Back On My Own … For A Few Days Anyway #52essays2017


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#52essays2017

It’s funny, I’ve been on my own for years, had my own place, paid my own bills, did whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, slept all day if I wanted to, be gone for days from my place as long as I wanted to, cleaned it, didn’t clean it, walked around in my bra and ‘chones‘, walked around completely nude, cooked one meal and ate out of the pan or used a tortilla to eat out of the pan, same meal, all day long LOL It took me a long time to feel comfortable living alone, I had always had roommates, ten roommates total throughout the years. I was nervous at first about living alone and then that was it – I loved it.

 

I never thought that I would move back home again – ever.  I have always been one to sleep in my own bed or, at the very least; I always carry my own pillow and blanket EVERYWHERE.  No matter where I stayed, even when I’d come back home, I always had my sleeping materials covered.  My family has always compared me to Linus, the character on Charlie Brown, who always carries a blanket.  Yet, here I sit in my pajamas and bathrobe, at 8:00 at night, on a day where I have not changed out of my pj’s, gone nowhere, and alternated from Mama’s chair to the couch to my bed in the “girls room”, on what has been my most relaxing day of the year.

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Flash back to a couple of years ago, I came over on “my night”, you see, we 5 Torres siblings decided to divide up the week to help care for our parents, and on this night, I could not make myself leave.  My mother, who had been ill for some time and who was undergoing dialysis treatments, was getting weaker.  What hurt me most was not the physical weakness, what broke my heart was the sense that Mama was getting tired of it all.  I thought to myself, I want to make her days/nights easier.  My nights were spent waking up once or twice to check on Mama and on Dad; I could never manage to sleep through the night.  I didn’t have much time to miss my life and my bed.  I think that, during that entire time, I slept in my bed two or three times.  When Mama passed away, we were all so grateful that she was not in pain or distress that she went peacefully.  As a family, we were all completely exhausted, we had all spent the last couple of months completely at Mama’s side 24/7.

 

Fast forward to now, our house is so different now, there are many full-house nights, we host many more family events here at the house than ever before, Dad always has some project he’s working on in or outside of the house, there is music on and this night owl house rarely has lights out.  I finally moved my bed and things into the ‘girls room’, which is now my “apartment”, and while I sleep more, I still wake up at least once per night to check on Dad.  Trying to keep this house up is no easy task, especially, as Dad tends to leave things wherever he leaves them.   I’ve claimed one huge victory by getting Dad to stop throwing paper onto the floor and into the wastebasket LOL.

 

As Dad and the family would be gone for a few days, I was elated to have my life to myself for a few days in a row!  It was if I were going on vacation, what would I do?  Where would I go?  Who would I see?  Or NOT?   Well, the first night, I stayed up writing all night and had my music blasting – just like I spent many nights at my place not too long ago.  As I was battling the flu, I didn’t really do anything but move all of my blankets to the living room couch and spent the next day and night moving to and from the couch and chair, sleeping, watching what I like to watch:  msnbc, Oprah’s channel, chick flicks, and binge-watched TV, puro heaven. With every single nap, every minute spent under the blankets, in my favorite outfit ever, my piyama, watching only the TV I wanted to see, kicking back, I could feel myself getting healed physically, and felt myself coming back together as Carmen, the person, I felt like me, not a daughter or a sister, just me.

 

It was GREAT to be back on my own, even for a few days. Loved being back to cleaning only once (and the house staying clean), filling up a small trashcan only, using one roll of toilet paper the entire time and the kitchen stove getting a break as well LOL. Well, I wasn’t really completely alone, Mama was all up in the mix from her table and I’ll bet that she, too, appreciated the peace, quiet, no-heater blasting, girl time.

 

Make time for yourself, have your own back, spend time with YOU, reconnect with your InnerChingona, get your power back, even if it is for a few minutes on a crazy/busy day!

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Your Mama Says “Hi” #52essays2017


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As I got home tonight from work, Dad told me that he went to see Mama at the cemetery. He always says “Your Mama Says Hi”. I have been missing “Señora” big time today.  It’s cold, it’s dark, and I’m just getting over flu/bronchitis and sometimes all you want is your mama to make it all better. That’s it, that’s all I wanted today.  I love it when he tells us that ‘your Mama says hi’ like as if she’s going to be home in a little while or something.

