The Power of Mariachi Music

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The Torres household was not unlike other Latino households in that, we too, had to endure early Saturday mornings with the mariachi music going full blast.  But the difference in our house was that we might be hearing those rancheras on record, on the radio, in a JUKEBOX that was in our house for years, or with Mike Torres playing and singing live!  Our father is a lifetime mariachi and regularly rocks his charro suits.  This is my very favorite picture of his, happiest when singing with the mariachi.

So I’d be in that bed trying to will myself back to sleep, trying to close my eyes, trying not to think that, along with the music, that house cleaning wasn’t far behind.   Finally, I’d give in and wake up, laying there hearing the sounds of the house, the smell of breakfast cooking, knowing that in a few minutes, we’d get Mama’s call to get up and help do this or that and, through all of this, la musica ranchera a todo volumen en friega …music at full blast.

Back then, it was like “rolling the eyes” irritating on some days, at least those first few minutes of being up and about.   Maybe if it were another kind of music that I liked at the time, I might have had a better attitude.  Maybe not, I was and still am, to this day, a night person.   This familia of musicos are also night people so we all have to tread lightly every morning so that we don’t offend each other as we try to wake up.  And when we are all still living at home, we Torres5 used to regularly try to compete with Dad by turning the TV up, Dad singing/playing louder, TV up, music louder and on and on.  LOL

A little while ago, I was sitting here, all desvelada complete with that headache that you get from little or no sleep, and, just as I was thinking, “I’m gonna go home and take a nap“,  the music in my shuffle changes and I actually jumped as “El Son de La Negra” comes on trumpets blasting, all loud and proud.  I actually smiled as I felt this music wake up my soul with its invigorating and empowering energy, I was this close to saying ‘VivaMexico!’ but don’t know how my Starbucks table neighbors would deal with it LOL.

Gone are the days of “rolling of the eyes” when I hear musica de mariachi.  I have the gift of my father who, at 82 years old,  STILL plays the guitar DAILY, who still blasts his musica, who is a walking encyclopedia of Mexican music and who knows all of the fun chisme folkloric back stories of songs, musicians, mariachis.  You better know that we Torres5 know so many of these songs word for word.  And, every time I hear “El Son de La Negra“, I am ready to get my grito on and sing all of the words to these great great great songs, songs that I have heard forever in my house, songs of the motherland, songs that make me proud to be part of such a colorful, vibrant, always-at-full-blast culture.  These songs or powerful “sones” are guaranteed to give you the chills when you hear them, go anywhere in the world, watch (and hear) the reaction when this song comes on.  Gritos can be heard from every inch of the place almost as loud as the mariachi itself.  The pride and joy are in full effect — from the mariachis to the audience, these songs regularly bring any house down, anywhere, anytime.

And, songs like these probably still drive people crazy on Saturday mornings because, yes, they are some of the best songs to clean house to.  Enjoy “El Son de La Negra”… listen, watch and tell me you don’t feel it!

 

 

 

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Inner Chingona Visualization: My Event in One Minute, Fourteen Seconds

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We all have one.  Anyone who plans events as I do has at least one.  That one song that will help you visualize, conceptualize, and see your event happening before your eyes.  I have many songs to walk me through an event:  set-up, event happening, tear-down.   We event folk, those of us who really work it and want to make an event successful, ALWAYS do some type of imagining/thinking about/visualizing…I just happen to work it better to music.

Maybe it’s because I started doing events at such a young age, I was still in the 3rd grade, but, at that age, I was already visualizing what my friends would think about this or that, what would they think of me doing this kind of stuff, how could I put in something they liked, that would impress them, into an event or program.  I trip out on how important working a crowd was to me, even waaaay back in the day.

As the majority of the events that I did (and do) seem to take place outside, the movie taking place in my mind almost always takes place at an outdoor venue.   I tend to respond to Classic Chicano/Latin Rock (Malo, Santana, El Chicano, War, etc.) when I need a soundtrack for my future event.  Usually I’m in my Jeep driving when inspiration really hits and I start thinking about how an event will look, sound, smell, and feel…I imagine who will be attending my event and when they will get there, I imagine how the view will look from the stage, to the stage, everything.

