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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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.

Save money? WHAT money? Tips for Saving $$$

 

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Dealing with finances has always been stressful for me. I’ve always envied those who could face their money head on and make it work for them. Of all of the Torres5, my little sis is the one who is the most financially literate. One of my BFFs, Angie, is also good with dealing with money and, as I asked her for help in learning how to save and invest my money, I ended up laughing out loud with some of the things she came out with.

All I remember telling her was, “if someone would have broken it down like that to me back in the day, my life would have been totally different…seria millonaria!’

I’m kind of afraid to learn how to save. Especially as I have been living at the bare minimum as I try to establish my business. But as Angie told me, “my mom managed her money really well, y eso que trabajo en el fil!” We all know that working the fields is one of the hardest jobs that exist; field work is also one of the lowest-paid rarely with any benefits. And here we are, making likely more money than field work, and all up in debt.

I was laughing so hard at Angie’s common-sense way of saving and mad at myself because I couldn’t write it all down! (as I was driving), I will present some of Angie’s straight-up saving tips from time to time. You will see that learning how to save money requires commitment to the bigger picture, being there for yourself, not letting yourself down and, more important, living within your means. Aaaay!

It may help you to write out in detail what you want to save that money for: a new car? a house? Pay off outstanding bills? Whatever your goal, write it out. As my business is seasonal, I’m right in the busy season now, and my slooooooow season is during the latter part of the year, so I’ve decided that I’d like to start my 4th Quarter Fund, to help me keep afloat in October/November/December.

Now, you’ve got to figure out how much money you need to survive each month – rent, car, gas, phone, insurance…only the things you need to handle on a regular basis.  Add it up.

After you get your check, pay yourself. Pay yourself, how? Pay yourself the amount that you designated as what you need to live on each month. Any extra amount, even if it’s $5 or $10, start saving it.  You don’t really need it right now because you just paid your bills, right?   This is where the committment comes in.

Angie’s take on the matter – ‘it’s so easy! Look at it this way: I can go to Nordstrom pero tambien alli esta la Ross!’ LOL In other words, economize. You can find cool clothes, housewares, and in my case purses at discounted prices at Ross or Walmart or even the ‘segunda’ (Goodwill). You don’t have to completely deprive yourself of nice things, but ask yourself, ‘do I really need to spend this much?’

Another way to check your spending: get all of the receipts together of everything you buy, and add up those receipts where you bought fregaderas/yonque/juzguerias/stupidass things that you didn’t really need then or now. I did that and found that my receipts showed the following in this order: gasoline, fast food, Starbucks, groceries. Not proud of so much fast food and Starbucks so I now see where I can cut back.

I asked Angie if it gets easier once you start, YES was her answer. The biggest benefit was the freedom from worry, why? 1) Your bills are paid and 2) slowly but surely, you are working toward the larger goal of financial freedom.

TRY it, do it for you, you can get your finances back in order, one coin at a time. We are too smart to be this stupid when it comes to money.

In Just One-Thousandth of a Second

 

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It was the middle of the workday and I had to be at an appointment by 4pm in the downtown area.  You know how it is trying to find a parking space in any downtown area at that hour, I was doing the praying thing and ended up at a stoplight right near one of the radio stations I used to call home.  I’m sitting there staring almost into space, not really looking at anyone or anything in particular, lost in thought about when I worked there.

You know how it feels when you think someone is staring at you?   I first looked up at the traffic light, still red, and then I see him standing at the corner.   Still handsome.  Combing his hair differently.  Hands locked with a beautiful blonde, she was taller than him, and he looked really happy.   Now I didn’t expect that he would run over to me or say anything to me but did I expect him to turn all colors of red as he caught my eye for a millisecond? No.  He then turned away and kept his face down.

We were friends for a very short time and got along very well but the timing was off to get into anything serious.   So no goodbyes were said, maybe there’d be a chance to try again in the future.  So when I saw his face again and I didn’t even get what we call the ‘Mexican Hello’ – where you just lift your head as if giving a saludo with your eyes, I felt sad.  But wait, not in the sad that you might think,  I wasn’t thinking in “what if” mode, I was sad because we were friends and it was pretty apparent that he didn’t want to be my friend, at least not in that moment, likely never.

