A genuine love story for family and life, Angels Among Us is a philosophical narrative. Memoirs of one man's journey of finding answers to questions revealed along the way. Multidimensional in its telling, music intertwines and connects personal values, popular culture, and a time frame that spans twenty-three years. An appreciation of the built and natural landscape color the canvas of discovery. Angels Among Us is an introspective and physical journey that evokes a wide range of emotions through self-confrontation, revelations, and choices. From the first word to the conclusion of this first installment of the Living Dream series, a desire to learn more will be in order.
|Product dimensions:||6.42(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.57(d)|
About the Author
Erwin Lazaro is a 49-year-old dreamer and entertainer. After twenty years in architectural design, the dreamer has become an author, the CEO, and President of Lazaro Living Dream, Ltd. He will publish at least two more books in the non-fiction Living Dream series, a non-fiction book of short stories, and a realistic fiction series. When he's not entertaining on YouTube, Erwin is making sure his family is doing everything to live life to the fullest. Visit him at www.lazarolivingdream.com.
Read an Excerpt
The Second And The First
I lurched and squinted at the glaring red digits of my bedside clock. My face was soaked with tears. My pillow was soaked too. It's too early to get out of bed and too early to begin the day. I woke up before the alarm sounded ... again. My forehead was drenched in sweat. I ran my fingers over my face and wiped the sweat and tears through my hair. It's so cold. This is happening a lot lately. I breathed deeply, propped on one arm, fixed in place. Confirming the time on the clock again, "I really need the sleep ..." or else I'm going to be in a world of hurt. "What a waste," I sighed aloud. I'm normally up and out of bed as the alarm sounds. One sweeping motion and I'm on my feet. I had never lingered in bed, but waking up before the alarm doing its thing is really getting on my nerves. I can't go back to sleep either. I'd fall asleep and then the alarm would sound. So, I've been taking this unwanted waking time to dwell more than I normally would, recalling memories of places I had just visited, places as clear as my view now, casually looking around my room in the dull light of this new day. Consequently, as days and nights have passed in this manner, the haze in my mind has grown thick. I am physically affected as well. My mind and my body are growing numb. It's getting more and more difficult to focus.
My arm started to fall asleep. Go figure. I wish I could make the rest of my body do that as easily, just go numb and live without sensation, turning it off when I want. I guess I'm already on my way, but that's probably a bad thing. Who am I kidding? I'm describing what's inside that's numb and that's not so good either. I've been desensitized for a while now, so this numbness in my arm is kind of refreshing. It's electrifying in a way. The nerves are screaming at me to move my sorry ass. The tingling grew stronger, but I challenged the reaction. The discomfort is stimulating. I held out for as long as I could. "Ouch," I whispered to myself, laying back, trying to feel my limp arm. It's always weird trying to move my fingers when my arm is asleep. I stared at my spiritless limb, massaging it until sensation returned. I always get a rush feeling that burn. The blood flowed back to where it had been denied. It's a good feeling.
The burn reached my hand and I slowly began to move each finger. Twitching turned into opening and closing my fist. The motion helped the blood flow while I stared at the ceiling. My waking eyes adjusted, but I turned to my mind's eye and converged on once clear scenes becoming fading memories. I tried to recall details of experiences elsewhere from the dreams I just had, but the images of people and places swirled into a blanketing fog that would no longer focus. "What a waste," I sighed again. I'd get frustrated if I had experienced this sensation randomly, but this is how it has been every single morning. It's kind of expected now.
I dream many dreams. I know they're not just dreams. They're experiences and have their own place, their own special identity within my life. Honing my ability to recall, I hope to learn a little more about the places I'd just been. I don't want to forget the people involved. I don't want to leave the experiences behind. I know I'm capable. I just haven't figured out how to manage this ability yet. Maybe that's why I'm waking before my prescheduled time. I'm practicing. I exhaled for what seemed a minute or two ...
I pondered some more, giving importance to this time before its time to begin my day. Everything serves a purpose, after all. That's probably why I'm uneasy. I'm trying to learn from these experiences in hopes to apply the wisdom I might gain. These are opportunities I can't ignore. I've much to accomplish if I can only harness the potential within reach ... yet so far away. "This is some deep shit," I muttered to myself.
Unfortunately, I'm no longer relaxed. This is a horrible way to start my day. It's frustrating when I can't reclaim my dreams. Oddly enough, I'm also energized. It's inspiring to know I'm on the verge of something great. I can feel it. I think I'm going crazy, but I can feel it. This is how every day is beginning for me lately. It's a bit conflicting. It sounds taxing too, but it's not. Somehow, I'm encouraged to keep seeking considering how I'm feeling. It's expected now.
