Calmate! Inner Chingona and Cursing While Driving

28 Jan

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As I was driving to work this morning, I was turning into my exit at the office and the car in front of me is practically stopped, so what do I do?  do I honk the horn? No.  Do I slam the brakes? No need, thank God.  Do I scream out the following?  “Muevete pendeja!”  Yes!  (Like she could really hear me LOL).   Other times, I can be heard pleading, “come on let me in let me in let me in“,  screaming out questions like, “y ‘hora ca—–?,  or commands like, “move move MOVE”,  or when someone gives me a look, you better know I’m screaming,  “y tu, que miras ca—-?“, “a ver a que horas?” or “toma!“, add in whatever curse words you’d like, English or Spanish.   It’s not all about road rage, I can be courteous too, “thanks babe!” is what I scream out when a car is nice and lets me into the lane, especially in traffic.

According to a recent survey by Insurance.com, Women behind the wheel curse more than men do.  Men are more apt to honk the horn than to curse – really?   Women are just more honest, and fewer men admit that they do swear!

Here are the five things most likely to make us swear:

#1.)  The GPS:  55% of people who use one say they’ve sworn at it.

#2.)  Getting cut off by another driver.

#3.)  People who don’t use their turn signal when turning or changing lanes.

#4.)  People who talk on their mobile/cell phone while driving.

#5.)  Someone driving slow in the fast lane.  This is the only thing that men were more likely to swear at than women.  15% of men mentioned it, while only 7% of women did.

The survey also states that, aside from cursing, that women are more likely than men to commit this act:  darles el dedo AKA flipping people off, extending their middle finger!  WHO knew?  All I know is that either of the two are great stress relievers for me.

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I will continue to work on driving safely as I have been told that I’m a crazy driver, I cannot promise today that I will not let out a mala palabra or two nor can I promise to keep my fingers on the wheel.   Safety first.

QueQUE? Do-It-Yourself Projects Dad-Style

27 Jan

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Since Mama’s passing, I’ve been spending a lot of time with Daddy.  He and I do pretty good as roommates, he’s hilarious and we’ve always gotten along plus this Daddy’s girl makes sure he eats and stuff like that.  Part of me is afraid to leave him alone so that HE doesn’t leave us too;  the other part of me is really trying to let go a little bit because I tend to be checking up on him constantly, which I KNOW drives him crazy.  When he tells us, “hijos, I need my space!”  I soooo get it because I’m exactly the same way.

My dad always has little projects he’s working on and I would just jump all over his case with ‘why did you do this?” and “why did you do that?” until my sister sat me down and reminded me, “it’s HIS house”.    So when I get to the house, I usually just look and bite my tongue most days thankful that he’s keeping busy and out of trouble LOL

But LAST night, I get in, walk into the kitchen, and see one of his inventions and my first instinct is “whaaaat?” and I start freaking out.  Well Daddy has decided to make a ‘tendedero’, an indoor clothesline.   My Dad cracks me up, he starts telling me about his “herrero” (blacksmith/welder) and what the man says every time he sees my dad, “ay Mike, OTRA VEZ con tus inventos!”.   My Dad found stuff lying around outside to make this contraption which is like a rod where you can hang stuff with a hanger.   My parents never liked having a dryer in the house and we’ve hung the laundry on the clothesline like forever and as Daddy says, “mija, it’s winter!”    Once I checked it out with the laundry hung on it, it actually was pretty cool…and much better than having the laundry all over the furniture and chairs to dry.

I am always telling Dad, “OMG, que diria mi madre?/what would Mama say?” but, the truth is,  he has a good spirit and a good heart and always tried to make things easier for Mama when she was here.  So in a way, he’s trying to make things easier for us 5 too.  All I could do was text my siblings in disbelief for the ‘tendedero’ and say a huge prayer of thanks that I still have my crazyfunny Dad around!

Inner Chingona y Mis 24 Horas of Whatever: The Power of “Me” Days

5 Jan


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I just realized that today was the first day in 3 years that I have been completely alone in a house.   I’ve spent the last 3 years helping care for Mama (and Dad to an extent). During the past few months, I was here more and more, so this house has always had someone in it at ALL times.

