Sunday, May 8, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: The bright side of celebrating Mother's Day withou...

Tragically Hip Living: The bright side of celebrating Mother's Day withou...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living My tragically hip mom in her younger days Eighteen years, the number of years my mother has ...

The bright side of celebrating Mother's Day without a mom

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

My tragically hip mom in her younger days
Eighteen years, the number of years my mother has been gone but never forgotten. Eighteen years ago on Mother's Day would be the last time I would spend with her as a whole person. The next day she would have a stroke and heart attack and pass a couple weeks later. I often think of that Mother's Day, it was a great day, hanging out and going to lunch with her. My mom was deeply religious and always accepted whatever came her way, it's one of the many things I admired about her. Without a doubt she had a great life, a day doesn't go by that I don't think about her. Like everyone who has the greatest mom, my mom was the greatest because she always looked at everything in a positive way, no matter the odds stacked against her. She always beat those odds until the very end, even then, she beat the odds against her because she earned a one-way ticket to Heaven. Even when she had her stroke and heart attack, the doctors said she wouldn't make it through the night, but she did and managed to hang on a couple more weeks. She left this earth on her own terms and her own time, that was just her way. So, I reflect on her this Mother's Day and celebrate this day with her memory embedded deep in my heart. Do I miss her? You bet! But I also know she's in a better place and doesn't suffer. If you've lost your mother and feel sadness, you don't need to, her legacy now lives within you and she is still here because of you. It may seem strange, but Mother's Day isn't a sad day for me because my mother lives through me, my children and everyone who knew her. Think about this, would your mother truly want you to sit around today and be sad? I think not, she would want you to have a great day, I know for me every day is Mother's Day and my mother wouldn't want that. Instead, I reflect on what an amazing woman she was, her sense of humor, her willingness to stand behind me when no one else would, encouraging me to pursue that dream. She taught me to recognize the simple things in life, the little things that may not seem like much but are blessings. One memory I have of her is a story that I've told before, a story that we often laughed about later. My mother was a shopper, mostly a window shopper, but a shopper. One night, I had to make a run to the drug store, it was late at night and Walgreens had just started staying open late, my mom was well into her 50s. As I was picking up what I needed, I could hear two women laughing in the next aisle, I thought to myself geez, that sounds like my mom, but what would she be doing at a Walgreens this late at night? I continued to hear these two women carrying on, giggling like little school girls at a Donny Osmond concert. I finally had enough and had to see what all the commotion was about, so I walked over to the next aisle for a peek. Sure enough, it was my mom and aunt trying on hats and sunglasses, striking poses like they were supermodels doing a photo shoot at the beach. When I walked up they had a bewildered look on their faces, like they were busted for smoking or something. I said, "Mom, what the hell are you doing at Walgreens this late at night?" She laughed and fessed up and said that she and my aunt (who was spending the night) were exploring their new hobby, going to stores, reading labels on products and looking at things with no intention of buying anything. I said, "Mom! It's late at night, are you in a gang or something, did you live under a power line as a kid, what gives? How did you even get here, you and Baby (my aunt) don't even drive?" They said my uncle brought them and said he was in the magazine section, far away from them in case they were arrested. I didn't know it at the time, but this was one of the unexpected blessings she taught me about, a happy memory that will always be with me. After that, we went to Denny's for pie and coffee and just laughed at the whole thing. It's memories like this and there were many that will always live on forever, especially now since this story will be on the Internet. The point is this, think to yourself, would you rather sit around on Mother's Day and be sad because your mother is no longer here? Would you want to spend a lifetime not having the experiences shared with your mom? Or would you rather be thankful for the time, the experiences and adventures you had with her? Exactly! Sure it's sad mother's leave us, but do they really leave us? Is not a part of them living within us? The answer is yes, they are still here in a sense. So, turn that frown upside down, celebrate your mother with the memories she left behind, be thankful for the time you had, make this day a day of honoring your mother because she would want it that way. In closing, I say this....Happy Mother's Day Mom, I love you and miss you, thanks for the time you spent with me and thanks for the memories. And Mom because I have your sense of humor, and like having Geico Insurance, thanks for saving me a ton of money on Mother's Day by not having to buy flowers and take you out for dinner anymore, but if I could, I would give anything to at least do it one more time.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How to San Diego like a cheap bastard

Tragically Hip Living: How to San Diego like a cheap bastard: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living As the heat of summer approaches, so too does the time of year when San Diego is the destinati...