Now it's time to get back to this life. I don't know which direction this life is heading. More unsettling feelings rise with each morning. I don't have much to look forward on this day or any other day for that matter. It's just another ordinary work day, nothing to look forward to after work, but go home and repeat the same dull routine the following day. I just can't get over this nagging feeling that I'm supposed to do something magnificent, dare I describe it that way, but I cannot, for the life of me, figure out exactly what it is I am supposed to do. Every day is an exercise in futility. It really is. I'm so pathetic. This is a horrible way to start my day.
I clasped my hands together, placed them under my head and kept speculating. I'm healthy. Dad always says, "If you don't have your health, you've got nothin'." Can't argue with that, so okay, I've got more than nothing. I'm doing alright, I guess. I'm living comfortably. I have the greatest family and the greatest friends. Mom, Dad, and my sister will always be there for me. I know my friends will help me if I ever ask for help. I have a great job with the best boss. I think a lot of people would love to have what I have. In fact, I know so. Is it fair for me to ask for more?
Millions of people suffer without water, food, and/or shelter. Millions of people suffer from disabilities, disease, and disorders. Crimes beyond my imagination are taking place. I've tried to consider a fraction of the unfortunate circumstances that plague people, but a few minutes of dwelling upon those adverse conditions and my mind is on the verge of exploding. Sometimes, I can't help but feel guilty when these selfish thoughts cross my mind. What's worse is that I can't easily let them go. Contemplating on the direction of this life seems so insignificant as compared to the tragic situations that so many others face day in and day out. What right do I have to complain? I should feel guilty and I do. Maybe, guilt is freezing me in place. I want more, but I don't deserve it.
If I'm being honest with myself, I am having this silent conversation in my brain, so I can't lie. Well ... I could, but I'm not. I laughed quietly. I know ... I'm living someone else's life. I'm not myself. Something's off, but I just can't figure it out. I'm hovering over this body trying to knock sense into this husk of a man that's supposed to be somewhat intelligent. Well, maybe the problem is that I believe I'm intelligent. "Crap ..." scoffing at the notion. How do I manage to do this every morning? I'm a broken record. Something is broken. What's wrong with me?
I continued dwelling and followed my seemingly not-so-random thoughts ... Sure, as a kid, I did what I was told. I was kind of a slow starter in elementary school, but that's kind of an oxymoron ... As an eight-year-old, I was forced to grow up through the mental and physical abuse from my second-grade teacher. I'm not the only student from that class that suffered either. I think because of that ordeal, I refused to let go of other things I probably should have outgrown. My spirit was and is unrelenting. I cried a lot. I'm still crying ... but I also learned how to handle adversity by smiling and laughing too. The smiles and laughter are real, great medicine really. It's amazing what people do to protect themselves, especially when forced by traumatic situations. I did eventually get it together. I'm not ashamed to cry. I never was. Crying is cleansing, so is laughter. As an eight-year-old, it took a while for me to figure out I was growing up, but I did. That should count for something. No, I know it was important. Plus, Mom and Dad would never let me go so wrong. Their love made all the difference. I am so blessed by my family.
Outside of that second-grade classroom, I didn't get into too much trouble. I mean, what boy hasn't stumbled upon a stash of dirty magazines hidden in a plastic bag under a bush in a parking lot? Right? I was too embarrassed to ask, but I was certain all my guy friends had their own private stashes. That's what I told myself. It was natural. Some guy wanted a boy like me to carry on and learn about manhood. How else are tween boys supposed to learn how to manage their stuff without dirty magazines? Use our imaginations? Come on. I was so embarrassed when Mom found them in the rec room closet. But, Mom, the angel that she is, didn't get mad. She just told me to throw them away. So, I threw them into another hiding spot. It worked as far as I know because she didn't find them again or, more likely, she never told me she found them again. Chuckling to myself, "Yeah, that last bit's probably more like Mom."
"My poor mom" I sighed deeply. I don't know how she's done it for all these years. Well heck, even now. I'm sure I'm worrying her with my moping about. It doesn't matter what I do. Mom never raises her voice, let alone a single finger at me regardless of how bad I am. I was the most spoiled and ungrateful brat growing up. Numerous times I ran from her in public places and the times I made her cry when I purposefully hid from her in the stores. And my relatives ... out of respect for my parents, I'm glad I wasn't walloped for my mindless selfishness. I certainly don't think my uncle appreciated me stabbing him in the ear with a pencil while he was sleeping. And my grandpa, who was also sleeping, got a rolled-up newspaper square on his face as I used his peaceful demeanor for target practice. I don't know what it was about targeting helpless relatives in their sleep. I was a mean and mischievous child and yet I had a smile of an angel. "I hope God doesn't make me pay when I become a dad." I shook my head at myself. At least, those were a few occasions and not a daily activity for me. And, it wasn't for lack of trying on my mom's part. Mom's loving efforts are boundless. Thankfully, her gentle smile and gentle ways eventually won. Her efforts in combination with the birth of my sister, I believe.
