Saturday, September 22, 2012

Krooked Kop and a Krow

Yesterday was a great day! Viktoria scored high on a math test about which she was worried for almost a week. I went to an interview and got the job! Now I have a permanent position with the CVUSD! Billy didn’t throw one of his OCD tantrums—which is always good because if you know Billy, you also know that everything has to be just so. And my husband started writing poetry! He is actually quite good at it, though he asks every five seconds, "How do you spell.... [insert any word] ?"

Anyway, all good things come to an end, and so did our great day. Today we woke up a little later than we were supposed to, rushed to Billy’s soccer game, got pulled over, and received a speeding ticket by a jerkosaurus cop who still had donut crumbs on his chin and was parked in the oncoming traffic (is that even legal?) Crook!

Oh, well. That’s life. Anyway, below is my husband’s first work of brilliance. Enjoy!

Koo-Koo Krow on a Kraps Shoot
by Gary Cruz

Koo-Koo Krow on a kraps shoot—
Morning dew, sliver of light.
The hungry krow: What a sight!

It’s warm; it’s fresh,
maybe even its last breath.
A twisted tail-tease,
an early morning dinner with ease.
And not a high-beam in sight.

Now or never would be too late.
Roll the dice: After all, it’s just some mice!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Murder, She Wrote

I committed a murder last night. But before you give me the life sentence or worse, the death sentence (actually, the life sentence would be worse), let me justify it.
After having worked on homework for three loooong hours with my kids, I decided that we would finally relax, cuddle up in front of the TV, and watch the best movie ever made, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Just as we were sucked into a suspenseful scene in which Harry is backing up into the roots of a tree in the Forbidden Forest, and a dark figure is about to attack him, my husband, who was outside in the backyard, started screaming at the top of his lungs. At first, my kids and I ignored the cries because we are used to him trying to get attention in this way (my husband’s the boy who cried wolf). But when ten minutes had passed, the scenes in the movie had gone from gloomy to whimsical, and the cries in the back yard still had not ceased, we began to worry. We went to check on our boy-who-cried-wolf. There he was, in his boxers and a pair of slip-on Vans not on his feet but on his hands, poking at a giant SCORPION! With its tail curled up in a ready-to-sting position, this THING moved about our patio as if it were a battlefield. It dodged the water hose, the legs of the chairs, and every time it got poked in the head with the tip of a stinky Vans shoe, it seemed to get angry and move vigilantly forward to find its attacker.
“Kill it! Kill it!” my kids and I screamed. But no. Our boy-who-cried-wolf kept on irritating this creature until it finally decided that since it can’t stab the Vans-hands, it would just go after the bare feet (mine and the kids’) that were dancing around it with extreme caution. At that, Billy and Viki took cover in the kitchen and watched as I, their brave mother who always has to save the day because their dad dares not make a kill or even a decision to make a kill (I’m so glad we don’t live in the hunter/gatherers period—we’d probably starve), grabbed one Vans shoe off the boy-who-cried-wolf’s hand, and smashed the enemy as it approached. There was no time to think about strategies or consequences; the shoe had to come down. Literally. (see below)

As it landed on the hugest scorpion I’d ever seen in my life, something splattered all over my feet and legs. At that, my husband screamed (again)... [feel free to insert any type of scream here; the more feminine, the better]. He pointed at my legs and said, “Now you have scorpion poison all over you; you’re gonna die!” Some more screams—from inside the house this time. My kids began to panic and completely freak out and begged me not to die. It took some time to assure them that I WILL live, that their dad is just trying to scare them, and that he’s nuts. Well, I didn’t have to really convince them that he’s nuts; they already know that. After everything and everyone had finally calmed down, and we were back in the living room finishing up our movie, my husband said, “I can’t believe you killed that beautiful creature.” My kids and I stared at him in disbelief until Viki took care of the situation, “Dad, just because you’re a Scorpio and have a scorpion tattooed on your boob doesn’t mean that you’re related to it or even that it likes you!”

