People

The Heart Shaped Scar on my left arm

A lot of of us have that one scar people always ask us about. Unfortunately, being a mischievous young man in my earlier days, I have several. So I decided to share the story on how I got the  ❤ heart shaped scar on my left arm, since it is one of the most visible ones for everyone to see.

The heart shaped scar on my left arm that I acquired when I was in the 4th grade.

The heart shaped scar on my left arm that I acquired when I was in the 4th grade.

When I was in the fourth grade, I went to to the corner of the neighborhood block to play with a friend at his house. Anthony lived there. I was wearing a wool sweater that was black. I was chasing my friend and somehow my sweater got caught by the sharp butterfly latch, my arm was caught inside but I just yanked it out. I noticed a hole in my sweater so I started walking home to tell mom. I remember turning back when Anthony had asked where I was going in a confused look. In my mind, I kept thinking how much trouble I was going to be in for tearing a hole in my sweater. 😰 I got about 1/2 way home when I saw blood and some veins hanging out of my arm, I did not even have any pain in my arm until I saw the blood. 😵 That’s when I started freaking out!

ANYWAYS, I ended up getting stitches and now I have a heart shaped scar on my left arm. 🏥 I never went to that house, EVER AGAIN. 😶 Tell me about your scars? ☺ 

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Professor Rene Díaz-Lefebvre creates legacy with multiple intelligences program.

I first wrote this in December 2003, I have gone back and re-written several times, never really feeling as if my words are able to truly capture the essence of this great individual, this man,  who I consider one of my best mentors while in college. I would sit in his office and we would talk often for hours and hours in both English and Spanish about anything, school, politics, family, culture. I recall him saying to me once, ‘You belong in a University like Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, you are too advanced for this setting.’ When I first met this man, I had felt relieved at what I had been preaching for years about education and educational teaching reform, that someone with a Doctorate could officially back up my theory up in a professional scholarly format. Let me introduce you to one of the greatest teachers I have ever met.

 

Professor creates legacy with multiple intelligences program.

By Gabriel Cruz

An older man with broad shoulders wearing blue denim jeans, tennis shoes, and a polo shirt sat down in a classroom filled with people of a younger generation. He gives off the impression that he is a student himself, but then you notice his long silver mustache, slicked back salt and pepper hair and deep dark powerful eyes of an eagle. You get the sentiment that you are in the presence of an aristocrat, yet he is very humble, because of the commanding presence he displays.On Nov. 21, 2003, the same man, René Díaz-Lefebvre of the Glendale Community College psychology department was awarded the “Faculty of the Year” award by the Arizona Association of Chicanos of Higher Education in Tucson at the Pima Community College West Campus.“Pima is a special place to me. I had returned home, and the feeling was surreal,” said Díaz-Lefebvre.

René Díaz-Lefebvre, Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner

Dr. René Díaz-Lefebvre explains to his students that all students see, think and LEARN differently.

As the first student ever to be enrolled at Pima back when it was still an airport hangar, one would think he was creating a legacy, but his family saga in Tucson goes even further back in time. His great grandfather Jose Antonio Comanduran was one of the first commandants of the Tucson Presidio in the 1700s. His great great uncle was Sabino Otero. Sabino Canyon, a scenic area in Tucson, and Sabino High school area named after him. This is just a small line of a dignified bloodline that Díaz-Lefebvre comes from. People had doubts about Díaz-Lefebvre early on though.

At the age of seven, several of his instructors visited his home and told his mother he was incompetent at learning the material presented to him and would never amount to much, but his mother told him, “Mijo, yo se que tú eres la más inteligente persona en el universo,” which translates in English to, “Son, I know you are the most intelligent person in the universe.” Many years later, after falling asleep in the Library of Harvard University, Díaz-Lefebvre awoke in tears after having a lucid dream about his mother visiting him, and reminding him how much she believed in him, and how much he really did belong at Harvard just like anyone else.

In 1983, Díaz-Lefebvre became captivated with the examination of Howard Gardner on Multiple Intelligence Theory. Gardner argued that “intelligence is not some static reality fixed at birth and measured by testing and that contrary to traditional teaching, that one’s intelligence was actually comprised of eight or more intelligences. Utilizing the methods, students get out of their comfort zones and explore several ways of learning.”

Eleven years later, as Díaz-Lefebvre felt that too many students were falling through the cracks of education; he decided to introduce the Multiple Intelligence/Learning for understand program (MI/LfU) at Glendale Community College as an experiment. He knew all the students ‘were smart, but it was how smart they were,’ that captured Díaz-Lefebvre’s mind.

The eight components used in the MI/LfU are Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist, Spatial, Body-Kinesthetic, Logical-Mathematical, Musical or Linguistic.

René Díaz-Lefebvre

Díaz-Lefebvre is amazed as Amy Rosenlof explains a poem in detail, in which she used key terms of the text book to learn the material presented to her

“This program allows students to become mini-experts in their fields of study, and then they teach their friends around them,” says Díaz-Lefebvre. “Today’s learner is visual, hands on, and that is a challenge for the paper-test method. We as people come in all potentials and capabilities, and the paper test method makes students feel like one size fits all, when we all do not see life the same way. Students want choices because that is what life is about, choices.”