Didn’t know what to do first, what had I NOT done for the past three years?  Everything had been put on hold.  No regrets though…I was able to be there for Mama and that is the most important thing I have ever done.   There is such a void in my life now that Mama is gone, as I’m sure exists with other members of my familia.

So I actually walked around ‘sin rumbo’ for a minute, not knowing what I should do, how I should spend my time.  Finally I decided that, today, I would have a Sunday like I used to have back in the day when I didn’t have to be there for anyone, when I didn’t have to work an event, when I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do.   The last time I was completely alone in a house was in my little place in  Pleasanton, and on days like these, I usually did not even speak for an entire day — so this actually was great for me today as I am still trying to get over the flu.

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Today, I did a whole lot of whatever in a girl house LOL, In no particular order:

Did NOT close the door when I went to the bathroom.

Threw myself on the couch alternating between watching TV and sleeping

Did NOT put on a bra ALL day,

Left the heater off ALL day.

Opened ALL of the windows.

Did my laundry.

Kept work and projects out of my mind (not easy).

Made no calls or emails

Cleaned a little

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Oh how I’ve missed my “me” days!  These types of days have always been important because I am totally myself and they get me thinking about plans that I’ve made in my head, future plans that have not yet been realized.  I have just not had enough of these “me” days during these 3 years so I still feel overwhelmed with where to start as I create my 2015.

One thing I do know:

Today was a perfect Inner Chingona Day.   “Me” days are essential to my busy life … I’ve got to find time, without guilt, to take this time for myself.     Looking forward to my next 24 hours of whatever…what works it for you? what brings you your power back?  what clears your head?  DO it.

 

2015

29 Dec

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Before September, much of my life revolved around the care of my mother, the familia, and my work.   I was able to watch our kids working it and growing more independent:  Our Diana was back to work full time and being the great mama to Ruben, Angel, Aliyah and King.   STE 2, our Stephen, received his BA Degree from San Francisco State University, got his first real job and is at SFSU to finish up his Master’s Degree.  Our Yazi also graduated from Pre-school into Kinder!  Our smart bebita loves school.  Saw our Nicolasa end up the year with THREE jobs lucky girl as she figures out where she will focus her career.  Mikey 3 got a new job as bass player for Little Joe y La Familia, which made us all proud!   Angelo’s rough year ended up the most positive way possible:  with the birth of our lil Yesenia in October.  Our CC brought our lil Olivia into the world in November and, after a rough delivery, both of our girls are doing well.   Went to my papito David’s first School Band Concert and our Antonia asked me to her Nina for Confirmation in Spring 2015, you know we will wear green LOL.

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Mama’s health took a turn for the worse at the end of September.  I never imagined that it would be time to say goodbye to her but it turns out, Mama was ready for the next phase of her life.   It took me the longest to accept this new reality; I was so against everything that meant that my mother had to leave me.  However, once I  saw how much at peace she was with ‘going home’, I finally saw the importance of letting our loved ones be happy and that if letting go of Mama had to happen, well then it had to happen.

To have been able to have been with Mama for those final weeks was the best gift that I could have received.  Mama knew how I felt and she would tell me that she was praying most for me so that I could accept her new reality.   Mama was also able to comfort me a few times when I was so tired that all I could do was cry to her.   We were all able to, in time, see that Mama and God had made the best decision that Mama would not suffer anymore, that she would be free of all of the physical limitations and all of that medication, that Mama would be at her eternal home.    The saddest time for me was when they had to pick up Mama and take her out of our house for the last time.    However, I was very happy that we were able to give Mama the most fitting, poignant and awesome send-off ever!  I’ll be writing thank you cards well into the next month, eso si.

While our lives are completely different now, the only way that we have been able to survive is to keep up the traditions that she started for us:  Staying together always, watching out for Dad, praying together and saying “I love you”.       I feel her absence the most when I’m on the road.  I used to call her almost daily from my many commutes over the years so it’s all been about crying as I learn to talk to her now whenever I feel her spirit around me.

It was one trancazo after another for me in 2014 at Entravision Radio.  People always told me that if I survived the first 6 months of radio sales, that I would be ok.  Happy to say that I have just completed my second year in radio sales and I feel accomplished because I have learned to better manage the highs, lows and trancazos of my industry.  I enjoy my work and I am looking forward to a fun 2015 in radiolandia.