While I have a bunch of songs to choose from when I’m in visualization mode, this song always seems to get me going big-time: The classic “Nena” by Malo.   Once I break it down, you may want to listen to the song as you read this (a second time) so that you may see what I see…

 

Beginning Percussion:  This song starts off with straight percussion and what I see in my mind is the very start of the day, we are just driving onto the site, sometimes we have to drive very slowly through the entire festival site to get to where we need to be, no one is there but the folks unloading their booths, setting up the stage, event barricades just going up, people drinking that first, and perhaps only, cup of cafe for the day.  We finally get to our spot, step out of the vehicles and check out the place…

First guitar riffs:  We are now unloading our vehicles, delivering tables and chairs to clients, helping them set up, getting banners up, setting up sound system, making sure that our tents are set up, getting the backstage and VIP areas set up, we are in serious work-it mode, we are movin’ fast, we are on a deadline…

First horn sounds:  Almost time for “Doors” (for the event to start).  Time to take stock of the entire set-up, are we missing anything, ice?  send someone for ice;  trash cans for the backstage area, send someone to get to the event organizers for what we need, quick check of all of our booths and stage, first entertainers ready to jump on stage,  are we all good to go?

Second horn sounds:  Doors open.  People starting to come into the festival.  Which way do they go?  left to the booths, right to the food booths, straight-ahead to my area, the stage area.   There’s usually a Ballet Folklorico starting things off on-stage, warming the crowd up, we have officially passed GO, the event is ON.  People selling their stuff, people at the door checking thru bags, purses before entry, lines starting to form at the food booths…

The first “Nena” sounds and the remainder of the song:  I envision people enjoying the music, kicking back in the grass and sunshine enjoying their food and hanging out with each other, walking around, the looks of surprise “heeeeey!” before the big hugs after seeing familia and old friends, many now with beer in hand, some dancing going on, lots of folks watching entertainment from the stage, thinking to myself, ‘how can they be out there in this sun?”,  bands coming into the stage area, bands getting off of the stage, us trying to make sure no one makes off with someone else’s equipment, our folks enjoying food in the VIP Area, all going smooth.

The final percussion:  We’re an hour away from the close of the event, people are starting to pack up and go home, final act is on stage, partyers still out en force, booths running out of food, last call for alcohol, we are starting to try to get a head start on getting all of our stuff together ready to pack into the vehicles, and kicking back at the backstage area of the event, happy that all has gone smooth, “man my feet hurt” and doing that loud sighing thing as we sit down, likely the first time we have sat that long all day.  Event day over.

Most of this all happens within the first minute and 14 seconds of the song.  This is all I need to see and hear.  I am no rocket scientist but, if I am unable to visualize any event within 1:14, then it will likely not be a successful one.  Once I’m able to see the event coming together in my mind, I’m able to see the big picture, start getting that energy rolling into the right direction so that I can work out the small details in between the lines.   This formula rarely fails me and my method has helped keep my madness in check, kept me focused, and kept me “on it”.

Find whatever you need to motivate you through an event or a project or a workout or any steps to a better you…if it’s music, you’ll  KNOW when you’ve found the right song or mix because work will not feel like work anymore, it will feel effortless, it will feel like this is that way things are meant to go, it will feel like they will be a success…all it takes is opening your mind, finding your sense of ‘aventada-ness’, and using your imagination.  Try it!

 

Embracing Death with Love FELIZ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 2017

 

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Dia de Los Muertos is such a beautiful Mexican tradition that has done the one thing that no one had been able to do: take away my fear of death. My fears surrounding death were related to things that I could only imagine: suffering, pain, leaving suddenly, violence. My imagination ran wild, I would imagine zombies walking about, people moaning in pain, screams of fear. Maybe it was all of the Halloween monster-type stuff in the movies and TV. Lots of the Halloween stuff is based on that, el Dia de Los Muertos is not…el Dia de Los Muertos is a great time to remember those you love who are no longer with you and shows you how to honor your loved one by getting their favorite things together and making them an altar.

