Remembering SELENA


It’s hard to believe that it’s been 16 years that Selena left this earth on that fateful day … it’s totally one of those times where you remember exactly where you were when you heard the news…I was still on the air at KCVR in Northern California and on my way into the station when I heard on the car radio that Selena had been shot…my shift started at 11am and, shortly after that, it was confirmed that she had passed away. The rest of the afternoon was completely surreal … my listeners were beyond shocked and saddened. My program director made the decision to just let us open the microphones and let the listeners take over the show … so it was all about playing her music and letting the listeners talk and, many of them were really crying and crying. I kept it together all the way thru my airshift at 4pm. Once I got off of the air, all of the TV sets at the station were set to events unfolding in Corpus Christi and it started to hit me what had happened…I was asked to talk on-air awhile later about Selena and I couldn’t get thru it as I just started crying.

We all know that Selena hit a chord with so many people from throughout the U.S. because she looked like us, talked like us — that is, one of the first to talk in Spanglish before it was cool like many of us did as we were trying to learn proper Spanish! Selena was destined to be a major star … I often wonder if J Lo would even exist had Selena lived! If you ever watch any of her videos on You Tube which are interviews — that’s where you really see how crazy and funny she was … that’s where you can really see the Spanglish come alive that many of us completely embrace and understand!

While I was sad about Selena’s death – I remember that it really affected my sis Christina, who was pretty sad for a long time…another person affected was my godson Stephen and he was little! You can check out his video tribute to her below … he’s crazy talented! My guess is that a lot of people could relate to Selena and so when she was gone, it was like a family member or good friend left…sad time. Last time I was in Corpus Christi a couple of years ago, me, Stephen, and Mikey 3 had gone to the cemetery where Selena is buried. As we were driving out of the cemetery, I turned the radio back on, and what song came on the radio at that moment? ‘No Me Queda Mas’ — we just all kind of looked at each other and went ‘whoa!’

The music, of course, will live forever and I remember playing Selena all of the time when I was on-air … even more that I probably should have 🙂 Si Una Vez, Technocumbia, No Me Queda Mas, Ya Vez, Ven Conmigo, Bidi Bidi Bom Bom, Baila Esta Cumba, Que Creias, Como La Flor, Amor Prohibido, Yo Te Amo, Cobarde, I Could Fall In Love, Dreaming of You, Missing My Baby, Donde Quiera Que Estes and so many more!

Here is the new SELENA US postage stamp unveiled in March 2011 and I so love this video of Selena singing ‘Que Creias’ to a fan! RIP Selena.

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LA LOTERIA not just a simple card game…

Now before you think that I mean the Lottery … not really, I am talking about the one game that has been able to keep our Mexican culture alive … Loteria! At first glance, you see a simple card game with pictures of ‘La Muerte’, ‘El Musico’, ‘La Rosa’, ‘La Bandera’ and more…but as you get a game going…you find that everyone wants to play, young and old, those who speak Spanish, those who do not, those who can read, those who cannot…but the most fun part is the actual ‘hanging out’ with familia and friends! I always carry around a bag of beans so that everyone can mark their cards como debe de ser con frijoles which is always fun — especially to see those who have never really played Loteria before.

My familia plays Loteria at nearly all of the fam parties and it is hilarious to listen to the ‘old school’ our parents, tios, tias, grandparents as we play … one of them will ALWAYS break out with a family story from Mexico which will have us on the ground laughing, another will recite the actual ‘refranes’ sayings that come with each Loteria card – like when I call out EL SOL (The Sun), it is almost inevitable that I’ll hear ‘la cobija de los pobres’ (the blanket of the poor) said right back to me and the cute thing, is that they don’t even realize that they are doing it! One of the kids will always ask to see the card especially if they don’t know how to speak Spanish. So this tells me that this game goes back not just a few years, but entire generations of my familia have enjoyed sitting around the table playing Loteria.

When someone wins, especially the little ones, we don’t let them yell out ‘Bingo’ or ‘I win!’ they have to yell out ‘Loteria!’ or ‘Buena!’ aaaand they have to read out the names of their winning card in Spanish — and they all love it because, without throwing culture in their face, they are learning about Mexico and learning basic words in Spanish — and it’s so fun to watch the old school’s eyes light up when the littles are making their best effort to speak Spanish! Ssoooo important for us to pass cultura on to our future generations!