Now that I have more time, I intend to focus my energy in a positive way toward my health, family, friends, and my writing.  I send tons of emails to myself with writing ideas, it will be fun to start developing these ideas into stories/articles for my blog.   It’s all about appreciating what I have around me instead of always looking for the next best thing in 2015.  Mama always said that, as long as the important things were in a good place – family, health, faith, – that the rest of the positive energy would follow.    Here’s hoping that Mama moves some of her ‘influencias’ up there to keep me on track.

Take time to connect with those people important to you in your lives, take pictures when you are together, and, when confronted with decisions large and small,  as Mama always told us, “Let Go and Let God”.  Have a blessed New Year!   Love this foto of us taken a few days ago at Ranch Christmas.

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Mama

19 Nov

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I woke up this morning by literally falling off of the bed. My first thought was about Mama. Even though my mother left us one week and one day ago, I still feel her presence and, instead of feeling sad or afraid, I feel comforted. I put on one of her sweaters and it feels like Mama’s arms are around me.

We have spent the past two days paying tribute to Mama at the Cathedral of the Annunciation.  All I kept thinking was “we want to make you proud of us”. I loved the memorial services for my Mom because it was totally her style: in church, with music, with prayers, all done in love and from the heart.

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On Monday night, when I got up to the microphone to say the Rosary for her, I looked up to find this huge church filled from the front row to the very last row. I almost cried right then because I knew that I wasn’t the only one whose life had been impacted by my mother. I was even more blown away hearing my siblings talk about the most important woman in our lives. Mikey, Marty, and Christy let us all into their hearts for a minute and it was very powerful. Mama always loved to hear her grandchildren sing and Mikey III, Stephen II, and Amy sang all of Mama’s songs in perfect harmony as we greeted folks.

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Yesterday’s Mass was very special. Our entire family took part in honoring Mama. You better know there was music from start to finish! Mikey and Dad know how to play the mass and we had a combination of songs that Mama loved and songs that we Torres’ have heard our entire lives from attending both English and Spanish Mass. While I already know that my godchildren niece nephews are super talented musically, listening to Mikey III, Stephen II, and Diana sing for their grandmother brought me to tears more than once. Our girls CC, Diana, and Nikki handled all of the readings and our Antonia was one of the altar servers. Very cool girl power that I know Mama would have loved. One of the happiest moments for me was when Kiki told me that she wanted to speak about Mama – my sister was my Mom’s confidant on many things and while she calls it how she sees it with us – she, like Mama, rarely speaks in public and her tribute was very moving. Our godson nephews brought Mama into and out of church. My dad put together the musicians and songs for outside of church and to hear my dad sing “Sin Ti” which was their song along with the traditional “Las Golondrinas” and others made me both happy and sad. I K N O W that Mama would have loved it — because we were together as a familia just like she taught us.

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My mother’s life was not perfect by any means and this is how we learned about life, faith, love and togetherness from her. Everything I am, everything I have, everything I know was because of Mama and my Dad. All I am left to do is to try to keep up the traditions that were always important to Mama and to keep our familia united. Forget her? Never. Love her?  Always.  Mama is with me forever.

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I was honored to write and give Mama’s eulogy.  You can read it below:

Margaret Mary Grijalva Torres was born on July 9, 1941 to Cruz and Gertrude Grijalva in Amador, CA.  After losing her parents early in her life, Margaret was raised by Martin and Frances Hogan in Sacramento, CA along with sisters Cathy and Beatrice.  During her high school years, Margaret was reunited with her Grijalva brothers and sisters and spent time with them.   Margaret graduated from Edison High School in Stockton, CA in 1961.

It was in Stockton that she met her true love, Mike Torres, Sr.   Mike and Margaret were married on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1961 at St. Mary’s Church in Stockton.   They started their married life in a small cottage in French Camp, CA.   Mike was then working in farm labor and as a truck driver and soon Margaret and Mike moved to the Ranch in a small trailer.