Díaz-Lefebvre feels that sometimes motivation for students is to memorize the answers to the questions, take the test, get it over with, yet they never understand or remember the material.

For his work on progressive ways for students to learn, he has given over 100 keynote addresses, seminars , and workshops not only nationwide, but he has also been invited to speak at international conferences around the world. Díaz-Lefebvre’s office is filled with “Who’s Who among America’s teachers” awards and was recently recognized as one of the 2000 most outstanding scholars of the 21st century. He also recently appeared on a PBS documentary.

Díaz-Lefebvre and MI/LfU Program faculty are constantly nominated as one of the ten finalists nationwide for the Bellweather Award.

“This program (MI/LfU) allows students to be accountable, yet also creative on how they go about understand the material taught to them,” says Díaz-Lefebvre

[Since I had wrote this in December of 2003, I have come to learn that Dr. Díaz-Lefebvre has won so many more prestigious awards, please read read more on Dr. Díaz-Lefebvre, please visit:  http://azmemory.azlibrary.gov/utils/getdownloaditem/collection/gccarc/id/393/filename/394.doc/title/Rene%20Diaz-Lefebvre%20Biography/mapsto/showLink ]

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The MAN known as “Johnny 2 Guns Salcido”

In the spring 2006 I bought myself a digital SLR Nikon camera.  I was in my mid-20s and I had recently discovered the Phoenix nightlife scene. So trying to work at my craft of making photography, meeting people and having a good time, I often went to a venue known as “Coach & Willies” and hung out with The Ritmo Latino Entertainment crew. Individuals from the group always went out of their way to give me a phone call to invite me to their events. It was at one of these events that I met Johnny “2 Guns” Salcido.

 He had a neatly trimmed beard, wearing dark slacks, a brown striped shirt, with a dark brown Boston Red Sox hat a big “B” on it. My camera called attention everywhere I went, and I had caught his eye, and he recognized me and called to me, asking, “You are Cruzzer right? The political activist?”

I said “Yes,” as he turned to his entourage of friends around him and said “Yo, Everyone, my man right here is going to be Governor one day.”

Frankly I was surprised. Very few people in the nightlife scene knew I was politically active, and I really didn’t want to mix what was known about me in the scenes I fraternized with.

This is the night I met Johnny '2 Guns' Salcido. He is on the right with the cap. Next to him is AL3 (center) and A. Bomb on the far left. The Boondocks consisted of him and A. Bomb.

This is the night I met Johnny ‘2 Guns’ Salcido. He is on the right with the cap.
Next to him is AL3 (center) and A. Bomb on the far left. The Boondocks consisted of Salcido and A. Bomb.

As I tried to make sense of what the “B” on his cap stood for, I quickly came to learn that Johnny 2 Guns, also referred to as J2Guns, was part of a local hip hop rap group known as The Boondocks, and he was going to perform that night at Coach and Willies. J2Guns, was also celebrating his birthday that night.

“This is how it’s going to work, I’m going to give you $50 tonight, you take pictures of my friends and I, and next time I’ll give you more, just make sure you have a good time as well.”

I was in complete shock. Here was a man who was willing to give me some money to do what I loved to do, and have a good time.

So I started snapping photos of him and his entourage of friends. He pulled me aside for a brief moment that night and said to me, “Gabe, keep doing what you are doing, keep your head straight and one day you are going to be Governor Cruz,”

I laughed, but the thing I was not telling anyone, yet, was I had already made plans to run for a position on my “City Council” that summer. Johnny had read me well.

I took many photos of him and his friends that night, and we struck a friendship. He often invited me to his house as he would sit on the couch watching “The Young and The Restless” like a hawk. “This is my show, this is the soap opera I never miss,” he said to me. His phone would buzz or ring but he didn’t answer it, glued to the TV he was. Only after the show was over, would he take the time to reply or answer to everyone.

2 Guns would often hire me to make photography of his family parties or events he was involved in promoting. I told him I was willing to photograph his events for free, since I deemed the work I was doing only as practice, but he was insistent on paying me. He paid me very well, for my knowledge or lack thereof in the skills I was trying to acquire.

One day when I visited him at his home, he gave me an invitation to a Quinceñera he was going to have for his mother. It caught me as strange, but he told me that it was something his mother wanted but never had, so he was going to have one for her. This is to me defined the essence of the heart and person Johnny Salcido was.

In the summer of 2009 I was with friends from out of town who I didn’t quite know well at the time. We were in Scottsdale Arizona walking through old town when we decided to go to Saddle Ranch. I had no idea Johnny was going to be there, nor did I have any idea I would end up at Saddle Ranch with these individuals, but running in to Johnny, he put them all at ease saying, “Trust him, he’s going places..” I didn’t know about this until later in the night someone from the group said this to me.

Johnny 2 Guns Salcido with Samantha Black. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009 when I ran in to him at Saddle Ranch Scottsdale.