One of my favorite times playing Loteria was in Sacramento with my friends, at our apartment on College Town Drive, para que les miento, we were drinking and playing loteria. Our friend Sergio was calling the cards, and ‘La Botella’ comes up — now mind you, we are all into the game and not even looking up to check out the card, so when he calls out ‘El Catsup’, all you see is la bola de gente the bunch of us looking around our cards like crazy trying to find a ketchup bottle! After we figured it out and Sergio was there todo riendose laughing at us, we totally called him every cuss word for about 5 minutes, had a great laugh, took yet another drink, and continued playing the game!

I am the one who usually calls the games now and it’s so much fun to watch the fam or friends enjoying spending time with each other and usually yelling at me to shuffle the cards more or something like that…love it that we have fun hanging out together!

Futbol! The New American Pastime?


Gotta love mi raza, it’s been raining all week and most of the day, and when I say raining, I do not mean ‘chispas’, it’s been raining and they are all out ‘en friega’ now at the Oakland Coliseum enjoying the Mexico vs. Uruguay soccer match … having just driven thru there, the freeway is an absolute mess with a couple of the main exits closed off. It’s amazing how ‘la aficion’ the futbol fans will support their team rain or shine.

Having worked in Spanish Radio Events for many years has afforded me the opportunity to see so many of these games. Not really my thing on a personal level; but on a business level — you can never work too many soccer games as it puts your station or business in front of not hundreds, thousands, of fans. I’ve coordinated half-time activities and have been able to see my crew work it right on the field, I have taken excited winners to meet their favorite soccer stars, I’ve been stuck in traffic on the way in/out of a game, I’ve worked many a ‘futbol fiesta’ type event before the start of the game, tailgating Mexicano style is unlike anything I’ve ever seen! You can see and smell the carne asada tacos at almost every turn, there are usually a few tamborazos bandas de viento — banda with horns and drums — making the party happen throughout the parking lots from early on, everyone is decked out in green, white, and red. And it’s not just the guys, it’s entire familias enhancing the party atmosphere with their private celebrations! I have felt the chills when the Mexican National Anthem is played in the stadium standing amongst a sea of Mexicanos and let’s not forget the rush of excitement and deafening cheers when each player of the Mexican National Team is announced…today’s game has to have been absolute madness with breakout Mexican star ‘El Chicharito’ making 2 goals so far.

I think one memory that stands out from being at one of these games was when I got stuck when security stopped foot traffic to let the Mexican National Team back into the stadium after halftime. The screams and shouts to the players was exciting and almost deafening! Fans yelling everything from ‘we love you’ to ‘chinga tu madre’ to the players! And it wasn’t all men doing the yelling, there were senoras ya grandes right in these guys faces as well! Pretty awesome!

No matter who wins or loses at today’s game (it will probably be Mexico :), it’s a cultural experience that everyone should see live at least once in their lifetime…even it you are not a fan of futbol, and you are a fan of cultura, you will so have a blast!

Futbol may have never been the great American pastime as other sports but, trust me, with the new Census 2010 population numbers, this could very well change! Love this pic that a friend just sent to me and, oh so happy, that I’m far enough away from Oakland to not be stuck in the traffic after the game!

The Power of ‘VICKS’

The Mighty Little Blue Jar of VICKS Vaporub

“Pon vaporu alli para que te sientas major”, “hechate el vix” – I’m from a long line of Latinas who have grown up around the little blue jar of Vicks Vaporub. It is a cultural joke that Latinos swear that Vicks can cure everything! While I always laugh at this thinking that, “this does not apply to me”, you better know that I carry around a small jar with me at all times in my purse ‘just in case’. I usually use it like smelling salts when I feel a migraine or sinus headache coming on, helping to clear up sinuses.

Lately, I’ve had bad earaches due to water building up in my ear canal … these occur for me during allergy season and they drive me completely crazy! I had run out of my regular medicine and was taking aspirin to try and take the pain out … which has worked but the wait could be maddening as I have no tolerance for pain. So, in the middle of the night, don’t ask me why, I put some Vicks Vaporub on the affected ear … woke up a few hours later and was shocked to find that it worked! It allowed me to really sleep and stopped that throbbing pain. I guess “hechando el Vix” can really do wonders … if you believe…LOL

Bienvenidos a California! Latinos and Census 2010

Just checking out the Census 2010 figures for Latinos in California and so hoping that we put use these numbers to our advantage and not just as point of reference, I want us to MATTER! It is so time for us to believe in our contributions to California, the U.S., and to society in general.

My fam friend Jorge puts it best: “hijole dude, dass alotta brown babies, know what i’m sayin’? es bueno tener esta “presencia” en los EE UU, pero now we gotta make it work for us in a healthy, constructive manner. de k jodidos nos sirve ser tantos si solamente servimos para estar de “servicio” para otros y no recibir beneficio para uno mismo? hopefully we’ll make the numbers benefit us and all our bros and sisters.”

