Stirring the pot, raising hell and rearing children in the Bay Area

Posts Tagged "give"

Little Cesar

Posted on Jan 30, 2011 in Family and Friends, Thing 1 |

Little Cesar

“I want to be Cesar Chavez. I want to be like him. I want to help people and I want my own flag. Will you help me, mom?”

Oh yes, son. Yes, I will follow you and your passion to the end of the earth.

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F-Off Cancer

Posted on Jan 24, 2011 in Friends |

F-Off Cancer

I always knew cancer as the big scary C-word. My dad’s best friend was a hard-living smoker, drinking wild cowboy type and died of lung cancer at 40-something. But moms with cancer? F-off. That’s not fair. Over the years, various cancer devils have sunken lives of friends and family, but none has broken me until this year.

My family and friends with cancer are ass-kickers. They are true take-no-prisoners type women. I don’t feel sorry for them. It seems irrational, incomprehensible that in my 30s (still for another few weeks), I can have friends who are in remission from very serious cancers, two that are still fighting like hell, one that moved onto his next life, one that is cured and several that are not. What the F? Stupid f-ing cancer.

Susan’s latest post about feeling lucky as she plows her way into the first days of a new, experimental treatment, was one of the most inspired I’ve ever read. I sent it to the women I know — not for sympathy for Susan, but in hopes that they too, surrounded by cancer as we all are, would see what living means.

If you want to know what true living is like, read WhyMommy’s written work or participate in her brainchild, working to give  Lymphedema Sleeves to cancer patients. You can leave a comment on several blogs where friends of Susan are donating $1 toward Cricket’s Answer, the organization working with Susan to provide needs to women with breast cancer.

Hey Susan, all the way from California: No Princess Fights Alone.

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Gas Station Stalking and Other Random Acts of Kindness

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 in Featured, Giving, Motherboard |

Gas Station Stalking and Other Random Acts of Kindness

We sat quietly in the corner of the parking lot — inconspicuous as we could be, staking out the Rotten Robbie gas station. We watched people come and go, and waited patiently to pounce. Who was the next target of the day going to be? We wanted unsuspecting citizens — unaware of our stealth plan.

Inside the car, the four of us whispered, sitting low in our seats and diverting our eyes from suspecting passersby. How we’d pull-off the job was thoroughly discussed. And then, our opportunity arrived: a white Ford Explorer, driven by a 50-something woman. As we gave the O-K sign, I crouched down low and ran from our car into the gas station and shoved $20 into the attendant’s hand:

“HER!,” I whispered, “We want to pay for her gas! Now! Pump 4! Go! Go!”

I put my cap down and walked unsuspectingly back to our car, quietly closed the door and started the car. Next it was time for LaGringa’s part of the job. The woman walked into the station to pay for her gas and we peeled out of the parking lot, whipping an illegal u-turn and zooming up to the woman’s car. La Gringa jumped out and put our calling card on her car door. Then we took off, finding shelter, parked stealthily across the street and waited.

The woman came out of the gas station looking around in both directions — she was clearly suspicious of our actions. She walked carefully to her car and picked up the card on her door looked at both sides of it before reading what it said:

You received this act as part of Yahoo!’s effort to spread joy around the world. We hope this inspires you to make the ripple grow by doing something good for someone else. That’s how good grows. Share it at kindness.yahoo.com

Our car exploded with excitement. We pulled-off the job! Slowly, we creeped our not-so-stealthy red SUV out of the parking lot in cheers.

Back at the lair, we surveyed our booty: we secretly had hit three gas stations paying fo gas for unsuspecting citizens, bought bagels for two senior citizens who’d just gone for a run, and given out Lottery tickets to strangers on the street throughout San Jose. We were high on the thrill of secret giving. The feeling of giving a random act of kindness was not only contagious, but addictive. We piled in the getaway car and headed south, casing out our next target.