Johnny 2 Guns Salcido with Samantha Black. This photo was taken in the summer of 2009 when I ran in to him at Saddle Ranch Scottsdale.

I always looked forward to reading his Facebook Posts. I had my phone set up so when he posted, it would go straight to my phone. One of my favorite posts that I saved was when he talked about how empty The Cardinals Stadium looked. “I seen a lot of empty seats at the [Arizona] Cardinals game today. This was a perfect time to stick some unprivileged kids in those seats. The kids are your future fan base. And you NEED to expand. Cardinals organization.” That was one of my favorite posts of his that he did in September 2012. How can the world not love an individual who had constant posts of positive insight? He was very business minded. He would crack jokes about having an alter-ego who was a luchador wrestler named “El Senor Dos Pistolas” and telling me he was a big fan of the luchador “Porkey” He even co-promoted an event in Arizona that brought an array of wrestlers from not only around the country, but Mexico as well.

In October of 2012, he told he was going to have surgery. He also told me other news which caused me to be somewhat sad, but he was so positive and said he would beat it with no problem. He had a courage to confront cancer that words can’t describe. One text he sent me said “If you are having to battle something in life. Do it with VIGOR!” It was truly inspiring to know that he was not going throwing in the towel easily.

From there on, I specifically remembered Salcido in my prayers everytime. I’d shoot him a text often to let him know that he was in my thoughts, and he’d always respond with humor, trying to make me laugh in some way.

On the morning of March 1, 2013, I awoke from a text from a friend who was a fan of The Boondocks music, saying Johnny had passed away. The cancer had beat him. Not much else to say, but he fully welcomed me from the moment I met him. He was a true gentleman. The memories and opportunities he gave me though, gives me extreme comfort that he took the time to make me feel important. I know many people will, and continue to miss him, and yet I feel honored and blessed to know that he shared with me a piece of his journey in life with me.

Thank you Johnny 2 Guns Salcido.

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Wing Hing, Great Food at a Great Price

Since 2006, I have been walking through the doors of 7420 West Cactus Road in Peoria Arizona.

It sits on the corner of a strip mall plaza next to a Church’s Chicken, but you will really have to be looking for it in order to find it. Even looking at the exterior, you might be fooled of what is waiting inside. For those who stroll in for the first time, the theme music of “Twilight Zone” is going off in your head wondering what you are doing here. You may notice that the interior is old, and does not look like much, in fact, you get the “hole in the wall” feel, yet the inside of this place is amazingly clean.

This Place is not much to look at, but then again, that’s not why I am here, I am here to eat and stuff my face full of Chinese food. This is a restaurant I love to call a “gem” because many people are unaware of it, never do I have to fight for a parking space, which often leaves me confused.

As I walk in, I am greeted by Tam, an older Asian woman, “Hi… Long time no see…”

Tam, the gracious host of Wing Hing Restaurant in Peoria Arizona

Tam, the gracious host of Wing Hing Restaurant in Peoria Arizona

I was just here two month ago, but I’m such a regular here, there was a period of over six months that I’d often visit and stop in once a week to eat here.

“Hello Tam” I reply. I sit down, and right away she places a small cold glass of water on the table.

“Would you like something to drink?” she asks. Not mocking her, but I can hear her voice in my head and say what she said exactly in the accent and tone in which she says it. She’s the sweetest and very upmost polite host I know in the restaurant business.

After choosing my drink, she asks if I’m getting the same thing as always, which happens to be Shrimp Lo Mein, but not this time. I am definitely not a Chinese food professional but this is legit food. I have been trying different items on their menu as of late. My favorite selections though tend to be Shrimp Lo Mein, Sun Devil Chicken, Orange Chicken, Cashew Chicken.

If it is your first time here, I recommend you start off by ordering some crab puffs. Those things are sensational.

Choose your dish, but choose wisely, you will later learn why.

After making your choice, Tam starts you off with the Egg Flower/drop soup with a side of hot Chinese mustard, sweet and sour, and a plate full of wontons. If you are sick in bed at home, call a friend and have them pick you some takeout of this. The soup here at Wing Hing is always fresh. I have been to other Chinese restaurants and those are yellowish color compared to the stuff served here.

When Vanessa Miranda and I ate here, before she passed away, she always commented on how much she loved the soup. We’d be sitting in another restaurant or on the couch watching TV in her apartment and she’d make a comment about Wing Hings Egg Flower soup. My father and younger brother Max are also huge fans. My dad always says, “If you go to Wing Hings, bring me some soup.”

As I am I finishing my soup, Tam is bringing out my food, steaming hot. My table is soon filled with dishes, each full of large portions of wonderful food of whatever I just ordered. I feel like I think I’m about to have a food coma just by looking at my food. What am I going to do with all this food? I’ll sometimes order a side of steamed rice, which is brought out to me in clay pot, because I know I’m going to have leftovers, and I want to add rice to whatever I’m taking home. Remember how I told you to choose wisely? Now you know why.

