that I was only going to have a First Communion once in my life and I was only going to be eight years old once in my life. I needed to have a tailor made dress. I envisioned big. A big fluffy dress that would take up the entire dance floor for my backyard boogie. I was going to be the center of attention. All eyes on me.

My mom said, “Te vaz a poner el vestido un ratito, y luego nunca mas te lo vas a poner.” I said “Yea, mom. But that day is special. Then my sister can wear it next.” “Please mom.” I started crying hysterically. “The dress I want is beautiful.” “It’s so pretty.” “I want to take pretty pictures at Sears.” “My dress is so important to me.” “You never listen to me.” “You never care about my feelings.” “Why are you so mean?” I continued crying. “Don’t you want me to look pretty at church?” “You just want me to be ugly.” “You don’t care about me.” I continued crying. “You’re just mad you didn’t wear a pretty dress for your first communion, so you want me to be ugly too.” “Eres envidiosa!” “Please mom!” “Stop being mean!” My mom’s agitation led her to pinch my leg. She couldn’t control herself. It was like respondent behavior. You just barf when you have to. You can’t control vomit. I cried even more. “Aaaahhhhh!!!!!” “Why are you hurting me?” “Cayate Denise! Eres una malagradecida!” “I want that dress!!!”

We got home and I expressed to my dad the importance of a fabulous first communion dress. My mom and my dad talked about whether or not they would buy it for me for about a week. I promised them I was going to get A’s on my report card. My parents finally decided they were going to let me design my first communion dress. The next weekend I went back to the store to get measured and I told the seamstress I wanted poofy sleeves, poofy skirt and glitter on my top. A few weeks later, I went back to pick up my dress. My tantrum was worth every second.

Finally, the day came for me to do my First Communion. I noticed I had one of the most elaborate dresses. It was exciting to receive communion and to do my first confession. My mother said, “You either confess your sins face-to-face or like a chicken, behind a curtain.” “Do you want to be a chicken?” I bravely put on my game face. I opted to go face-to-face. “Father, I have a confession.” I did the sign of the cross and said, “Please forgive me.” “I ate all the ice cream.” “I didn’t want to share it.” “I fight with my mom.” “I don’t like to wash my socks.” “I don’t like to wash dishes.” “I talk back to my mom.” “I don’t like going to church.” “I fight with my sister.” “I promised I would pick up my dog’s poop and I never do it.” The priest listened. “Go sit on the bench, I want you to recite 10 Hail Mary’s, 10 Our Father’s, and 3 Acts of Contrition.” I said, “Yes, Father.” I stepped out and did as I was told. I wanted to skip out on some of the praying. I was tempted to lie and say I rehearsed all the prayers. Then I remembered, “You can’t cheat God.” According to J.C. Brumfield, “Se tiene que vivir una vida de oracion, de alabanza, y accion de gracias.” So I prayed. I finished all my prayers. I didn’t want to get another pinch. When I finished I got up and told my mom I was ready to go home.

My mother had a very abrasive demeanor. In retrospect, as a child, it is difficult to understand why mother behaved like a witch. For me it functioned as positive punishment, her harshness made me want to turn into a bird and fly away. When I was little I dreamed of turning into an Eagle and flying away into the mountains. I wanted to escape. I gave myself the Indian name “She who soars like Eagle.”

I did. My thoughts and my imagination always allowed me to daydream and picture myself in different places while ignoring the places and the circumstances I was actually experiencing. Going to church was not fun. However, I am glad that I was raised with a strong religious background. In difficult times and in prosperous times, there is nothing more fulfilling then hope and faith in God. I recognize that now. I hope that my faith and my hope remains strong and that I never place faulty philosophies or technologies above God.

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Café con Leche.

As the eldest, I had responsibilities. I began my day early with an occasional cup of coffee. The earliest memory I have of drinking coffee must have been around the age of seven. Anyone raised in a Hispanic household savors coffee and understands the delight of un cafecito con pan dulce. A good cup of café con leche sets the tone for the day. The smell of roasted coffee beans is a charmful way to say, “This day is perfect and I love it!” “Mmmm.” “I love you, coffee.” I indulged in a tazita de café con leche y un pan dulce. Deliciosoooo. My dad bought pan dulce from La Colmena Bakery a few blocks away from the house on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It was the most anticipating aspect of the day. I loved to eat a conchita while sipping on my coffee during an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Sipping coffee was a savory wake-up call, like starting the day with morning Yoga, but better. I felt like a grown-up. I liked grown-up stuff. I liked the idea. It made me feel like their equal. Oh, look we’re both drinking coffee, yea, that means we’re the same.

