My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

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Through the Eyes of a Child

mimimuffinJune 6, 2015

Dear Readers,

If you want to know the truth, ask a child.  Not only will you get the truth, you will get it in such a way as to make you laugh.  Because kids are honest to a fault, and they have no filter, they say the darnedest things.  Do not ever ask a child a question unless you are prepared to hear the absolute truth.  Well, leave it to me to walk right into that trap.

A few days ago I mentioned to my therapist (of course I have one!) that I saw the cutest question and answer session between mother and child on my Facebook feed.  Now, stick with me dear Readers, Facebook is not the focus here.  I mentioned that a friend of mine had asked her two daughters a series of questions and posted both the questions and the answers as her status one day.  There were 23 questions and answers.  The questions were ordinary, mundane even:  How do you know your mom loves you?  What does your mom always say to you?  What makes your mom happy? sad?, etc.  The answers are anything but.

Of course, dear Readers, you can well imagine what a small child of 5 or 6 would come up with for answers.  And true, they make us laugh.  But check it out, what if an old broad, such as myself, were to ask her grown, adult children to answer these same questions?  My therapist thought it would be a good idea.

At first, I didn’t quite understand what purpose it could serve.  My children know what I do for a living and they know how old I am (mostly, lol).  So what would be the point?  That is why my therapist is the therapist, dear Readers, and I am the patient.  “Send your children the questions and ask them to answer them and send them back to you.  Once you read their answers, you will see yourself through their eyes.  It might surprise you.”  She was right.

I must admit that only my daughters completed the answers and sent them back (are you listening, my sons?).  But, what an eye-opener.  Here is who I am:

I am kind and funny.  I am thoughtful and outgoing.  I am loving and inspiring.  I am a good mother.

Honestly, those conclusions were not surprising.  I know, without conceit, that those adjectives do describe me.  However, here are the two most surprising conclusions:

My children paid attention to our discussions and they believed what I told them!

I’m joking, of course.  However, here are some heartfelt questions and answers that warmed my heart:

What is something that Mom always says to you?    you will do great things, you will change the world, I want you to be better than me  This is something I stressed to my children as they were growing up; I believed it and I hope they did, too.

What makes mom sad? Dishonesty, abandonment Wow!  This one blew me away because not only is it true, but this is something I never told my children.

What makes you proud of your mom? Her honesty and strength  I’m sure some would beg to differ on that first one, but there is no mistaking that second one 😉

Finally, my favorite one was the same from each of my daughters.  And although the answers were completely different, opposites even, they both go a long way in describing who I am..

If your mom were a character, who would she be? Betty Rizzo, Grease  For those who are unfamiliar, Rizzo is tough and sarcastic and she doesn’t give a care what people think of her.  She is definitely one tough broad.  I love that description of me.  It’s true.  The other answer is also true. 

If your mom were a character, who would she be?
I might be biased.. but I would say pooh bear.. he’s loving, accepting of all, a little anxious, and loves food

No explanation needed.  Peace, ~v.


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Go Rub Some Dirt On It

June 3 2015

Dear Readers,

My dad was not one to gladly suffer whiners.  In fact, Dad was quite intolerant when it came to whining.  It’s not that he wasn’t compassionate; he just didn’t have time for excuses.  And that’s where today’s post comes in.  I’m a whiner, dear Readers.  I HATE to admit this, but, I am.  Oh sure, I gripe, I grumble and I grouse.  I groan, I mumble and I kvetch.  But, whine…me?  I think not.  Ahem…I think so.  Dad would not be proud.

I do not want to makes excuses, so I won’t go into detail.  However, I thought I had every reason to bitch and complain, until today, right now, this very second.  I was talking to my roommate about how some of our students need to realize that no matter how bad they think they have it, there is always someone who has it much worse.  Or maybe I was just telling myself…anyhow, something my dad used to tell us kids popped into my head.

Mom and Dad (well, really Mom) had eight children in ten years.  So, there was always some kid or another boo-hooing about some boo-boo or another.  “Mom!  So-and-so hit me!”  “Dad, So-and-so tripped me!”  “Mom!”  “Dad!”  You get the picture.  Dad had the perfect response.  Although, I don’t think I really understood what it meant until today.

When one of us would show Dad some real or imagined cut, bruise, and/or other physical slight, Dad would feign concern, look at the boo-boo and say, “Go rub some dirt on it.”  This would make me laugh, but, I always walked away puzzled.  The hurt no longer hurt, of course.  However, the ‘Go rub some dirt on it,’ never made sense.  Now, I get it.

Stop whining!  Suck it up!  That’s what it means.  Oh, I can’t pretend to tell you what was in my dad’s mind when he said that to his kids.  But I can sure tell you what is in mine.  Stop whining, sissy!  Suck it up and just do what you gotta do!  There are things in this life that are true tragedies, my life is not one of them.  I love life and life loves me back.