Throughout the week, my friend Livi Alcaraz will text me or leave me a message, “Let’s go to Wing Hings for lunch,” I know he likes that Wing Hings gives you a big portion of food to eat. We both tend to get stuffed for about $20 but that is not best part. We are always taking boxes of leftovers home. Whatever I don’t eat, Tam will pack the food into a box, and she’ll tape it do so it doesn’t spill open on my way home. Nobody can beat that lunch special with the servings they give you, well maybe someone can, I just haven’t found that place! Best value for your dollar. You get a lunch combo with more food than most dinner combos AND soup w/ wontons and eggroll for UNDER 5$ !  I think Subway charges just as much of a sub-sandwich.

I have never had a bad meal here, in fact, I can’t think of one single thing I don’t like about this place, other than I live half a mile from the delivery zone. So, yeah, it is not the most awesome looking place on the outside, or inside. It does not have the glittering neon sign lights outside promoting it, but you are here to make your stomach happy, so I do recommend you check it out.

I have sent many of my friends to eat here. When I take someone out to eat for the first time, Wing Hings is always my first choice on where to invite them. The place is never crowded, which like I said earlier, it surprises me, because this place should be packed. If you are in the area and in the mood for some Chinese Food,   I hope you check it out and see for yourself.

I’ll be a regular as long as this place exists.

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¿What are you doing with my name..?

Ok so this is where it all begins… from nothing.

This is my grandfather Manuel on my mother side, who many people, even outside of family referred to him "Papa Manuelito"

This is my grandfather Manuel on my mother side, who many people, even outside of family referred to him “Papa Manuelito”

I have always had this idea that I might be able to leave behind a few words of knowledge or wisdom for others. Help others learn from mistakes I had made, so that they may lead better lives. I have finally resigned myself to the fact that I probably won’t get around to writing the story of my life. When you combine that scenario with the fact that I am also unlikely to father any children any time soon, it seems logical (to me at least) that I could chronicle my life from the beginning in the hope that perhaps one person out there will read this and make better life decisions because of it.

I expect a lot of people will be incredibly upset by some of the things I will write. I should probably mention in advance that there are two sides in every story and this is just mine. As such what ever I am writing is likely to be affected by bias, prejudice, favoritism, predisposition, and finally whatever mood I am in at the time of writing.

My first memory is of my being, is being present at my grandfather’s funeral. It’s hard to explain because he died way before I was born, but I remember all the arrangements that were made, who made them, the flowers, everything. I remember his burial. I was with my family as my parents were going to the funeral and I looked out the window and saw Boston Store which was located at Valley West Mall. I remember the youthful faces of some of my cousins who babysat my older sister who was still small at the time. I just remember really not wanting to be there, everything was so chaotic. Looking back it may only have been the passing of a family member, but being present when I should have not been around, and I wanting to know what was going on… It was utter confusion.

As I grew a little older, I saw a picture of my grandfather smiling with my grandmother.  From that point I could no longer tell whether I was remembering an event or the photo. The mental picture I have of the event is the same image as the photograph, almost as if I was going through an out of body experience. Interestingly enough, that is how I have lead the rest of my life, as if I were watching someone else, watching myself making decisions and being cold to all the events.

Several years ago, around the summer of 2010, my grandfather came to me in a dream and I was smiling happy to see him, but he was upset with me. He said to me in an upset manner in spanish, “¿Gabriel, que estas haciendo con mi nombre de Sandoval?” (Gabriel, what are you doing with my name of Sandoval?) My smile turned in to a thoughtful frown. I had made my grandfather Manuel disappointed in me.

A couch potato, an activist, a teacher or friend to many, as someone who I never gives myself any credit that I really deserve. I am my own witness to my every deed as my grandfather is. I am a private but silent Judge and Juror observing and waiting until the very end to hand out my own sentence.

My name is Gabriel Ramiro Sandoval Cruz, many people refer to me as Cruzzer, and to the best of my knowledge this is a true story in my life.

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Missing You Venessa Miranda

I talked about her briefly in one of my posts in the past, I hope to go more in to detail about her today.

 

vm

Venessa Natividad Miranda September 8, 1975 – July 17, 2012

“Hunger, a poet once said is the most important thing we know, the first lesson we learn, but hunger can be easily quieted down, easily satiated. There is another force, a different type of hunger, an unquenchable thirst that cannot be extinguished. It’s very existence is what defines us, what makes us human, that force is love.” – Abraham Setrakian in The Strain.

Vanessa Miranda would often send me texts every weekday at 9am, mainly "good morning," with words of encouragement for the day, pictures of anything, from her old school typewriter, or what she ate, to sometimes pictures of her doing funny things at work.

Vanessa Miranda would  send me “good morning” texts every weekday at 9am, at Noon, she’d text me pictures of anything, from her old school typewriter, or what she ate, to sometimes pictures of her doing funny things at work.

