(My beautiful family in Brazil circa 1994.. can you spot me and my sis in the crowd? She looks cute. I look like a stupid.. Mom, why did let me walk around with weird scrunchies on the top of my head? Are you to blame for this? Or was it just the 90s? I guess just the 90s, huh.)
So the Mega Millions lotto is at a record breaking $540 million dollars this week.
FIVE HUNDRED AND FORTY MILLION DOLLARS PEOPLE.
I never play the lottery, however, the last couple of weeks my sisters, mom and I have been buying our tickets which has turned into a pretty emotional movement. We've come home together, after carefully marking our numbers onto little pieces of paper.. little pieces of paper that hold the remarkably distant, yet still potential power of drastically changing our lives in ways only humans can dream of their lives changing. We've come home together, dreaming aloud, spilling heartfelt lists of all the things we would do with that kind of money, and it's been so sweet to hear some of the things that have been expressed. I know with out a doubt my family loves me, and I love them back, and still, I think no matter how much love there is in any given room we share, we carry on wishing we could give each other the world just to prove how much love there really is.
Five hundred and forty millions dollars.
That's a lot of money. I don't even think it's logical to hand one person that much money. Why not split the pot like four hundred ways. Four hundred winners instead of one? A small school of luck instead of one little itty bitty fish of luck? You have to hope that it ends up working out that way.. that whoever that one damn lucky little fish is, that they have a family and friends and a community that they intend on sharing the money with, and if that's the case, then alright. Either way, how do you not share the shit out of five hundred and forty million dollars?
If my fortune lust has taught me anything in the last few days, it's been that there is more happiness and beauty in pondering all the ways I would give, rather than keep/do for myself with that kind of money. And I can't help, but to get emotional. I think about my family in Brazil. I think about my mom's seven brothers and sisters and all their children and grandchildren-my many, many cousins. I think about how their country only dreams of coming to the U.S.--not to live, just to visit, just to put their feet on a Hollywood star on the sidewalk, or meet Mickey Mouse, or cruise through Malibu, or travel to the top of the Empire State Building, or go to an American concert. I think about all the extravagant ideas that pop culture has fed their souls about America, and I understand their longing to see this infamous place I've been blessed to be born in and call my home, even though... the lives they live, however less glamorous, is just as blessed and filled with happiness and love as my own... if not more. And still, I think about giving ALL of them the opportunity to come here, even if only for a short while, just so they can satisfy that burning desire to see this country for themselves. More importantly, I would give them all the opportunities I have here that I consistently take for granted. Education being one of them. I would give each and every one of my cousins the opportunity to learn, to go to college. To not work seventy hours a week in a little food store so that they can feed my aunts and uncles and their siblings. I would give them the opportunity to finish high school instead, to enjoy days off, even though they carry on with joy and happiness regardless of the seemingly rough cycles they're in.. I would give them these things. Because they've given me so much. They've given me a shade of humbleness that has stuck with me my whole life, and though I continue to be humbled in many ways, it always starts and finishes with my family in Brazil.
I would give my mother a house. A big, beautiful house. Cliche, I know... but mamas love their houses. More than that, I would give my mom the opportunity to finish school. Once and for all. Sometimes I can't help but to feel guilty. I feel guilty that my mom has sacrificed so much in order to raise me and my sisters and brother. Still, she continues to work so hard to provide. I feel guilty when I think about all these dreams of mine I'm chasing, the youth I still encompass, the freedom I have to go and do whatever I want still. It's hard to really celebrate these things sometimes when I hear my mom coming in through the front door early every morning. Seven a.m. she walks in from another twelve hour graveyard shift at the hospital, where she works not as an RN, but as a nursing assistant. To be an RN is her dream. She has been working towards such a degree for over twenty years now, been admitted to the nursing program twice. The first time, almost nearly passed (having English as your second language, a few learning disabilities and a family to take care of can make nursing school a bit of a challenge), the second time, dropped out because my step-dad got laid off and she had no choice but to quit so she could support all of us financially (in that, put me through college), and now, the thought of her returning to school seems so distant. She sounds so defeated whenever I bring it up, like it was something she tried to do a couple of times and couldn't get thru. The only way she could ever go back is if she didn't have a family to support, if she had more time and money to just sit down and dedicate her time to it completely. Some mornings, my mother's entrance is louder than usual. It's louder because she's arguing with my stepdad. About money. It's always about money. I hear her say things that sometimes don't sound fair. But I quietly forgive her for it, as I'm sure my Step-dad does the same. She's just exhausted. The little Brazilian mama's life has been long and the hard work has never stopped. I can't help but to look at her sometimes, even in those moments when she is happy and smiling, and wonder, "Is she ok?" And I get sad thinking she's not. I get sad thinking about all the things my mom has given up, in order to raise a family. And I wonder if she regrets it. The answer is no probably, but still, if I won millions of dollars, I would give my mom her very own dream kitchen where she could have her cake AND eat it too. And also, I would take her to Italy.
My dad. To him, I would give retirement. The man is turning 70 this year. For an old papa, he's in great shape, but I think it's time for him to kick back and relax. Once and for all. Maybe in Panama. My dad is a man that has truly LIVED. He has worked hard and played hard, worked harder, and now I think it's time for him to play again. To celebrate and to reflect. My soul is a well-fed soul thanks to that man, and I don't even know where to begin in showing him how unbelievably thankful I am to call him my father. My dad has taught me that life is beautiful, a gift...that is meant to be enjoyed. He has taught me to fill it with love and adventure, to do everything I possibly can, so that I may never look back in regret. I know that this is how he has lived his own life, and all I can do is sit back in awe and wonder of how he so brilliantly pulled it off for himself. I see him reflecting already, and it's a beautiful thing. Bittersweet, really. It's hard to swallow the inevitable fact I won't have him forever, that someday, maybe sooner than I'd like to admit, he will go. I don't like to think about this. But I do, and until that time comes, I'd like him to relax. To enjoy a series of lobster dinners, a marathon of Van Damme movies (his favorite) and perhaps even go on one last lifetime adventure with me, my sisters, and my step-mom. He'd like that. And I would too. If you're reading this, Dad. I love you. So very much. If I won the lottery, I'd take us all to Panama. We'd leave on Monday.