Mama’s altar is on display 24/7.  We change it up for the holidays and the sentiment is the same:  we honor Mama and our good memories of her.  It’s so comforting to see her near her favorite window in her house.   I soooo love this tradition and love to see how my friends celebrate this special time of the year.   The holiday offers the hope that our loved ones will come to be with us one more time, the altars, the candles, the flowers, their things, their favorite foods are meant to guide them back to us.  Folks decorate altars in their homes, in the cemetery, at festivals, at celebrations.

I thought you would like to see altars created by my friends…so unique, so cool, awesome:

Ninel & Karla & The Cortez Fam honor their Mama and their loved ones…

Gracie and the Solorio Family honor their recently departed mother…

BFF Trini and Daddy’s Girl Trini honors her father along with familia…

Part of the Mejia Family’s awesome setup – this altar is dedicated to mariachis


Anna’s tribute to her father and departed familia…

My lil cousin Jami and Michael’s very first altar honoring their grandparents and Mama and their familia… loooove it!

And, here are a few pictures from the Ranch Dia de Los Muertos celebration honoring Mama and all of our fam who has departed…

 

Rest In Peace:  Margaret Torres, Edmundo Torres, Adela Melena, Prudencio Melena, Baltazar Perez, Neftali Orozco, Willie Herrera I, Juan Lucio, Mama Lupita Lucio, Joe Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, Alfonso Grijalva, Albina Grijalva, Louie Rodriguez, Eddie Rafanan, Jenny Rodriguez, Jennifer Rafanan, Elio Rafanan, Robert Grijalva, Vera Espinoza, Ralph Espinoza, Joey Espinoza, Jess Grijalva, Rosa Sylvia Grijalva, Martin Prieto, Mark Prieto, Connie Cruz, Beatrice Hernandez

RIP Friends:  David Navarro, Joe Nieves, Maria Antonieta Garcia, Rosa Salinas, Rene Garcia, Roberto Vallejo Pantoja, Gabriel Rangel, Jr. Rangel, Cora Rangel, Marina Beltran, John Beltran, Susan Casillas, George Casillas, Ernie Gonzalez, Rosie Gonzalez, Rosita Aragon, Guillermo Prince, Salvador Sierra, Bernardo Santillan, Jose Gutierrez, Neal Sanchez, Ms. Gwen … I know that I will need to edit this as I’ve likely forgotten to list someone.

 

Gone. But never forgotten.  Feliz Dia de Los Muertos.

Turning the Tables: Trading Fear for Faith

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A familiar place.  A comfortable place?  Not really.  It’s a hospital.

Some of the Torres5 and TorresBabies are here at the hospital.  Nervous.  Afraid.  In various states of exhaustion.  Here in this familiar place where our Mama was, and here on this day we are here for our aunt, for our bonus mother.  She was brought in by ambulance a few hours earlier, weak, with heart issues.

After a few minutes, she was going to be taken in for a procedure and started having seizures.  When we were told that we should all get in there to see her because they couldn’t stabilize her, I saw the same thing on all of our faces:  fear, uncertainty, not again,  is this really happening, could we LOSE her?

We ran through the hall behind the nurses and technicians who were going to put in a temporary pacemaker and seeing our beloved aunt in distress was overwhelming.   We were all running and yelling, “we’re here for you”, “we love you”, “you’ll be ok” in hopes that she heard us and wouldn’t feel afraid or alone.

Once the doors closed and we could go no farther, we all stood around in an uneasy silence at first.  And then the tears came.  Tears that almost felt like prayers washing over us, asking GodJesusVirgenOfG to watch over her, we could love her, we could be there for her, but we are not doctors, and, as much as we’d like to, we are unable to heal her on our own.

The only thing left for us is faith.  After saying a quick prayer, we silently walked back to the waiting area.  Still nervous.  Still afraid.  Still exhausted.  A little stronger after our collective breakdown.   Full of love for our “mother”.

Hopeful.

 

The Importance of “Pegue”

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I always smile when I hear the term “tener pegue” – I always think of it as someone who works it, someone who is confident and walks thru life with a fun attitude and who is fearless.  I looked up “pegue” and liked this definition from a blog called MySpanishNotes:

Tener pegue” means   to have sex appeal, or charm if you like.  It means you’ve got a way with the opposite sex.

