Detours – Part one (Pictures are in!!)

In the Park
In the Park

I was thinking the other night while I was desperately trying to fall asleep but couldn’t, of all the distractions I have had in my life that have redirected my purpose.

My mind, racing at midnight, keeping me from falling asleep is one.  I told myself I needed a notepad by my nightstand so I could jot down all these ideas running through my head but no, even though I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t force myself to get up just in case I might be on the brink of dozing off.

Needless to say, the only idea, besides those for my screenplay, and those inspired by Badfish is to chronologically share the detours I’ve experienced in life. Truth be told, I could really right a book about them, but suffice it to say, it is barely a fleeting thought to do so.

I don’t know when the first of my detours started. but the first one I would say I had was the one my mom took for me.  She had left dad in San Diego and went back to Mexico. I don’t know what the reason was, perhaps she realized she didn’t love him or perhaps it was because he hit her. Dad was abusive on many levels, so hard telling. Unfortunately, while she was there in Mexico she discovered she was pregnant with me, so she did what she thought was the right thing and returned “home” to him. Had she stayed there, She and I would have had a different life altogether. So, I guess we detoured one another.

As a child, I was somewhat of a showman. I would sing and dance and perform for my parents friends.  One of these friends happened to be a couple who lived in Hollywood with lots of Hollywood connections, so I was sent to Hollywood as there protege’ and began my erudition for the screen.

Actually in retrospect, it seemed more of a pimping because they changed what I wore, how to wear makeup and paraded me down Sunset Strip Boulevard on the back of a new Corvette convertible, waving at whoever might notice me and I did as I was told relying on their advice. In those days Sunset Strip was nothing like it is today; it was more of a place for teens to go cruisin’. When we weren’t doing that I was auditioning in front of their director/producer friends.

I learned how to eat like a lady and how to stir the sugar in my tea without making an ungodly noise, clinking the glass with the spoon. I already had the yes ma’am and no sirs down since I was from the south and no southern child survives without that.

It was there I had my first teen age crush. Their neighbor’s son was home from college.  He was a fine Jewish boy attending med school. Boy did I have it bad, but he was probably 19 and I was only 15. He humored me but never took liberties.

They would later take me to visit another family who also had a good looking son that I went bowling with. We had the time of our life and he was just so easy to talk to. I understood why later when, at the end of the day, his parents explained to me how he was headed to seminary school to become a Catholic priest!!!

I still think of them both. Sigh!

Whether or not I would have had what it takes to make it in Hollywood I was never to discover. My parents got divorced and I ended up back home. My mother’s connection to this couple dropped off after that and I missed my chance, but as I’ve mention before, in those days it was not in vogue for a Hispanic girl to get work as anything but a maid, a hooker or some trash part. So perhaps it was just as well, I would never have made it as a maid. All this took place about the time Sally Field got the part in the Flying Nun and I remembered thinking how much I would have loved doing that.

A New Direction:

beauty pagent

Okay, so acting wasn’t going to happen, but Mother was not to be stopped, so after that any beauty contest or event that would show off her daughter was entered in.  I got yelled at a lot, was pushed and prodded and the whole experience was anything but pleasant. The contest on the right was for the Del Mar Fair’s Fairest of the Fair contest.  I got to wear the “lucky” number 13.  Needless to say, I didn’t win, but the girl that did deserved it.  My heart to say the least just wasn’t in it.

Because I was inclined to be quite the tomboy, mother took the next step to making a lady out of me. I was also sent to “charm” school where I learned to walk, talk, use makeup and dress like a lady. I learned to fence, which having a propensity for sports was my favorite class. To this day I can still walk briskly with a book on my head and not drop it.

 Bathing Suit Shot

I became a commodity. Even though what I wanted to do was act and sing, that was no longer a choice. I was good at it and I did great in high school drama but… that’s not the direction I would go.

Part of the modeling courses included giving us as much exposure as possible to get us accustomed to crowds and public displays. I did car shows, I was a trophy queen at drag races, subjected to nasty kisses from what I thought were old men and who had kids I went to school with!  Anything I could get into that would exploit my features, I was entered in.

The only thing I didn’t mind was modeling for expensive boutiques, there, I got to wear and display gorgeous outfits I could never afford In some cases, the owner would allow us to keep or purchase an item at a very discounted price with no strings attached. Because I was small, most runway jobs I got were for teen or preteen clothing. I didn’t care for that on many levels, for one I was neither of those things and I wanted to look like a woman; the other reason is that for some reason I found it extremely stressful and unorganized, not to mention the people involved were not as nice nor easy to be around.

So modeling was not for me and although I did go on to place in several beauty pageants, that too didn’t rock my world.

To be continued:

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Homeless

The BROTHER IN LAW 

Yesterday my brother in law came to visit. I hadn’t seen him in about 15 years. The biggest reason is because of the woman he’s married to. Rebecca is difficult and has created a chasm between mother and son, brother and brother because of her critical nature. I don’t include myself in that equation and am only affected by the fact that it hurts people I care about but not me personally. I could but won’t enumerate the many things she has done because that’s not the point of this story, BUT we or anyone else for that matter including her own family are not welcome in her home. Ever.