And my dear sisters. My dear beautiful sisters. What I wouldn't give to them??? To Michelle- I would give her a little home in LA, with the best agent and all the tools and head shots she needed to pursue her acting career whole-heartidly, without any financial stress. The girl has been through hell and back already at only 22 years old, much like my dad, she's been LIVING her life, and still she has many dreams yet to chase. I'd give her all the tools needed for success, knowing that even without those tools, she'd be fine. Because she's a go-getter, a determined girl with a big heart, and financial smarts that I will never personally know myself. And still, I think she'd be down with some free rent. And a shopping spree at Free People. To Shannon- I'd give her a home too. Post Edit: And really whatever she wants. In my original posting, I followed up the house with a couple of others things. One in which was meant to be endearing, and the other, in which was meant to be encouraging. In so many words, I was trying to be funny and loving. I was trying to make it a point how much I believe in my little sister and really want her to chase her dreams in every way possible. Somehow it did not translate that way...heh, at all. Perhaps my writing is not always as clear as I like to think it is, because I really meant no harm here, just love. To you, Shannon, I would really give you whatever money could buy. Without money, you already have all my love, all my support, and always, always my forgiveness..... even when you return misinterpretations made with hateful words that are harsh and deliberately mean. I forgive you. I'm sorry I hurt you. And I hope you can forgive me. P.S. The Sobel sisters would also most likely do a Eurotrip. It's something we talk about all the time. A winning lotto ticket would certainly cater to that.
To my sweet brother Brandon, I'd give a car. Box seat tickets to the Dodgers. College completely paid for. And all the burritos and fro-yo a teenage eating monster could ever dream of. I'd give him his own room in my New York apartment so he could always come visit and have a space of his own.
To the world, I would give. My biggest dream in this little life of mine is to see the world. And see it I would. I'd use my winnings not just to finance my traveling, but to do great things in all the places I travel to. To support the building of schools and communities, to get my own hands in the dirt and mud and help strengthen organizations and programs assembled for those in need. I know I will do this in my life anyway, but if I were to win the lottery, I would do these things in an even BIGGER way. That goes with out saying.
If I won five hundred and sixty million dollars, there's tons of things I'd wanna give to myself, sure. But one thing's for sure. I'd never stop working. Of course, I'd take time to enjoy my life, go to these places with my family that I often daydream about, but I think I'd put a a huge bulk of the money into humanitarian work, and the rest away in the bank. I would never think to myself, "Wow, I have so much money now. I'll never have to work another day in my life!" To me, life IS all about working. Your life's work is what makes you who you are, and the harder you work, the stronger your character is. I am happy that things haven't been handed to me easily in this life, that I have had to work hard, that I know the sweetness that comes in earning my share. Money doesn't buy happiness. The only appealing thing to me that money does buy is comfort. A more comfortable platform for me to continue working upon. With or without five hundred and sixty million dollars, I'm still going to work hard for the things I want. At the end of the day it's not the money I want.. it's the fulfillment. Fulfillment from saying, look, I wrote this published book. Look, I wrote this produced play. Look, I designed and built this home. Look, I built this restaurant from scratch, and I've created a workspace that is filled with love-look, how every person here is happy to be here. Look, I've raised this family. Look, I've work hard, doing every thing that I love and I've never stopped.
If I won five hundred and sixty millions dollars, I'd be happier giving that money than spending it on myself. Because honestly, everything I have described in the paragraph above, are things I set out to do no matter what. In writing this, I've come to realize that accomplishing all those dreams of mine would be most fulfilling without any"comfortable" platform that millions of dollars could provide.
With all of the being said, am I still going to play? Heck yeah, I am! The chances of winning are so astronomically small, but marking those little tickets is fun. Pretending that some numbers stand out greater than others yelling, "mark me! I'm one of the magical numbers", is a sportive experience.There is excitement there. There is wonder. There is hope. There is thought processes that I have only begun to describe here in this little blog post of mine. At the end of the day, the numbers will be called, and will I win? Chances are, no. And on I will carry. On with my waiting tables. On with paying my debt. On with moving to New York. On with eating. On with running. On with breathing. On with living this ever-so blessed life of mine that exists with an on-going average of $500 in my checking account at any given time. This is my life, and by the grace of God, it goes on.
And still-----the purchasing of that ticket, does give me a chance. If that chance were to be in my favor, well, for one, I'd shit my pants. For two, I'd definitely give all of you a piece of the pie. Yes, you my lovely readers! I know we've only known each other for like five minutes, but I love you still. Meg- I'd get you and your honeys a lifetime supply of bacon. Plus a trip to California part deux where we would have lunch somewhere fancy. Or maybe not fancy, but we'd order the entire menu. Twice. Sarah-I'd get you the means to get to New York. And we'd give our regards to Broadway, in person, and in style. To everyone else, I'd throw a huge blogger party, in which you'd all obviously be invited and we'd have someone ridiculous and hot like Justin Timberlake be the entertainment. Or whoever. You choose. I would elaborate further on how wicked this party would be and all the crazy festivities it would hold, but alas, I'm feeling pretty emotionally and mentally spent at this point. Also, I gatta go play the lotto now. The jack pot is at $540 mill. Have you heard?
What would you do if you won the lottery?