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Moron Television Awards

Since the launch of MTV in 1981, this television network has been slowly but surely headed through a downward spiral toward doom. At first it served its purpose, with all its VJs playing music videos, news about music artists and their upcoming concerts, hosting charts and awesome Unplugged sessions. Then came Beavis and Butthead, and shortly after that, MTV bought into the whole reality-show-craze. That is when the music somehow got lost in the void which got filled with idiotic programming, and the network took a wide turn toward promoting pathetic rap and hip-hop artists who can’t spell or have no imagination, so they call themselves Yo Money, Cash Money, or Two Chainz (don’t even get me started on this idiot!), for example.
Like any other almost-teen, my daughter is obsessed with music videos, award shows, and mediocre media. I have to somehow control this flow of pathetic information into her brain, and so she has a nine o’clock curfew every night in order to prevent the TV from polluting her mind.
Thanks to our cable box, however, she was able to record the latest MTV VMAs. Yesterday afternoon, she asked me to watch it with her. Here I must pause, get up off my chair, and take a deep bow of gratitude to whoever invented the 4x fast-forward button on our cable box. My daughter and I were able to watch the whole show in less than 20 minutes, most of it without causing permanent injury to our ears, eyes, and brain. 
VMAs was a freaking circus, led by a muttering midget, Kevin Hart, who is supposedly a comedian. Uhm, not funny! Then, what was the deal with the blond parade? Chris Brown is no longer brown; he's blond, with some sort of a blue kink, which makes me think that he subconsciously wants to be a Smurf. Miley Cyrus went blond, looking like a doppelganger of Pink, who is also blond, by the way. Demi Lovato is also blond, but whoever dyed her hair just made Demi look like a Mexican gypsy who accidentally stumbled out of the welfare line and onto the stage. And Nicki Minaj? [insert sarcastic laughter here] Her hair wasn’t even blond; it was totally yellow, as if someone had spilt a highlighter all over her head! But I guess dumb blondes have more fun—the operative word here is DUMB. Surprisingly, Katy Perry’s hair was black, which only suggests that the blues, pinks, reds, and whatever other colors her hair used to be, had done their work of seeping into Perry’s brain and damaging it without the possibility of repair. She sounded like a moron when she presented an award. 
Next, let’s move on to One Direction. All I have to say is that One Direction needs to get a one-way ticket out of the U. S. of A. because boy-bands are a passé. Any boy-band after New Kids on the Block has just been awkward and unnecessary.
Moving on to the cast of the Twilight Saga, which, surprisingly (NOT!) without its protagonist, Kristen Stewart, came to promote the last part of Breaking Dawn. They said that the film is going to be SO epic....! I beg to disagree. Give me a break. Nothing with a small pack of wolves is epic! The Twilight cast can kiss the Harry Potter cast’s ass! Now that was a true epic! Which reminds me, Emma Watson, sweetie, what the hell are you doing at the VMAs? You are bigger than this. You don’t need this kind of exposure. I hope you remember it next year.
Next, I’m only going to say a few words about the Lil Wayne & Two Chainz performance: What the fuck?
Green Day: I know that you have survived the impossible by becoming the only punk band that still sticks around. But please, wipe off the eyeliner and pack it up. Go plant a tree, build a house, have a son...I mean, be a man. Leave the screaming into the microphone to someone younger.
And one last note: Am I the only one who thinks that MTV is becoming more and more prejudiced? Out of sooooo many white artists, they only invited Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Pink. HA! Maybe the network should merge with BET next year.
Okay, I think this pretty much sums up my impression of my twenty minute fast-forwarded show that was the VMAs. With this, I would like to give MTV a brilliant piece of advice. Change your name! Everyone knows that MTV no longer stands for Music Television. With all the reality shows geared toward stupid pregnant teenagers, thrashing women, indulging in drunken orgies... You’ve already shown your true colors; now show what the “M” really stands for: MORON TELEVISION.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day's Labor of Love

Happy Labor Day! Since I have a day off, and today is supposed to be dedicated to all the hard working people, I figured that I would do a little labor of love about the subjects I love: writing, reading, and books in general.
Enjoy the famous quotes of some people I look up to. And if you are an aspiring writer (I hope you know what laborious occupation you are getting yourself into), may the following serve as a guiding light through the tunnel of madness (or you can call it “imagination”, but really, who are you kidding?).
Oh, and happy anniversary to my Muse—my husband Gary—whom I “fished” out of the ocean at Laguna Beach fourteen years ago.
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
“This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back in again.”
~ Oscar Wilde
“A writer is congenitally unable to tell the truth and that is why we call what he writes fiction.”
~ William Faulkner
“If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing. I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.”
~ Lord Byron
“The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
~ Samuel Johnson
“Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.”
~ Virginia Woolf
“You can never correct your work well until you have forgotten it.”
~ Voltaire
“I like to write when I feel spiteful. It is like having a good sneeze.”
~ D. H. Lawrence
“He who does not expect a million readers should not write a line.”
~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”
~ Edgar Allan Poe
“First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him!”
~ Ray Bradbury
“My own experience is that once a story has been written, one has to cross out the beginning and the end. It is there that we authors do most of our lying.”
~ Anton Chekhov
A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.
~ Emily Dickinson 
“I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.”
~ Gustave Flaubert 
“The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its supreme purpose through him.”
~ Carl Jung 
“I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”
~ Stephen King 
“Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
~ Rudyard Kipling 
“The author must keep his mouth shut when his work starts to speak.”
~ Frederich Nietzsche
"All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
~ George Orwell
“And as imagination bodies forth the forms of things unknown, the poet's pen turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothings a local habitation and a name.”
~ William Shakespeare
“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of a void, but out of chaos; the materials must in the first place be afforded; it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself.”
~ Mary Shelley
“If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
~ Toni Morrison
“A writer should have another lifetime to see if he's appreciated.
~ Jorge Luis Borges
And finally:
my mind is like a teapot:
thoughts slowly simmering
until they reach the boiling point;
and only when I can no longer stand
the whistling in my head,
I pour them out
on paper
                                                  ~ Aneta Cruz


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Who Wants to Live Forever?