Sadly, it has been seven years since my husband and mother in law were visited by him. Every once in awhile, she (Rebecca) lets him out to come visit family, hence the visit. He said this would probably be the last time.

Mt. PYRAMID – ASPEN COLORADO

The last time, I saw Dave was when we blew out our knees climbing Pyramid, a fourteen-er in Aspen, Colorado.  The pitch was such that it put a great deal of stress on all of our bodies, especially the knees. You might ask, how does one blow out their knees climbing a mountain?    It’s not the climbing up, but the coming down. When you have an extreme pitch such as the one Pyramid has, it’s best to take it slow.  Being guys the two brothers did the macho thing and practically ran down its slope. Imagine running down Chichen Itza  in Mexico and imagine dropping your weight down hard on your knees with each step…you get the picture.  Well, the truth is I didn’t blow mine out but they’ve been a bit more sensitive since. I, fortunately  became acutely aware, feeling the impact on my knees almost immediately and realized that if I didn’t make an adjustment I would pay for it later. Clever me, though feeling like a sissy, took preventive measures and descended mostly on my butt taking each step gently, easing myself down. Needless to say I took a long time to get down. Dave did not and paid for it,  never climb again after that.  Russ and I continued to scale other mountains in the years to come, but that was the last trip for Dave.

This week, when we arrived at my mother in laws, I could tell by the look on her face something was amiss and then he rounded the corner. I almost didn’t recognize him. It amazed me that he had aged so much in that time. There is only two years difference in the two brother’s ages, but he looked like an old man, tired and beaten down. Russ looked vibrant by comparison. I know my mother in law believes it’s “that woman” and it probably is, but it was sad to see.

BIRDING – Life’s little pleasures.

Dave is into birding or perhaps I should say bird watching.  While at my mother in law’s, he set up his tripod and telescope to see what new birds he might find in the area. When he came to our house, he only brought in a pair of binoculars. I was disappointed because I knew that with my neighbor’s bird sanctuary, he was bound to see even more birds, but he didn’t seem interested.  I guess he was too tired and besides he recounts to us about how he had already spotted a couple of eastern birds while at his mothers anyway, recorded them and broadcast it on his birding “channel” and I guess that was enough for him for now.

Instead he sat down to enjoy my “fine” cooking and only then went out into the backyard with only the binoculars to see what he could see.

THE SHELTER

GetAttachment (9)
Homeless camp center left

Our backyard overlooks a canyon where the Sprinter train takes tourists and locals to either the beach and/or to other connections, beyond that are industrial buildings. It was there, tucked in the midst of the trees by the tracks that Dave spotted the homeless shelter, just below our house. Since it was well camouflaged, we’d never noticed it, not that we were looking for it.

Call it timing but a few minutes later, we saw someone walking the tracks carrying a backpack and bag.  We figured, he’d been shopping and was bringing dinner home or maybe he actually works a job and was returning home.  I took the binoculars and watched him as he kept looking up at us. I wondered if he really could see us or if he knew we could see him.  Perhaps it was his typical precaution. We didn’t know for sure if he was the tenant but we followed him anyway waiting to see where he’d go as he walked along the track. As it was, he passed the trees where the logical access to the camp was before dropping down and circling back, so for a time we thought he’d continue on. He was guarded, being extra careful in case we or anyone else might see him.  I couldn’t make out his face, but I noticed he walked with a limp and wondered what his story was. I wondered what his “place” looked like. I thought of the tumbleweed forts I’d made as a child and knew they could get quite cozy.

Russ said, he didn’t care if he was there as long as he doesn’t inadvertently start a brush fire.  Understandably. California is known for it’s lack of water and dry conditions and living above a canyon made it difficult for us to get insurance on our home as it was, so fires are of great concern.

I was grateful of Russ’ compassionate response. I agreed, just leave the man be. Life is tough these days, he’s made a spot for himself there and as long as he’s not hurting anyone, let him be. I still want to know his story though.

I thought about going down there myself and check it out, but maybe that would be risky.  I suppose “we” (my granddaughter is coming out for a visit this week), but we could walk the track and leave a bag of groceries near the trail by the tracks, it’s not far from the depot…

I wondered too if any of my other neighbors have noticed? How do they feel about it? I dare not ask and call attention to it.

COYOTES –

Sometimes coyotes get to running in the canyon, howling and yapping eerily, I wonder how it sounds from there in the camp?  Is there any danger in that?  Yet it’s been awhile since I’ve heard the coyotes; seen one down our street, but there’s not been the usual howling each night. Perhaps his being there has something to do with that? Hmmmm

TODAY –

I gave some bills to what appeared to be a homeless young man, for bus fare he said. He wasn’t limping but I was compelled because of ‘our” homeless guy at the bottom of the hill. I thought about mom but almost shouted after him to “pay it forward”.