I'm So Great: The Rantings of a Jaded Youth

When I grow up, I want to be just like me.

An Introverted Ramble and Some Love for my Nana December 9, 2010

Hey guys, I’m sorry that I’ve been away for so long and that my updates have been so sporadic. I always hate reading these kind of posts, but I know it’s sometimes necessary to tell people you’re not dead. It’s been a busy couple months and I’ve been in my own head for a lot of it having something of an existential crisis, which I finally recognized yesterday.

Every year my nana, Lee Fontana*, gathers up Christmas presents for kids involved in the Police Activies League (P.A.L.) and yesterday she had her annual party for all the contributors, which ends with the Hemet and San Jacinto policemen carting away all the presents covering every square inch of her living room. Now when I think of some old woman giving presents to kids she doesn’t know, I just assume she’s loaded and has nothing better to do with her money. I can’t help it. I mean, who else would be able to do something like that? My nana, however, is 75, lives on a fixed income from social security, and lives out in Hemet, Ca so she can make ends meet. In order to get this endeavor organized in time for Christmas, she starts asking people for money and presents in August and doesn’t stop until December. She goes to restaurants, stores, and people to literally beg for her cause. Every year she swears she’ll never do it again because it’s so much hard work, and every year she realizes that she’s the only one who is willing to put that kind of effort into kids she doesn’t know; that if she stopped going out there and squeezing corporations and generous people for as much as they’re willing to give and then also giving to the cause as much as she herself can afford, these kids will not have even the three Christmas presents each that she can give them.

It’s inspiring to see this five-foot-tall, perpetually-frazzled Jewish woman going out there and doing something for her community, and I wish I had something I was as passionate about. Watching her talk with and shovel pizza into the entire Hemet Police force as if they were her michevous sons made me ache for the same kind of familiarity. I feel like we’re getting closer to it than we were a few years ago, but the distance and the years lost make it a slow process. It was hard to keep in touch with my dad’s parents for the years I wasn’t speaking to him and even once I had started again. My Grandpa Polo’s recent death made me realize that I had him around my whole life and I barely knew anything about him. Now I have my other grandparents in my life again and they’ve been reaching out to me and I don’t know how long they’ll be around to reach out. It made me realize that I’m an adult now and it’s my responsibility to meet them half-way and get to know them and rebuild my relationship with them while they’re still around. None of my four remaining grandparents seem like they’re ready to go, but neither did my Grandpa Polo. That said, I have learned more about my grandparents in the past year than I have my entire life and I’m grateful for that.

Alternately, watching Nana’s passion for her cause made me realize that I’m not doing much with my life. I know I’m only 23 and I have time to figure out what I want to do, but I feel like I hold back because I’m lazy and easily-distracted and, when it all comes down to it, I worry about failing. I don’t want to put everything I have into something and then be shattered when it collapses in on itself. I worry that subconsciously I feel like even if my endeavors don’t go up in flames, I shouldn’t devote my whole ass to them because I will very quickly get bored with any one thing I’m doing, thus dousing my flame before it even gets started. It’s hard for me to talk about my misgivings about myself though. I’ve spent so much time presenting a strong, confident image to the world that I’ve become that image. I think if I dwell too much on my worries, I’ll become those too.

So for the new year, I need to make more time for my family; for my dad’s family because of the time we’ve spent apart, and for my mom’s family because my work has been preventing me from joining in on holidays and get-togethers. I also need to make more time to put my whole self into everything I do because I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea that everything you do should be your best work. Everything you put your name on should be worthy of your name. No more holding back.

*I wanted to note that the only places my Nana is on the internet are her slightly dusty myspace and facebook pages. I’ve linked her myspace above because she can at least work that one. If you’d like to get ahold of her to donate for next year, you can e-mail her at Leesbug@netscape.com. She’d really appreciate the help. Please don’t spam her.


I Guess I Never Did Explain About My Dead Grandpa… November 18, 2010

Filed under: My Opinions (Not Necessarily Good or Right) — Stephanie Fantastic @ 6:14 pm
Tags: , ,

I had a long, angry post written out when he died and I’m kind of glad that due to errors with my WordPress app., it was completely lost seconds after I finished it. I’m not going to lie and say that he was a great man, but I’m not going to rage at him either. The service for his funeral was very nice and it did do what I believe funerals are meant to do: it commemorated how he changed our lives for the better and it got the family together, which I know he would have liked. Everyone knew the way he was and no one denied it, but we have some excellent speakers and storytellers in the family and it was really helpful for me to hear about better days.

My brother was the one to make me actually mourn Grandpa’s death with a frank description of when we used to live with our grandparents. My grandpa was always an early riser (unlike me) and (like me) always had a project to work on. He was up with the sun every morning building a jungle gym, making a full-size playhouse, laying down bricks, and generally turning our unkempt backyard into a beautiful garden. Unfortunately, he didn’t see why anyone else wouldn’t be up once he was and our alarm clock in those years was window-rattlingly loud, staticky mariachi music. Now I have no problem with mariachis. My bee eff laughs at me every time I put on a ranchero station. What I have a problem with is mornings. I can’t get up before 10 without feeling put upon. Shoot, now that I think about it, once I got out of school and the 6:30am grind, my migraines were much less frequent. Anyways, the mariachi battle with my sleeping mind and the smell of greasy, home-cooked Mexican food are the two things that stick out most in my mind about Grandpa.

I appreciated that the pastor who was running the service had known my grandpa personally because of my grandpa’s constant involvement with the church. It really made the service feel more intimate. I hate hearing people who have never met the deceased sterilely talk about them. I digress though. I appreciated his fellow missionaries who came up and spoke about a part of my grandpa’s life that I had never seen or been involved in: his trips to Mexico with the church to help the poor and the imprisoned. I had been aware of his many trips back to Mexico to help the country he’d left behind, had seen him gather up our old clothes and toys to give to needy children in Ensenada, but I was too young to ever be directly involved or quite understand it.

Most of all, though I appreciated his little brother Candalario’s take on his life. He told a story of legal Mexican immigrants living in Wilmington, joking and being kids and making the best of what they had. I haven’t heard much about how my grandpa got here or his family because he wasn’t big on talking about the past, but hearing his brother’s account of him made me laugh and made me realize that he’s been the same man his entire life and no one was going to change him.

So good-bye, Apolinar Gonzalez. You weren’t perfect. Hell, even the pastor said that. You were gruff and stubborn and opinionated, but you loved your family and your God in the only way you knew how to.