Stop Calling My Name

I was walking back to the house, carrying my baby brother Marty. Earlier, I was watching my siblings play by a now dry creek. When I was younger, I remember being too scared to wander off by myself because I was always told of stories of bears and mountain lions that roam the hills. I also remember stories about duendes and water spirits, who would sit on the fence posts, luring children towards the river. I knew the kids would be fine, I just felt more comfortable watching over them as my dad and step-mom prepare dinner.

I was walking back to the house because I heard my father calling out my name. “Kiko, Kiko-man,” he said. I rounded up my little troopers, counted three little heads plus Marty in my arms. We headed back to the house, and marched up the kitchen. The kids sprawled on the living room floor, tired from running around the creek. Dad turned around and smiled. I asked what he needed. He gave me a puzzled look and asked “What do you mean?”

“You called,” I replied.

“No I didn’t,” he said, and turned back his attention on starting a fire in the old iron stove.

***

I had a bad habit of sleeping in on weekends. It was my second year in college, and I was still trying to get used to in my new school. I just transferred from a state university and now was in a Catholic college. The transition was hard.

My room did not get any sunlight. It used to be a huge kitchen that my mom decided to partition to have an extra room so I wouldn’t have to use the bedroom upstairs. It was the family ancestral house that Mom decided to take care of after selling our place in the city, and I was scared sleeping upstairs by myself. Silly, I know, but the house was older than me, it was where my grandfather lived and he passed away even before my mom got married to my dad. I usually imagine his ghost walking around this house, and him seeing me and wondering who I was and why was I in his room.

My room does has a window – it was just really an opening so you could get some air. The opening lead to an outside kitchen that lead to a bamboo thicket. Stories were told of how the natives would run through this area and head towards the river trying to get away from the Japanese soldiers that once occupied the town. History painted a bloody picture of the grassland behind our house. I never stepped my foot out there.

My mom has a bad habit of leaving her keys behind. She would usually go behind the house, and yell out and would ask to open the front door for her. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was napping the day away. I heard footsteps in the backyard. Footfalls on dried leaves. “Kix!” Mom yelled. “Ugh, she forgot her keys again,” I thought.

I begrudgingly got up and opened the front door. I dragged my feet back to bed. Minutes passed by. I thought Mom should have walked in by now. Maybe she shopped and she was grabbing the bags from the car. Maybe she needed help with the grocery.

I got up and walked to the front door. Mom wasn’t there.

I walked backed in and put on my shoes. I left the house and hopped on a jeepney heading towards my grandmother’s place.

Maybe she needed the company.

Nana’s Gone

Nana passed away last night.

Well, she’s not “nana” in that sense. She used to be dad’s neighbor back in Colorado City. They literally shared a wall. But that’s not all they shared.

She was very close to my family. She introduced my dad as her brother. It’s her on going joke. “This is my brother Fred. I know, we don’t look the same, but my mother doesn’t want to talk about it.”

I didn’t get the chance to see her often. But when I do, it’s always fun. She’d tell me crazy stories of her hay days. She was an accountant like me, but a fun accountant. We had talks about finding a difference of $1.80 in our books, and knew it a transpose error somewhere, and we’d laugh knowing no one else would understand what that meant. She would show me her tattoos and I’d she her mine. I once saw her passport. It was green. A diplomat’s passport. I still haven’t figured that out but this is one of the reasons why I’ve always thought she was cool.

I know she lived a full life. She did what she wanted. She corrected any mistakes she may have done along the way. One of her final acts was getting in touch with someone she needed to make amends with. She took off and came back happy.

And now, she left us. And she left us happy.

Day 3: Seven Days Until Thirty-Two

Will be turning 32 soon and for the next seven days leading up to my birthday, I’m going to try to write down any lessons I may have learned from the past year when I was 31.

The past year was great for traveling. I traveled to see family, I traveled with my love, and traveled with my closest friend.

I’ve said it before and will probably say it again – had I had more money, I’ll probably travel more. And if you think about it, the only expensive purchases would be the plane ticket and the hotel – everything else can be on the cheap. Food doesn’t have to be expensive to be good, and how much shirts that say “I’ve been to blank and all I got was this lousy shirt”? All you need to do is make memories and maybe take pictures to keep as a reminder of the good times.