So if someone tells you “Tienes mucho pegue“, well, lift your head up high and smile, because they just gave you a very nice compliment.  Tienes (traes) mucho pegue  You got a lot of sex appeal.  I’ve yet to hear this phrase directed at me, but perhaps you all have better luck and more “pegue” than me.

My Comadre MariaLuisa and I have been friends for many years.  The word “pegue” is very much a part of her vocabulary.  And as you will see in the following examples, it is also a part of her life.  My Comadre is the most personable, hilarious, and natural life of the party.

My Comadre and I got together for lunch at the University Union a few weeks ago.  We’re sitting there eating and talking about life and, like many times at University, it is packed during the lunch hour and people will randomly ask to sit at your table if there is an extra chair.  On this day, it was a guy in his twenties.

Now my Comadre and I are way older than the students at the University but I hope we don’t look thaaaat old!  So when this guy who sat with us was laughing at all of the ish we were talking and he starts talking to us – wait, let me rephrase that, he starts talking to my Comadre, and not just talking with her, like flirting with her!  He gets up to leave and I look at my Comadre who, without skipping a beat, says, “I still got it Comadre, todavia tengo pegue!” 🙂  So true!  I remember seeing this when we were students, this woman would have every guy after her, wanting to hang out with her.  Many of the pretty girls regularly wondered how my Comadre did it.  Even her so-called friends. I also remember one of Comadre’s ‘friends’ telling her, “how do you do it? I mean, I can’t even get anyone to pay attention to me (‘because I’m thin and beautiful’ was what she did not say out loud)”.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago:   I met my Comadre who was at a birthday party in the park, I hadn’t seen her in a while; in fact, I haven’t seen a n y of my friends for a very long time.

My Comadre had invited me weeks ago, and I was tempted to NOT go because, lately, I tend to say “no” automatically. I sent her a text asking if she was still going to be in town, and she responds promptly, “come on down, they have a taquero” LOL — so if I didn’t go for her per se, I was going to go for the tacos! Once I arrived to the party, tacos or not, I was glad that I had shown up. As we walked to the tables, I ask my Comadre how she is, and she tells me “I’m already drinking” and I smile because the more things change, the more they stay the same.  I knew that we would have a fun time.

Within minutes, I was LAUGHING because this girl is straight-up hilarious.  And then it happens again:  all of the guys gravitate toward Comadre, and she’s joking with them all.  Like usual, I’m sitting right by her and watching all of this go down and seeing some of the women give those looks that we women tend to give when our men are flirting with someone else.  She says to me under her breath, “I still got that “pegue”

What does it feel like to have that kind of effect on people?  How do you know that you have it?  What do you have to do to get it, to have pegue?  According to my Comadre, it’s very easy.  Just be yourself, don’t try to be something you’re not.  It’s exhausting to try to be someone you’re not and, at our age, it’s simply not attractive to be all desesperada just to get a man to notice you.   This will allow you to be more confident because you’re not playing games, you’re owning the good and bad about yourself, you’re completely comfortable saying anything you want, you’re not trying too hard.

I also asked one of my guy friends about “pegue”.  He proceeds to tell me how it’s charm, it’s working it, it’s having that confidence to “say out loud what most people are thinking”, to know that you’ve “got it”, to know that you can get anything you want.   Another important thing was to be completely natural, to act like you’ve already got it instead of wondering how you are going to get it.

What I really liked was how he said that he would get in front of the mirror, with or without his daughters, and say ‘daaang we look good, don’t we?  Everyone is gonna check us out when we go out today”, how cool to instill that type of self-love into his daughters.  My comadre regularly tells herself in the mirror, “chingaaao, que buenota eres!” LOL  They speak to themselves as if they are the best thing ever and it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy, what they say they are, they are.

Both of these individuals definitely make an impact upon entering a room, they have that kind of confidence that one needs to get what they want:  a man, a woman, a meeting, a yes.  In short, they make “pegue” work for them, instead of the other way around.  I love that kind of confidence.   Can you imagine if there were a way to bottle that kind of  energy?  Can you imagine the possibilities your life could have if you lived knowing that you had that kind of “pegue”?  Limitless opportunities.  A fun social life.  Walking through life with confidence.  I want that kind of “pegue”.  

Work it for yourself with confidence, with pegue.  A good life goal, don’t you think?

