Tag Archives: 4utu

The Eighth

Even responsible hard working people get caught in the vicious cycle of poverty.  Bilingual banter on the dreaded due date that plays out across the world in every language known to man—-

 The Eighth

Down payment

Picket fence

Little iron gate

My dream

Wait, no our dream

Is a dime more than a pence

Start next week

It can wait

Didn’t matter anyway

Got denied

Why’d you make me try

I hate it when the lady says

Here, toma

Look me in the eyes

Here’s your discount anyway

Wait a month and try again

No crees when people say

Credit score stays high

I didn’t want it anyway

Landlady’s kind of nice

Who wants things

From a dream

Like Tio’s friend

From Beach City

His payment way too high

Credit union

Can’t trust me

Five tandas never late

Even when I pulled

The last

A seven, ten and eight

Apply again

A year passed now

Juanito married late

La hija de Antonia


That nice old landlady

Forget about that little dream

Wealth and equity

The bed and refri

Like Tony

We pay it every eighth

You didn’t tell me

About the hours

Cut, I can’t stay late

Boss says

Times are hard

Price of steel

Stocks not keeping pace

Building four was a gamble

Investors leap of faith

Ay Dios Mio

Que hago

It’s coming


The eighth


If you’re going to be the people, then be the people.  No te olvides.

We all the people.

Asi es.

OMWow! Nerd stuff I love by Estela Caballero

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,500 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Unfrenemy Yourself by Estela Caballero

“Things are too good.  It scares me.”  How could I be worried about something like things running too smoothly?  I had a vision in my head of what a good life would look like and now that it appeared I was in the thick of something good, I couldn’t stop worrying.  Why?

Unfrenemy yourself if it comes to it.  It’s a real word now and certainly a real thing.  Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.  Procrastination, letting others put you down or being overly hard on yourself are some of the sneaky and mean things we do to ourselves.  Here’s a quick self test– how do you respond when someone compliments you?  If someone says, “Hey, I like your shirt!  You always look like you just stepped out of a fashion magazine” do you quickly tell them it’s your sister’s outfit and if they saw what your real style was like they would have to call the fashion police?  There is a difference between arrogance and being able to accept and acknowledge that someone wants to call out your awesomeness.  Whether it’s fashion or a job well done at work, how about responding with a thank you and throw that negative self talk out the window.  It can be uncomfortable at first.  Here’s my advice– practice. I’m pretty sure you deserve it!

After you’ve mastered the thank you, it’s time to start working on that list of things you started but always push off until later.  If something is really out of reach and the only option is to wait on it– wait.  If you find that you have an excuse for every thing on your list, what’s really stopping you?  For a while, fear stopped me dead in my tracks.  Sure, I was afraid of failing and what people would say or think– for a while.  If I was able to move past that, sometimes the fear of succeeding at something would send a thunderbolt of fear back at me.  I know it sounds crazy but I convinced myself that the familiar was just fine, even if I knew there was something more. I once talked myself out of even applying for a job I knew I was qualified for.  By the end of the talk with myself I was convinced I was nuts for even thinking about applying.  For three years, I put off taking an exam for a professional certification that could open up so many doors.  I had taken practice exams, studied and paid a non refundable deposit each year only to cancel at the last minute.  I took back my future from fear and then took the test.  I walked out of that building with my unofficial score– I passed the test. Self-sabotage is an ugly cycle but the good news is that it starts and ends with you.  You have a choice.  It’s your life.  Drive!

I was a young– way too young mother but I never really dropped out for long.  I quickly passed small milestones like getting my GED and enrolling in courses at a community college.  My transcripts could be the soundtrack to my life with their rise and fall—  sweeping silences for many quarters.  When I stopped going to school in 10th grade I received a letter from the principal.  I am surprised I opened it.  It was a letter that cemented my frenemy for many years.  The letter said that if I was unable to complete high school, what hopes did I have of ever finishing anything.  It went on and on and perhaps if the tone had been that of “How can I help you?” and less mightier than thou I would have called and asked how I could finish high school– I did just need a little help.  I was 16 and had a child.  He was the principal and surely had heard of the pregnant 9th grader.  Now before you go to far down the path of “Where were her parents?” and that this story is what’s wrong with society, take a step back.  That’s a graduation picture down there.  I pay taxes and have a great job as an HR Manager.  I unfrenemied myself but I needed some help.  I share this to you potential letter writers, like my old principal–  the pen is mightier than the sword.  Use it wisely.