So, the next time I start feeling sorry for myself, the next time I begin to think, “Poor me, poor me, poor me,” I will remember the words of one of the greatest men I ever knew, “Aww, go rub some dirt on it!”  Peace, ~v.


Blurred Lines

May 17, 2015

Dear Readers,

Today’s post comes with a “Warning!  Due to the strong nature of today’s post, some readers may be offended.  I apologize in advance.”

Parents who blur the line between parent and child are doing a great disservice to society at large.  Unsure of what I am talking about?  Take a look at the following exchange between a parent and a child.  The mom is on the left, while

blurher 12 year-old daughter is the one on the right.  Before you ask, neither the mom nor the daughter are African American.  And, before you ask again, I know because I swiped this from one of the social media sites in which I belong.  This is a true exchange.

I could enumerate any number of social missteps this mother is creating in treating her 12 year-old daughter as a friend; but, I won’t.

I could also attempt to explain why this nonsense destroys the relationship between teacher and student when allowed to seep into our schools at such an alarming rate; but, I won’t.

What I will do, is shake my head and bottom-line it for you, dear Readers.  When you treat your 12 year-old daughter like a friend, don’t be surprised when she starts treating you like you are hers.  Would you like to know how middle school girls treat their friends?  They yell at them to get their attention; they slap, pinch, and/or push them; they call them names (worse than this exchange); they make fun of them; they talk about them behind their backs; and they ignore most of what their friends say, unless it has to do with that cute boy who sits in front of them in math class.

Bottom line here?  12 year-old girls treat their friends with no respect and little to no loyalty.

After seeing this post, I understand why my 7th grade students cannot comprehend why I, a 50 year-old teacher, am allowed to have my cell phone in class, but they are not.  “Ms. Kunzmann, how come teachers are allowed to have their cell phones during class, but the students can’t?”  Here was my response:

“You and me, we’re not equal, not even close.  I have earned the right to better and more privileges by virtue of my age.  Your mom may treat you as her equal.  But, you and me, we ain’t equal, not even on the same plane.  In no such reality or alternate universe would a 12 year-old child and 50 year-old, grown adult teacher be equal insofar as possession of a cell phone is concerned.  And not only do I firmly believe that I have earned the right, I am disciplined enough to at least turn my phone’s ringer off so as to stop it from going off during class.  You, however, are not even disciplined enough to use proper English when addressing your own mother!”

“What?  Wait, what?”

And so on.  They may never get it.

The unintended consequences of parents treating their tween children as friends, is that the lines get blurred.  And that’s an awfully scary place to be…just ask Miley and Robin 😉  Peace, ~v.


My Favorite Muffin

May 12, 2015

Dear Readers,

Today is one of those days I have put on my “Some Day” calendar.  You know what I mean:  Some day I’ll lose those last 20 pounds.  Some day I’m going to go on a cruise.  Some day, some day, some day.  Well, some day I will be the mother of a college graduate has arrived.  My daughter graduates tonight from my alma mater, Arizona State University.  I would like to take this space and this opportunity to let her know how proud of her I am.


Congratulations, college graduate!  How does it feel to meet another one of your goals?  I knew you would do it, you always do whatever you set your mind to, I admire that.  I also admire so much more that is you, it is hard to enumerate, but I will try.

I admire that you are stubborn; you stand your ground when you believe in something.

I admire the way you connect with little children; they flock around you because they know you love them.

I admire the way you took care of your sister when you lived in California; she always felt safe with you.

I admire the way you took care of your sister when you both had to change schools; she took it the hardest, but you made sure she felt safe.

I admire the way you stood up to me when you knew I had a problem; you made your decision and you never backed down.

I admire the way you live your life; no regrets, no excuses, no looking back.

I admire your loyalty, your beauty, your mind.  You have turned out to be a pretty amazing young woman.  Of course I know your faults, but today is not about that.  Today is about your achievements, and you should be proud of yourself…I know I am.

One last thing, you have to know how difficult it has been to write this post.  I must have started typing a hundred times.  Every time I started to typed, my eyes would begin to water.  Yes, I’m a baby and oftentimes too sensitive, but then again so are you (something else I admire).  However, the reason this has been so difficult to write is because I do not have the words to describe how proud of you I am.  I know I just said it, but it hardly seems enough.

I love you, Muffin.  I wish you nothing but the best.  Go and make the world a better place, I will always be here for you.


Our Mom

p.s. I admire how much you love your mom.  Peace, ~v.



May 9, 2015

Dear Readers,

Upon learning of the passing of my oldest daughter several lifetimes ago, a well-meaning, but insensitive soul asked me the following question:

“If all of your children die before you do, would you still be a mother?”

At the time, as a 25 year-old grieving mother, all I could manage was a weak smile and an even weaker, “Yes.”