Two years ago, today, July 17, 2012, I lost someone who was of great importance to me. Her name was Venessa Miranda. She was truly a pleasant and amazing soul. In Spanish I’d say she was “a todo dar”

On June 28, 2011. around 8:28pm a friend of mine on facebook posted a status regarding “La Bamba”

Being a smart alec, I posted a quote in regards to the movie. It was during that moment that I had beat another friend of hers to quoting the same quote. What caught my eyes was that this individual was wearing something purple. I don’t know what it is, but I am a huge sucker for women in purple. So this was how I came to be acquainted with Venessa Miranda.  She sent me a “friend request” and I accepted.

As we chatted over the next couple days on facebook we had some things in common, like 80s music. I kept telling her how much she needed to download DJ Scene’s “2080s Mix”,  We even exchanged phone numbers, and on the night of July 8th, I invited her out to dinner. She accepted, and of course, she wore a Purple dress. We talked for quite a bit that night. I was happy at the long conversation that we had because it had depth. She told me she still hadn’t downloaded the mix I had told her about because she only got online via her phone. So when I got home, I burned a couple copies of it, and I tossed them in my car for the next time I met up with her.

At the time I was working 12 hour shifts, but at 9am every morning, just as I was going on a quick break, she would always send me a text message wishing me well that day, or just conversation in general. She never missed a day. Funny thing, My Uncle had died on July 6th (two days before we met,)  but I never mentioned it to her, she knew something was troubling me I told her a couple days later but did not go in to any details. I told her that I was headed for the funeral. Anyways, to make the long story short, I had no idea where she worked, but I told her that my uncle had a Mariachi playing at his funeral, and then she said, “Ralph Cruz” which was my uncles’ name. She then told me about her job. It really made me feel at ease. I was having a difficult time coping with everything and I decided that I needed to deactivate my Facebook, because it was becoming a distraction in my life.  It was just a personal choice I made for the time being in order to get certain thoughts of mine in line.  So on July 21, my Facebook got deactivated. (It stayed deactivated till Sept. 4) She texted me later that morning saying what I had done was “rude,” and “If I didn’t want to talk to her, then just tell her,” I had no idea what she was talking about, then she asked why I “had deleted her off Facebook,” I then texted her back and told her that I “liked her essence,” and I would explain later that day what I had “deactivated Facebook” and that I “was not ignoring her or pushing her away.” I told her I’d call her that night and tell why. It is kind of crazy, but I think this incident made us draw so much closer. I called her that night and explained my situation to her and she was compassionate, even supportive of what I had done (deactivating Facebook.) We talked on the phone for more than 2 hours that night in which we talked about everything and we talked about nothing. I told her a lot of personal things in my life that I had never confided in anyone. She was really supportive and encouraging regarding those matters in which I don’t think some professional counselor could have ever given me.

I was often spending much time in the gym, even on Saturday Nights to clear the mental distractions I was having in life, then one Saturday night she asked what I was doing, I told her where I was and it turned out she lived several blocks from it. She was at a party but we met up at the parking lot of the gym and I gave her the cd which she popped right in to her cd player of her small van she drove and started singing to the 2080s mix. I was definitely impressed that she did know her 80’s music. We went to Dennys to eat that night, she ended up ordering for me (Chicken Ranch Melt) and I ordered for her (Buffalo Ranch Melt.) Two weeks later of me giving her that cd, she told me that it had already been scratched up since she played it so much, so I gave her another one.

“Love, you see, is the one force that cannot be explained, cannot be broken down to a chemical process. It is the beacon that guides us back home when no one is there, and the light that illuminates our loss. Its absence robs us of all our pleasure and our capacity for joy. It makes our nights darker and our days gloomier, but when we find love, no matter how long, how sad, or how terrible, we cling to it, it gives us our strength, it holds us upright, it feeds on us, and we feed on it. Love is our grace…” –  Abraham Setrakian in The Strain.

We spent a lot of time together, just about almost every OTHER Saturday when she didn’t have her kids, but we also gave each other plenty of space. I remember being with her on September 3rd and telling her how much she had help me grow as a person that last several months, telling her Thank You, and giving her a kiss on the forehead. We’d talk to each other about places we had never ate before and we’d go there and eat there together. She didn’t like that I liked garlic buttery shrimp, I knew she loved egg flower soup.  I nicknamed her “cookie”

One day in December she sung to me “It Will Rain” by Bruno Mars. She said every time she heard that song, she thought of me. From that time on, I’d ask her to sing it to me and she would. The last time I spent with her was on April 14, 2012. That night I told her again how much she meant to me and that I was so grateful she had come in to my life and that I Loved her.

In early May of 2012, her and I had got in to an argument over something stupid. It was real childish now that I come to think of it, but what made it more childish; was the fact that it had been done over text messaging and neither of us was budging. We had never ever argued before. I became sad. Some of my coworkers picked up on this and often asking why I would space out.