I haven’t done any traveling this year but two are already planned – a Hawaii trip to attend my aunt’s wedding and to be followed shortly, if not directly, of my brother’s graduation in Colorado. No other plans, but DC is close, and Philly even closer. There’s Boston and maybe even Montreal. I can always go to these nearby cities on a whim 🙂

New Orleans with my bestie Ryan. I was probably drunk when this picture was taken.

Philippines trip – saw my closest buddies from college. We went to a karaoke place. I did not sing.

My boyfriend Andy wanted to see some video game exhibit in DC. So we went.

Saint Louis trip – it was really fun. This was taken in the Bud brewery. We saw those horses in the Super Bowl commercial with Stevie Nicks singing Landslide.

Thanksgiving in Colorado. The three craziest of the Maes brood is in this picture.

My cousin from Kansas asked me to be her son’s godfather. I said yes and went to San Francisco first. Sounds very logical to me.

My Brother, the Gullible

Been bugging my brother about his graduation. I have a trip to Hawaii for my aunt’s wedding, and I want to make just one trip out of it so I don’t go flying from NYC to Hawaii, back to NYC then to Colorado.
I asked again this morning and he told me he doesn’t know, but there’s a meeting with the parents tonight and they’re gonna make the date announcement for the rest of the school year.
One quick search in his school’s website and I was able to figure it out. I told my brother about it and I said I’m willing to make a bet. Also told him I’m psychic.

Posted from WordPress for BlackBerry.

A Country Mouse visits A City Mouse

I spent Fourth of July weekend up in the family ranch back in Colorado to attend my cousin Dan’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding – very small, just close friends and family. Hay bales and planks were involved, camping gear and a double-wide trailer newly installed. From a city boy’s view, it was a hicks-ville but from a mountaineer’s eye, it was just pretty. Totally enjoyed it, and totally worth the hundred some dollars to fly from NY.
But aside from the holiday weekend and family wedding, my brother Saul also turned sixteen earlier this March. I have a long standing promise to each of my siblings that in the summer after they turn sixteen, I’ll fly them out to NY and spend a week with me in the city. To my youngest sister Bella who’s turning two this year – we have yet to talk and I have yet to make the same promise. This can be a possible loop hole when you turn sixteen.
We flew the same day to NY – my boyfriend Andy and I in one flight, and Saul on a separate flight. I tried to get the same flight but no seats were available. When we checked in, I made sure I spoke with the airline agent (and I did one of those I-just-glanced-at-your-name-tag-I-WILL-mention-your-name-if-shit-goes-down moves) to let them know that my brother was flying by himself. He had a connecting flight in Atlanta, and that was the only time he would be totally by himself. I’m not saying he’s not bright, he can read signs and all, but the kid is from the mountains – Atlanta airport is huge compared to Colorado Springs Airport’s twelve gates.
I arrived in LaGuardia around 7pm and let Andy go home while I stayed to wait for my brother’s delayed flight. He did not land until 11:30pm and we did not get to my apartment until half past midnight.
As any tourist in NY should do, first thing we did was go to Liberty Island. It’s a very historic site. It’s where Magneto used Rogue to power a machine that would turn the leaders of the United Nations into mutants. We spent most of the time following a group of young French girls and their chaperone. I bet Saul was thinking I wasn’t aware of what he was doing – I am very aware. He thinks he’s so slick.

We were trying to take a picture of the couple making out by the railing across from us.


We also went to The Natural History Museum. He took some pretty cool pictures of the dioramas, and of me posing next to dinosaurs. My Lady Gaga impressions were very useful – raise your paws up, little monsters. Since we were already in the area, we headed to Central Park and checked out Strawberry Field – when CDs first came out, I remember my Dad bringing compilation CDs and we would listen to The Beatles over and over all day.

We had dinner at Vynl which was in Chelsea. I’ve never seen my brother so uncomfortable! We were surrounded by rather outlandish gay guys, and it’s just something he’s never seen before. At one point, when I was going to the restroom, he actually said “don’t leave me by myself.” Poor kid. So I left him by himself and he wasn’t devoured by gay men. That was a teachable moment.
We hit the art museums in one day. We started at the Museum of Modern Art and showed him the three paintings that made me move to NY. We followed MoMA with the Guggenheim. I think he was more interested with the architecture than the art works inside. Though there was one work that got us both perplexed – a room covered in $100,000-worth of one dollar bills. A few blocks down was The Metropolitan Museum of Art and stayed in line for almost an hour to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit.

