Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Super Powers are Overrated (But I Still Want Them)

December is proving to be exactly what it usually is-- terribly over scheduled. The ice storm here didn't help matters and a few of my sweet pickles' events were stacked on top of each other so the choosing had to begin.
This used to torture me. "Which child do I let down? Which child will feel unloved? Which child will I be MISSING out on?"
Have I mentioned my kids are 16, 17 and 21?
Nevertheless, I have HIGH expectations for myself that fall just short of being able to beam myself to all events seconds before they begin and actually BE the hero everyone (and by everyone I mean me and my Grandmother) believes me to be.

It never occurs to me, however, that no one else happens to share in my torture.

For example:

After hearing the sweet pickle girl sing at Heritage Village, the little sweet pickles decide not to attend the annual Ginger Fest with me. I am hopeful they will show up later, so I lick my hero wounds, buy the hugest bag of kettle corn known to man and head toward the parking lot. I don't even FEEL like crying, so I know my superpowers are working. And just to amp up the power, I stop to share my popcorn with a stranger, because sharing with strangers makes me feel less alone in the world.

"Whew, I can do this, 'holidays will never be the same' thing. I got this."  

But as I near my car I spy the little sweet pickles and their friends waiting around the girl pickles' car.
"What's up?" I ask all cool, trying not to choke on kettle corn.
"Her keys are in choirboy's pocket and he's still inside. She just wants to change," says a choirgirl.

Then, I hear, in the snarkiest tone,  "Oh, here comes MOM to save the day, as usual." With an eye roll, scowl combo that would make Judge Judy proud.  I will not say which of my sweet baby pickles uttered this, but all I can think is:  My own people, resenting my superpowers. 

I shove more popcorn in mouth, open the door and remind them that Ginger Fest will be going on for awhile, and I hope to see them there.
Still no tears. Superpowers in tact.
I kill a little time driving around South Dallas, trying to find another building to fall in love with, so I can dream about my own future and not be so uh . . . tied up,  I mean . . . tied to, oh . . . alright, strangled holding onto theirs.

Then I make my way to Deep Ellum and Ginger Land.  BY MYSELF.
I am greeted by friends, adorable children, the smell of apple cider and mountains of candy.
I'm gonna be fine, I reassure myself. And I would have been fine, if it hadn't been for that dagblame Mariah Carey and her "Baby, Please Come Home" song  to send me right over the EDGE. Tears in my icing and on my red vine fence. One thing, I mean, one thing will go my way today!!!!

Luckily, I was surrounded by Hershey's Kisses and M&M's, so I just shoved some in my mouth, licked the icing off my hand, identified with Jesus about how often I don't do what he wants and soldiered on.

Here's my casa de ginger to prove it.

Before Rich made me some bonfire smoke.

After Rich made me some bonfire smoke:)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Monday's Much Needed Song of the Day: Is MISSING along with my TREE.

Has anyone seen this tree?

Saturday, I pulled out Christmas decorations in an attempt to get into the holiday spirit. Last year we decided that since we are in such a confined space and one of my little pickles is semi-allergic, to buy an artificial one.
This year, it is nowhere to be found. How do you lose a Christmas tree?
I soldiered on. Reminisced with some of the kids hand-made decorations,
I thought putting some Christmas tunes on, might help lift the mood, but when I opened my Brenda Lee CD case, it was empty. And then to make matters worse, my Sufjan Steven's Christmas Box Set-- also empty.
What should have been an afternoon of decorating turned into and afternoon of me pouring through cabinets and all our CD's and empty cases.
I know, most of you are thinking I should have these on my computer or in my iTunes, but I have had computer woes this last year and not everything was backed up.
I finally found Brenda and two of Sufjan's, but by that time, the afternoon was GONE!
Just like my CD's and tree.
But there will be no blue Christmas for me.
I am now on the search for a perfect and inexpensive tree! Adventure!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Good Wants

I don't know if you have ever fallen in love with a building, but I have. More than once. My most recent structure being the vacant church next door to our apartments.

