Mixed Tapes

The writing class I’m taking this summer is proving to be a lot more useful than the class I took last semester. One of our assignments for next week is to mimic the form of one of the pieces we were given to read. The one that seems most intriguing is the one about the mixed tape. Each chapter talks about a different song from a mixed tape. I’d give you the author, but it’s sort of dark in the room and I’m afraid if I leave this to find the name, I may not make it back. Anyway, we were given the liberty to do anything we want with the piece. He said we could pick movies, or scents…or whatever we seem fitting.

This post isn’t a shot at the assignment; instead, it’s about a memory that piece evokes.

When I was a kid, Gabi, Jorge, and I spent a lot of time together. To pass the long summer days and Christmas vacation, we watched television, played made up games like “Basta” (our version of Scategories), annoyed one another (or our dad), or sang.

One of our favorite things to do was listen to music and sing along. I remember we had a copy of a choir book that someone had brought home from school. It had a greenish marble effect on the cover with a white spine and inside. It had many classics like “The Star Spangled Banner,”
“El Paso,” “Silver Bells,” and my favorite “Cuckaberra.” Other times, we belted out our current favorites from pirated cassettes. There would be times we would listen to the radio for hours trying to catch a song to pirate only to push down the play button only instead of the play and record buttons at the same time.

My brother Jorge was always my hero. I thought he was the smartest and funniest person ever. I felt that I could always count on my big brother, but music allowed Jorge and me to strengthen our bond. I remember being a four or five and hanging out with Jorge in the room he shared with our other two brothers and listening to the oldie’s radio station on a little radio as we lay on the floor in between our brother’s beds trying to sty out of their way. When he started listening to country so did I. And when he came home on leave from Army with a Simon and Garfunkel tape, I started to like them too.

His time in the Army was one of the saddest periods in my life. I hated that he had left, but I knew that it’s what he wanted so I learned to deal with it. One thing that made it somewhat easier was that he wrote to me a lot. He’d send postcards, letters, and my favorite, mixed tapes. I did the same for him, especially the mixed tapes. Thinking back on it now, it was pretty cheesy because we’d not only record songs off the radio, other cassettes, or cd’s (when we got the fancy equipment), we also talked…sometimes while the songs were playing. Often times, we would sing along to the song and record it all.

I’ve often wondered if he listened to these tapes while his friends were around, and if he did, did he get any beef over them like the time he kissed me good-bye in front of his friends when I was in first grade and he was in eighth. Still, it was cool. We were like Felicity and her pen-pal only we came first.

After he came home from the Army, music was still something we had in common and it continues to be an interest we share. As with my friend Gabriel, there are so many songs I can listen to now and spark up some sort of memory about my beloved brother, Jorgie Porgie.



Being the youngest of six, I tend to be sort of the brat of the family. I am truly the baby of my family. I also have many of the “baby qualities” and perks. So it’s no surprise that my b-days are pretty sweet.

As a kid, I always had a huge party. Also, it almost always rained on that day, so the whole party had to be moved inside which resulted in lots of cracked cakes. Thinking back, I imagine the gift table stacked beyond belief and a long train of bills pinned to my dress or short suit. I always felt like a princess that day. I wonder what my mom had to do to get enough money to throw me such huge parties.

Every couple of years, my family will still have a party for me like that. For my 18th birthday, my brother had a frog piñata specially made for me. For my 22nd birthday, I had a going away/birthday party. Again, Jorge made me some special invitations that involved Hershey’s bars with a personalized wrapper that included all of the party info. I also had two piñatas, a Hello Kitty and Sponge Bob, and a brinca brinca. Then for my 24th, my sister had a hot dog and cupcake party for me at the office. I love having these types of parties once in a while because it reminds me to stay young.

The years that I wasn’t having a kiddie party, I’d be doing something equally cool like going to Western Playland (the amusement park in El Chuco), bar hoping with Carolina, hanging out with my Sis and Co., or being showered with gifts and attention by my mom and/or Dan the Man.

Of course, I’ve had my share of bad ones like my 12fth when my brother’s left, one to the army and the other to drive a truck, or when I turned 21 was sick due to gallstones, but I didn’t know about it, or when I turned 25 and for some reason (probably PMS and an unknown future) I was a total basket case and cried most of the day.

