Number One: My dad called me this morning, around 5 am Pacific Time, to wish me Happy Birthday. I think the version of my Dad's voice that I know the best is that one of him shouting into a cell phone as he's driving across Texas with his window open or the A/C blaring ~~ he is always in his pickup truck ~~ it's a comforting sound, though ~~ the rush of air in the background, sometimes Tejano music playing on his radio, and his Spanglish. Anyway, when I answered the phone this morning I said, "Dad, it's 5 am!" ~ to which he responded, "Well, I'm Sorrrry, pero son las 7 am over here". He trills his R's, Spanglish-izing any English word with a double RR in it ~ it's great ~~ and he always mixes English and Spanish in his sentences: "pero son las 7" means "but it's 7". Anyway, he wished me a Happy Birthday which was great because his was the first call I received this morning. And I fell back asleep for a little while, with a smile on my groggy face. We have had a tumultuous relationship, my Dad and I ~~ sometimes going for months without speaking, often hurling insults at each other (or in my case, hurling a telephone at him, but let's not talk about that ok?). My parents have been married for 35 years and every time I have a birthday, he reminds me that it's also the number of years he has been married to "my wife" ~~ that's what he calls my mom, "my wife." Sometimes I'll tell him, "Dad, I know who you're married to --mom! Why do you call her 'My wife'?" But he is old-school like that, and likes the nomenclature of "Mi Señora," or "My Wife."
Anyway, I ended up oversleeping for work. I woke up when the phone rang again around 8 am, and it was my brother Armando calling me to wish me a Happy Birthday. Again, given the chaotic relationship we have sometimes had, it's wonderful and warm that he called me. Maybe he just wants me to remember to call him for HIS birthday on Thursday! Nah, I won't be cynical today! I checked my email and found about a dozen birthday wishes from friends around the country, even those I have not seen in ages. My friend Ginger in Chicago sent me this incredible email about the orange sunset she saw last night and the rainbow that filled her with peace and gratitude and how she made a wish for me, to get through the recent drama in my life. I have received flowers from neighbors and co-workers, ecards from old friends, gifts from new friends, and calls from loved ones. Damn, these people make it hard for me to think my life sucks! How can I mope around, bemoaning heartbreak, when my world is so full of freakin' love? Damn! Orale, even my fellow Raza bloggers, The Daily Texican and My Complex Simplicity (neither of whom I have ever met but both of whom are kick-ass) sent me birthday greetings! Even Bill the Bipolar Cat was adoring me this morning, but he's needy sometimes. When I opened the door to leave the apartment, one of my neighbors had left on my doormat a brownie cake they made for me ~~ well, it said Happy Birthday and had a ribbon, but it was not signed so at least I hope it was one of my neighbors and not some crazy person who gained access to the building in the middle of the night! And on my cell phone, 3-1/2 year-old Jac (who calls me Tia Mari, but slipped one time and called me Medea, which was eerie) left me a sweet voice mail, singing me Happy Birthday. And every year, without fail for about 10 years, my adorable and adoring friend David O. leaves me a voice mail, channeling Marlene Dietrich singing Happy Birthday ~ I laugh uncontrollably every damn time at his fake accent. Then I got the most beautiful, huge flower delivery from my best friends Quyen and Jee in D.C.! And to top it off, my friend Christopher called me all the way from Budapest to wish me a great day. I visited Chris in Budapest to celebrate my 24th birthday (um, more than a few moons ago) so I think it is time to visit him again. Wow. It was a great morning and it's going to be a great week, with friends taking me out all week ~~ I hope to mooch, ahem, I mean celebrate, free dinners for another week or so. I have to go soon because we're having cake at the office ~~ sheesh, I am a 3-yr-old.
Anyway, by 10 am, my mom had not called me and so I called her ~~ when she picked up the phone, she said, "it's about time you call me to say Happy Birthday!" She is so damn funny. I was born at 3:10 am in a Houston hospital 30'ish years ago ~~ and on my birthday, I like to ask her about that night, and she likes to tell me. She said that I was pretty easy labor, probably because I was a preemie, so I was pretty small. But they had to keep me in an incubator for a month or so after I was born, so they had to bottle-feed me. To this day, if I get sick or anything happens to me, my mom blames herself because I was not breast-fed! I'm not kidding! If I am feeling particularly devious on any occasion, I will bring up the subject myself, such as, "Oh woe is me, my back hurts because Mami denied me the teet!" Oh yeah, you should be there for that. When they finally released me from the incubator, she tried to breast feed me, her first baby!, but I rejected the teet! Oh yeah, you can imagine the therapy we both need for the impact that had on our relationship! She told me this morning that the following year, when she went into labor with my sister, on July 26, they were in the middle of planning my 1st birthday party. My sister was a couple of weeks early, so they were caught off guard. So, they left me at home with my grandparents, the cake, and the piñata! My mom jokes that I wanted to stay and enjoy my party rather than go witness the birth of my sister. Oh yeah, imagine the therapy required for that one!