During the couple of intense years where I, or anyone who had any connection to me, received, almost daily, tons of texts, phone calls, postings on social media, emails sent out to colleagues and superiors from Joe in his insane rage; this man was targeted and harassed almost as much as I was.

Pinche collateral damage maldito.  I hate it.  No one deserved to have to put up with pendejadas from such a misguided and emotionally unstable person.   I’ve never expected EVERYone to always give me the benefit of the doubt, everyone’s situation is different.  However, I do know that this man had to change jobs at least once and I know that it is not easy to clear up a professional reputation after this type of nightmare…knowing this makes me sad.  I’ve also had to accept that this will likely not be the last time I have to deal with the after-effects of this past insanity.  There is no way that I could have stopped this madness is what I have to keep telling myself.

So once the light turned green and the Jeep moved forward, I could now feel his eyes on me, I did not try to meet his gaze, I tried very hard to keep my head up, to say a little prayer for his happiness, and, more important, I did not look back.

 

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Which One Is Easier? Life? or Death?

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It was Cinco de Mayo morning. I had events in two cities that year. I remember. I was setting up in one city and getting ready to head to a Cinco de Mayo parade in another. I was to meet Rosa so that we could handle the parade.

I kept calling and no answer, nada. I thought that she might have overslept, as we had gone to see my family at a gig the night before.  As I got closer, I kept calling and getting angrier because I really needed to get to the parade as it was time to line up.  Each message I left was something like, “mujer! get the eff up, we cannot be late and I don’t have time to go for you, hello? your client will be pissed and why do I have to take care of this sh– too!? Jeez…”

Once I got to the event, I was more angry than concerned, I admit.  Cinco de Mayo is the biggest time of the year in SpanishRadioLand and it is the one time of the year that I do NOT tolerate this kind of irresponsibility, no call, no text, nada?  I was livid.  However, I got us through the day and that was that.

While on the drive home, I tried to call Rosa again and, still, no answer.  Her daughter had gone on a trip with her school so she wasn’t home and I wished that I knew how to get of hold of Rosa’s ex to see if he had seen her.   I was thinking that both Rosa and I were going to be leaving the station soon as we had both gotten other jobs and would be moving from the area.  Rosa was going to be moving during the upcoming week which is why we were out celebrating the night before, she would be leaving right after Cinco and her ex was not happy about her leaving, he was all up with another woman yet he still kept Rosa hanging on – she had decided that she’d had enough and was down for for a change.

On that Monday after the Cinco de Mayo festivals, I was at the station and had just completed my on-air shift, when I got the call.  The police called me to see if I could go into speak with them regarding the circumstances around Rosa’s death.   Upon hearing the news, I was almost inconsolable and very much in shock and disbelief.   Turns out that she was found in her garage with a rope around her neck near the running car that had been rammed into the washer/dryer, found by her mother and daughter when Rosa failed to show up to pick up her daughter from the aforementioned trip.

The first question the detectives asked me was ‘did you think that your friend was capable of suicide?’.  I didn’t think so but I did know that, some days, I would have to talk her into getting to the office, going to pick her up even, so that she wouldn’t lose her job.  Looking back, the pain of depression is very real, and Rosa was trying to fight it off, to make a new start for herself.   I was numb and became very depressed as well over Rosa’s death.  I couldn’t sleep, I was afraid to be by myself, I was afraid for Rosa, was she at peace? was she still in pain? what was she thinking when she decided it was time to end it and stop her pain?

To this day, I still do not understand what got into Rosa’s mind that she needed to end it all.  I suppose that it’s true that for some folks, living is harder than dying.   After my intense sadness, I spent a good long minute being mas enojada que la fregada /mad as hell.  Frustrated that I could do nothing to help her, to save her.  I did try, but it wasn’t enough.  Angry that her daughter would grow up without her mama, angry that her ex had indeed been at her home that night but it was never proven that he had anything to do with her death.