A lot of people are putting Latino Census info out there, Univision’s analysis was the most reader-friendly and lays it out well:

Hispanics are fueling growth in California, one of the most populous states in the country, according to the latest 2010 U.S. Census figures. According to the statistics:

o Minorities contributed all of the growth in California with Hispanics accounting for 71 percent of the minority growth in the state.
o More than 14 million Hispanics reside in California.
o 38 percent of California state residents are of Hispanic origin.
o The Hispanic population in California grew 28 percent in the last decade.
o 77 percent of the Hispanic growth in the state was among Adults 18 plus, while 23 percent was among those under 18.

“The new Census figures just released for California show double-digit growth in the Hispanic population in the state and mirrors the growth pattern we are seeing across the U.S.,” said Elizabeth Ellers, executive vice president, Corporate Research, Univision Communications Inc.

Based on an aggregation of the 27 states releases thus far by the Census bureau:

o Hispanic population growth is exceeding the most recent Census estimates by more than four percent.
o Approximately 34.7 million Hispanics in the 27 states released as of 3-8-11.
o Hispanics contributed 59 percent of the overall population growth in those states.
o In the last decade, the Hispanic population in these states grew by 41 percent.
o According to the 2010 Census results, the Hispanic population is less concentrated than 10 years ago. In 2000, 72 percent of the Hispanic population residing in the 27 states released by Census resided in California or Texas. In the 2010 Census, 68% of Hispanics reside either in Texas or California

Latinos are here to stay and it is up to US to make these numbers work for us … if we do not use our intelligence, talent, and work ethic to our benefit, SOMEONE else will!

Dia Internacional de La Mujer

Today, March 8th, is Dia Internacional de La Mujer! Today we celebrate the many contributions of women in all aspects of society. While I could try to focus on famous women and celebrities, there’s really no need as I am surrounded by strong, passionate, powerful, loving, funny women in all areas of my life and I celebrate them today!

First, the mother of them all, my Mom MARGARET TORRES, the first non-traditional woman I ever met in my life. Quiet and unassuming but could stand up for herself and her familia when need be, we always tease her about her ‘poison pen’ she can write a letter and set everyone straight like no one I’ve ever met. Mom is a stroke survivor and is almost a different person from the one that we grew up with and I love that her essential spirit is still there…moreso now, she holds nothing back and is the first to tell us that holding things in is what brought on her stroke. Love her!

I had the absolute pleasure to have had 2 very different GRANDMOTHERS who profoundly influenced my life: LUPE LUCIO “Mama Lupita” soooo colorful, so funny, so crazy, made life fun for us at the Ranch, irreplaceable and unique. FRANCES ‘Grandma’ HOGAN was my Mom’s foster mother – calmada, dignified, smart, and the exact opposite of MaLupita and so cool with us Torres kids. So I had a Latina and an Irish grandma … I was completely bicultural from Day 1 of my life – lucky for me. May they RIP forever.

I have TIAS who are my bonus mothers, Tia Lili, Tia Elvira, Tia Becky and Auntie Cathy ‘Ita’ — how cool is it to drive home to the ranch and know that I have a mother in each house on the way to the last house where Mom Margaret hangs out? Much love to Tia Chayo en El Paso…Josefina in Washington…and to the late Tia Adela, Aunty Vina, Aunty Jenny, Aunty Vera, Aunty Bea, Tia Sylvia, Connie … may they RIP.

Very blessed to have had some very cool godmothers … my NINA from baptism, Rita Herrera, has always been interested in what I’m doing with my life and I’ve gotten to know and understand her better as I’ve gotten older … love it that I’ve always been able to see my Nina as a lot of people don’t see their godparents that often. A couple of my Ninas are no longer with us and have been so important to me in my life: Marina Beltran showed me the value of having fun in life, Susan Casillas was my first mentor and taught me the first ropes of working events…

My SISTERS Kiki and Christy are my confidants, the ones I go to first for anything, the mothers of my ‘children’, the strongest women I know. I always feel safe and supported and completely myself around them … between the two of them, they could write their own book on the ups and downs of life! They were my roommates for a huge portion of my life and know everything, or almost everything that goes on with me 🙂

The MAMITA Club is the domain of my BEAUTIFUL nieces/goddaughters, the future of our world, the chicas who are getting ready to start their lives, the ones who are going to surpass anything that I could have ever contributed to the world. Diana, Nikki Nicolasa, Secilia CC, Antonia Christina, Angelica Angel, Aaliyah, and our happy Yazi! There are such a range of ages of our mamitas that we will be able to check out their adventures in life for years to come. Love them!