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

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Loving the cooler weather!   I cannot sleep so here I sit at the Ranch with the doors open, my hands are cold, my ears are cold, my feet are cold.   Fall is my favorite time of the year.   Even though it still is hot during the day, there is that unmistakable chill in the air.  Growing up at the Ranch meant growing up in HOT weather.  And, after this summer’s heat, I would ask Dad, “How did I grow up here?  I cannot handle this heat”.   Dad hates the cold weather and is wrapped up in a blanket…if he asks me to do so, I will close the door.

I am watching the news and I see that in my Denver, Colorado, that tomorrow’s temperature will have a high of a sizzling 35 degrees.  Instant homesickness.  My Denver FamFriends KNOW that, when I visit, that I go when there is snow, when it’s freezing, when I can see my breath in the air, when I can smell snow.   Below are a few random memories of life in the snow.

Thinking back, I remember the very first time I saw the snow, I was going to have to be at an event the next day so I decided to go out the night before and DRIVE in it.  Nervous, con miedo, sweating, shaking, I got into my car and took the wheel.  I was sure that I was going to slip and slide all over the place LOL!  All I did was drive in others’ tire tracks for about an hour and drove back home.

The NEXT morning, as I walk down the stairs of my apartment to the car, I remember that the cold almost felt like a slap in the face at first, I also knew that my California ‘warm’ clothes were not going to work and my California boots, while stylish, would soon be rendered useless.   When I got home after the events of the day, snow was all up in the grooves of the bottom of those boots, I get into my kitchen and it was like zaz! I was on a slip-n-slide LOL.  I crawled out of the kitchen laughing and thanking GodJesusVirgenOfG that I didn’t fall like that in front of anyone.

While no one saw me fall all over my kitchen, I remember that, like a SonsaTontaPendeja, I wore those same boots to Copper Mountain Ski Resort, where my station was working an event.  I meet some of my crew and we start walking, and then I stumbled a little and slipped.  Slid all the way down that hill!  I remember having to give my staff permission to laugh because I know how it had to have looked.  I also remember praying, as I slid, that when I eventually stopped, that I would be able to get back up.

Our Ita came to visit me around Christmastime and, promptly told me that she wanted to go home because it was way too cold for her.  I took her to my station’s Christmas party and needed to get gasoline for the car.  So I get out como si nada, to put in gas and she looks up at the temperature on a lighted sign across the street.  It read zero, “0 degrees”, and I knew two things, that I can hang in the cold, and that I needed to get Ita back to California, pobrecita.

We were in Thornton working a club night.  My co-workers and I look across the street and see a taco truck.  You better know we ran over there.  Tacos were great.  The salsa, however, was like beyond HOT, neither of us could hang.  So alli andabamos, grabbing snow off of THE GROUND and shoving it into our mouths!  We were laughing and doing that sucking air thing when one is all enchilado, it was crazy!

Before I lay me down to sleep, I will check flights to my beloved Mile High City, I’m due for a freeze-out visit with my DenverFam.  My hands will be cold, yay!  My heart will be warm, hanging out with some of my favorite people ever in one of my favorite places ever.

Here I am at Copper Mountain standing on a small mountain of snow…and, no, this is not where I slid down the mountain LOL.

 

No One Could Have Imagined …

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It seems as if the world is spinning so wildly that it’s about of fall off of its axis. So much natural disaster, so much negativity, so much political strife, so much racism. Makes you wonder what will be the final straw.

Twenty-four hours ago felt like the last straw for me.   When I first heard of the gunman mowing down people at a music festival in Las Vegas.  I was stunned to see the chaos, to hear bullet after bullet, to feel the panic in the air.  As I watched the news channels today, I was sick to hear that this man had arrived to Vegas with an arsenal of fire power designed to maim and kill innocent people. I’ve also watched the news pundits try to analyze the ‘why?’ someone would do this. I finally had to turn the TV off, it was so hard to watch it all.

A short while ago, I started thinking about it again. This time, I thought of all of my friends who work within my industry, those of us who plan events, those of us who get excited when we get to plan really big events, those of us who get the rush, not by watching the stage, but by watching people truly enjoy the experience that we have had a hand in creating.