Now I choose to remember the good things:  her laugh, her unique way of telling me the chisme, how she used to tell me that dressing up and putting on ‘lipistick rojo‘ would make my day better, the hilarious ways she would use the f-word, that she loved pearls, and loved to wear red.  Rosa, for all of her sad times, was able to always be my champion and was all for me ‘moving on’ to the next opportunity and helped me find my InnerChingona when I needed it most.  It was absolutely the best thing for my career that I made this move.  I smile when I think that she never let me forget that, after a crazy night, that I got to work with only one work shoe with me, and she covered for me at work so that I could go out and buy a pair of shoes and save my reputation LOL!

I’m still trying to learn to watch for the signs of desperation and suicide in a person so that, maybe, I can let them talk it out and find their power.  I’ve been very down before but not to the point of ending it all.  Maybe that’s a gift that Rosa gave me, to show me how to handle my business and stress another way.  Quien sabe?

I wish she were here.  Especially today.  It’s her birthday.

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My Sad Cinco de Mayo

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I have been involved with Cinco de Mayo since the 3rd grade.  Folks in my life KNOW exactly where I will be every year around this time of the year.  I have seen and planned Cinco events within the community, in grade school, in high school, for any of the radio stations I have worked with, in college, at the university. I know the ins and outs of how to put these celebrations together, large or small. When I work an event, I usually work my butt off during the planning sessions so that the day of event, I don’t do much running around all loca.

In any event, you can do your part the very best you can yet there are things that you have no control of: the weather, whether the crowds will show up, or not; artists or bands travel schedules. if your station is on the air, or not . I tend to get super-focused and I mentally work my plan the entire day. I don’t go crazy unless any of the above situations occur.

So you can just imagine how I am when I actually A T T E N D an event where I am not working one. I can have it analyzed almost instantly – how could the event been better? what could the organizers done differently? who put this mess together? why did they do things this or that way? or not? I feel sorry for the folks who attend with me because I am usually counting the colors on banners, checking out the sponsor’s logos so that I can see if they’re interested in speaking to me about my events, handing out cards to the vendors. so it’s not the most relaxing time for me. thus I rarely go.

I attended this Cinco de Mayo event as my superblessedtalented godson would be performing in San Francisco’s Cinco event. I told myself to shut the hell up with my suggestions for the event, that I was there for him, not to analyze the event. My godson looked so cool and I loved watching him work it. I was happy being one proud Nina (godmother).

As we were walking though the festival, however, something didn’t feel totally right. This event was in the middle of the Mission District, this event was free, this event was being held on a beautiful day.

What was missing?

The straight-up Latino vibe was missing; or better yet. the L A T I N O S were missing. What did I see? Lots of trendy restaurants and bars, lots of folks of different colors, cute lil blended families with money – how could I tell, you ask? Very expensive strollers ‘de nombre‘. expensive pets,  great clothes, lots of them talking about their work – mainly start-up, techies with very-well-behaved children, food trucks, no real Mexican food booths. The one word that came to me was ‘gentrification‘. I have worked many many many many festivals and events in the Mission and NEVER had I felt such sadness.  When I voiced my thoughts out loud and said the word “gentrification”, my godson shook his head in agreement.

I love seeing all of the Latino desmadre at the events: familias, the lines for the tacos, fruta, aguas frescas, and more. The stage areas packed with people, the vendors giving out free stuff en friega, no one talking about work because fiestas are fun and social, and you hear Spanish and Spanglish everywhere!  The best celebrations are where we Latinos celebrate our traditions, our food, our cultura, and we look at our festivals as a time to take a break from our regular lives and reconnect with the motherland and where we can be ourselves.

Gentrification is most definitely the reality in San Francisco.   All of the businesses and their employees moving into the Mission may be construed as making it a busy, vibrant, place, as if it wasn’t before. There is a lot of action, true…but, a cambio de que?  Rents are astronomical, and lots of the Latino familias have had to move into the East Bay and farther.   I saw so many “Help Wanted” signs, but these are likely minimum-wage positions. With rent prices for some 1-bedroom apartments going for upwards of $3,000 a month; HOW could Latinos afford to live in their neighborhoods?   Cultural disparity was also more front and center than ever in the Mission.  My sadness at seeing the Latino flavor moving out of the neighborhood is so real.  I’ve been thinking about it all day and night, how can this neighborhood remain Latino? do the people who live there care about this, my sense is that they are wanting to do the best for their families yet have little resources, my sense is that they would rather not uproot their families and move out of the Mission, but how can they thrive when they must concentrate on how to survive?