All of my PRIMAS and there are many in both the Grijalva and Torres sides of the fam. We are all very lucky especially we are a HUGE familia, our mothers made the extra effort for us to get to know each other personally! All of us at the Ranch are more like sisters since we all grew up together and Mom made sure that we spent time with the Grijalvas, Espinozas, Rafanans, Rodriguez, Prietos and all of our primas … they make my life FUN!

My RADIO sistas are the ones who ‘get it’ with regard to the importance of the career, etc. I have so many from my many lives in radio, KCVR, Radio Tricolor, Radio Romantica, La Raza, Mix 106.5, KBAY, KNTO, La Preciosa … we have to get together in one place and tell ‘war stories’! It would be one fun event eso si!

All of you mujeres in my FAM FRIENDS Club — ya’ll know who you are — some of the experiences that we’ve gone thru cannot be shared in mixed company LOL and others make for a very fun time … all of you from East Union, Delta, Sac State, Denver, San Francisco State, Community Organizers, and Event Planners … I will have to start writing about some of the crazy things we’ve seen or done — whether people believe it or not, it will be a fun story to tell!

CELEBRATE THE WOMEN IN YOUR LIFE, LET’S BE THERE TO ENCOURAGE, ENLIGHTEN, AND ELEVATE EACH OTHER!

Wisdom from JORGE

I’ve always loved my famfriend brother by choice Jorge and his particular take on life. I have hundreds of emails and letters from him and have told him, many times, that I would make him immortal one day by writing about our friendship from all of these years and how his wisdom has helped me many, many, many times. It’s one thing to have a friend give you a pep talk, it’s quite another to have a friend tell you, with love, to get your depremida chillona ass back in action! From time to time, I will pull out one of Jorge’s letters and share them…love the way he communicates to me in his very unique combination of English, Spanish, Spanglish, Eubonics, and Texting!

Jorge’s Wisdom on TIPS FOR PULLING YOURSELF TOGETHER AND GETTING OUT OF ‘DEPRE’ MODE:

1) listen for the lesson; what r u posta be learning here? maybe, how to be still? focus? don’t know, but axe urself these questions and see what u get.

2) is ur house clean top to bottom? is ur pc running in top shape? here’s where i’m goen with this: do ALL u can to “create” a space; a world where all those things u CAN influence or control, r done–completed. so a clean house will make u feel good; u’ll have a place u wanna be in, thereby influencing the “tone” in the home and opening ur heart and mind to all possibilities (a decent job to pay dem billz). i know, a wee bit “metaphysical” here, pero cual es la diferencia al prayer? me?, yo uso todo lo k se puede usar para ayudarme. so try this…. seriously, promise me. all ur stuff that u can “influence” should be done; don’t pick n choose, juss do it. amazing what can happen when ur “doing” something productive; the brain goes into a different place and the tone in the home: awesome! porque? cuz u did something that supports ur overall goal; a good life where u get paid.

3) don’t fill time; dude, iss not ur style to fill time. engage ur life; ur day with purpose. see the life force in all that u do. all activity has value and is to be respected; even scrubbin’ el pinche toilet porque that clean toilet is gonna make u feel good and that will lead to a good bowel which in turn is, in fact, “affrming” life cuz u b healthy. see how all is connected? das what i’m sayin’ homegurl; todo tiene valor; see ur day that way.

4) take periodic shots of ur fave libation (sp?). dude, i love me a good drank cuando i’ve done all i can do to make my day a productive one. so after the gym OR a wog (cross between a walk and a slow-ass jog cuz ur ass is like *HE PUT IN MY AGE, WHICH I SO DELETED* or somethin’) OR doen my laundry and cleaning my house, and life still sucks cuz i aint got no job, i fix a drink and iss happy tyne! no me hago borrachito or nothin’ like dat, pero asi como me gusta a good prayer session, or completing a challenging project, i too, love a good-ass buzz and it cost like way little cuz u buy the shit on sale at rite-aid or costco. .

5) put on some yoli del rio or some other “torch” music and cry like a lil’ bitch. feels great. anyone who knows me knows that i can only do this when iss me and jeezus. a good movie or alcohol-induced stooper r sure ways of gettin’ in touch with ur inner-self and again, very cost-effective. i love this one; serious. feels great after feelin’ sorry for myself for a few hours; juss me and god. get good info afterward. pero acuerdate, esto se hace en el privacy de tu casa; tu vida. don’t wanna be no “public” reina; serious. this is the kinda stuff u keep to urself cuz otherwise it juss looks like way sad; pathetic at our age. pero en privacy, issolll good and can be very therapeutic.

so there u have it homie, stuff i do to encourage value in my daily life. u wanted some ideas; here u go!! 2bro, jorge.