Now, as a 50 year-old knowledgeable grandmother, all I care to say is, “Yes.”

I went through a period in my mid to late twenties thinking I would have to stop calling myself a mom if I were to outlive my children.  Jeez, the things I thought when I was half my age.  Here’s to wisdom with age.

And here’s to all mothers, no matter the ages!  A very special Happy Mother’s Day to my mom.  Mom, I love you and thank you.  Also, my daughters-in law.  MZ and CK, I love you and thank you and I am so proud of you.  Finally, to Mimi.  I love you and thank you and I am so proud of you and I cannot believe how so much more alike we are now;-)

Peace, ~v.

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El Mariachi

May 6, 2015
Dear Readers,
OK. So I’m sitting at my sister’s house, post-tequila shots, attempting to write a decent post marking 14 years since we lost our Dad. And though we choose tequila to pay tribute, it’s not because we are a couple of lushes (although we might be).  We drink tequila because it was Dad’s drink (Chivas as well, et al). A few days before Dad passed away, he confided in me the bootleg tequila he’d stashed for us to tap into once we were celebrating his life. Dad was like that, making the distinction between celebrating a life versus grieving a death.  I intend on doing just that.  So, here I am, tequila-filled, reading a tribute my sister wrote, and it is so moving, so beautiful, so well-written…so my next post!  I do not think Mercy will mind; in fact, I think (hope) she will be pleased.  Mercy’s tribute encapsulates my dad, just asmusic encapsulated my dad.  Thank you, Moosie.  Love, Your Vickie
Remembering My Dad – For a lot of you out there, you’re all aware that it is by no accident that Los Zubias are an extremely talented bunch. From where that talent originated in the Alex Zubia family is from a wonderful man so rich in such talent, Alex Zubia – Dad.
One of my best memories is from the age of five. There was not a moment when Dad was not playing the guitar, guitarron, playing records, the radio or just singing. And I knew from this memory on he would always be a huge influence for me regarding music. The memory goes something like this: By now at five I knew every song Dad played on the guitar words, tempo, progressions and timing. Every so often he would delay a chord change no biggie. Unless you are trying to sing along.
Dad hade fashioned lyrics to You Are My Sunshine for our new love, Baby Vickie. Back then they recorded music on a reel to reel and Dad always recorded. As he and I are singing the song he begins to strum faster as he wanted to end it but I was having none of it. In the recording you can hear my little voice saying “no not like that” and to hear Mom tell it I was laying my hands on his strumming hand trying to stop him so we could do it right. LOL. Fast forward ten years.
I was bored with having to wait for Dad to play and of singing to records that it was at age fifteen I asked Dad to teach me to play guitar. He agreed but the way he was going to teach me was unconventional. He told me to write down the words to any song I wanted to sing and bring it to him. I did, and it was “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain.” Dad was so proud. I had really learned it. As the years went by one of us kids asked him the same thing. Then another, and so on. Dad considered my learning that one song as the stepping stone in creating the most awesome family band and whenever that song played it brought tears to his eyes.
He is gone now, fourteen years today. Forever I will always remember the love, pride and joy that filled him everytime I would perform and I will always be grateful for His Legacy.
That was for you, Dad.  Peace, ~v.


The Curious Misadventures of El Mariachi and the Elite 8

El Mariachi

El Mariach, aka El Ching@n




El Mariachi's Vieja

El Mariachi’s Vieja








July 20, 2014

Dear Readers,

It recently dawned on me that I have never told you my stories of the infamous superhero El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, and his loyal group of followers, turned proteges, turned superheroes themselves.  El Mariachi and his faithful wife, Vieja, spent a decade recruiting eight of the best and the brightest young people to pass onto them their values and a hope for the future.  They spent the next 38 years grooming the Elite 8 to become superheroes in their own right, so that future generations would, themselves want to emulate  and continue the traditions that El Mariachi and his Veija began.

The Elite 8

The Elite 8

Although the youngest and the last to be recruited, Boy is probably the closest to a mirror image of El Mariachi.  It also took Boy the longest to agree to join the Elite 8, and agree to follow El Mariachi’s Code of Conduct to pass on to the next generation the keys to a successful superhero.  A plumber by day, Boy dons his traje, or his superhero uniform, by night and brings joy through the awesome power of his mariachi music.  Boy is well-read, intelligent, and funny with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure.  He even has his own Vieja and together they have recruited two of tomorrow’s leaders.  El Mariaci, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Boy and lessons he has learned.

Rock is the second to youngest of the superheroes and the youngest girl.  Ahhh, but do not let the fact that she is a girl fool you.  Of the Elite 8, Rock has the most physical stamina and determination.  Rock takes after El Mariachi in personality.  She is tough but fair.  She has high personal standards and a solid work ethic.  She is also a quite a scrapper, though you’d never know to look at her.  Her petite frame and lean body mass have led more than one unsuspecting character to pick a fight with her; she’s never lost a match.  Warrior by day, Superhero instructor by night.  Rock and her equally challenging and tough partner are grooming three specially hand-picked young ladies to follow in the family business.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Rock and the lessons she has learned.