On Saturday July 14, 2012, one of my coworkers said to me, “I don’t know what’s wrong with you, but just call her,” aside from that I was having a personal sentiment that I did need to call her, even shoot her a text, but my pride was getting in my way.  I felt like I had done nothing wrong, so why should I apologize? All weekend the same sentiment bugged me. Sunday, another friend of mine said, “If you don’t call her you are going to regret it,” People knew it was eating at me that I had not talked with her for a while. Monday came and I had the same sentiment that I needed to mend the situation between her and I. I went to sleep before calling her at 8pm which was the normal time I would often call her when we’d talk on the phone. I woke up on Tuesday July 17 and I had made the decision to call her that night. Sometime in the evening, the mutual friend had posted that she had passed away that evening. I called the mutual friend and got the details. I was in shock. I didn’t sleep for several days over the regret I felt. I went and saw “COOKIE” at the viewing and I wore my purple tie because I knew that was her favorite color. It was hard for me not to break down, a part of me was mad at myself for not being able to fix what I could have fixed so easily. It bothered me that the sentiment of reaching out to her lingered with me whole weekend lingered and I did nothing.

“There are many things I did not pause but to ask her, now I am filled with questions. I ask those questions in the quiet moments hoping to someday hear them answered in the wind. . .” – GC

After two years of being gone, I still haven't deleted her phone number off my phone. Sometimes I just want to call her up and tell her this..

After two years of being gone, I still haven’t deleted her phone number off my phone. Sometimes I just want to call her up and tell her this..

So what took me so long to share this with the world? At this point in my life, I feel as if I am in a rut, I’m often look to the sky and wonder what Venessa would tell me, if anything. I know she would not be mad at me. She helped me grow as a person immensely in the short time that I knew her, and considering all the time we spent together, I am sometimes sad that we never got a photo together. I still catch myself at times at 9am looking at my phone wondering if she will send me a “good morning text” with a message of encouragement that she always gave me. At times I want to think to myself that she is still mad at me or gone on a vacation and I just want to dial her number just to talk. Yes, after two years, I haven’t deleted her number off my phone. I could go on forever on how beautiful her soul was, but some of the best moments in life are the ones you can’t tell anyone about. I had many of those with Cookie.

I just want to let Venessa Miranda, Cookie, know, and whomever else comes upon this blog, that wherever her essence may be dwelling, that I think of her every day, I miss her a lot and she is not forgotten. She truly was a special person, more special then people realize or know.

 

 

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Amor Revolucionario – Revolutionary Love

This is something I love to share with my friends every Valentine’s Day since 2003, maybe 2004 when  I read it in the “Column of the Americas” The author  is Patrisia Gonzales, so much gratitude to her for capturing a fraction of a sentiment that I often feel yet unable to form words and express.

Amor Revolucionario – Revolutionary Love

By Patrisia Gonzales – pgonza@email.arizona.edu

I once fell in love with a voice over the radio that woke me up each morning with words of love for his people.

I once loved a man because he could sing 101 songs in the fields as he worked as a farmworker.

I loved another because he had a laugh that embraced all those around him, though he had been tortured.

These men, I loved for their acts. I loved them, as I have loved others, for the stories they gave me. They were not meant nor destined for romantic love. I shared with them “revolutionary love.”

And then I began to love a man page by page, from a book he wrote about surviving death and disappearance. His revolutionary love called out to me, and I married him. Revolutionary love does not have to lead to romance, though when the two arrive together, their marriage makes the relationship a destiny. This alchemy of revolution of spirit and matter and love has helped us endure the hard times in a relationship that seemed to defy reason. Learning to love became my act against oppression.

Mexican freedom-fighter Benita Galeana first taught me about revolutionary love. She was nearing 90 and had a houseful of men and women who adored her and pampered her. Emissaries from freedom struggles the world over paid her visits. Of the men, especially, she’d say, “Ellos me tienen amor revolucionario!” (They have revolutionary love for me!)

Che Guevara once said that true revolutionaries were motivated by love. While living in Mexico City, I got to shake Nelson Mandela’s hands after his release from prison. Madiba’s hands were big and strong, and I felt the revolutionary love for his people that kept him alive while imprisoned for decades on Robben Island.

Even those of us who are not freedom fighters can love in a revolutionary way because of our love for doing what is just and good. “Amor revolucionario” is the love I have for the people organized to transform their conditions and for all people anywhere who are treated inhumanely. It is a love for freedom and a passion for a different kind of life than what’s accepted as normal.

Once, while having dinner with some comprades, we had an intense discussion about acting with love. They said they did things with love. I said I cannot love everyone, but as a Buddhist, I can have compassion for everyone. Love, for me, is inspired by some kind of deeper relationship. But I do love certain people, sometimes from first sight, because of how they live. I love men and women with revolutionary love because they give me hope for the possibility of change. I love them as brothers and sisters, and sometimes not at all like that, but as simply men and women who dare take a stand.

Perhaps revolutionary love is biochemical and molecular and releases endorphins like romantic love and chocolate. And it is deeply spiritual. In this country, romantic love and lust are glamorized by Hollywood. It’s a sugary love, scantily clad and drunk with illusions that allow people to accept the deceit of comforts. Revolutionary love is coarse dark chocolate, ground with cinnamon and chile, and a truth that makes you naked. And it’s just a bit bitter.