Looks like my next move will be to become better informed.  Maybe I am off-point, maybe I’m trippin, maybe I am wrong, maybe it’s my imagination that business and money are sucking the life out of one of the most vibrant communities ever.

Then again…maybe I’m right.

Time Will Tell.

 

#52essays2017

The Comadre Chronicles: This Reina Has Her Own Back! #52essays2017

#52essays2017   18/52

I was hanging out with my BFF Comadre last night and, like many of us girls do, we were looking at how the other women in the place were dressed and doing that side-glance thing to each other and saying things like ‘mmm hmmm’ or ‘I don’t know about that dress’, and things like that.   Now my Comadre and I have not ever been been 100% slim in all of the years we’ve known each other so we didn’t really have room to be talking about folks LOL.

Let’s take the story back a few years.  Back in the day, I was in my first semester of college and I wanted to do what I always do:  get involved in clubs and campus events.  When I met MariaLuisa, it was obvious that she was one of the most popular people on campus, she knew e v e r y o n e.  I felt really intimidated by her because, by all accounts, I was very much a square.  Carmen wore socks with skirts, braids in my hair, no makeup, and I knew almost nothing about life and I did not feel very popular.   Fast forward a few years, we ended up roommates when we went on to the University.   I was so glad that I had someone to hang out with as I started a new phase in my life.  While it was always easy for me to make friends, I was beyond amazed at how my Comadre really worked it with people, by the end of the week, this girl knew half the school and had invites to all kinds of events and parties.

I had never lived anywhere but on the Ranch and, once I stopped being all homesick and miedosa, I started to have a lot of fun and was waaay into clubs and events.  My Comadre was great at encouraging me to live my life and to remind me that “this ain’t the Rancho, girl” LOL.    Every morning, my Comadre would make me LOL when she would look in the mirror and say, “chingao, que buenota eres!” as she blew a kiss into the mirror.  It didn’t matter to her that she was not flaquita, girl embraced her curves.  This was the greatest affirmation ever and I began to understand how she was always so popular, why guys were always after her, why she was so much fun.  She loved herself, and not in that conceited way, she knew how to be there for herself.

As roommates do, we held many long talks about life and when my Comadre told me this story, I admired her all the more.

When my Comadre was in high school in Coachella, she was all into school events (surprise, surprise) and Student Goverment.  As she tells it, she was very into school spirit and had a ton of friends.   Around Homecoming time, the students were nominating girls for Homecoming Queen and my Comadre, as a member of Student Government, was assigned to go around to classes to pick up the completed nomination forms.  “As I went from class to class, picking up the slips, I would look down and see my name and I thought “no, someone is playing a joke on me.” Mary says she finally stopped looking at the notes and, after collecting them all, turned the votes in to be counted.

The most vote-getters would be announced at a Pep Rally with the entire school present.  There would be five finalists announced.  Mary was her spirit-crazy self, having a good time with her schoolmates.  “And then they called the final name, and it was ME.  I could not believe it!”  My Comadre remembers that, when her name was called, that there was a huuuuuuge cheer from the students, but she decided that she wasn’t going to think twice about it.

“I remember that my Mama made me a really nice green velvet dress and, the night of Homecoming,  I remember getting into the convertibles to drive into the stadium thinking that this was fun and that things would be back to normal soon.”   The time had come to make the announcement for Homecoming Queen and Mary remembers, “I kept hearing the other girls’ names being announced as runner-ups and thinking ‘no way I’ll win’” Finally, it was time to announce the Homecoming Queen and HER NAME was called!