I actually noticed it years before we moved here. I thought it would be a great venue for weddings and events and Chris and I have been talking about a "place" for our "stuff" forever. But you, know, we didn't have a million dollars laying around which, by the way, was an exceptionally good deal!

I thought it was odd that I ended up moving right next door to the building that I have been WANTING for so long. I mean, I walk out my door, turn right and BAM, there it is, or was, or is beginning not to be.

God is always teaching me about wanting. 

My response to Him is usually a whiny, "Goooood, this is a GOOD want." But He knows I can be voracious--like a mini-Godzilla in my pursuit of what I want, over what He wants for me.
And so I wait.

And watch the church I daydreamed about for so long get leveled and the land prepared for the new YMCA.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Common is Right

What I thought was going to make the college application process a zillion times easier has only proven to be exasperating.
Maybe it's because Caleb's transcript is pieced together from home-school, private school and community college, or because I have a negative hum when it comes to technology and I keep getting responses that say a certain action is off-line. 
So has my middle finger.
BUT for those of you who are thinking that using the Common Application to apply for college will make this process a hundred times easier because of the opportunity to apply online, you can meet me  at Kinko's bright and early tomorrow morning, where I will be making copies of paperwork to SNAIL MAIL.
I'd offer to buy you coffee, but since I have missed a few windows of opportunity to SUBMIT because of the COMMON Application , I will now be using my grocery money to apply to a couple of private schools that don't even need the money.
It's bad enough I have to turn my kid over to you. Do you have to take my money and sanity, too?
Apparently. Apparently.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


I had planned to write weekly about being the mom of a senior.

(While I do have a twenty-one year old, Chaz's senior year was different, wrought with glory and pain of a different sort because he has cognitive disabilities and we were not planning on launching him out into the world right away.)

I had no idea how gut wrenching Caleb's senior year was going to be. How often I was going to cry and pull it together, all in under a minute,  and manage to exit my car to interact with co-workers or friends on a non-hysterical level.

I had no idea how much time my son and I would spend together, planning, thinking, commiserating laughing, praying and REVISING:)

I had no idea how much pain would be brought up from my own lonely and dismal entry into college and struggle to finish.

I had no idea how an old battle with death anxiety would rear its ugly head. How when I listen to any heinous incident on the news, my son's image appears in the place of the true victim and then, it replays on loop mode until I rebuke it!

I had no idea how funny, resourceful and confident my son was without me standing behind him, urging him on.

I had no idea how much I was gonna hate that stupid "Cup Song" and all those insipid country songs about kids growing up that are plotting against me and my sanity.

So, here it is, my new mantra:

Hello, My name is Tamitha Barbosa Curiel and I am the mother of senior.
I have 45 days of senior year under my belt. And roughly, 238 days to go.
This is hard. This is an adventure. This is incredibly sad. This is oddly wonderful.
This is an amazing honor. Thank you, Lord.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday's/Momma's Much Needed Song of the Day: Wait for Me by the Kings of Leon

This one is for my momma, who is not all better, but working on it!
This summer I returned home from helping friends move to Mexico to find a very sick momma. 

She was suffering from hyponatremia and hyperkalemia and was beginning to act like she was (barely) living under water,  moving so slow, her body shutting down.
In the ER, after her labs returned in record speed, we understood how lucky we were. 
"Most people with potassium this low are in a coma."
My mom was confused, shaky, and didn't always remember who I was. She couldn't walk, could barely talk, and had to be fed most of her nutrients through an IV. 

Eventually, when it looked like she would recover, I was given the task of finding a nursing home for her to rehab.

One day, I was going from nursing home to nursing home in Athens, TX; the next day I was going from university to university for my senior. 

One day I was encouraging my mom to eat and cooperate with her physical therapists; the next day I was encouraging my son to finish his essay and work on practice tests for his SAT. 