  The feeling of adulthood was always momentary. My Saturday morning started with a blazing ray of sunshine hitting my bedroom window. Immediately after feeling the heat of the sun, opening my eyes and wiping away my eye boogers, my mom stormed in the room with, “Time to do your chores. Levantense.” “Levantate, Denisita.” And I’d say, “Ay, mom, I just want to watch cartoons.” “You never let me do anything!” Then she’d say, “The faster you clean, the faster you get to watch cartoons.” I used to say, “Ugh, quiero un cafecito y una conchita.” My mom typically responded, “Ok. Ya levantate.” She walked to the kitchen, put the milk to boil, poured some in a mug, spoonful of coffee, and spoonful of sugar. I grabbed a conchita and dipped pieces of it into my coffee while catching a glimpse of Alvin and the Chipmunks. I always did a morning squirmy dance in my chair and left borronas of pan dulce all over the table and carpet. Then it was time for work. I never bothered wiping away my sugary mustache.

My morning chore usually consisted of cleaning the coffee table and all of the collectible recuerdos. My mom had a lay out of recuerdos from every bautizo, primera communión, confirmaciòn, Quinceñera and bodas. The recuerdos served as art décor for the living room. I cleaned the TV first. I walked around spraying everything with Windex. I resented my mom for telling me to spray the cloth first and then wipe. I didn’t like her telling me to clean, much less telling me how to clean. Then I would clean the Quinceñera dolls. I always started by dusting La Veracruzana, then I worked my way around to the other dolls. Next, were the baby bottles and the chupones from all the baby showers. Then I cleaned the rosaries from Baptisms, hechos de migajon, the candles from First Communions, and flower arrangements from the centerpieces of Quinceñeras and weddings. The flower arrangements at parties are like gold. Every mom fights over the centerpiece. We had a few at our house. To me, it was just something else, I was going to have to clean.

Lastly, I cleaned the table where I left a morning mess on my Sesame Street place mat. I picked up my plate and my mug and took it to the kitchen sink where my sister made a mess of her own washing the dishes. My sister always washed dishes. Washing dishes was her chore. She wore a green apron that draped over her light-up L.A. gears and gloves that covered her entire arms. She stood on the step stool that read, “Stand up to be tall, sit down to be small.”

Me. Coffee, before my 5 de Mayo recital.
Me. Coffee, before my 5 de Mayo recital.

Barbie Corvette.

“Papi, Take me to Toys R’s Us.” “I have to show you something.” “Dad!” “Daddy.” “Dad.” “Papi.” “I’m talking to you!” I stood in front of the TV blocking the view of a Cruz Azul soccer match. “Denisita, que quieres?” While holding the newspaper ads in my hands, I pointed out to him, “Mira.” I put the Toys R’ Us advertisement in his face and pointed to the Barbie corvette, “Dad, for Christmas, I want the Barbie corvette.” “Can you take me to Toys R’ Us so I can test drive it?” My dad responded, “Ok.” “We’ll go to Toys R’ Us.” I envisioned myself wearing the latest Xuxa jelly sandals, while hitting the gas on my brand new corvette. He would take me to the store and I would zoom by the barbies that didn’t talk back as if I didn’t even notice them. Then I would zoom by the board games that I assumed had too many rules and was not actually a game because it required sitting at a table. I thought, “That’s not a game. That’s homework.” “You can’t trick me.” In my world of fun and games you made your own rules and you never wasted a minute sitting at a table. As soon as I walked toward to the Power Wheels my eyes began to shimmer and my little feet danced with excitement. “Dad, can you ask to test the corvette?” My dad would ask the sales associate to take down the corvette. I hopped in the corvette. I loved to drive it like a bumper car. Oopsie, did I just hit the rack of toys behind me. A little giggle. Smirk. Gas. Bump. Oopsie. Reverse. Giggle. Smirk. I hit my dad’s calf. Oopsie. Brake. Gas. Smirk. Giggle. “Dad, Please! Please! Please! I promise I’ll share. I won’t fight with my mom. I won’t fight with my sisters. We can all take turns driving it.” My dad said, “Tengo que hablar con tú mama.” I said, “Please dad! I really want the corvette, I’ll never ask for anything else in my life. I just want the corvette and that’s it.” Bump. Bump. Vroom. Vroom. Up and down the aisle. Look at me I’m drivinggggg. I love to drive. I’m so cute. When Christmas came around, I anticipated midnight like never before. We typically had dinner at my aunt’s house and opened our gifts at midnight. I was expecting a Barbie corvette. My dad accidentally forgot something at our house, so my cousin and I went back to my house with my dad to pick up some gifts. On our way back to my aunt’s house, I said “I hope Santa got me what I asked for.” He said, “Santa?” I said, “Yea, Santa.” I looked at him with annoyance, “Yea, you know Santa who brings our Christmas presents.” I rolled my eyes and turned around to ignore his pesty little attitude. He said, “Denise. I’m going to tell you something.” I said, “What?” He said, “Santa isn’t real.” I said, “No! Dumb! Santa is super real!” I looked toward to the front of car to get my dad’s reassurance, “Dad! Back me up! Santa is real!? Right!?” He looked in the rearview mirror. Then the little dream crusher cousin said, “We should tell her the truth.” I said, “What?!” My dad said, “Yea. Sorry. Santa isn’t real.” I was crushed. “How could you?” I held back the tears. Big girls don’t cry. “How could you do this to me?!” “Why is Santa and Rudolph everywhere!?” “He’s not bringing my corvette?!” “What!?” “Who’s bringing my corvette?!” “Where’s my corvette?!” “I hate you!” “Shut up stupid!” Santa is real!” “I’m getting a corvette!” “I got A’s on my report card!” I wanted to punch him in the face. I resisted. I knew Santa was watching. I had to be nice. I was going to get my corvette. We got to my aunt’s house. We had pan dulce con café. We ran around the backyard playing tag. We had tamales and hot chocolate for dinner. Then we ran around the yard until midnight. My dad said, “Denise, your present is outside.” I confidently walked outside, bien presumida, ready to greet my… motorcycle? “Denise, you got a motorcycle!” I screamed with agony. “No! I wanted a corvette! Where’s my Barbie corvette?!” “No!” I almost fell to the floor, fainting from the fury. I ran away like a crybaby. In the meantime, my cousins were trying to figure out how to ride it. I know because I was watching from the window of my aunt’s house. I thought, “No.” “Nobody’s going to ride my motorcycle.” “It’s my motorcycle.” I abandoned my anger and my self-pity and ran outside to claim my moto. I looked at my dad, “I love my motorcycle! I’m riding it first.” I hissed at everyone to get out my way. Oh yea. Look at me. Look at me ride my motorcycle. Then my cousins started bugging, “Let me ride it next.” “Can I ride it?” “Denise, can I have a turn?” I said, “Yea. You can borrow it. But don’t use it too much. I don’t want the battery to get wasted.” “It’s mine.” That Christmas I learned, “You don’t always get what you want.” I was too young to know about the Rolling Stones, but old enough to know, sometimes, you don’t get what you want. Santa wasn’t real. I learned that too. I wondered why everybody was a big fat liar. I wondered why people put Santa everywhere. And then I stopped caring after I hopped on my moto and let the wind blow in my hair as I zoomed by all the neighbor’s houses.