Anyway, my mom told me that she "woke up suddenly" this morning around 3 am ~~ my time of birth! Oh yes, she wanted to tell me how she was reliving the labor even 30'ish years later! She must have "noticed in her sleep" that a light was on outside, so she went out to turn off the light. The women in my family are night owls (or vampires, depending on how you like to look at it) and so we get a lot done between the hours of 1 am and 6 am. Anyway, my mom said she went out to turn off the light, and give more water to the dogs, and to sit awhile on her swing......Wait......"What swing?!" I asked. She told me: "The swing I bought myself for Mother's Day in May." Oh, we are so alike. If we know we aren't going to receive the gift we want, we just go out and buy the damn thing ourselves. So, she went to Loew's in May and bought a damn swing -- big enough for three people! I asked her how the hell she got the damn thing home ~~ she must have sweet-talked the employees to carry the swing to her pick-up truck (remember, they're Texans) and when my Dad got home that evening, she said, he discovered he had a swing to assemble for her. So, she was swinging on it this morning around 3 am, in the Texas pre-dawn, pre-100-degree heat. I asked her if she still had her duck ~~ "no," she said sadly, "someone stole the duck!" One day years ago, I was talking to her on the phone, gab gab gab, when I heard, "Quack!" in the background....but she kept talking as if nothing happened. Then I heard it again, a passing "Quack!". I asked, "What the hell is that?" And, as nonchalantly as if she were telling me what time it was, she said, "Oh, es mi pato" (it's my duck)...and she kept right on telling me her other story. Wait. A PATO?!? How did you get a pato? I mean, what the? how the? where the? did a pato come from? This is how good my mom is at being a mom: she said that since all her kids had left her and moved away, she was lonely, and well, it makes perfect sense to get a duck!
Damn, she's good. It was like leading a lamb to slaughter -- she led me to that guilt-trap and I walked straight into it. Oh grasshopper, I have so much to learn before I can have kids! Anyway, since, no matter how old I get, I still like her to baby me, I always ask my mom what song she used to sing to me when I was a baby, as if I could forget. Even if you don't know the title, everyone, will recognize Cielito Lindo by it's chorus of "ay, ay, ay, ay canta y no llores" (sing and don't cry):
"Cielito Lindo" is a beautiful term of endearment ~ it means, "Beautiful Little Sky." When I was young and mean kids would make fun of the mole near my mouth, my mom would sing this song to me. As I got older, I figured out the mole is actually a powerful beauty mark, capable of making men melt from even 100 feet away. If you know Spanish, you know how beautiful these lyrics are ~ if you don't know Spanish, well, learn it! :) Or get some beautiful Spanish-speaking person to, ahem, translate the lyrics for you.
I told my mother on the phone that I want her to FedEx tamales to me at my office ~~ the tamales out here in California are so different from the ones I grew up on in Houston. But she said she doesn't know if she has time! In a feeble attempt to re-direct the guilt, I told her that I have not been eating well lately and am losing weight so I need the tamales before I wither away to nothing! You know what she said? She told me that I should be making HerbaLife milkshakes from the protein powder she sent me! She deflected the guilt! THEN, she turned it around and asked if I was even drinking the protein shakes since she went to the trouble of sending me the powder! Damn, she's good.
Anyway, I digress, yet again. Oh yeah, Reason Number Two.....Today marks another very important day ~~ IT IS THE START OF THE BAR EXAM FOR THOUSANDS OF POOR SOULS ACROSS THE COUNTRY! What was that big sucking sound you heard at 9 am this morning? Yep, it was the sound of their poor souls being sucked out of them as the exam begins ~~ later, there will be sounds of sobbing in the bathroom stalls, and some of them won't even return to the exam after lunch. Let's have a moment of silence for them ~~ think of them dear friends, and thank your lucky stars you are not taking that exam today! For 49 states, the exam is two days long and by Wednesday night, those law grads will be celebrating. Meanwhile, back in California, our exam is THREE DAYS LONG and so poor California exam takers will be wringing the last of their energy to survive the third day. I took the exam last July and should be taking it again right now, but I put it off to February. Damn, it is a happy birthday indeed for me that I am not there at the Oakland Convention Center ~ although I will be there Thursday afternoon, with flowers and chocolates and God-knows-what-else for all my friends who stagger out at 5 pm.
Sigh ~ the result of this wonderful day is that I am giddy-silly and on-top-of-the-world and so will say yes to anything ~~ want me to babysit? go ahead, ask! wanna borrow my car for a month? you got it! you owe me money? no problem, fuggitaboutit! Oh I owe you money? well, let me pay you back double! Whatever you want, today is the day to ask!