Everything I encouraged my mom to do would bring her back to me and everything I encouraged my son to do would help him move away from me. 

I had to put my already messy heart on auto-pilot. 

"You have not given me the spirit of fear, not the spirit of fear, not the spirit of fear." 
But I couldn't remember what it was I had been given. Peace, love, a sound mind?
That scripture was a mantra during my twenties, but now it felt hollow. 

One night I put my hand on my mom's head.  She was still having trouble finding the words she wanted to say.
"What are you doing?" she finally asked.
"Me, too."she sobbed.  "It's all I can do."
"Yeah. I know. "

Anger, confusion, exhaustion, numbness: hope. Resentment, disgust, sadness, fear: hope. Like beauty for ashes, I put my mess at His feet and He gave me what I  needed. 

At some point my sister asked me, "Why are you so hopeful?"

"I don't know how else to be."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If I were teaching, this would be my text for this day. . .

Flinn, On the Bus
By Naomi Shihab Nye

Three hours after the buildings fell,
he took a seat beside me.
Fresh out of prison, after 24 months,
You're my first hello!
Going home to Mom,
a life he would make better this time,
how many times
he'd been swept along before,
to things he should never have ...
drink and dope,
but now he'd take responsibility.
Lawyers had done him wrong
and women too. He thought
about revenge, now he was out.
But I'm in charge. I'll think
before I act. I don't ever
want to go there again.
Two wrongs don't make a right.
Somehow, in his mouth, that day,
it sounded new.
The light came through the window
on a gentle-eyed man in a
"Focus on the Game" T-shirt,
who had given up
assault with deadly weapons,
no more, no good!
A man who had not seen TV in weeks,
secluding in his cell so colleagues
wouldn't trip him up,
extend his stay.
Who had not heard the news.
We rolled through green Oklahoma,
the bus windows made all the trees look bent.
A trick of refraction—
Flinn looked at his free hands
more than the fields,
turned them over in his lap,
no snap judgments, no quick angers,
I'll stand back, look at what happens,
think calmly what my next step should be.
It was not hard to nod,
to wish him well. But could I tell
what had happened in the world
on his long-awaited day,
what twists of rage greater
than we could ever guess
had savaged skylines, thousands of lives?
I could not. He'd find out
soon enough. Flinn, take it easy.
Peace is rough.

— September 11, 2001

Monday, September 2, 2013

Monday's Much Needed Song of the Day: Via Con Me-Paolo Conte

My middle son starts his senior year tomorrow. My daughter started her first "real" job today. My oldest will complete vocational school this year. My kids, my Godson, and  their friends are all getting closer to life on their "own" and I thought I'd post a little song along with a list of words I am praying for them this year.

 1. Patience. You will be in control of your life, sooner than you think. (Actually, you will just realize that you are in charge of letting God guide you without as much help from your parents.)

 2. Wisdom. Many decisions are to be made in the near future, and using what you've learned plus what God is whispering in your ear, plus what your parents are screaming through the bedroom door, will give you clarity.

 3. Courage. If God is leading you to do something out of your comfort zone, I pray you find a scripture, a mentor, a prayer warrior and the strength of the Lord to make it happen.

 4. Tenacity. Be a fierce advocate for yourself and the desires of your heart. Be honest with yourself and your parents when discussing the future.

 5. Joy. That amidst the deadlines, the essays, the tests, the applications, the interviews and the maternal emotional wrecks trying to guide you through the process, you will have FUN!

 6. Peace. That it will flow like a river through your veins, into your heart so the rhythm will match the beat God created for you. I am sure I will add more as we go, but this is a start.

 I love you.