It wasn't just my dream anymore.
It wasn’t just my dream anymore. That’s me with my mom and my grandmother graduating from a university!

Girl Runner by Estela Caballero

Ya, I know I run like a girl. Jealous?


You run like a girl.

I know.

Thank you!

I’m strong like a girl.

Run hard like a girl.

Don’t you

Wish you were a girl like me!

Dedicated to my sister, one of the awesome bladers in the picture!

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The Naming of El Pajaro by Estela Caballero

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The hair brush was my enemy. It would come out early morning and my mother would warn me it was getting late as the time looking for the brush went on.  I couldn’t be late for school.  I loved everything about the elementary school me, my sister and eventually some of my brothers would attend.  There was a beautiful mountain view. From the hills tucked under the sharp mountain top you could see thick puffs of white steam from the plant my mom worked.  Then the small town gave way to fields. Straight rows of apple trees, peaches, alfalfa, wheat and more apples.  I usually hid the brush in hopes of being able to wear my hair down like so many of the other girls.  I had long brown hair and the only acceptable arrangements were one big braid, two small side braids or one ponytail.  The place where my hair and forehead connected would be tightly pulled back.  I was mistaken for Asian several times as a child.  My sister awaited the same fate.  As soon as my hair was fashioned into a respectable style, she would take my place sitting crisscrossed on the floor below my mother as she sat in the chair.  I shouldn’t have trusted her to hide the brush.  My mom always found it when she hid it.

We would each get two tacos made with flour tortillas my mother made every morning and night. They would be filled with whatever we had—eggs, beans, meat in sauce or chorizo and egg.  My mother would wrap them in aluminum foil and give us each a quarter to buy a small carton of milk at lunchtime.  It had been weeks since I had milk.  I used my quarters to play video games at the gas station on the walk to school.  Water was just fine with the tacos.  Besides, I liked to eat fast because I was embarrassed of my lunch.  I wanted sandwiches and Twinkies.  I thought those kids must be rich with all that good stuff in their lunch bags.

The wind would carry the smell of apples and damp earth around harvest time. Long open top trailers pulled by semis would haul the wooden bins filled with apples to storage.  I had heard a story about a man named Johnny Appleseed.  He walked the land and planted apple seeds as he went.  I marveled at how neatly he planted all the trees and how many different apple seeds he had.  Each time I ate an apple, I would look at the seeds and with a finger, scoop them out.  I tried to find a difference between the green, red and yellow but they all looked the same.  I cut some of them open to see if their existence was colored with their future fruit.  No luck.  I asked my dad how to tell the difference and how long it would take to grow a tree.  He answered as he always answered.  He patted me on the head and said all I needed was to plant it in the ground and it would grow.  That’s it.  He was not one for small talk, much less step by step instructions.  I planted the seeds and waited.  He knew how to make trees grow.

We had settled in the small town because there was work most of the year. He eventually became a manager of a large tree nursery.  He said he got the job because he always said yes.  He told us about the day he was working in the field hand pulling weeds from endless rows.  To the people in charge he was just one of the group riding every day in a company van that would take people to the fields they were needed. He wore white long sleeve shirts to get some protection from the burning sun.  His English wasn’t that strong yet.  The man we would come to know as El Pajaro yelled out to the group of bent over workers and asked if anyone knew how to drive a tractor.  El Pajaro had no sons.  His two daughters often accompanied him in the fields and orchards.  One more than the other.  Most of the workers kept working and only a few stood.  There was silence.  My father said yes.  He was given the keys for a small tractor that had been fitted with an attachment to make more rows for planting.  It couldn’t be that different from a car.  He had never driven a car in Mexico.  He lowered the attachment too soon and ran over freshly planted little trees.  The wooden branches that the group had been so carefully weeding around were gone.  He continued.  Only at the end of the day when he got off the tractor did he dare take in the full scope of his work for the day.  His rows were crooked and some in the group shook their heads.  Others laughed and told him that would be the last time he was ever going to be allowed near the equipment.  It was dangerous to talk to the bosses too much.  If they got mad at you, the van would just stop picking you up.  The next day was like any other.  My mother had got home at 11 pm from her shift.  She would work long days in different areas of a plant that made French fries and potato patties.  Sometimes they would sell the employees boxes and she would bring them home.  It was like a party for us.  I had never went to a restaurant that sold fries but I was sure the kids with the good lunches probably had.  My mother woke at 4 am to make my father his lunch.  My father waited for the van.  It came promptly at 5:30 am.  When he arrived, Mr. Perleberg wanted to talk to him.  El Pajaro would ask my dad if he had experience doing many other things after that day.  His answer was always yes.  People called him El Pajaro because it was hard for them to say his last name.  Parlybird they would say.  Eventually it became bird and bird in Spanish is pajaro.