I don’t know what it was about being near Mama, I felt safe, she wasn’t the ‘huggy huggy’ type and I didn’t feel offended because I think that she may have wanted to be more cariñosa with us but she was embarrassed, and maybe she thought that she didn’t know how to be more physically affectionate, who knows.  A lot of ladies from her generation were the same way.   I learned how to live with this but I just always k n e w that my mother loved me because she felt things so deeply. I could always sense when Mama was sad or hurt; maybe because I am the same way, my feelings run veeeery deep.  However, Mama always connected really well through writing, thank God. I have so many loving notes and letters from her. I treasure them all but I really love the stuff she’d write after she had her stroke, when she had to start from zero and learn to write with her left hand (as the right one was paralyzed), where a small note would take her hours to write, when she was as close to her inner chingona as possible, when she had decided that, by holding things in, she had a hand in her stroke changing her life forever. From that moment on, she always always always told us to never keep things in, so that we wouldn’t end up like her – in a wheelchair, walking with a cane, no longer able to drive or move about carefree.

Many many times she’d tell me to “calm down, don’t be so emotional, stop crying‘, and in the next breath, tell me that she was exactly the same way at my age.   Someone, somewhere along Mama’s life, must have told her to keep things inside, that it wasn’t cool to cry and carry on.  Maybe Mama’s generation were afraid of emotion, afraid of losing control, afraid of not being able to come back from an emotional outburst.  I didn’t, and still don’t, understand how one can hold in every single feeling, it would make me physically sick to hold so much in. I’ve learned thru life (and shots of therapy) that letting go and losing it all is a great way to get yourself back on track.  I would give anything for Mama and those of her generation to have believed this, they would have been happier and more fulfilled I think.   I always try to be affectionate with our #TorresBabies, no matter the age, breaking that cycle I guess.

Mama’s presence was always enough to calm me.  If she looked calm, I would stop freaking out about this or that.  If I called her and her voice sounded strong and happy, I knew that it was a good day.  Wheelchair or not, paralyzed or not, if I needed an attitude adjustment, advice, or someone to listen to me go on and on and on, Mama was down for it.  Today I so needed to get her take on things, to help get me on track, to have her tell me things like “LetGoAndLetGod” and then telling me to stop rolling my eyes and believe LOL.

She’s been gone 26 months now, and sitting here in her house, near one of her pictures (which, note to self,  needs to be surrounded by lights so that I can see her face at this time of night), I feel her presence and the one thing, the one thing, I want right now is to feel her warmth, to see her face as she helps me figure things out, and to hug and kiss her goodnight.  Maybe her message to me from Dad was her way of letting me know she’s here.   “Hi Mama! Dad gave me your message!”

 

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Mama & Me   #52essays2017

The Minute I Mop the Floors…The Eternal Battle

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Whatever went through this family’s mind when they decided the the house needed WHITE floors has dumbfounded me for years.  I understand the reason for the floors, it was easier and much safer for Mama to walk on, as she had been left partially paralyzed from her stroke.   When she was alive, it was difficult to come in and clean the house.  First, she did not like us getting into her “stuff” and so it felt like I was always cleaning around the stuff.  Second, I was here once a week or so, not that much, as we Torres5 had our schedule of cleaning/cooking for the folks.

Fast forward to now.  Dad and I are roommates and he is fun to be around.  I still am not the greatest housekeeper but I feel that I have, respectfully, stored a lot of Mama’s things after her passing thus cleaning around things doesn’t happen that much anymore.  Our house has become a very social house and I try to keep it relatively clean and presentable in case anyone wants to stop by anytime.  Thus I find myself cleaning constantly to try to keep up with the mess.   Mopping floors is a given.  As we live on the Ranch, you better know that dust, tierra, leaves, lodo, are all up in that mix.  If I let the floors go more than a couple of days without mopping, it is not attractive.

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I do everything to let the fam know that it’s “no ins/outs for 20-30 minutes” – tell them, yell it out, text them.  Everyone gets the message except for Dad.  The minute I put the mop into the bucket, and I hear the sound of the mop sloshing the hot water around, I think, “there’s no way he’ll hear it”, as I hear the sound of the plop of the mop onto the floor, I think, “he better not decide to walk this way/go to the bathroom/get up out of the chair/get out of bed”, even after I tell him I’m mopping the floor.   Sure enough, I will have JUST finished one side of the house, or just finished mopping the bathroom, and I’ll hear him moving about.   First word in my mind is usually ‘chiiiiingado‘, and then if I happen to catch his eye, he has to hear me go on and on and on with ‘DadTeDijeWhyDoYouAlwaysDoThis?‘, and then I just have to shake my head because yavaliomadre and he has tracked all over my clean floors to go to the bathroom or whatever y ya.