Friday, August 2, 2013

It's Kidd's Kids Day-Don't Forget by Atmosphere-"The Original Download"

Middle school is usually a time of dread and doom, but thanks to a solid group of friends and fierce cousins, I look back on my time in junior high like Smalls looks back at his summer of wonder in the Sandlot. A big part of our experience was music. In 1984, I switched back and forth between MTV on our only television and 97.1 the Eagle in the solitude of my bedroom. Kidd Kraddick's all request show was not to be missed, and if you were heard on the air, you were a celebrity for at least a few weeks. My friends and I would divvy up songs to request, so we could get a good-mix tape in one sitting, if we were lucky enough to get through. Sitting alone in my un-air-conditioned room in a tiny house in Pleasant Grove, I'd wait with two fingers patiently poised on the buttons for THE SONG I had requested and anticipate the seconds before I pushed play and record- Don't Stop Believing, Hungry Like the Wolf, 1999, Take On Me, 99 Luft Ballons, Billy Jean-Yes! Here is a little song to honor these times by Atmosphere- The promise of Kidd coming to DJ at our skating rink or our teen dance club was anticipated for weeks in advance- clothes chosen meticulously and hairstyle practiced beforehand in case there was a photo op. Besides Mr. Silverman, our beloved science teacher, Kidd was the only adult who understood us. In my adult years, I have listened to the morning show on and off. My music tastes are varied, and I prefer music to the talk format, but I found myself listening last Friday on the way to Athens to see my sick momma. I was feeling nostalgic and hearing the morning crew felt familiar, comforting. And oddly enough, that same day in my mom's hospital room, I saw the show Dish Nation for the first time and reveled in how good Kidd, Kelly and Al looked. And the next day Kidd passed away. Today is the day to donate to his charity, Kidd's Kids. For all those who look back at that time in the 80's and remember your life a bit richer because of OUR local DJ, consider giving. And even if you haven't listened to Kidd in a long time or maybe never, it's still a good cause. Just text KIDD to 52000. Or go here! ://

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

"I Am Leaving!"

On the way down to Mexico with the Clark family, in our delirium, we began to quote King Curtisof youtube/wifeswap fame. In case you've missed out on the hilarity, here is a highlight reel:"> Everyone who knows me knows that I have a problem leaving. Somewhere in my psyche there are 8 things I'm supposed to do before I hit the door and 12 things I should be taking with me, and I don't know, leaving is just hard. Leaving Mexico, was not just hard because I was leaving behind some great friends, but because I had not planned for how to get home. We had a few issues. I had a tooth ache, but had enough pain meds that I thought I could make it home. I also thought buses left for the states every two hours, and they do, with a stop and switcharoo in Monterey which Rachel was unwilling to let me do. For those of you who know Rachel, you know she is fairly fearless. So when she said there was no way she was letting me stop in Monterrey, I listened. So we started asking friends for frequent flyer donations to defray the cost, and they had plenty to offer, but do you you know how many hoops American Airlines makes you jump through just to donate/receive miles from a few friends? And that it would end up almost costing the same amount as a regular fair? Grrrh. Eventually, a dear friend of mine, came to my rescue with enough miles for a complete ticket and I was on my way. I returned home to my hilarious husband who made me promise to never leave him again and a new to me car, and some super-cute, hungry kids who missed me. And a much-needed dentist with a tooth file in hand:)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Morning Work-UP

After sitting in a car, on the bus, and on the curb for four days, I decided to get a little ejercisio with the Wee Clarks. 


Stair masters have nothing on the Hills of Atotonilco. Rachel wss worried the kids would slow me down. As you can see, this was not the case. 
My calves have still not forgiven me. 

Friday, July 5, 2013


It took us four days, some hoop jumping at the Border,   major prayers laced with the truth of God's love and provision. 
The Clark family, Jubilee and I arrived safely in Atotonilco on the 4th of July. 
There were no fireworks or parades, but I  imagine the host of our travel Angels celebrating our arrival with tacos and horchata, then sleepily tag-teaming their Angel partner for duty so they could wash up and go to sleep for a very long while. 
Because that's what we did;)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Setting Jubilee Free

The school bus my family and I lived in for three years has been parked behind our church since we moved into an apartment in the Lakewood area, close to the kids' schools. 
In February Chris started talking about selling it, and I immediately felt ill. 
Jubilee had a major impact on our lives (which you can read in earlier blogs) and selling her felt like selling my kid on the black market. 
I asked Chris if we could give her away instead and he said yes. Without even blinking. 
We chose to bestow her on a super- awesome family we have known for a decade who have been a major blessing in our lives!
This week, I am accompanying themas they  take  their family and Jubi to Atotonilco, Mexico to turn her into a Cafe Movil. 
Please pray for us on our journey! And to keep up with the Clark's or Jubi check here!