As part of my role with the Yahoo! Motherboard, I was given $100 in cash to pass-on random acts of kindness during the holiday season. You can learn more at: How Good Grows, Start a ripple of kindness with one simple act. kindness.yahoo.com
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Stop and Go

Posted on May 5, 2010 in Family, Friends, Rants and Raves, Featured |

Stop and Go

All hell has been breaking loose for a few months now. As most of you know from my posts at SV Moms, I’m pretty open about most of my life and it’s awesomeness and even crappiness, at times, but not this. This is just personal and hard.

Every morning for four months, I wake up  wondering how, and if, my mom will wake up today.  My mom is really fucking sick. And, truth be told, she really is the only thing that matters to me minute-to-minute right now. My life is on automatic-pilot. I get done what I have to get done and go where I should and do what I should at the bare minimum I can do it. Everything is stopped.

My mom doesn’t have a disease you’ve ever heard of and there aren’t really any cool races you can do to donate money for a cure. There’s not a t-shirt or a fund, there isn’t a sparkly skirt to wear in her honor.  It’s not cancer where everyone knows someone who has it. It’s a lonely, mean, shithouse disease called Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating PolyNeuropathy,  an unpredictable disease that attacks the body at-will. One day you might walk, the next, you are bound to a wheelchair. For hell’s sake, she was *just* dancing at my brother’s wedding six months ago.

Everything in our world has come to a stopping point. That is, until last weekend.

Last weekend I joined a group of 12 mom bloggers for a 200-mile run from Napa Valley to Santa Cruz. We’re not talking diapers-and-cheerios-type moms, we’re talking serious female writers who are on the forefront of a leading influential industry. As exciting as the run sounded,  by the time I made it to the team dinner, I was convinced that I’d made a huge mistake. I truly didn’t feel it was wise to leave my family. It’s just not a good time.

We left for Napa in the wee hours of the morning, and by the time @la_gringa set off for the first leg of our two-day journey, I understood that it wasn’t only a good time to be doing this race, it was The Time to be doing this race. It hit me that the Universe had given me these specific women, during this specific weekend, for a specific reason: they were here to let me GO.

And Go, I did. I ran four legs totalling 17.2 miles in 30-something hours at a pace of about 9:50. Every time I’d hop back in the van, I wanted to hug every single team member. They didn’t know the immense gifts they were giving me by the moment. They teased me about my runner’s high — every tree, person, view from the third row of the GMC van was more beautiful than the next. But, it wasn’t the endorphins at all, it was the joy of being in-motion. I’ve done a lot of racing in my time, every po-dunk 5k, four marathons, a haphazard 31-miler and dozens of 1/2 marathons. Each race comes with something special, but this one was different, it wasn’t a race I ran, instead, it was a freedom to run when my mom cannot walk. A freedom to GO when my whole world is STOPPED.

I’ve been home from the race for two days. Mom was admitted to the hospital this morning. She’s not well. It’s not good. As I pack up to head over to the hospital for the umpteenth time this afternoon, I take with me new gifts of GO. From my Heather, the ability to laugh through this; from Marie the excitement of working things out; from Christine the ability to steadily put one foot in front of the other to get to tomorrow; from Linsey the wisdom to walk, not run the toughest of hills; from Jane the subtle ability to stay-the-course even on the windy road; from Van 2, that lying under the stars can inspire; and from my dear @la_gringa the reminder to put my shoulders back (or in, as the case might be) and keep GOing.

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The Mall Police

Posted on Dec 30, 2009 in Family and Friends, Rants |

The Mall Police

My mom was in a wheelchair when I was a kid. She’s all good now, but a few childhood things remain. One, having a mom in a wheelchair gets you to the front of every line at Disneyland. Two, wheelchair races are not for sissies;  and three, the closer you get to the holidays, the harder it is to navigate stores. As you know, wheelchair-bound or not, shopping displays. life-size Santas and hoards of merchandise racks are a bitch to work around.

My Mall Police badge of honor started in 2003 when my twins were born. I’d gone to the mall and realized in horror that I couldn’t get through aisles in stores I normally could navigate with my double-wide Twin Savvy Stroller (or any of the other six strollers I had at the time). I walked into a store in San Jose and literally could not get to the items I wanted to see. As I pulled my stroller backwards to wiggle my way in, I noticed a wheelchair-bound woman trying to shop in the aisle. Eventually she gave up and left the store. In a rage, so did I.

