I have a wonderful life!
But it was a long, hard road.
I'm a Mexican immigrant with Mexican immigrant parents; I'm a person whose parents wanted a better life for their kids and worked their butts off to insure their kids received a good education; I'm a person who ended up being a high school drop out and teenage parent; I'm a person who counted on and was helped by the Welfare system when I was in dire need; I am a person who was helped by community programs (Skills Center, Emeryville) to receive a GED and received training on word processors; I'm a person who counted on Planned Parenthood because she could not afford anything else; I'm a person who lost two brothers to death but unfortunately before that, lost all four to a rich, white, 'Catholic Christian' man who abused them for years; I'm a person who lost my mother too early to throat cancer.
Despite all of this (and so much more), I never stopped believing that I could succeed and be anything that I wanted to be. In 1977 I was so excited to land a job at Pacific Telephone & Telegraph as a TSPS Operator. Some of you may remember that as the '0' operator. It was a proud moment for me to be able to tell my Social Worker at the Welfare office that I no longer needed their help. It was a proud moment to share my first paycheck with my mom, even though P-Rez and I had a daughter to support. I remember I was paid $1.65 an hour. Minimum wage at the time.
After losing my first brother, leaving my job and losing my mind for a while in 1979, I got back on my feet. I got secretarial training at the Skills Center in 1981. When I completed my training, they enrolled me in a Temp Agency. Much to my delight, within a couple of days, I got a call from Glynn Jackson of IBM.
The temp agency told me that IBM was looking for an experienced secretary. I was not! The agency encouraged me to take it. They were confident that I could do the job because my test scores were some of the highest and my WPM (Words Per Minute on a typewriter) was also high. So I accepted.
I was a temporary employee, taking the job of Marketing Secretary, Kathleen Yung. She had decided to further her career and was moving on to a higher position. I was secretary to Al Makely, Mark Meredith and Sigrid Moranz. Mark was only there for short while and was replaced by Larry Johnson. I was in love with this job!
When I started, I didn't have a car. I used to take the bus, drop Lina and Motsy off at school or my mom's house, then continue on the bus to my job at 475 - 14th Street in Oakland. This is where I realized my nerd side. When PROFS (Professional Office System - OG Texting 1981 - click here for history) was installed in our office, I took the manual home and read it!
Today, I had lunch with Kathleen Yung, 36 years after I took her job at IBM. Also joining us was Birdie Hodges, looking FABULOUS at 77. She was the Personnel Guru in our office.
Kathy was recently diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer. She said if she makes it, she'll be 70 in September. That was very hard to hear. They told her she had 3 months to a year to live. You know I'm not the praying sort, but I AM praying that with the advances in medicine and the experimental drugs she's taking, will make her statement moot.
With tears forming in my eyes, I told Kathy and Birdie that THEY are the reason I am where I am today. If Kathy hadn't decided to take another job and Birdie hadn't processed me, I would not have worked at IBM. I would not have become a Systems Engineer and gone to that fateful meeting in Carmel where I met my Little Honey Bunch. His company (Pac Bell) and my company were working on a joint venture. Video Teleconferencing! Yeah, the OG Skype, Facetime. That was 1992.
BeNita also joined us. I found BeNita in the last few years at a Zumba class. She also worked for IBM back (way back!) in the day.
I am eternally grateful to Kathy and Birdie for laying the path that sent me on this wonderful journey. I must mention that after being a Temp for a year, I was offered a permanent position with IBM. I remember we had a Branch Meeting at Silverado Country Club where they announced that I had been hired and the room broke out in a standing ovation. The President of the National Marketing Division was our guest that day and he said to me, "I've never seen anyone get a standing ovation for being hired." Another proud moment for me, indeed.
I feel extremely fortunate to have the life I have. America gave me these opportunities and I am forever grateful to America. I cannot condone the hateful person that was sworn in today as he is erasing everything that made me me. I will never stop rooting for America, though.
Look at Kathy, diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer, she has decided to wake up and be grateful for each additional day she gets.
I want to be like Kathy. My first order of business is to look into getting homes for the homeless. Even if it's just a tiny, mobile thing that they could easily move. My vision is something like a rickshaw with an incinerator toilet. The first one will go to my brother, Little, who is living under the Gilman Street overpass. And maybe if he can stay dry, warm and sober, he will make the commitment to get the help he needs. And more importantly, hopefully, there will still be services available to him.
I can't believe people have gold toilets but can't help a fellow human. I remember my Little Honey Bunch being disgusted with the amount of taxes we're required to pay (I wonder how much taxes the Orange One pays?). I said, "Do we have it? Is it making our lives any less full?" He said, "We have it."
"Then if it helps someone like me, why not give back?"
No one wrote the Christmas Letter last year, or as my Little Honey Bunch calls it, drivel. This year, we got a new sucker to write it. Kitty, our new addtion. So if you didn't get one in the Snail Mail, here it is for your reading enjoyment or if it makes you want to poke your eyes out with a red hot stick, you can use it for that. (Click on the pictures for a larger PDF version.)
And if for some reason you don't get a paper copy and you really, really want it, just email me your Snail Mail address. By the way, all the Christmas Letters that I could get my hands on can be found on the side bar on the right in Christmas Letters.
Happy New Year!
I don't usually make New Year's resolutions but what I will resolve to do in general, is to be happy, to be positive and and to pay it forward. Someone over on Facebook posted this 'puzzle'.
The first three things I saw were 1) health 2) romance and 3) beach. I like it! And I fully agree.
I will continue to be healthy by teaching and taking as many Zumba and STRONG by Zumba classes that I can. That is still my utmost favorite...um...exercise.
My Little Honey Bunch and I will continue to be romantic. I don't see being romantic as all flowers and candy. I find what we do is quite romantic. We spend lots of time together whether it's going on Date Night almost every week, hanging out at the Clayton Club, taking a soak in the hot tub, or just watching the Warriors together. This is my 'romance'.
Now the beach part...we loved Hawaii so much we really want to go back. If that works our for us in 2017, it would be awesome! Or, even if it just means I'll visit Mia in Half Moon Bay and go to her beach. That's OK too!
First picture at a couple of seconds after midnight. Here's hoping for the best in 2017!