Friday, June 21, 2013


After a year of bleary eyed panic, I packed up my teacher belongings and now find myself wandering the "career" road once again. What am I going to do now, you ask. (I assume you will ask this because that's what everyone asks, except for one cool lady who just said, "Good for you!") Oh, I don't know. Sub for Thriving Minds maybe? Sub for DISD? Teach the Spoken Word portion of the after school program next year? Keep Hug Life going at my former school? Volunteer at the Writer's Garrett? Go back to school? Clean? Cook? Exercise? Read? Laundry? See my friends? Help my son fill out college applications? Help my daughter start the dual credit program at Richland? Take my grandmother to her doctor visits? Write a book? Convince my mother to let me taker her to her doctor visits? Finish editing a short film? Go to my own doctor visits? (Says the girl with five cavities:)Oh, yeah and stop speed flossing? You, know. Stuff.

Friday, May 31, 2013


Half-calf, wasabi almonds, Perrier, 2 New Yorkers, papers to grade, and my dia de los muertos shirt. 
That last item will probably not get me chosen for the jury, I'm guessing. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013


My junior took his SAT this morning. The one who secretly waffles between signing up for the military and going to college because he knows I will sit shiva for him if he enlists right out of high school.

The conversation goes something like this:
Me: It's 6:00.
Son: It is?
Me: It's 6:15.
Son: It is?
Me: It's time to get up.
Son: Okay.

(Later, at the breakfast bar/dining table.)

Me: Breakfast is ready. Nothing like a weenie and egg taco to remind you that your poor and Mexican and in need of scholarship money. No pressure.

(Son laughs with mouth full, and we discuss how my grandma thinks I can read her stomach x-ray because I have a college degree.)

Me: We shouldn't be talking about this. We are supposed to be talking about smart, successful Latin Americans. Or genious half-hillbillies or something like that.  All I can think of is Cesar Chavez.

(Son frowns.)

Son: Oh, oh, when you said that, Che Guevara popped into my head.
Me: (In my head) Dear God. 
Me: (Out loud) I should have made a slide show, like Malcolm Gladwell says, you know with Marquez, Baca, Lorca. Only two of those are from the US, but still.
Son: (With mouth full.) Naruedia.
Me: Who?
Son: Nureda. Poet.
Me: (In my head) Dear God.
Me: (Out loud.) Chilean. Are you ready?
Son: Yep. I have my playlist for the ride there loaded.
Me: (In my head.) Dear God.
Me: (Out loud.) Is it classical music.
Son: No, pump up music. You know, Eye of the Tiger and Bon Jovi, stuff like that.
Me: (In my head.) Dear God. (Out loud.) You mean like, Living on a Prayer? Speaking of prayer.(Out loud.) Dear God . . . .

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Light is a strange friend to shadow.
Both fill needs:
Warmth//Respite from heat.
Oh, what effects though
from wretched extremes.
When dark pours in
And light bears down
How the skin bursts open-
Truth spills out like tiny red seeds.
Under the shade tree
Sun filters through leaves.
Careful not to stain the teeth.
Crimson, Crimson,
A cool cup of water.
Drink. DRINK.

Monday, January 7, 2013


I imagine this moment
where I see you on a street corner
And the world shifts.
Plate tectonics have nothing on us
And I have to find a tree to hold on to
for dear life.
Like Salamanca
I think I can kiss something alive--
Something like
The universe.
You know,
The one calling to me
From the palm of your hand.