How to San Diego like a cheap bastard

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

As the heat of summer approaches, so too does the time of year when San Diego is the destination of choice. I've visited San Diego since my childhood and it never gets old, but the past few years it seems to be getting more and more expensive, and hard to find a decent room without having to pay a lot of money or donate an organ. In my younger years, I always stayed at a hotel on, or within walking distance of the beach, mainly in Mission or Pacific Beach.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I understand things change and prices will go up, but many of the hotels are greedy, inflating prices in the summer months that can run well into the hundreds of dollars per night. What really turned me off was a particular hotel that pretty much tripled the price of rooms. This was a hotel that I was a frequent and loyal customer for years, besides raising the rates, they required a 3-day minimum stay which is tough to do if planning a weekend trip. To add insult, they imposed a $30 convenience fee and a $20 per day parking fee which I wasn't aware of at the time I booked, which was my fault for not checking. That was my last time staying at that hotel and afterward, I thought, WTF? Really? The clerk couldn't even tell me what the $30 convenience fee was about. I told the clerk it must be for prostitution because I just got screwed.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
So now, I visit San Diego differently and it cost way less because I do my research and use some new travel tools. Part of the reason is that I'm basically a cheap bastard by choice and love great deals, I love San Diego and love being outside. If staying at a nice expensive hotel on the beach is important to you then you should do it if you plan on staying at the place for much of your time, everybody has a different idea of how they want to vacation. For a few years, I avoided San Diego, mostly because I couldn't even find any rooms under $200 a night on short notice so I traveled to other Southern California cities like Laguna Beach and San Clemente even though I missed San Diego. But then I got creative, I travel often and joined reward programs for different hotel chains and car rental companies for starters. When I go to San Diego my place of choice is Ocean Beach, it's where the locals hang out for the most part. There isn't as much traffic (although busy) as Mission or Pacific Beach and everything cost less and the eateries are much better in my opinion. So here's what I do, I don't use travel websites, you will rarely find a deal for a popular destination on short notice, I use Google Maps by typing in "San Diego Motels" and zoom in on different areas.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
It will often show the price on the tabs and often show places that aren't on travel websites. One of my rewards program I belong to is Wyndham Rewards, had the most luck with this one, they include hotels like Days Inn, Ramada, Travelodge on the economy side. I look on Google Maps for these types since my goal is to be more outdoors and really just need a place to sleep, as long as it's clean and comfortable. Let's look at my last couple of trips as an example. I try to plan about a month out if I can, but mostly it's a week or less most of the time, my last trip was 3 days before arrival and included staying Fri-Tue on Memorial Day weekend. Checking Google Maps, I searched the Ocean Beach area and found a few hotels under the Wyndham Rewards program. At the time, there was a Travelodge undergoing renovations near the Sports Arena area (Rosecrans/Midway) and the price was $109 per night for Fri-Sat and $89 for Sunday, Monday and check out Tues with free breakfast. I called the hotel directly and asked specifically what "under renovation" meant.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
The gentleman told me that many of the rooms were being renovated and the pool was not in operation, but the breakfast area was recently completed and operational. I told him I was a rewards member and if he could give me a deal? He said if I was willing to take a room on the 3rd floor he would give me a rate of $69 for Fri-Sat and $49 for Sun-Tues and that was tax included! I asked him to send some pics since some of the places don't look like the pics on the website. He indeed did send pics, even the newly renovated room I would be staying in. He was honest and told me the parking lot had construction materials and workers would be working during the week on the lower floors until around 3 p.m. I jumped on the deal and booked it with a total cost was $236, but I had enough points for Sun-Mon night so actual cost was $138  The location was great, 5 min to Ocean Beach and 5 min to Mission/Pacific Beach. I then checked with Enterprise Car Rental since I belong to their rewards program and booked a car from Phoenix. I always book an economy car knowing that most of the time they don't have any left and they upgrade for the same price.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I booked a car from Thurs-Wed for a total price of $176. Sure enough, when I arrived they were out of economy cars (popular during week) and gave me a Chevy Impala. I used some points and got a free day (little over $30) so drive out cost was $145 and change. The total cost for hotel/car was $283 total, not bad for a Memorial Day weekend. My last trip was July 4th weekend and I booked the same hotel. Although it was more expensive this time, a little over $100 compared to my last trip, it was still a bargain for a holiday weekend including a deal on the car too. Belonging to rewards clubs does have perks and highly recommend using them. Since my goal and objective is to hang out at the beach or outdoors, a place to stay just needs to be comfortable and clean. Since I'm a cheap bastard now, places to eat have changed as well. Back in the day, I always went to mostly nice places for the most part but discovered that half the night was wasted because sometimes it was a 1-2 hour wait for a table with a view and usually pricey. To me, that was simply too much time and money, especially when I did get a table, 99% of the people weren't even taking in the view and ambiance, they were busy texting or taking selfies.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
So this is what I do now, I dine mostly in Ocean Beach because it supports the locals. Sure the wait time can be long, but I discovered a little trick. Order your food takeout and grab a blanket, some chairs and head to the beach or park and enjoy your tasty chow while taking in a view, maybe a sunset if it's dinner. Ocean Beach is loaded with great eateries, wait times at places like Hodad's on Newport Avenue (tasty burger joint) could be long judging by the line which stretches often around the block. Another place in Ocean Beach I like is Don Tommy's on Voltaire Street, a Mexican food joint that is simply killer, they even make their own tortillas. I go here for breakfast too sometimes, they have breakfast burritos made from scratch that can easily feed two people. If healthy is your choice, The People's Market on Voltaire is the place. It's a healthy grocery store and has a prepared food area upstairs and is perfect if you want to make your own meal or take it to go. On Saturday's they have live music on the patio outside and best of all, it's free.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I still hit up Mission/Pacific Beach too, but I go early to find a parking spot and usually hit a place on Garnett Street to eat, avoiding the more expensive places on the beach to eat and shop. I still take in the free ocean views though. So, think about Ocean Beach next time, shopping and restaurants are generally cheaper and just hit a side street to park. It will save you valuable time and money if you're a cheap bastard like me.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: How I feed my soul by lessons learned in life