The Mike and Margaret Torres Family began to grow with the arrival of Carmen Leticia, Alicia Anna “Kiki” and Miguel Angel “Mike Jr”.    Margaret and Mike also moved into newly built their home at the Ranch in Lathrop, CA.   Within a couple of years, Martin Jose, and Christina Frances Torres were born.

Both Margaret and Mike returned to school at San Joaquin Delta College and Margaret helped support the family with her work at Head Start, Pacific Bell, Sharpe Army Depot, San Joaquin General Hospital, and the Family Support Division of the San Joaquin County District Attorney.

Margaret was instrumental in the support and formation of Los Rebeldes de Mike Torres, which eventually became The Mike Torres Band.  Margaret maintained the band calendar, created the first band contracts, coordinated the band’s wardrobe and guided and protected her little ones, Mike, Marty, and Christina, whom all, at a very early age, one-by-one , became an integral part of the family business.  Margaret remained the band’s #1 supporter and fan throughout 40+ years.

Keeping her family united was one of the guiding forces of Margaret’s life.  The Torres children received Margaret’s love, affection, and instruction from the very beginning.  Margaret taught her children to speak in flawless English vocabulary, to write with her beautiful handwriting, and to speak and express themselves well.  More important, Margaret made sure that the Torres family was in church and that the 5 children knew prayers and were prepared for First Communion and Confirmation.   As the family was in the public eye much of the time, Margaret was instrumental in emphasizing that all children treat people with respect and good manners at all times.

Margaret, for many years, coordinated the ‘Ranch parties’ – birthday parties, holidays, and she worked with the Ranch kids on presenting a Christmas play every Christmas Eve.   Aside from this, Margaret helped many of the Ranch kids get through bad times and was a confidant to them for a time.

In 1998, Margaret’s life changed completely when she suffered a stroke.  Margaret had to learn to walk, write, and learn basic day-to-day tasks all over again.   While always faithful and committed to God, Margaret had to use everything that she had been taught and had to search deeper to find the strength to keep going and survive this setback.  More than survive, Margaret thrived and was able to live in her home and take care of things on her own.

Margaret was able to meet and enjoy her sons and daughter in law, Stephen I, David Sr., and Andrea; grandchildren Diana, Mikey III, Nicole, Stephen II, Angelo, Secilia, Rico, Antonia, and David Jr., as well as her great-grandchildren Angel, Ruben, Aliyah, Yasmin “Yazi”, King Alexander, and Yesenia.  A new great-granddaughter, Olivia, is on the way and while Margaret will not be able to meet her personally, she did know and was excited for this new addition to the family.

Margaret and Mike celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary on 11-11-11 in a great celebration surrounded by their children, friends, and family.  It was a time to celebrate the strength and unity of Mike and Margaret’s life together, their children and family.

A few months later, it became apparent that Margaret would require more specialized care with dialysis 2-1/2 years ago and Mike and all children stepped up to care for Margaret in the loving manner that she cared for them.    Margaret never lost her faith in God and trusted that she was on the path that He chose.  Thus, to an extent, Margaret was still able to take care of herself and her home, with help from her family, Dr. Karl Wolf, and the staff at Yosemite DaVita Dialysis.

In October of this year, Margaret’s health began to decline and she called the family together.  While in the beginning, we did not fully understand that Margaret was beginning her journey back to her eternal home with God, we were blessed that Margaret was able to guide us as we lovingly accepted and completely understood the things to come.   Our thanks to Community Hospice for the great support to Margaret and to the Torres family during this important time.

On Tuesday, November 11, 2014 at 6:47pm, Margaret Mary Grijalva Torres left us to start her journey with the Lord.  Her departure from earth was very peaceful with no pain or suffering with Mike, her children, and her sister Cathy by her side. Margaret left on her wedding anniversary, 53 years to that Veteran’s Day in 1961 when she and Mike began their lives together.

Margaret has left a legacy of love of God, family unity and compassion for others and many lifetimes of memories for Mike, her children, family, and friends.  While we will miss and love Margaret forever, we are forever blessed to have been able to have been part of her life.