Mr. Johnson-Brown is the third to youngest.  He shares El Mariachi’s love of music and has just as eclectic a taste for musical genres.  He is a civilian “office manager” (wink, wink) and world traveler working with a military instillation by day and a community leader and activist by night.  A born performer, Mr. Johnson-Brown has led many a band.  When he sings, it is his voice that brings a tear to the eyes of El Mariachi’s widow, Vieja.  His love of music and  his love for all of the instruments he has mastered is only rivaled by the love he has for his partner, who is a nurse by day, caretaker by night.  She and Mr. Johnson-Brown recruited three young people to train, two of which have graduated onto solo work.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Mr. Johnson-Brown and the lessons he has learned.

Although trained and schooled in the art of the superhero business, Clipster has been the only one to pull away from the group, although never while El Mariachi was alive.  Clipster is a college educated man with probably the most ambition of the Elite 8.  He, along with his equally ambitious partner and their three recruits, have been elusive, or difficult to track down.  However, news trickles in from El Mariachi’s widow, who assures the rest of the Elite 8 that Clipster is keeping with tradition.  College businessman by day, Clipster continues to educate his recruits insofar as becoming a superhero is concerned.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Clipster and the lessons he has learned.

And then there is Tony.  Tony is the most charismatic male of the Elite 8.  He is a man’s man.  However, is also the biggest baby of the bunch (LoL).  Tony is the go-to guy.  If anyone of the Elite 8 need something taken care of, they turn to Tony.  They turn to him because  Tony always, “Knows a guy.”  Tony is the kind of guy who easily racks up favors, but never through coercion, but rather, through his charm.  Tony is not one to be told what to do, except maybe by his partner, who is the only one who can keep him in line.  Tony, a blue-collar worker by day, and by night, he his no-nonsense partner, train their 4 recruits for the legacy with which they will be handed in a few years time.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Tony and the lessons he has learned.

Bingo is the oldest male and marches to the beat of his own drummer.  Bingo followed in El Mariachi’s footsteps as far as his day job goes but is truly his own man.  Bingo is not a mirror image of El Mariachi, but rather his parallel.  Bingo has a love of music and musical instrumentation that in itself, is its own reward.  He is a peacemaker and a humorist.  Bingo has such a sophisticated and keen dry wit that one either admires his humor or abhors it.  Plumber by day, peaceful superhero by night, Bingo, along with is equally witty partner, guide their remaining three future superheroes to follow in their footsteps.  Bingo and his partner have already turned the reins of El Mariachi’s legacy over their three oldest recruits.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Bingo and the lessons he has learned.

Luskie is the second to oldest recruit and the second to oldest girl.  Although always  a fan of El Mariachi’s superhero, legacy to be of service to future generations, she is one of the least content being in such close proximity to the outside world.  She is a loner by nature.  However, her nurturing, motherly side draws young people towards her, so much so, that she is one of the few of the Elite 8 that is privileged enough to see the fruits of her superhero persona.  Luskie has already trained and educated four superhero recruits in El Mariachi’s legacy.  All four have been given Luskie’s blessing to begin recruiting future superheroes of their own to train; three of the four have already started.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Luskie and the lessons she has learned.

The eldest of the Elite 8 is Moosie.  Although a bit of a rebel in her youth, she always had an energy emanating from her soul that attracted people from all walks of life into her circle.  One of Moosie’s greatest strengths is her willingness to help others, something she shares with El Mariachi.  She also shares a love of performing with El Mariachi.  People are often drawn to Moosie for reasons even they cannot explain.  However, Moosie, just as El Mariachi taught her, uses her gifts to help, not harm those that are drawn to her flame.  Moosie and her former and her current partner, have sent two recruits into the world to begin passing onto the next generation the values and hopes for the future that El Mariachi passed onto his 8 recruits, the Elite 8.  El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, is very proud of Moosie and the lessons she has learned..

El Mariachi passed on some 13 years ago, give or take a few months.  However, he has left his legacy to his Veija and the Elite 8 Superheroes.  The world needs more of these superheroes.  These are the superheroes who will usher in new recruits to spread hope for the future, and to see that our values do not become immersed in the muck and the mire we so often see in not only today’s young people, but grown men and women, as well.  We need more superheroes.  We need more superheroes like the Elite 8 and El Mariachi and his Veija:  average, hard-working, God-loving and honest, family men and women who just want to continue the legacy their dad handed down to them.  After all, El Mariachi, aka El Ching@n, was one of the great ones.  Peace, ~v.