My father wore a light tweed jacket, slacks and crisp white shirt under the jacket to El Pajaro’s funeral.  I had never seen him cry before that day.  Did El Pajaro know he was more of a father to my dad than his own?  He had purchases some large sunglasses for the funeral.  El Pajaro came to trust my father and placed him in positions ever increasing in responsibility.  For that my father ever grateful and loyal.

There would be a great fall from grace following the parting of Mr. Perleberg.  In a few short months, his 30 year career would be ended with little more than a 15 minute dismissal.


Lupus & Me: It’s All In Your Head by Estela Caballero

Lupus & Me:  Dying to Know

Please help increase awareness of this disease.  Someone is dying to know what’s wrong with them.  People with lupus don’t always look sick.  Hispanas and African American women are two of the largest groups diagnosed with lupus.

“Can you just test to make sure I’m getting enough oxygen?” I asked my doctor.  It helped we had a history.  She had been our family doctor for the last two years.  I had sat in the very same exam room several times, just never as a patient.  She was good with the kids but maybe I needed a specialist.  She stepped out for a few minutes and I could hear a cart rolling in.  On the silver tray were four empty vials.  Another nurse came in and had me breathe into a tube several times.  The test confirmed what the doctor told me, there wasn’t anything wrong with my lungs– well at least the levels of oxygen was within normal range.  I had been sitting in the exam room for more than an hour and if my worries had been right, I should have passed out on the way to the clinic.  Why did I feel like I wasn’t getting enough air?  I was going through the motion of breathing in and out but my chest tightened and I felt like I was dying.  I was scared.  I would return to the clinic two more times that week and by the end of the month the emergency room.  I wasn’t making this up.

I got a call from the doctor’s office.  They needed to see me in person about some results.  Earlier that month, I had seen a doctor at the walk in clinic.  I was in her office today for something unrelated.

I had started taking walks at lunch time with a friend at work.  I had friends before but with this new friendship, I came to understand that I can be a difficult person to befriend.  I was great at superficial chatting.  I was not comfortable with real discussion.  I didn’t have anything to hide but had just grown up with the understanding that you never get too close or open up too much.  There was always enough drama and opening my world up required more effort than my already exhausted spirit could sustain.  This friend didn’t give up and for that I am ever grateful.  Her persistence annoyed me.  Why did she care so much about me and why wasn’t she satisfied with the spurts of quick witty banter that seemed to tide most over.  I could always make a group bust up with laughter.

On one of those walks, she kept looking over at me.  She asked how I was feeling.  I gave her the default response but threw in a little reality because I knew she wouldn’t be satisfied with my half hearted truth.  “Something’s wrong,” she said.  I stopped walking.  She turned around a few steps later when she noticed I wasn’t at her side.  “I know something’s wrong!  Don’t you think I know that!  I just don’t know what it is and I just don’t want to talk about it,” I snapped back.  “No, something is really wrong.  Your face..your lip.”

All morning my upper lip alternated between tingling and numbness.  I stopped drinking my coffee because the lack of sensation in my lip amplified my natural clumsiness.  Brown droplets sprinkled on my shirt collar and a few down the front.  As we were walking, something to the left of my nose kept catching my eye.  It was like the patch of skin you can see of your own face if you cross your eyes except I wasn’t crossing my eyes.  I lifted my hand to my face.  It was 10:30 am and I know what my face looked like when I drove to work.  I looked normal.  The corner of my eye was catching the left side of my lip that had now swollen so much I’m sure people would have thought I got decked if they hadn’t seen the change happen with their own eyes.