When I am planning an event, I put myself into the shoes of the person who will come to my event. What will they wear? How excited will they be as they get ready for the dance/concert/event? Who will be coming with them? Their mother, who loves this or that artist, or will it be their significant other to take in the experience of seeing their idol live, or that little one who is beyond excited to see one of their favorite characters with parents spending the show with their eyes fixated on the joy in their child’s eyes.

I have worked in Country Radio and remember the day that my client told me about the very first Route 91 Festival, how the lineup was going to knock me out once released, how the listeners would be super hyped and that it would make history as one of the premier Country events. This was four years ago. Dicho y hecho, this is exactly what it turned out to be.

When planning an event, it’s customary to make Plan A, Plan B, Plan C to cover yourself from any type of situation: rain, snow. extreme heat/cold, wind, a competing event, when there’s a huge sporting event like futbol and you know that it will affect attendance. What sickens me is that HOW do you prepare for some desquisiado deranged person who is on a mission to destroy?  Just getting your hands around it requires much effort.  Events are not meant or made to harm or destroy.

It’s all about bringing fun to people’s’ lives, helping them to escape their reality, to bring people together, to make memories, to give them an unforgettable experience.  That’s why I do it.  That’s why I’ve done it for the majority of my life.   I just do not know how to factor in someone trying to reverse all of the positive energy that I put into planning an event, how do you stop a rain of bullets?  how do you stop a person from taking that very sick step into the dark side that will never end well?

That is the one question that I have no answer for.   All I know is that I will continue to plan events just as I always have…to bring people together through music, fun, and entertainment.  Not important to some, but super important to me.  Especially as I have seen with my own eyes how cool it is when people ‘get it’, when they are having the blast that I hoped that they would have when I put myself into their shoes.

Prayers to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.  Those who perished.  Those who were shot.  Those who planned this event.  All of their lives have been changed forever in one night.  All of our lives have been changed too.

Inner Chingona for the Block

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Social media and I have always gotten along.  I love keeping up with people and learning new things.  I’ve never been too “pesada” and gotten into any heavy-duty arguments or anything, I’ve always tried to keep things light.  Sure I love the chisme but I never straight-up wish harm on anyone.  So to see that I had been blocked by a certain person had me doing my ‘QueQUE?’ face?

Why do people block others from their social media pages?

Por pesados.    

Por latosos.

Por drama.

Just like in real life, the instinct is to back off from folks who are ‘pesados‘, that is, super negative, bad attitude-having folks who rub people the wrong way.  “Latosos” are the ones who exist to bug and frustrate you and the world, very stubborn.  “Drama” – putting ALL of their business out there.  I’m of the opinion that some things just do not belong in writing and that includes arguments and stuff like that.  Not attractive.

Add to this list, safety.  If someone doesn’t feel safe on social media, imaginate how s/he will be in person.  As regular readers of this blog know, I have dealt with cyber-bullying/stalking and telling me to “just ignore it” when seeing certain posts and reading sick, filthy, derogatory, demeaning, vulgar, angry, sadistic messages doesn’t work.  They are impossible to ignore and they DO have an effect on you.   And like I’ve also said before, knowing that someone is out there hassling friends, colleagues, and acquaintances is a mind-boggling, embarrassing, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide experience that can sometimes have an even worse effect on you, your peace, and your life.

So to see that I had been blocked by someone, someone I do not even know personally, someone who I’m a fan of, someone whom I’ve never spoken to or written to, really brought me down a few minutes ago.  My mind is going crazy thinking, “how did this happen?” “what exactly was said or sent to this person to make them press BlockCarmenTorres?”

And the minute I ask the question, I answer it as well.  There is only one person who can be pesado, latoso, drama-ridden, and unsafe enough for someone to block him.  Who knows what sets him off?  Who knows why he gives off such negative vibes? Who knows how to make it stop?  I surely do not know.  The saving grace:  the person who blocked me is not really an acquaintance or a friend, therefore we do not run in the same circles, and it is very unlikely that we would ever meet face-to-face.  That moment of “aaay here we go again” and the feeling of dread lasts only minutes now, thank GodJesusVirgenOfG.