Revolutionary love, like Love, can sting. It can keep you up at night because of unrequited ideals. You can go hungry because of it. It can blind you with anger, causing you to strike out and judge others because you can no longer tolerate life’s contradictions (so why can they?). Or because what you have sacrificed for what seems impossible and illusive. It can drive you crazy — I know many who have succumbed to what Roberto calls “revolutionary madness.”

I believe our lives are a love story — to love ourselves, to love what we do, and to search for purpose so that we can love how we live. For those of us who have survived injustices and violence, to love is a primal, everyday act against injustice. For all revolutionary love leads back to our souls for the revolution that begins inside of us, so that we can begin to love, and change

Categories: Education, Love, Music, People, Poem, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LOVE YOURSELF and LOVE OTHERS!

fb

I am not surprised when I login to Facebook and I see an average of 5-30 people requesting me to be there friend on Facebook. I push myself to talk with 5 complete strangers in Public everyday.

This is an image of  something I see constantly see every time I log in to Facebook, I am happy but it was not always that way.

Some of the people who are reading this know my story of high school, how I got kicked out, how one teacher said I would never amount to anyhing, how I battled depression for over 5 years. While growing up, even past high school, I felt alone because I had high standards that I never compromised. I hated myself for a long time because I had a tough time making friends. It hurt when I felt I was in a lot of people’s corners but no one was in my own corner. There were people who did believe in me though, so I trudged on.

In college, things changed when people actually respected me for my values that I had. It still wasn’t easy. I worked hard and pushed myself so hard to learn how to really communicate with other people because I had no social skills whatsoever. I had to work at my personality, but I already knew who I was so it was not hard but I just needed to learn to refine my personality. Since then, I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from all walks of life. People interest me. I want to know what makes them happy, what makes them tick, what motivates them to get up every morning, or how is it came to be that we crossed paths.

Every day I try and have 5 interactions in public with complete strangers. Lots who want to keep in contact with me, so I am not surprised when I login to Facebook and I see an average of 5-30 people requesting me to be there friend. It is not so much talking with people, but listening to what they have to say. 80% of my interaction is body language and listening. LISTENING TO WHAT OTHERS HAVE TO SAY, LISTENING TO WHAT THEY WANT TO SHARE WITH ME IS REAL IMPORTANT TO ME. The other 20% is telling you the truth. Easier said than done. I’ve hurt people along the way, and I am sorry and I am trying to be a better person. Sometimes learning to accept defeat has allowed me to actually win in the long term.

As I myself have had demons I have faced, I am sure everyone out there has their own demons which they are fighting, whether it be at school, work, family trouble, or personal ones. Sometimes people feel that they have no one to turn too, or feel completely lost and need someone to loan them an ear. I am always open to talk to someone who needs that ear, I am also willing to get in your corner to cheer you on in your battle with your demon. I mean just imagine me in your corner shouting instructions on what to do or cheering you on “GO (insert you name here) GO! GO (insert your name here) GO!”

Even if you need me to remember you in my prayers for inspiration on a test, or that something in your life may go well, please let me know.

I may not know you all personally, but what I do know is that all of you are strong and wonderful individuals that all deserve happiness and respect, if you really want it, you will find it as I have.

LOVE YOURSELF, and LOVE OTHERS!

I am so grateful for so many of you who continue to push me to be a better person. I do pray for a lot of you, whether you know it or not.  Thank you!

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You are blessed more then you know.

“You know yourself better than anyone… …yet others will know you in a way you simply can’t imagine.”

I try and live life to its utter most fullest, once I make my mind up, I go at it full speed, but it has been real challenging the last several weeks, I’ve been dreading my job. I have felt so stagnant.  My puppy died a month ago, and deep down inside, I miss him. Just spending time with my puppy taught me so much on how to live life.

“Always be excited, always be in the moment, run full speed when you are free.”

Even when I was mad at it, my puppy loved me unconditionally.

Love others unconditionally.

This past week, I was having moments when I wanted to strip my inner most emotions that I felt in my core and share them with someone. Those who know me best, know that I am arrogant, loveable and humble all at the same time.

Today I freaked out when I heard about what happened in Moore Oklahoma. I have a great friend who lives there, and she was posting on her facebook how the Tornado was headed toward her house and she was hiding in the closet. After that, no news or updates from her on facebook. I completely panicked for a while till she texted me back. For some reason, when I got the news she was ok, all of a sudden I could see, feel, taste and smell again, but most important, I could breathe properly again.

Tonight, I will lay in a bed thinking how blessed I am to have a home over my head, yet I am sure I will definitely lose sleep knowing that a great friend of mine since 2005, has completely lost everything. I am blessed, yet my thoughts are completely with her and her family. My thoughts are with the parents who lost children; my thoughts are with friends of the missing.

Tomorrow I will go to work, and I will take pride and joy in a job I have been dreading so much the last several weeks. I am alive. Anyone reading this, I hope you take my next paragraph to heart.

“Give HUMANITY something to remember you by, whether it be a work of art, a feat of arms, or simply sheer force of your personality. Hug your children, or your parents, or someone you care about, or call someone you care about, and tell them you LOVE them. There’s always a reason to smile. FIND IT!!  After all, you’re really luck just to be alive. Life is short.