Dia de Los Muertos Season: Calavera for Mike Torres

17 Oct


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In the motherland, El Dia de Los Muertos is celebrated on November 1 and 2 each year. This holiday has helped to make me less afraid of death and I love the way people compose “calaveras” for those who are both here and gone from this earth. Calaveras are obituaries done in verse-style. Most times these verses are hilarious, a little sarcastic, and done in fun to honor a person, dead or alive.

My friend and journalist PEDRO CHAVEZ totally wrote an awesome ‘calavera’ for my Dad Mike Torres that I must share with y’all:

 

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“As promised, here’s a calavera for Mike Torres, old friend, damn good musician, and founder of a great band. From the City of Lathrop, no less. Saludos.”  –Pedro Chavezpedro chavez

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Torres
Q.E.P.D.

Desde Lathrop emanaban
Sus canciones, sus tonadas,
Era banda de familia,
En la sangre la llevaban.

El líder del tal conjunto
Fue un músico bigotón,
Mike Torres él se llamaba,
De su grupo fue el patrón.

La pelona disgustada
Le dijo ya me cansaron
Tus cumbias y tus tejanas,
Ahora bailas conmigo
Pa’ que conozcas lo bueno,
Moviendo huesos y canas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing 101 Challenge: A Day At The Park: Inner Chingona Attitude Adjustment

12 Oct

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With all that has been happening with Mama, I am way behind on my Writing 101 Challenges but, now that I am on overnight watch with Mom, it is a great time for me to work on my writing.  Today’s Challenge is “Death to Adverbs” and getting descriptive by doing the following exercise:

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

I was beyond stressed out with all that is happening with Mama so I decided that, I had to, although at first,  I did not want to, go for a walk in the open air.  Usually, I’m pretty motivated to walk off my stress, today though, I was in a bit of a funk.  I had spent the past 24 hours completely unglued, tired, angry, crying and, what’s worse, taking it out on EVERYONE.  So today I was ASKED to get the heck out of the house for a couple of hours.

As I got to the park, I had this assignment in mind.  It was late afternoon and there was a mixture of heat and a little humidity in the air so I knew that I would be sweating it out LOL so I stayed in the Jeep for about 30 minutes because I “had” to pluck my eyebrows, puro procrastination was more like it.

 

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Finally, I got out of the Jeep and as I did my stretches, I heard the mixture of laughter shrieks of little kids playing in the park playground.  One little girl called out to “Mama Vero” to watch her as she climbed up one the playground structures.   Some of the kids were trying to out-do each other on the swings to see who could fly higher.

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As I continued walking on the path around the park, the most delicious breeze blew onto my face and all I could do was say “aaaaah“!   The breeze continued to envelop itself around me, cooling me off and refreshing me instantly.  To my right, I heard shouts in Spanish and the referee’s whistle  as a soccer game was in full effect, the majority of the spectators could be seen on their smartphones instead of watching the game LOL.    To my left, I saw about 4 or 5 East Indian gentlemen sitting on the benches in the shade talking.  What struck me was the different shapes of their turbans, as I have no idea of the significance, the only thing I could gather was that different generations must wear different types of turbans and there was also a little boy, turbanless,  sitting with them who smiled at me as I passed by.

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Further up were a bunch of young girls and boys playing basketball and, because isn’t there always one close by when you need it?  A taco truck and a ‘palatero‘ a Mexican ice cream vendor.  As I made the turn toward my Jeep, the setting sun felt hot on my back and I saw a sign stating that the route I had just walked was a half a mile long.  So I adjusted my headphones and put my car keys into my secret hiding place and calculated that, if I were to walk 3 miles that I would need to walk this route 5 more times.

With every lap, I started to get out of my funk, to feel my stress leaving my body, to stop being so edgy and angry, and I decided that my attitude had indeed adjusted and that I would be able to go home and offer much-needed support to Mom, Dad and my siblings instead of BEING THE PROBLEM.

I was excited as I started my last lap around the park.   Parents were starting to pack up their blankets and children from the playground and getting into cars.   As always is the case, I heard one little kid crying because he wanted to keep playing and did not want to go home, I heard conversations about picking up pizza for dinner, and I started to hear the sounds of doors opening and closing and motors starting.   The breeze still had the same “aaaaah” effect on me as I passed that side of the park.  The soccer game was still going on but now it must have been interesting because the spectators were totally into the game and off of their smartphones!  The benches which held the East Indian gentlemen were now empty and I found myself looking around to see if I could see them walking thru the park, no such luck.  The kids playing basketball had finished their game and were now ending their day with another teen ritual, posing for selfies LOL.  I saw the palatero driving away on his bicycle with his ice cream, as there would be no more business at the park for that day, and the taco truck was still there waiting until the last of the futbol games were over.