Barbies.

When I was a little girl I didn’t understand why other little girls played with Barbies. I used to see the Barbies at the store all boxed up. Encaged. I wondered what they were for. I noticed the Ken Barbie, the Beach Barbie, Red Carpet Barbie, Double Date Barbie, Principesa Barbie, etc. I examined the contents in the box. I was like, “Where’s the scratch n’ sniff sticker?” “This is boring.” “My cabbage patch doll smells like baby powder.” “Hmmm. It doesn’t do anything.” “That’s weird.” I never took interest. It didn’t do anything for me. I had never seen any of my cousins or friends play with them.

One day, I finally saw one of my friend’s play with a Barbie. She was talking funny. I was like, “What is she doing?” Then I noticed she was having a conversation with the Barbie. I was like, “Why is she doing that?” “Why is her voice squeaky?” “Does she need a cough drop?” I got scared. I became concerned. “Esta loca?” This is stupid. Why would you talk to something that doesn’t talk back? Don’t panic. Pretend this is normal. “Oh my gosh! I love Barbies!” “I’m gonna go to my house and get my Barbie!” “I’ll be back.” I hopped on my Huffy and never looked back. I loved my lavendar and pink bike with pink streamers. I loved to ride it up and down the street.

I loved to talk to myself while riding my Huffy and singing, Soul 4 Real’s, “Candy-Coated Rain Drops” on my walkman. I thought, “Wow. Barbies are soooooo stupid. I don’t need a Barbie. I already talk to myself anyway.”

My favorite childhood toy.
My favorite childhood toy.

La Piñata.

A weekend birthday party gathering consisted of an outing to a park for carne asada y un pastel de tres leches. The kids looked forward to the piñata. We always plotted beforehand how we were going to try get the most candy. Some aunt or uncle tied the piñata to a rope and hung it from a tree. Once we saw someone bring out a blindfold and the stick or a baseball bat, we knew it was time to parrrrttttttyyyyyy!!!!

I had observed a couple of different strategies. You could be bold and brave, jump right in after one of the cousins broke the piñata and a little candy started to spill out. The antsy pantsy strategy. It was always the child that couldn’t wait. Too anxious, plagued by crazy thoughts that there wouldn’t be any candy left once the piñata was completely cracked.