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By the time I mop once more, I’m still shaking my head, but my rage is gone.  I have always taken care of my father – I’m partly to blame if he’s chiquiado.  Daddy’s girl here has always made sure that he eats, that he’s taken care of, that the house is presentable so I’ve enabled him for sure LOL. While I could sit there and talk it out with him, which I have done many times, I know that I am dealing with an 81 years young man who will not change overnight, he does things MikeTorresStyle, in his own way, in his own time.    As I mop the floor again, I wonder HOW is it that he KNOWS when I am going to mop the floors LOL?!? I tell myself, ‘NEXT time, I’ll do this or that, say this or that” and then I have to smile — I’ve “lost” this round, and look forward to being able to brag on the day when I can mop the floors of this house uninterrupted.    And then I hear it…Oh no, there goes the heater on full blast again…..Sometimes you have to pick your battles.  Gotta love Daddy.  #52essays2017

My Friday Night Luces

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Fridays.  End of the workday.  End of the Week.  The sunset always looks different to me on Fridays.  As the sun goes down, and as dusk settles in, I love the way it looks when the street lights start coming on when it’s still light outside, the color of the green, yellow and red of the stop lights seem to jump out that much brighter on a Friday.  Friday Night Lights are usually associated with high-school football games and, as I’m not that into sports, my lights are known as FridayNightLuces

As anyone who works in the Bay Area knows,  Friday traffic is usually very heavy, people trying to make their getaway for the weekend,  parents rushing to pick up children and get into their warm homes, folks going out to games, concerts, dinner and more.  The roadways are jammed in all directions and one is always listening to traffic reports to hear the conditions of the road.   I do the supercommute from the Bay to the Valley so I’m always doing the ‘ pleaseGodpleaseGodpleaseGod’ that there are no accidents because then it’s all about grrrrrr! and a parqueadero atmosphere on the freeway.  Most nights, I stop somewhere to wait it out: dinner, shopping, writing.  On this Friday night, however, I had to be home so, ni modo, I had to be all up in that mess.  As I drove, or should I say, as I did the stop and go thing, I started noticing the different types of lights — my FridayNightLuces.

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I first saw the brilliant reds, reds of the hundreds of tailights in front of me.  I knew that I was going to be on the road for a long while.   I then looked into my rear view mirror to see the shiny, bright, lines and lines of white lights of the cars who were behind me on this journey, all trying to move forward.   To my right, on the hills,  I saw the warm, inviting lights of many of the homes and could imagine comforting things:  a fireplace, dinner being prepared, people enjoying a meal around the table or in front of the TV settling in to watch a movie, the sound of a doorbell where pizza was being delivered yay no-cook mode, and, if I looked up and saw second-story lights on,  my thoughts would go to someone getting ready for date night, music playing, a glass of adult beverage nearby, the smell of perfume, smiles as they look forward to the evening.

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I then see the orange-ish color of  lights along the freeway that always reminded me of when I lived in  Denver because I loved seeing the world covered in snow and those orange-colored lights put such a cool glow onto the fallin snow.  The orange-colored lights also took me back to a couple of places where I made out with a certain gentleman LOL for some reason, I could never figure it out, he always found the glow of those lights romantic and there we would end up!

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As I moved farther down the road, I would see the dreaded lights of the sirens which could mean highway patrol – so it was all about get off of the phone LOL! Police in pursuit of someone, ambulance and/or fire trucks – and after doing the sign of the cross because it usually meant someone was injured or in pain.  I would always breathe a “yes!” if the lights were on the other side of the freeway and hope that I wouldn’t be on the road that much longer.

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On this Friday night, I saw the full moon rising.  One of my very favorite lights is moonlight,always has been.  Moonlight on the hills, peeking in through the trees, reflecting on my black Jeep.  On my commutes, I get the privilege of seeing the moon rise and set many times.  I finally stopped trying to take pictures of the moon as I drive because I can never get a shot good enough to do it justice; that, and it drives people crazy that I take pictures as I drive and upload them on the road LOL  The skies were clear so you know that moon gave off an awesome light!  A great view especially when I’m blasting music in my Jeep.