Got me thinking that, maybe,  InnerChingona is dodging a bullet for me, a bullet filled with shame, embarrassment, despair, fear, and anger that threatens to throw me into emotional chaos.    That madness has no place in my life now which happens to be filled with positive people, projects, and prospects.  I’ve got to keep listening to InnerChingona so that I’m able to keep my hard-won peace and joy.

If Inner Chingona says “Keep on keeping on, Di No A Las Pendejadas”, then I better handle it, do my part, and listen!

 

 

Feliz Dia del Locutor and Love to my RadioFam

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I’ve been part of the radio industry, in some way, shape, or form, since I was in high school.  My mother was the one who encouraged me to sign up for Broadcasting in the 10th grade, telling me that I always used to say that I wanted to be on the radio.  I do not remember saying it, but I do remember wondering what it must be like to be able to say a few words and to have the whole world able to hear them.  Love that there is a day to celebrate folks in radio…today is Dia del Locutor aka Radio Announcer aka Radio DJ aka Radio On-Air Personality.

I remember hearing the dj’s on-air and wondering how they made it all happen:  how did they change the songs?  How did they know when/how to talk on the mic?  Were there that many people in the studio all of the time? (when commercials would come on).  Going into that first Broadcasting class, the only girl, was super exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.  The very first words I uttered into that microphone had me sounding scared LOL, I was shaking big time.  Shaking but determined to get over it and get on that air.   I learned everything by doing it, by not being afraid to try,  ‘a la brava’, there were no women mentors in school.  Even when I learned how to run a studio and I knew how things were done, I never lost that wonder when I’d listen to the radio.

Once I got my first radio job on-air, I was still nervous but knew that this was where I needed to be.  In those first couple of years I saw it all:  station being sold, people getting fired, finding people in various stages of drunkenness, with women, with men, high on drugs, passed out, doing ‘it’ on top of a conference room table, in a studio, in a station van.  I learned QUICK that this was one crazy world.  I also learned that this craziness was not going to scare me off:  I was ready to work, work and work to do the best job I could do.

This crazy world has always been one of the most comfortable places for me.  I never needed alcohol or drugs to keep up.  My challenge has always been workaholic related.  Fast-paced, energetic, crazy, straight-up drama some days, rarely calm.  It was the perfect environment for me to unleash my energy.   One cannot enter into this world without that ‘chispa’, that spark of energy that moves you forward when everyone else has gone home, when everyone else has said “f#$% it, I’m out”, when you need to finish that copy, that proposal, that commercial, that schedule, etc.  You must put in the time in order to survive much less succeed.  None of my colleagues at KNBS, my high school station, stayed with radio as long as I have – sad, because some of them were really good.

For many years, my place was in the studio on-air.  My dad is still waiting for me to go back on-air, that I could do it just as well as “la negrita esa” aka Oprah LOL.   I loved my time on-air, I was one of those who loved answering the phones and made many lasting friends.  Recording commercials was straight-up madness for me, I was and am a perfectionist and would do take after take after take in order to get it right.  But like anything in radio, if you’re heart isn’t into it 100%, you need to move on.  When the walls started to close in on me, I knew that I was ready to move on to Marketing/Promotions/Events…waaay fun!  No bigger high that seeing a packed venue, folks having fun at the events.  I’m the type of event nerd that doesn’t watch the artist on stage, I watch the audience and try to count how many show up LOL.

Sometimes you have an office, a cubicle, a little chair and a small table, a seat in the station van, somewhere in the middle of a ‘jaripeo’ to work from and, somehow, that’s all you need to get the job done.  I can work from anywhere but my favorite office was that corner oficina, two huge windows for walls.  I was able to make things happen in this corner, where I rarely needed to turn the lights on, where I could see what the weather looked like outside, where I could stare out at the trees as I worked out ideas for events.