I hope when I text you saying that I’m thinking of you, that it has some meaning to you.

Today, is one of those days, one of those moments that I so often say or talk about to my friends everyday.. You are blessed in more ways then you know..

-Gabriel Cruz

“Con Safos Y Sin Fin” / With Safety and without an end..

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[Poem] Los que me conocen (Those who know me..)

I wrote this while I was in college back in 2004. I went through some of my old writing today and felt it would be perfect to share. The mural piece was one I did in the backyard wall facing the alley. It took about 6 hours to do it. It stayed unpainted for over 5 years. It read “Xican@ Power”
xicanopower

Los que me conocen

By Gabriel Cruz
Inspired by the words of Salvador Reza and Livi Alcaraz

Students I see, all neutralized
Status quo they all want to be,
No one involved in la politica
No one involved in the community
Others, Utilizing rhetoric of change
Without living the words they say,
They may have surrendered early,
Some took months, others took years

I enlisted for the need to rebel.
High school, Colleges, universities,
Never formulas for consciousness
They teach and I learn, I learn but I don’t do
I URGE THIS EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION
Yet, Alienated I still feel,

Oppressed you say you were?
Rejected I was by my associates because of my Mormon religion
I feel discarded by my religion because of my Chicano culture.
I endured with cruelty from both sides,
because the choices of my family
Within MEChA, I found a family that I can trust
MEChA, rather than be the ones
I need to encourage,
helped me find a way,
by giving me encouragement
Students with a greater faith,
Full of unconditional love,
just the way I am,
not intimidated by my looks,
not intimidated by my being
any stupider, or smarter, richer, or poorer,
hombre, mujer,
just as I am.
Gente, Familia, who I can trust
I FEEL THIS EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION
MEChistAS, Ellos me conocen

I look at people,
Quacks telling quacks
what they can and cannot quack
Professors, Politicians, People who work
Some of them honest,
Other worse than factory workers,
Creating enslavement,
’Be part of THIS MOVEMENT’ I shout,
Yet I feel for many, it is too late,
They are afraid to write and say
what they think,
Afraid to lose their acquired needs
The system has divided them

Others with constant mental masturbation
about actually being a part of something special,
Yet they are the first ones to flee
people talking for the people without knowing
the people they are supposedly they talk for
Since lying is of no concern to them,
They can go far in this world.
Worse than a factory worker I say…
I FIGHT FOR AN EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION

I use my school as a tool to understand
How this system operates,
of them trying to break me down
taught to me daily in the classroom.
yet the education of mi gente me enseña
our relation to the cosmos,
is a means of resistance to submission,
wanting to know the understanding of ourselves
in relation to the creation.
these elements of my real roots,
my ancestor’s past, not the imagined ones,
I SUPPORT THIS EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION!

And the beast,
of this system
constantly shaking its head
day and night, night and day
swatting me psychologically
leading me deeper in to despair
am I the last one left?
Salvador knows me,
He tells me,
‘Don’t let them take your
tortillas, frijoles, language
ni tu cultura
The Cause is not dead!
The movement is not a rally,
march, not even an uprising.’
Salvador Reza , el me conoce,

Day laborers, journoleros,
living like true warriors
Mis hermanos, true inspiration,
They shine in the day and glow at night.
I want to fight for them,
and for so much more,
Trying to provide for their families,
They survive the daily grinds,
Not having romantic ideas about their struggle.
They are not the same factory workers,
they criticize the same system,
ones where they want to be counted
part of a society that won’t accept them
cheap labor they are for others
But because their accomplishment
they are so much adored
There pride and dignity shows
True Heroism
Their spirit geared only to struggle,
and every struggle shows that
their spirits flow clear and unbound.
I NEED TO BE PART OF AN EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION

The Movement was not destroyed
The Chicano part was only one manifestation of it
Mr. Reza teaches me,
‘The government, didn’t destroy it,
Those who bought in to the system
Made it crumble by lumpen attitudes
these so called leaders have shown.’

Years later, I take what is left
and I want to re-mold it,
remold, so the system won’t smash it

We are students,
Students, stronger than many others
Chicano Y Chicana Soliders
Saving each other from evil forces
Livi tells me,
That he is the most dangerous person in the world,
He says I too can be dangerous.
I ask how dangerous he is and he says
‘I’m more dangerous than a drug dealer,
More dangerous than any gang member
more than dangerous than any Mafioso,
I ask.. who, what?
Livi says,
“An Educated Chicano”
and I realize…
I AM THIS EDUCATIONAL REVOLUTION!
Livi, el me conoce

The movement,
Politics, Spirituality, Economy, and Defense
Four elements that give us life.
Aligning myself with the earth, the sun and the stars,
then immersing myself with the people who are a manifestation
of these elements, easier said than done.
MEChistAs, Salvador Reza, Livi,

Ellos me conocen

Categories: Education, Love, People, Poem, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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