That night I looked up the size of double-wide strollers online. It just happens to be the same width size as the American with Disabilities Act standards. So, in essence, my stroller was exactly the same size as a wheelchair. The wheels were turning. In theory, I thought, I could stalk every store in the mall and report the ones that were not compliant with wheelchair regulations. The more I thought about it, the more ticked-off I got: if it were my mother in a wheelchair and she couldn’t go Christmas shopping because she literally could not get down the aisle… the image outraged me. I decided that I would become the self-proclaimed Mall Police.

The next morning I headed out to Wesfield’s Valley Fair Mall in San Jose. I was armed with a notepad, a digital camera and my stroller (yes, the kids were in the stroller). I went up and down, traipsing myself through the mall, only stopping at Nordstrom (mild violations only) to breastfeed the kidlets. At every store where I could not get my stroller down the aisle, I would ask for a manager. I would tell them that my stroller was the exact width of a wheelchair and that they were in violation of the law (and of potentially buyers). Then I marched myself down to customer service where I reported each store. To Westfield’s credit, the mall management called me the following day. He had spoken to each store and warned them he’d call the County if they did not comply immediately. Got to give the guy credit for listening to a mom-on-the-warpath.

The following year, I noticed the same thing. And again, the Mall Police put on her badge and hit the mall with an agenda. This time I noticed retailers were more sensitive to the problem and more engaged in finding solutions. Leaving one store, I overheard the store manager tell a worker, “Move the rack, she’s right.” I smiled. Eat my stroller dust.

I am right. There are 2.1 million wheelchair users in the US and my mama was one of them. And every single one of them deserves 36 inches to get their chair around a store. In fact, there’s more. Many of our cute stores in San Jose are massive issues for people in a chair. Campbell, cute as can be, has multiple stores that are losing revenue every day from people who can’t get through the front door, muchless shop inside the stores.

Six years later, I’m still the Mall Police during the holidays. My children, long out of strollers, help me each year, pointing out the clearance violations. Indeed, it’s such a random, strange way to give to my community, but for me, it’s a passion. It’s a need. The holiday season is here and I plan to hit the stores tomorrow. Look out.

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Tree is Bare, Branches are Full

Posted on Nov 17, 2009 in Giving, Holidays, School |

The tree lighting ceremony drama –lighting up my frustration from here to Thomas Edison’s grave and back — continues. There are a million technicalities,  hurdles, economic downturn-rejections and red tape landmines everywhere I turn. All of this, of course, in two languages.  It’s sort of borderlining on panic.

But, there is also a fullness I’ve never really experienced before.

In my plea to local businesses to help us put lights on our holiday tree for our local community event, I found gems everywhere. There’s the lady from Discount Lift Rentals who calls me at 9 p.m. to tell me she’s going to call everyone she knows to give us help in finding a boom lift. Then she kindly explains to me the difference between the booms and the cherry pickers and the arms on the things. I’m pretty impressed the chick knows power equipment. That’s hot, in a Rosie ‘Yes We Can!” sort of way. There’s the friend who volunteers her husband and her vacation time to put up the lights — if only we had a way of getting in the tree. Then there’s the tough real estate agent who’s got a kinder than kind heart who offered to make calls on our behalf. And there’s the friend who’s gonna ask the neighbor if he can help. I’ve got a friend who runs a media site that’s willing to bullhorn our needs. And tonight, I’ve got several friends who know a friend who knows a friend…..  Everywhere there is help.

And in the strangest way, I feel the tree lighting up.

Don’t get me wrong. There ain’t enough kumbaya in the world to substitute for the dang tree being lit. But sometimes inspiration comes from the people who cannot say Yes, but not for a lack of trying. I love people who try, no matter the outcome.

So we wrote blind letters, cold called and begged every person in the book tonight to help us find a way to light our community tree. And someone, somehow will come through. I know it will happen. And when it does, it won’t just be the person who said Yes that gave the gift. It will be all those I was lucky enough to hear No from that would have if they could have.

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