My favorite boy in the world—my son Billy—used to always tell me that he wants to marry me. This, I think, is the purest, most innocent and unconditional demonstration of a child’s love. My daughter would immediately call him a weirdo, of course, and try to convince him that sons can’t marry their moms. Billy, however, didn’t believe her and was determined to stick with his marriage proposal. Until recently, when my best friend’s son, Stephen, explained to him that it is indeed true: “Sons cannot marry their moms because by the time sons grow up, their moms will be old. And you don’t want an old wife, do you? ”

After Billy conveyed Stephen’s explanation to me and apologized for not being able to marry me in the future, I became really sad because I realized that a part of my son’s innocence had been stolen. I didn’t know what to say or how to react, so I just stared at him through the tears which were quickly filling up in my eyes. Billy must have sensed my feelings. He immediately hugged me and said, “Don’t be sad, Mom. I won’t let you get old. I’m gonna become a scientist and invent some pill and make you be young forever. And then I’ll marry you!”
At that moment, I flashed back to my very own childhood. I used to say something very similar to my Mama (Hungarian Grandma), with whom I was very close. There were times when her face would express such sadness thatI couldn’t help but wrap my little arms around her and wonder why she was so unhappy. One day I asked her, and she said that she was sad because she wouldn’t see me grow up; she could feel that her time was near. Even at the fragile age of eight, I understood what Mama was referring to. That is when I promised her that I would become a doctor and come up with a miracle shot that would make her live forever (now I see that Billy is a lot more considerate than me; he knows how I hate needles, so he wants to invent a pill! Bless his little heart).
Unfortunately, I can’t stand the sight of blood, needles (well, sharp objects in general), and sick people make me sick. Clearly, I never became a doctor, nor did I invent anything even remotely close to a miracle shot, so I couldn’t make Mama live forever. She died of a heart-attack and since then, I have been reluctant to make any promises.
I cried for weeks after Mama’s death. She was a devoted Christian and always used to tell me that when I’m sad, lonely, or feel like I’m in trouble, I should just close my eyes and pray to God for guidance. I wasn’t brought up in a religious household or even a religious country (religion was forbidden back then in Czechoslovakia), but I always thought that there must be some sort of a higher power, which Mama called God, but for which I did not have a name yet. However, after this so-called God had taken my Mama away, I lost all belief, whether in God or whatever the higher power was called. Nevertheless, one day I did close my eyes and prayed—to Mama. I prayed for her to come back; I prayed for her to forgive me because I couldn’t make her live forever; and then I prayed for her to come back again.
That night I began to believe in spirits. Mama came to me in my dream, which was so vivid I wonder to this day whether it was a dream at all. She told me that she was at peace, happy, and healthy, that she was watching over me, and that every night, she rubbed my back just like she used to do when she was alive. And if I stopped crying and worrying about her or about what I’d promised her, I could even feel her around me.
I did. And slowly my sadness dissipated, and I knew that Mama would be with me forever.
I was wrong. Several months ago, I had yet another very vivid dream about Mama. She told me that it was her time to go. “But you died already!” I shouted in my dream. She smiled, kissed me, and said that this would be the last time I'd see her in my dream because it was her time for reincarnation. And when I woke up in the morning, with a pillow soaked from tears, I sensed that I needed to make my Mama immortal in this world to get some sort of a closure for myself and to prove that I can keep a promise.
Though I haven’t seen Mama in my dreams since that sad night when she said her last good-bye, my Mama lives eternally in the pages of my book and in this poem.

a misty cloud
she floats above the corner of my bed,
in all her goodness, watches me sleep
night after night.
Sometimes she gets closer,
and her presence wraps me
with silky-soft,
pleasant warmth
unlike my blanket.
Through fluttering eyelashes I peek
and dare not move.
To disturb her fragile being
would be my nightmare.
I breathe her in and out
to the rhythm of my thumping heart,
and my mind, clear of all distractions,
Does she know I see her? 

As for Billy—I hope that he becomes a scientist or anything he wants to be. Being young forever isn’t such a bad idea, is it? I just don’t know that my old mind will have the wits to keep up with my young body.