I got to my Jeep, again did my stretches, and drove back down the street to the Ranch and back to help care for Mama.   This was an awesome break and I didn’t know how much I needed this until I was driving home!

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My assignment was to try to be as descriptive as possible without using adverbs or words that end in ‘ly’ — did I do OK?  Were you able to experience what I had based on my descriptions?  I’d love your comments….

Turning the Tables: Letting Go

6 Oct

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It’s here. We are that point. The one thing that all adult children fear. The one phone call that adult children are afraid to receive. The one conversation that we all dread. This is the day where we struggle between feeling hopeful and feeling hopeless. The day that our parents are getting ready to leave us.

Within the past 24 hours I have vacillated between screaming out in frustration because I want things to go a certain way, let’s get to a hospital, let’s get extra help in the house, let’s figure out a plan, let’s, let’s, let’s, LET’S do something to right now:  beyond sad and struggling to find resignation and acceptance for the inevitable.   I’ve always been afraid of goodbyes – and some very important people in my life passed without me able to say goodbye to them, much less say what I wanted to say to them.

Our collective hearts were broken today at 3:20pm when my mother told us how she wanted to continue living out the rest of her life on this earth.  On the one hand, she was so peaceful that it became impossible to fight her decision.  So, as I sit here calm one minute, crying the next, I realize that my mother has given us an incredible gift:  the chance to be with her as she goes on to her final journey.   I am so afraid of letting go of her, what if she wants to come back? what if she gets scared? what if she feels lonely? what if? what if?   The best part of it all is that Mom is completely alert and completely sure of what she is doing…she sat us down and told us her wishes and told us all that she loved us.

So many people go thru their entire lives without feeling a parent’s love, respect, and approval.   My siblings and I KNOW what our parents think of us, they have both told us how proud they are of us and how much they love us.   Their love and support will get us thru the very hard times to come as we learn to accept Mama’s wishes and to, as Mama always says, to let go and let God.

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This writer on her work

29 Sep

ctorres716:

Sometimes our voices must be heard, no matter how it comes out. I like this cleverly written blog entry…most def, Inner Chingona approved reading material on Writing. #VanessaMartir’sBlog

Originally posted on Vanessa Martir's Blog:

Years ago, an ex (the drug dealer I dated while a student at Columbia University) told me “You ain’t goin’ out” when he overheard me talking to a friend on the phone about our plans for the weekend. I was folding our freshly washed laundry on our bed. Clothes that I’d sorted, carried down four flights of stairs, washed, dried, bagged and carried up those four flights by myself.

He sprayed himself with his Dolce and Gabbana cologne and glared at me, “You heard me, right?” I stared back at him, poker faced. He walked out without another word.

I hadn’t planned on going out. I wanted to stay home to spend time with him, or at least that was the plan until he ran his mouth. That Friday night, I made dinner then dressed up extra cute in jeans, crop top, Kangol and pumps. I made a show of…

View original 1,274 more words

What? Que QUE? … To Wave or Not Wave The Flag

19 Sep

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There are ways to get your point across and be understood in a professional and respectful way.  And then…there is the SonsaTontaPendeja way…

HAD to post this video of Southern California Realtor Tressy Capps, gotta give it to her, she totally went there, she’s pretty brave to go up to a random household in the barrio to tell them how she feels as she asks them to take down the Mexican flag. More power to the woman in the house…who, in her broken English, tries to tell this lost soul that, not only does she have the Mexican flag in the yard, that she also has an American flag.  Both women, most def, brought out their Inner Chingona, albeit misguided on the part of Ms. Capps.

This is a ‘What?QueQUE?‘ moment if there ever was one. Do you wonder why la Tressy is now in hiding?  At least she says “thank you” after she insults this woman in her home, that’s something.  Jeez…

See it for yourself:

 

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