Still, most of them have been pretty great. And today, well, it’s not an exception. My work buddies celebrated my day with a yummy chocolate moose cake before school let out. Today, I’ve gotten so many b-day wishes from my friends and brother on Myspace, my mom and sister called me. Daniel surprised me with a poem, cake, a pink fishing pole, and pink UH beer coozie, and later, dinner with my Sis and Co.



I hate how I let things go at times. There are so many things that I wanted to blog about and didn’t. Sometimes, I did come home and try to write a post, but they’d always end up sounding trite and maudlin so I banished them to a folder in My Documents. (I recently learned the word maudlin and was dying to use it. I heard it on the Gilmore Girls and it was on the back cover of a book I was reading.)

Anyway, I finally got around to uploading some pics that I needed for some of the posts that I was planning. Here goes…

Friday May 11th was a very literary d
ay for me. First, we had an author Ray Villarreal come visit our school. I was so excited because I’d worked really hard to get all this worked out. The kids really enjoyed it. He didn’t present to my class because we have hopes that he’ll come next year. He presented to an eighth grade class and their teacher, Ms. Hays, did a phenomenal job of preparing the kids for the visit. If you have any kids (yours or borrowed) that enjoy wrestling or just a good story, pick up a copy of
My Father, the Angel of Death for them. (Insert Reading Rainbow music here.)

The other literary event going on that day was the release part for
Windows Into my World, it was my debut as a published author. I went over to my sis’s right after school and had a beer to help calm the nerves. Before the reading began, I was surrounded by my friends from work. It was so nice for so many of them to come. Our faculty party was the same night quite a ways away and still, they showed up. On Monday, this bulletin board/showcase was adorned for me. An announcement was made during the morning announcements. I didn't really get to hear it though because my students began clapping midway. They all made me feel like a super star.

I was really sad at the end of this year because I wasn’t going to see my co-workers as often. Our sixth grade team is the best. One of the concerns I had when I was looking for a job was if I would find an environment like the one at Arte Público. Our production team was tight. We worked so well together because we got along really well. Luckily, that’s how it is at San Jac. Once I got past the first year nerves/fears and some of our colleagues have been replaced, our team has become a very pleasant group. I’ve learned a lot about my colleagues and have realized that some of my initial impressions were a bit erroneous.

So far, summer vacation has been going well. I know I’ve only been off for one week, but I was seriously scared about becoming depressed or whatever. I spent the first couple of days being lazy.

Monday, I got to work on cleaning the house. I did this mostly because my friend was coming to get me in the evening so that I could go with her to get some ink (a tattoo). She didn’t end up getting it because it was raining and the guy doing her tattoo couldn’t leave his house because his street flooded. We ended up having dinner at a restaurant on the
Kemah Boardwalk that smelled like beef.

Tuesday I had to spend with Dan the Man because he was off. We didn’t do anything interesting. I think he ended up playing video games in the living room and I reading and wasting time on the internet.

Wednesday, I tackled the bedroom. Pancha, my old, broken down desktop pc, had still not been put away. However, to get me in the spirit of cleaning, I did some retail therapy. I bought myself a new purse and some shoes.

Thursday, I had staff development. This particular class was titled “The Best of Talking Books.” Basically, you’re given the synopsis of a book and some websites related to the themes and/or settings of the book. The best part about this is that we get free books. Ironically, everyone that was sitting or thought about sitting at the table I was at won during the first round. I got a book called
Strange Happenings. So far, it’s pretty good. Because there weren’t many people there, some of us got two books. The second book I got is The Invention of Hugo Cabret. When she started talking about that book, I knew I wanted it. I couldn’t wait to get home to read it which is what I did as soon as I got home. The book was amazing. It’s about 500 pages long. However, a lot of them are illustrations. Check out the link, I think you can see the format of this book. I think it’s one of the most ingenious layouts for a book I’ve seen in a while.

Today, I went to get a haircut. Dan the Man and I usually go get haircuts at the same time. When we pulled up to the Super Cuts, we noticed that there was a ton of people. Dan the Man suggested the place across the street. It turned out to be a terrible idea because we ended up paying fifty bucks for our haircuts. He usually pays for them because they get done with his hair first. When I heard how much they were charging us, I didn’t refuse the wash or styling. I know some people pay that or more for a haircut, but not me. Todavia me duele el codo.

Now that I feel I’ve caught you up, I’m off to do more housework. At least Dan the Man is cooking tonight, he promised me that if we bought a grill he’d cook more often. I wonder what I need to get him so that he’ll take out the garbage or change the litter more often.