My elbow had been swollen, hot and painful for several days.  I would get home from work and hold my arm out straight to inspect the tender fluid pocket that dangled below the joint.  That year I had countless random rashes, hives and painful skin conditions.  Aside from the occasional red thick darkening that blanketed my cheeks and the bridge of my nose, my face hadn’t betrayed me much.  I wasn’t having any trouble breathing but the swelling wouldn’t go down.  At the walk in clinic the doctor told me I had edema.  I was given large doses of allergy medication and went home for the rest of the day.  That’s it.  The doctor wasn’t overly concerned because I wasn’t having difficulty breathing.  He said I could get some tests done with my family doctor or come back to the walk in if the swelling didn’t go away in a few days.  I took over the counter anti-inflammation medicine for the painful elbow.  “Sometimes our bodies do strange things,” the doctor told me.  He told me to ice it and follow up with my doctor if it got worse.

I would leave my family doctor’s office questioning my sanity.  There wasn’t anything wrong with my lungs even though I felt like an elephant was sitting on top of my chest.  My oxygen levels were fine.  The swelling in my elbow went away and I just felt achy.  I was probably just getting the flu.  Both doctors asked if I had been under a lot of stress recently.  They were grateful for the answer my friend would not accept.  I was fine.  My lab results were fine.  I would be on a cycle of fine and sick a bit longer until the day my body announced in no uncertain terms that I was anything but fine.  Several months later a doctor would use a small plastic cup to show me the amount of fluid he estimated was trapped in the lining of my lung.  Yes, I was stressed.  Of course I was stressed.  A patchwork of different doctors and disconnected medical records resulted in treatment of the different symptoms I experienced over the years.  It truly takes a detective to connect the dots and my spotty history was just on the verge of becoming a Van Gogh.

The Stuff of Life by Estela Caballero

A camera teaches you how to see without a camera

Dorothea Lange

The stuff of dreams by Estela Caballero

I couldn’t tell you when I crossed the line but it happens to all of us.  Memories that don’t seem like anything special at the time they are being made define who we are, what’s important to us.  Even times of great sorrow or happiness that feel like nothing could ever make you forget sadly disappear.  They happen, we capture them with photos but I’ve yet to find something that takes me back over the line–  back to that time.  I want to remember how I felt during those sun drenched days where I ran barefoot in the mud with my brothers and sister.

Try as I might, my mind has locked away the experience and stingily gives me crumbs. I am able to recall that one time I was wearing the shirt that me and my sister would fight over as we ran towards an irrigation canal. We were seconds away from jumping into the closest thing to a swimming pool we had ever experienced.  We were fearless especially considering the depth of the large canal.  Neither of us knew how to swim.

Take care of the moments as they occur.  Experience them fully and know they are the stuff of life.

Afraid Of The Dark by Estela Caballero

More than half of the universe is made up of dark energy.  Dark matter inhabits much of the remaining space. Fear takes hold most often because of what we imagine is there– the unknown frightens us more than absence of light.

Black holes–even the name makes you want to stay as far away from it as possible.  The one I’m most familiar with is the one on cartoons or sci-fi movies, you know real scientific like representations from experts like Bugs and Daffy.  The idea is that a black hole is formed when a star dies.  One theory is that somewhere near the opening of the black hole is a point, the point of no return– the event horizon.  Lot’s of strange things are thought to occur at this point– even the possibility that time stops.

There could be a party going on in there for all we know.  Life takes us to all sorts of places.  When you find yourself standing at the edge of the unknown, past the point of no return, sometimes the only way out is to go through it.  Don’t let that darkness engulf you.  Standing there, you may discover what the distant observer could not see.  Hope.

One day I know I will have to leave this place.  One day it will be the last day my soul sleeps in this temporary dwelling.  We made a promise.  We will find each other again.  Meet me by the star–  you know the one.  Reborn, our new eyes will be able to see the mystery once cloaked in darkness.  I won’t be afraid–  our time here has taught me a valuable lesson, the absence of light is a beautiful riddle we will solve together in the next life.

Art and words are the original work of Estela Caballero ❤