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Two very comforting signs along my commute are as I look to the left, I am able to see the “Jesus Saves” and a huge cross all made out of lights,  which tells me that I’m getting out of the Bay and into the Valley and a few miles later, I love seeing the HUGE American Flag flying in the wind a todo lo que da surrounded by lights – I always feel thankful that I live in a free country and things like that when I see the flag.

By the time I get to the last part of the commute, it’s as if all one sees is the flash, flash, flash of the signal lights.  I hear a lot more honking horns and always joke that this is when the real road rage sets in, when people, me included,  have like HAD it with driving with two hands on the wheel, teeth clenched, stressed because they have to be somewhere.  Me, I have no patience for traffic at night so all I want to do is get off of that road and I can often be heard exclaiming out loud, “que vas a hacer? que vas a hacer? what. are. you. going. to. do? ‘get in there! no ves que te estoy dejando entrar?’  The lights lose their peaceful quality, I actually get irritated seeing the lights when, a short time before, I was completely entranced and lost in thought!

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Once I get to my exit from the freeway and make that left turn down my road to the Ranch, where we grew up with my aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins on my father’s side, everything starts to calm down.  I again see the comforting lights of the homes as I go down the road, the lights over empty parking lots at the warehouses near the Ranch and then finally, at the Ranch, I turn into our fenced-off dirt road and smile because, of course,  all of the houses are dark or almost dark, that is, all of the houses except ours, my fam are nite owls.  All lights on, doors open (if it’s not cold), music or TV on, and I will usually find my Dad:  writing, playing guitar, or as I found him on this Friday night, in his chair covered with a blanket watching flamenco guitar videos on “YouTube”  — I then put my stuff down on a chair, smile and think that the light of ‘all is right in the world’ is a great one to come home to.  #52essays2017

 

The Power Of Writing: OMG Dad is finding his Inner Chingona

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Dad and I have spent all week thrown down sick at this house. All it has been is puro coughing and misery. For the past few days, neither of us had the energy or desire to do anything.   One of things I’ve started to notice is, that lately, Dad and I have the same tastes on lots of things, including writing.  I took these pics of us a couple of weeks ago, he was writing in one room, and I was writing in another. OMG Dad is finding his Inner Chingona!

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Dad’s been wanting to write his life story and for YEARS, he had been using his typewriter, yes, a typewriter. Well, yesterday, he decides that he’s going to use his laptop to put his story down so that I could review and edit it later. It was transforming. Dad was INTO it, into using the mouse, into learning the keyboard, into putting his thoughts down, sitting down at the table, happy, into it. As it was, after all, the middle of the night, I went in to check on him and almost told him to go to bed and then I stopped myself. I stopped myself when I saw his face deep in thought, eyes glued to the keyboard, I saw “it”. When one is in the I “have” to write mode. Where one is in that zone of pure creativity, on it, focused, working it. Where your fingers are working completely in synch with your mind and where your work is at its most authentic. Maybe when this creative surge is over and we review his work later, we will find that some things may need to be revised or removed, but there is usually always SOMETHING salvageable from creative surges of writing. Therefore, it was very important for me to let him be, to let him finish his train of thought.

I know this feeling well and, for many years, I would suppress my love of writing as something boring or something that people with no lives do. Once I got to that space where I decided it was time to embrace writing, I started making more and more time for it. Now writing is a permanent part of me, an expansion of my voice, much more than a hobby. I think to myself with a lil bit of sadness, “how long did Dad want to write and dismissed it? I also think about Mama and about people no longer with us who left without doing the things that they wanted to do, things that would have made them feel more whole, things that would make them happier.

So now it’s all about me embracing the fact that Dad “needs” his writing as much as I do, maybe more than I do, he’s 81 years young, and he wants to get so much out on paper.   Making things easier for him will be what I am supposed to do, help him work the laptop, teach him Word so that he can save things easier, showing him that the computer is nothing to be afraid of.  I think that it’s fun to be able to share something with my father.

#52essays2017

De 2016 al 2017, Happy New Year!