While folks may say that radio is dying because of social media, ipods, streaming services…I do not agree.  People want to turn their device on and feel the thrill of someone being at home, to know that the lights are on, that someone is in the station. Especially if that someone will play a favorite song, send out a shout out, give you a prize.  This is what I hear from people all of the time, they always ask about this ‘locutor’ or that on-air personality, they always get excited when I tell them how they can win, they always love to talk about their favorite songs or artists. That has never changed.  I guess that it’s my job to remind folks how cool radio is…

To the many members of my radio familia, in both English and Spanish, who work it daily, maybe our stories are different, but I believe that we all have that spark, that ‘chispa’ to give to this world, to make things sound big, bad, colorful, wild, and fun.  We truly do have radio in our blood.    People always want to tell you how to do the job, but there are truly only a few who can do this kind of work and do it well.  It would take me forever to write out all of your names but I have had the privilege of working with so many great people and learning from them. It may be Dia del Locutor but it’s really for all of us who have worked On-air, Sales, Traffic, Production, Marketing, Promotions, and all of those GMs out there.   My RadioFam is one of a kind.  No hay como mi gente de la radio.  Feliz Dia del Locutor!

 

Learning Life Thru The Eyes of An 8-Year-Old

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I’ve been spending time with my lil 8-year old niece god-daughter lately.  I’m totally that “aunt” or in my family “nina”, as we are all godparents to our kids, most of them know us as “NinaCarmen”, etc..     You better know that I love all of my godchildren as if they were my own.

Don’t ask me why, but a child’s 8th year has always seemed very special to me.   I notice that these lil ones are starting to find out what they like, they start saying what they want to be when they grow up, they’re still not afraid or embarrassed to talk about what scares them, what they don’t like, things that bother them, what makes them happy.  For some, the major issues haven’t engulfed them completely:  drugs, alcohol, sex, gangs, negativity.

I feel a huge responsibility to be there for them a lot, to listen to them, to ask them questions, to try to show them that I’m there for them no matter what, to guide them a little, to show them new parts of the world, to have an influence on their young lives, to try to keep them safe and secure, so that when the major issues come along, they may be stronger than drugs, alcohol, sex, gangs, or negativity.

At some point in their lives, usually at 8 years old or so, I’ve brought in my godchildren into my business to show them how things work.  This month, we’ve been promoting an upcoming event:  I’ve been teaching her how to get up in front of people, pass out flyers for the event, we even put flyers on hundreds of car windows in 4 large parking lots and she did better than most adults I know.  I wasn’t sure how she’d like this kind of work but, as we kept on with it, I could see her really working it.

As we drove around in the car, my lil mamita started to ask question after question after question, “Nina Carmen, why…?”and we talked about everything –from why she liked her 2nd grade teacher better than her 3rd grade teacher, about books that she reads at school, random things she’s learning about science, and how she does not like learning fractions this year.  But what really got me was her desire to want to learn how to work it, to speak in front of people, and “how old were you Nina Carmen when you started doing this work?”  Her lil mouth flew open when I said “EIGHT years old”.

I remember how cool it was to be the one chosen to run events when I was that little, granted, I didn’t do that much but it was such a big responsibility to me and it made me feel very special.   I have never lost that feeling of how cool it is to be in charge and to run events.  To this day, it is a rush to see how my events turn out, especially when there’s a full house and when people are having a great time.  And, if any of the TorresBabies get behind a microphone, or start taking charge at an event, the smile is on my face for weeks.

On this day I was “training” this child to promote events.  We were going into businesses to ask them to place some our event flyers near their registers.   I was more nervous than my lil one was and, while she was apprehensive at first, I almost cried tears of pride when I heard this girl give what we in marketing call the “elevator speech”.  Mamita worked it, expressed herself well, was poised, purposeful, confident and she got people to place her flyers by the register :).   She even told me later that day, “Nina, I feel confident”.  I would give every cent and dollar I will ever have that this baby girl always feels confident and ready to work it.  My mamita can and WILL do better than I ever have.

I can go on and on about how I want to change the world.   Being here for all of my godchildren and helping them to feel confident will be the best that I can for them.  The TorresBabies will change part of the world I’m sure of this.  I am happy to step aside and watch them move forward and soar.

But first, I will enjoy watching them live life thru their 8-year-old eyes, learning, having fun, and doing what makes them happy.  Watching my lil one do what I did so many times as an 8-year-old, made me smile.  She was writing down songs that she liked as we heard them on the radio.   It’s amazing, that with so much technology to make our lives “easier”, isn’t it cool that children truly need none of that mess, all they need is a simple pencil and paper to write down the songs/and things that are important to them … and they need to be around people who love them, listen to them, support them.  Hope this never changes.