Tragically Hip Living: How I feed my soul by lessons learned in life: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Photo: Ronatringside.com That old saying, "With age comes wisdom" is often true wi...

How I feed my soul by lessons learned in life

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Photo: Ronatringside.com
That old saying, "With age comes wisdom" is often true with me when it comes to the road of life. What was once important in my 20s may not have the same meaning in my 50s. A night of going out and drinking meant having a hangover and spending the next day in bed. As I became older, a night of drinking required two days to recover and sometimes longer. I rarely drink now and the difference is that I know my limits. It's funny when you really think about it, the mind has no clue it's getting older. It's the body that informs the mind that we now have limitations. For years I struggled with it, a sports injury would take longer to heal, a night out required more down time, many things required more time to recover. In youth, we are taught to go to school, get a good job and start a family and live happily ever after.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
The problem is that it may not work out that way, it didn't certainly for me. I quickly discovered there is not an owners manual or "How to fix a Fuck-Up for Dummies." It wasn't until I lost everything that I figured it out, and the answer was really quite simple. I discovered that for me, I am not on the same journey another person may be on, my wants and needs may be something totally different. Some may want lots of money, a big house, and fancy car, that's great if that's what one desires. I thought that's what I wanted too in my younger years but soon discovered that after losing all those things, we as a society are judged by those very things. Think about this, when we meet someone for the first time, one of the first things asked is "what we do for a living."
Photo: Ronatringside.com
It's one element on how we define a person. If a person is a janitor or a Wall Street investor, that person is categorized as to status. I used to do that very same thing, I was judging a person by what they did for a living and money. In my travels of life, for instance, I have crossed paths with some extraordinary people. A former championship boxer who had it all, and lost it all and works at a car wash, a person in entertainment that makes millions of dollars a year and started with nothing but a dream. What do the two have in common? They both are great people when they are not defined by status. You wouldn't know one works at a car wash and the other lives in Beverly Hills. Despite different paths and circumstances, they are simply two down to earth people but defined by society.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
If passing them on the street you wouldn't know one was a world champion, had it all and lost it, the other in entertainment who came from nothing and probably makes more money in a day than the boxer in a year. For me, I found balance through time and wisdom, prayer and meditation. Finding what really made me happy and doing what I want to do, not what others wanted me to do. We all need and want money, how we make it and use it is up to that person. The mistakes made in life are not often mistakes, they are often lessons for something much greater that awaits you down the road. I consider myself a spiritual person, I believe in God, the power of the Universe and believe we are here for a purpose. Being older, I realized these things and found I have been blessed beyond measure.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
I now do what I love to do, ringside at a fight, maybe travel or just having a coffee on my patio, it's all a blessing indeed and never taken for granted. I truly believe my passion is helping others succeed, that's my calling in life. It brings me great satisfaction when I do, and I've done it a lot. It's done with no intention of receiving anything back, no intention for fanfare or glory, it's done with as much obscurity as possible. The payback is the blessing of seeing it happen for someone, the look on their face when you've helped someone achieve a goal that has been inside them all along, the funny thing is I am blessed tenfold for it every time. It could come in the form of a beautiful ocean sunset on an unexpected last minute trip, maybe a check in the mail for a job you completed and completely forgot about, or maybe just connecting with an old friend that you haven't seen in years.
Photo: Ronatringside.com
In a nutshell, what I'm saying is this, the life you live is YOUR life and not someone else's. Everyone one is on their own path, their own journey, whether it be wealth and nice things, or just living a modest simple life, it should be your choice. If you want to be a unicorn, be a unicorn, a chain-smoking monkey, be a chain-smoking monkey, just be and do what you want in life. Our time here on this earth is limited, so stop wasting time because certain restrictions apply, and it's not valid in all areas.

Until next time, have a tragically hip day!

Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tragically Hip Living: Springtime in the desert awakens bugs and critters...

Tragically Hip Living: Springtime in the desert awakens bugs and critters...: By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living Photo: Ronatringside.com Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places to spend winter i...