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2016 has been my year to embrace my new reality and to make serious changes in my life. Gone was the drive for “been there, done that” projects and jobs. Sure, my wallet is feeling the loss of revenue but I had a straight-up blast doing all kinds of event stuff: training people to work booths this event season, watching them get into having fun with people and bring in sales. Loved working new festivals – a challenge with entirely new audiences and much bigger ones, man I learned a lot!  I had so much fun coordinating Vanessa and Erick’s wedding this fall, and when I translated documents for folks, I watched people’s faces turn from fear into straight-up relief as I helped them find their power and get some justice from their issues, and the one event where I told BFF Lisa, “girl, you know that I am your friend” as I helped her coordinate a walk for dogs and their owners at a winery…and y’all know that I am not an animal person LOL. Working events for my Latino community is something I will a l w a y s  do and it’s always fun to be amongst the raza.  The key for all of these events is that I was ready to do things differently, to take charge of a different aspect of an event, to get those nervous chorros that make me more prepared, to learn how to be more effective. Sometimes, you have to shake things up and shake them up I did. I had the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire professional life.

One of my 2016 goals was to work it for my familia. Very happy to report that we remain as close as ever and my roommate Mike Torres and I still get along. My Dad is an original, he does things his way, when he wants, where he wants. The days at the Ranch start at night – Dad’s drilling, hammering, doing the laundry, working on his papers, and playing music. While working an event, I get a picture texted to me of Dad in his new convertible, all I could do was shake my head and smile.

I am the one who needs my space and quiet time – the space I’ve found in our “girls’ room” and the quiet time well…I’m just happy that my 81-years-young Dad is still running around, doing his projects, playing music, and helping to keep us together. We Torres5 are finally getting back into a routine, each taking a day to be with Dad, and it’s so funny when a bunch of us are at the Ranch when it’s ‘not our day’ LOL   Torres Babies, old and young, are the JOYS of our lives. The little ones are all doing all of the firsts, talking, going to school, playing together, etc. So much fun.

We still get together to pray for Mama on the 11th of each month, I didn’t know if Dad would want to keep it going and, he’s cool with it, so you will find the Torres Fam praying together which keeps the family united.

So many milestones in 2016: Our STE2 graduated with his Master Degree from SFSU, Our Antonia celebrated her Quinceanera, Our Lucia was baptized in Texas, our Olivia started preschool at 1-year-old and was ‘promoted’ to the next level because she’s so smart, Jami and Michael got married, Sabrina is helping take care of us and the nation somewhere in the MiddleEast,  we celebrated Mother’s Day at the Ranch taking “serenata” to all of our mothers, we celebrated Mama’s birthday at Jackson Rancheria, one of her fav places, we had a fun Ranch Día de Los Muertos/Halloween party and we celebrated our 14th Grijalva Girls Christmas Reunion and this weekend, we celebrate our Christmas/Dia De Los 3 Reyes.  Sadly, at the very end of the year, we lost our cousin Chella in Mexicali and our prayers go out to our cousins.

I just got my results of the State Interpreter Exam and I passed THREE parts out of four, y’all know that this is an all or nothing exam so no passing, and, once I get over the disappointment and the urge to analyze every little thing I may have done wrong, I will be back at it studying.   This is a pride thing now LOL.  I’m all over this MF after the New Year LOL!  I will be so happy once I pass this test once and for all.

My BFFs and I have tried to meet once a month all year to catch up on the chisme, love them. It was a very sad time during the summer as BFF Maria Garcia was battling cancer and I was very sad the day that she left but grateful that she was no longer suffering. She gave me so many little things that I randomly come across: purses, makeup, clothes. Miss her.

My writing will move more front and center in 2017.  If I am to call myself a writer/blogger, then I will be much more authentic and work it like I never did before.   I will be participating in a year-long challenge to write one essay a week in 2017 and am very excited about starting!  I hope you will enjoy what I am putting together, and, if you do not, I hope that you will still read and let me know what you think! #52essays2017

So much has happened in our world in 2016, especially during the last weeks of the year.  It feels as if disappointment, uncertainty, sadness, and hate have taken their place front and center.  As Mama always said, “this too shall pass” and I believe in the goodness of people, of this country and this world and pledge to be part of the solution and not the problem.   There will be many changes in my life in the upcoming year and I fully intend to “buscar el lado amable”, look for the good in people and situations,  and strive to come out of 2017 happier and healthier.

I have lots of plans and lots of ideas for how I intend to spend my 2017. Gone are the days of living head down without any joy in my life. It took me many, many years to start living my life rather than watch my life go by. I don’t know where I will end up next and I have a lot of faith that GodJesus&VirgenOfG will lead me to the people, places, and situations where I need to be. Thanks for your help and support this past year, thanks for visiting my blog and reading what I write, thanks for loving me and my familia, and I hope you all have a Happy New Year.
#52essays2017