Everyone chanted, “Dale, dale, dale no pierdas el tiro porque si la pierdes, pierdes el camino!” The antsy pantsy method scared everyone. “Ay! No! No hagas eso!” “Te va pegar la piñata en la cabeza!” “Chamako! Desententido!”

The obedient kids waiting for their turn would look around for approval. “You see mom! I’m waiting my turn. I’m not stupid.” “Look at him, ojala que se le caiga la piñata en la cabeza pa que aprenda.” The antsy pantsy child ducked and dodged the piñata while ignoring the yelling of the concerned and anguished onlookers. We all wanted to know what he got. “What’d you get?” Immediately the kid hid the chile con mango paleta in his pockets, get back in line and act like nothing ever happened.

Another option was to wait for an uncle to mediate the rambunctious crowd. It was too dangerous for one of my aunt’s to do it. “Ay no, yo no puedo con tanto chiquillo.” It was always an uncle who grabbed the piñata once it shattered and fell apart. We continued our chanting until we got to that climatic moment of the shatter. “La piñata tiene caca, tiene caca, tiene cacaguates de a monton.” Boom. The piñata shattered.

The clawing method was in full effect. All the kids flocked to the piñata and clawed the candy into piles hoping it fit in pockets, birthday bags, and yo momma’s purse. Birthday hats came off. They were used to claw and scoop up candy. Everyone scooped the candy into their shirts and skirts. Then, there was the kid who never paid attention.

The cry baby method. This kid fearfully tip toed around the crowd weeping for a piece of candy. As soon as this kid approached a piece of candy on the grass, somebody would snatch it from him. The kid would cry louder and his mom would approach the other kids, “Let him have a piece of candy.” The kids always ignored the parent, like “Why is she here?” “Everyone gets their own candy.” “Dumb, cry baby.” Nobody actually said that, but that’s what we always thought.

On one occasion as I was anticipating the clawing method, standing in line waiting for my turn to hit the piñata, my cousin swung the piñata stick, it slipped out of her hands like a Frisbee, and smacked me in the forehead. My head was spinning. I couldn’t believe it.

I was like, “Did I just get whacked by the piñata stick?” “Yea, I did.” I felt my head swell up like a bee sting. Jesus save me. I don’t recall what happened after that. I do remember impromptu emergency aid kicked in with a Ziploc bag full of ice from the hielera. The fiesta continued.

La Ramita.

Constipation makes anyone feel like a Chupacabra. As a toddler I battled constipation. I wonder why it never occurred to my loving mother to feed me papaya and prunes instead of cup-of-noodles. Maybe she yearned for a Chupacabra baby. I don’t know. I do know know that her tenacious creativity merits acknowledgment. One day as I struggled to poop, nothing was working. The turtle wouldn’t come out. Tap. Tap. Tap. I tapped on my knees, it wouldn’t come out. I yelled to my mom, “Mom!” “No puedo! No se me sale!” My mom peeped in the bathroom door, “Ok, I’m going to help you.” She walked away. I heard her pick up the telephone in the living room. Ring. Ring. Ring. “Sì, hola, mamà, mire estoy batallando con esta niña que no se le sale el popo. Que hago?” With embarrassment, I yelled from the bathroom door, “Maaaa, why do you have to tell everybody?!” “I hate you!” My grandmother responded on the other line, “Mmmm, Diosito santo. Pues como a los becerritos, metele una ramita haber sì se le sale.” My mom said, “Ok, lo voy a intentar. Ay, anda de chillona esta niña. Bye. Luego le hablo.” She hung up the phone with my grandmother and then I heard the door to the backyard slam shut. Regreso con una ramita del arbol de limones. I immediately thought she was going to spank me. I got super angry. “No me peges!” “It’s not my fault!” “I’m trying!” She said, “No te voy a pegar mensa, te voy a sacar el popo que traes atorado en las pompis.” I thought, “What!?” “I guess.” She put me over her knee and inserted the ramita in my butt to pull out my poop. It worked! Oh my gosh! My mom is the best! I have the best mom in the world! She loves me so much she used a stick to get poop out of my butt. Thanks mom! I dried my tears away and ran outside to play tag with Cheeto and la Trompuda.

Hello world!

I have decided to write a blog about a book I potentially want to try to get published. The Cafe con Leche Diaries stems from a real invasion of privacy I experienced, anyone and everyone in life claims it never happened. I’m over it. I am grateful. I have other talents God blessed me with and I will focus on that. I have written over 20 short stories that I hope my audience will find light-hearted and amusing. I am appreciative of constructive criticism. I am very new to blogging. I must admit I’m not a fan of some technological innovations. Afterall, technology is man-made. However, I love stories. I love story telling. Hopefully, this is a project that will achieve its goal. A book.