Growing Up Mexi in Southwest Detroit

Love and Laughter in Detroit

Being raised in a mainly Mexican neighborhood with a dark brown Dad and a very white Mom makes for some good neighborhood gossip or at least contributes to some widespread cultural confusion among the locals. Everyone wants to be the one who figures you out, right? Like they cracked the code on your identity. Well, I think we should head back to the very beginning and see how this multi-culti mix had it’s origins.

A nice hat and a smile can take you far !

Treat yourself !
Where is your refuge ?

… Find your moments of peace …

Surrendering to Chocolate Cake 

Covid Coping Tips for the Weak-Willed and Easily Misled

Cake is Crucial

If I see one more shirtless man or hyper-extended young lady stretching their way to a better body and healthier mindset, I think I might scream, or at least run to the kitchen and bake myself a double chocolate fudge cake with cream cheese frosting ! We all have our limits and I believe I may have reached mine! Chocolate cake consumption isn’t the only way to a less stressful life ; lemon bars also do the trick. Better yet, carefully wrap one of those zesty lemon treats along with your Turkey-Pesto ’n’ Tomato sandwich in your backpack and start: W-A-L-K-I-N-G .

I’m not suggesting a dart-for-the-door dramatic exit, by any means. High drama usually brings high anxiety and these twin stressors are the last thing you’re looking for on your road to refuge. I’m suggesting:

  1. Pack a snack and favorite beverage.( Me: I’m coffee and cream in a small thermos and PBJ on whole wheat)Place lunch in back pack.
  2. Locate a nearby park , walking path or neighborhood (pick a preferred place. You’re looking for comfort, safety and calm).
  3. Upon arriving at your Lunchtime Labyrinth: (a) designate a starting point and (b) identify your lunch spot.
  4. Take a deep B-R-E-A-T-H and begin walking.
  5. Allow yourself at least 10 minutes to walk and arrive at your Lunch Locale, taking time to see, listen , look and feel your surroundings.
  6. Once you arrive at your Lunch Locale: create a Peace Picnic just for you. It’ll feel self-indulgent but go with it. You’re actively creating a safe place of refuge and peace where you will be the guest of honor.
  7. Savor your lunch. Sip your coffee. Allow yourself this luxury of time and purposeful peace. (Give yourself at least 15 minutes).
Peace Picnic (photo by Ruben Avilio Mauricio)

8 . Quietly pack up your lunch and prepare to return home.

9. Close the Moment: look around you, feel the space you’ve created and honor it. You’re creating a mind-muscle memory to savor later, again.

10. Walk home ( with a tiny grin and a less heavy heart and .. maybe renewed hope.)

Self-care can be chocolate cake and lemon bars.

Self-care can be peace and picnic lunches, too.


Feeding My Grief: Healing with Bagley Street Enchiladas

Bienvenidos a Southwest Detroit by Freddie Diaz https://www.muralsinthemarket.com/freddy-diaz (photo by Ruben Avilio)

Love is complicated, isn’t it ? I miss my father’s laugh and smile, his singing, all those things that comfort me when I reflect on my own life as a father. I don’t miss the fear of him, his fury and depths of anger as he lashed out against the world, against flesh, against the gravel and potholes of all those sidestreets of Southwest Detroit.

Hecho en Detroit (photo by Ruben Avilio Mauricio) (T-shirt by La Gloria Bakery http://www.menuism.com/restaurants/la-gloria-bakery-detroit-17395

I need to remember my father, so I carefully tend to the in-tact, loving memories I have, like those few precious flowers clinging to life in my pitiful late summer garden; but, it seems cruel, somehow, to tend to the good while still suffering the fallout of the bad.

Enchiladas con mole with arroz and refried beans ! ( Memories taste good)

I have no answers. I keep writing to help make sense of what happened back there in the ‘60’s, 70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s of Detroit’s ever-changing southwest neighborhood. Is it wrong to keep going back to my favorite Mexican bakeries to taste my past, to get closer to the smell of my childhood? I visit Los Galanes restaurant on Bagley and each time I order the enchiladas con mole, I want to cry. A quiet, restrained, muted cry. And I continue eating , alone, at the table-for -two near the front window overlooking the view of La Gloria Bakery, another culinary curio of my crazy Mexican life thinking Dad’s going to walk by the window any minute and catch site of me , nod his head and smile.

Dad and Chechi

Dad and Chechi

Tell Me That Story, Harry !

Harry was asleep most times I visited him at Parkridge. His roommate, Ed, would greet me at the door, hands deftly working the wheels on his chair. “He’s sleeping,” he’d report , then turn and head toward the nurse’s station. I’d hear him yelling, “I’m hungry! Is anyone gonna get me some dinner!?” Harry looked up, grinning, “He’s always like that. Grumpy guy.” So unlike Ed, Harry greeted his guests with a smile and a handshake, every time. Old school

Harry liked my turkey but he LOVED the pie (which I did not have the heart to tell him was store-bought) and was satisfied only after I set a second helping on his bedside table. “I’ll have myself a little treat when I watch my shows tonight.” After wiping a tiny bit of crust from Harry’s lower lip, I held the straw to his mouth. He sipped every last drop from that milk carton.

Harry was always talkative after dinner. I had about a 20-minute window to either give him an update on my life with my grandkids or to hear the story of his cross-county road-trip from Ypsilanti, Michigan all the way west to Santa Monica, California on his ‘67 Yamaha Trailmaster. Barb, hanging on for dear life, was his trusty travel companion up until San Bernadino where she left him and his bike and hitched a ride to the Greyhound Bus Station. Harry said the bike just gave out. And so did Barb.