On our way to the Met, we saw this being sold on the street - reminded me of Grandma!


My good friend Ryan wanted to take Saul to the Bronx Zoo. I’ve actually been there only once before, and it was with Ryan as well. The zoo was fun, but nothing compared to the commute to the Bronx. It was a weekend so there were some train issues. At one point, we had to take a shuttle bus, and there was a crazy guy in the bus. I could feel Saul’s heart beating like a drum. The crazy had no shoes, and he kept yelling at everyone. I didn’t mind because I’m used to it, but when crazy guy put his hands in his pants, that was when I grabbed my brother by his hand because I would want to know where he is when I start defending him from a pervert with my free arm doing jabbing motions despite the lack of a shiv.

If they are undiscovered - how do they know it's forty for every one?

We went to the wax museum in Times Square – it was pricey to get in, but after seeing what’s inside, I decided it was totally worth. I’ll even add it to my list of where to bring tourists. The wax models were amazing as it is, but they also had a 15-minute 4D experience of the movie Happy Feet. You basically watch a 3D movie but you also “feel” what was going on in the movie. We got sprayed with water, poked on the back, saw bubbles. It was stupidly fun and I will do it again.

Saul with Jennifer Lopez. I told him to squeeze her ass, he wouldn't.


Was telling Woody Allen my idea for his next movie.


The last thing we did during his stay was go to the Empire State Building. I typically do that first when I take visitors out to show the city and what to see and expect but I figured I shake things up a bit. I’d like to think he was impressed by the city, and I felt proud showing him MY city.
He told me he wanted to come back, and he asked how much the plane tickets were so he can find a job and save up for a trip. It’s cute, but I don’t know if he’ll actually go through with it. We talked about our sister Angel who is next in line for the sixteenth-birthday-gift, and how I’m not going to let her travel the same way he did. I asked him if he can maybe drive her to Denver, that way, she won’t have a connecting flight and just fly direct from Colorado to New York. When Saul got back in Colorado, my sister called me and there was panic in her voice: “Saul told me you won’t let me fly by myself and that he’s coming with me when I come visit you. IS THAT TRUE?!” After calming her down, she asked me what we can do in New York. She wants to start planning for our trip. Three years premature.

Trapped in Utah; or, The President Made Me Miss My Great Grandmother’s Funeral

My dad’s mom’s mom, Granma Rosie, passed away Good Friday. I was in Barcade in Williamsburg, Andy and I were just leaving his best friend’s birthday party, when I got the phone call from my dad. I let it ring and go to voice mail; I didn’t want to pick a phone call about bad news in the street. I waited to get home so I can be in my room. I knew he was calling to let me know Granma Rosie passed away, my dad would never call me past nine o’clock on any evening unless it’s an emergency or news that cannot wait until the following day.

Funeral arrangements were made and I decided to go. Pueblo is a small city and does not have an airport, the nearest airport is in Colorado Springs, and that airport is not big enough to have any direct flights from New York City. Twelve gates, one terminal – it’s tiny. My itinerary is to fly over Colorado to Salt Lake City, then catch a connecting flight to Colorado Springs. But on that particular Thursday, a coworker told me that the President is flying in. Not really an issue until I found out that when the President flies in, they clear out the airstrip and no one can fly out or fly in. So I stayed in the plane knowing I’m going to miss my connecting flight. Sure enough, when I got to Salt Lake City, the last plane going to Colorado Springs has left five minutes before I landed.

I like Obama, and I’ve always thought he’s my golden boy – he can’t do anything wrong in my eyes. Until he made me miss the great grandmother’s funeral.

I was given a new itinerary – I fly in the morning to Denver, and then fly from Denver to Colorado Springs. Not even a direct flight was available. On top of this, no one can pick me up. All my family members will be attending the service in Pueblo, and then driving down sixty or so miles to Gardner for the burial.

I was ready to accept the fact that I’ll miss out on seeing everyone when cousin Jen told me that her husband was picking me up. That calmed me down real fast and spent the night in a hotel provided by Delta, eating food they also provided. All was well despite the fact I would be spending the rest of the night surrounded by Mormons.

The next two days, the President quickly made amends by killing Osama bin Laden. Golden boy and I are cool once again.