How exciting!  As she got up into the convertible again to be driven around the stadium, my Comadre remembers waving to all of the groups of friends including the cholas LOL  this girl, crown and all, starts doing chola poses in front of these girls to their great delight.   How cool was that?   When the time came for pictures, the four statuesque runner-ups towered over Queen Mary and then they did something unforgettable:  they walked away from this queen, choosing not to stand with her, stunned that this short gordita could actually WIN as Homecoming Queen,

My heart broke a little for my Comadre when she told me this.  But then I thought about how Mary has always been true to who she is:  she may have never been tall or thin but that never stopped her – ever.  My Comadre has always carried herself like a queen, a ‘reina‘, she has always been able to find that little piece of self-esteem when she’s needed it to keep moving forward, and girl talks to anyone, anywhere, anytime, she is the definite life of the party.  One of the things we both have fun with is when the beautiful model-type girls look at her, mouths open in wonder when the guys gravitate toward her- and this happens to this day.  While Mary was momentarily hurt that those Homecoming Court girls would not stand by her, she took what she learned from this experience and she always says that there’s room for women of any sizes a n y w h e r e, and that you should never let your size get in the way of anything you want to do in your life.   I’ve always loved being her friend and have always said that we all need a friend like my Comadre:  her sense of aventada-ness is second to none, her mevalemadre attitude is front and center, she is the most fun and authentic person I know who embraces her gordita-ness and doesn’t let the flaquitas get her down.  I still watch her and learn how to act from Queen MariaLuisaArceFelix!

At this writing, I’m still searching for a Homecoming Queen pic of MariaLuisa and will post as soon as I find one!

#52essays2017

 

 

WHATQueQUE? Did You Say You Want To Break Up? #52essays2017

#52essays2017

Lately, it feels as if I’ve been getting dumped lately.   Friends and somewhat friends have had it with me.  Have had it with me not reciprocating in the relationship, not returning calls, not setting up lunch or dinner, not doing my part I guess. I take full responsibility for my actions and while a couple of friends did not wait for me to give them any type of explanation, others did.

Isn’t it a trip how some folks cannot handle change, the “new” you, and, quite frankly, the fact that you have drifted apart?  I’ve always been the one to stay in contact, to initiate and plan get-togethers, to ‘work it’ with friendships.  Little by little, I started to notice that, if I did nothing, no one else did either.    That, and the fact that every friend and acquaintance was fair game to be harassed by this man, made me withdraw from everyone, little by little.

For many months, I was content to turn within myself as I healed.  I could not even THINK of giving time to anyone else for anything:  friendship, romance, business opportunities, nada.   I did my best to make the obligations that I had left, I did my best to try to be “on” and you better know I had the “fake it until you make it” attitude down pact.  It literally hurt me to spend time with others, I had lost all trust in myself.   I didn’t know how to act anymore around others. It was as if I knew that I would mess anything up that I touched.  I questioned everything about anything, my life was a desmadre.

About this time last year, I started trying to work it again.  Projects were a little bit easier to take on than people if that makes sense.  I know my way around events and projects, interpersonal communication, which had NEVER been a problem for me, was still a major roadblock for me.  When my faith in myself with people began to unravel, I knew that I still had a way to go before I would be completely back.

Fast forward to now:  I am much more confident, ready to work it, and, amazingly, still out of practice with people. To hear myself say this, to see myself write this, to actually think this about myself continues to blow my mind.   So to get the ‘break up’ call from a friend who was furious that I could not meet up with her hurt a little at first … and to know that any explanation would have seemed like an excuse or a justification…even if I was a mess, straight-up broke and had not one dollar to put gasoline in the Jeep to go anywhere that day, that I was not in any shape to be there for anyone.

It gets very easy for me to focus on what I have not done, why I have not done or said this or that, why someone wants to ‘break up’ with me.  But it really is all about that person, and me, setting a boundary, of making a decision of how one wants to be treated.  Just as some folks do not think that I am worth the effort anymore, believe it or not,  is OK,  I actually respect the huevos it takes for someone to tell you your verdades/truth.   I was not the greatest friend, or even a friend to others.  I had very compelling reasons at the time that not everyone will ever understand.  Some won’t wait around for any type of explanation and that is fine.  My challenge will be to learn from these “break-ups” and try to do better by others next time around and hope that they will do the same for me.

The biggest lesson learned here is that NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO GO ON YOUR JOURNEY WITH YOU so try to do the right thing, the best way you can.

#52essays2017