How cool is it to have someone to call you on your stuff and still love you at the same time? Don’t be afraid to ask your fam or famfriends for help when you need it!

The BELIEVE File

I’m usually pretty good at getting myself out of a funk on my own…I like to think that I am basically a positive person but SOME days…jeez! I’ve created what I call a BELIEVE File, where I save emails and messages from people who bring me up when I’m down. Love it when friends send things back to me and then throw my words back at me! I was able to smile, and then laugh, thru my tears of frustration! Here’s one that I just received…thanks PDR for this one:

Oh Carmen…..LIVE IN THE MOMENT! But more than just living in it Believe……. BELIEVE THAT THIS place Where YOU ARE (with a job, without a job, con dinero sin dinero , with a mate, without a mate etc etc) IS EXACTLY WHERE U NEED TO BE! There may be something, someone, someplace you wanted to have time to enjoy…but WE thought we were too busy, but THEN like NOW is where we need to be……..APROVECHAR …..(you said it yourself before)
Dont lose HOPE

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

Thich Nhat Hanh quotes (Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer. b.1926)

When Inspiration Hits…

My most creative time, sometimes to my dismay, is in the middle of night. It is now 3:28 am and, after a very intense night in class, I arrived home to mental exhaustion. Just as I was getting comfortable and thinking, “I’ll go to bed now” a couple of hours ago, I lay there, inquieta de a tiro, toda restless, and got my butt up to write what will soon be another chapter in my novela.

I was talking with a friend last night, who also writes, and we were laughing about the times that we’ve told ourselves, ‘wow, that’s a cool idea … but it’s too cold, I don’t want to get out of bed to write it down’ only to wake up completely disgusted because, while the idea may have not been forgotten, the absolutely cool way that you were going to develop and write it, that shot of inspiration that was not heeded, was gone. Add to that, I find that I write better when I have music playing in the background. I have salsa blasting so you know that the chapter(s) likely had something to do with partying or some type of passionate activity!

Being an event planner for so many years also requires certain types of music for inspiration in envisioning the type of event I want to have, how I want to audience to react, how it will look, etc. When I think of planning a huge, outdoor, event – I usually have good outdoor music playing that I like: salsa, cumbia, tejano, some oldies — things that make me see a good time outside under a not-too-hot sun.

Being a member of the Torres fam, we absolutely should not play music at night because it revs us up…I remember one time I woke up out of dead sleep and said ‘wow, what a good song!’ … so I will let myself listen to one or two or maybe three more songs, then I’ll turn the mp3 player OFF before a fourth song starts! This, in celebration, of the fact that I listened to my inner inspiration and now can happily go to sleep!

Harta! Simultaneous Interpretation Homework

“Harta” means that I’m ‘up to here’ ‘sick and tired’ of someone or something. I have hit the wall this week with my homework assignments for my Simultaneous Interpretation class. We have passages where we either have to paraphrase in the same language (hard for me), or we translate passages into Spanish. I can usually get the interpreting into Spanish a lot faster than the paraphrasing assignments so I work them out one by one. I can usually get both types down so that, if I’m called in class, I can do a good, or at least decent, job of interpreting the assignments.

This week is a mountain of legalese in both English and Spanish and it has me going crazy. One of my former classmates told me that, in the Simultaneous portion of my coursework, that I would be humbled on a constant basis, and that I would question myself and my interpreting abilities at every turn! This week has certainly been one of those weeks! If I cannot get this legalese down, how can I expect to do so when someone’s life or livelihood is dependent upon how I translate for him/her?

Add to this, we must also simultaneously interpret a passage at a certain speed … if I haven’t got the vocabulary down, pues olvidate if I need to do this at say, 140 words per minute! I just have to put in an example of what I am to paraphrase in Spanish: “siempre que el cuerpo del delito conste por pruebas directas e inmediatas”; here’s another way of saying this: “con tal que exista pruebas directas e inmediatas del la substancia del delito” … ask me what this means in English, sepa Dios, ask me later!

Eso si, one thing is for sure, that by tomorrow at 4:30pm, when I leave for class…I will have a better understanding of this! So what if it took me an entire week and I still didn’t get it? I will try to make it happen so that I can make this assignment GO away! Aaaaaay! Working the other side of my brain is good for me … and tiring! Just hope that I don’t make a total fool of myself in class!