By the time my sister was born, I started practicing good manners and making better choices. Mom's pregnancy and Kristine's birth changed my behavior. I instinctively reacted to being a big brother. But, for nine years, not only my mom, but my relatives had to endure my ridiculous antics. Thank goodness, my sister was born. Otherwise, I don't know how much worse I would have turned out to be. It's no wonder that Mom and Dad waited so long before having another child. They were probably afraid of another me. I'm sure they were happy when they received an angel for their daughter. The two of us could not have been more opposite as children. Again, thank goodness for my sister. Even being nine years apart, birth order traits still held true. Kristine is the angel and I'm not. Whatever the case, I'm just glad that Mom and Dad didn't have to brave another me.
I reflected on the thought of another me and shuddered. Then I noticed the morning light spreading around the drapes of my bedroom window. That's it. Every day is a new beginning. Get inspired about something. Something, but what exactly should I get inspired about? That's been the question lately at roughly the same time during this recent morning routine. I see the light and my hopes rise. It makes me think of glory days when life was grand and I was genuinely happy. I fondly recall high school memories. Those were incredible times. High school was a blast for so many reasons, but I can't go backwards, nor do I want to live in the past. The past has its place ... but I can't get beyond this rut.
And so, what do I do? I must be real with myself. When my dreams fade to the point that I can't remember any further, I go back through my own life. I go back as far as I can recall, almost as an exercise so I don't forget. It makes me feel real. I know I just patted myself on the back for not living in the past, but that was a quick, pathetic turnaround. I just can't help it. Apparently, I don't know any better nor do I want to try to know any better. Mornings have been this way lately. I guess this is the way it is for the time being. With these feelings, I'm not surprised at how easily I stray from my own determination and contradict myself so readily. I can't believe I've sunk so low. I'm having my own pity party. It really is pathetic. I looked at the morning light spreading even further and shook my head. Nope. I'm going to figure this out and search for whatever it is I lost so I can move forward again. Or, maybe it's more accurate to think that I'm stuck and I feel like I'm wasting my life. Whatever the case, the sooner I figure this out the faster I can get out of this horrible groove. If only I could make my conviction last. It probably isn't conviction to begin with if I let it go so easily. I've been dedicating myself every morning, but my determination vanishes by the time I return home. It's a cruel cycle.
I inhaled deeply and sighed. No, it was more of a cleansing breath. It's not so bad dwelling in the past, especially when I've learned so much from experiences I'll never forget. In fact, I've worked very hard at honoring the memories that have shaped my life. At the same time, I also can't help but feel guilty too. I've had many close friends come and go, but I especially think of two of my closest friends whose lives were cut short, one best friend's accidental death, and another best friend taking his own life. My gut tightened and I took in another deep breath. Contemplating death is scary enough, but then I think about one best friend's desperation to live in his final moments and my other best friend's will to follow through and take his own life. I think about the three of us being so close, playing hours upon hours of ping pong together having fun growing up. At least, I thought so, but I found that their reality was different than the innocent one I enjoyed when we were together. I shouldn't feel guilty, but I think about my own role ... maybe I was a poor friend for not doing something more to somehow prevent those tragedies from taking place. I am alive while two of my best friends are dead. I think of their families who were also my friends. But, I also think of both best friends and the promise I later made for living life to the fullest. I want to think I promised for the three of us, but the reality is that I was selfish. I was scared and I didn't want my life cut short. That was it. I want to believe that it was not selfish, but I learned from their short lives. I knew them well and we were best friends, but I also know that we were no longer the best of friends by the time their lives passed from this earth.
My sixth and seventh grade years were our best times together. But, I didn't realize until later that one of my best friends had already been mending from a broken family. That's why Randy came to live in my neighborhood in the first place. He was entirely new to the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I'll never forget the way we met. I quietly snicker while recalling. Randy's situation was no laughing matter, but mine was. Mine was a scenario like someone had scripted for a movie. It's a perfect backstory for a character in a comedy.
During the summer before my sixth grade, my mom was convinced that I needed to perm my hair. I was adamant in my opinion for not getting a permanent and I remained obstinate throughout the entire ordeal, but I lost in the end. I can still recall my ungrateful disposition with my arms tightly crossed on the way to the salon when my hair was straight, and on the way home when the big curls flowed all over my head. It was not as bad as a Medusa-look-alike, but it sure was a nightmare-come-to-life for an upcoming sixth grade boy. I don't think my expression changed for several weeks and my mom had warned me, in her gentle way, that if I didn't change that look on my face, my face would stay that way for the rest of my life. I think that's when I began to question my resolve and relaxed a bit.
Excerpted from "Angels Among Us"
Copyright © 2017 Erwin Lazaro.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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