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

 

#52essays2017  32/52

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

 

#52essays2017  21/52

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.

 

#52essays2017  21/52

 

Which One Is Easier? Life? or Death?

#52essays2017  20/52

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.

#52essays2017  20/52

My Sad Cinco de Mayo

#52essays2017  19/52

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

 

Open Letter to A Friend: It Doesn’t Have To Be A Death Sentence #52essays2017

#52essays2017

Today I received news that a family friend would soon be living with dialysis.  I was compelled to write a letter as it is a road that Mama and we, her family, know all too well.

When I got the news today about your diagnosis, I looked out of my window and the light of the sky looked exactly the same as when we got the news that Mama would need to go on dialysis.   I said a prayer for you that minute and my heart felt sad, just as it did a few years ago.  While we were all very concerned and sad to hear this news about our mother, we were uninformed and overwhelmed as we did not really know anything about dialysis:  would it be painful? how would this affect Mama? how did this happen?   All we knew is that it was major.  Add to this, Mama was adamant.  She would not go on dialysis and called us all together to tell us so.  We were almost desperate.  While we did not know much about dialysis, one thing was clear:  Margaret would die without this treatment as her kidneys were no longer functioning.

Eventually, thank God, Mama decided to undergo dialysis treatments under one condition.  That we know that she was doing this for US, and that we had to be with her, if she was going to dialysis, so were we.   Very shortly, our lives were completely changed.

Mama had to be at dialysis three days a week and we had to organize ourselves quick!  It took us a few weeks to adjust and eventually we had it down to someone getting Mama ready to go to dialysis in the mornings, someone to go with her, someone to pick her up if need be, someone to be home to be with her.  Was it easy?  No.  This entire family had to work together on our goal of keeping our mother alive and well.

The dialysis center will give you a bag and lots of information about what you will need to take with you on your treatments. We had to learn how to be organized and to have everything that Mama might need when she went to dialysis:  a bag with extra clothes, aspirin, medicine, snacks, gum, water, blankets, small pillows, headphones to watch the small TV in the chair.   My advice to you is to be like Margaret, take whatever you need to feel comfortable and secure NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS.  If you need four blankets, one rolled a certain way, another to cover you, and a couple for backup, than you do it and do not give in to anyone.  You are the one who will be undergoing the treatment for 3 hours or more, and you will get cold, anything that will make your time go by as peacefully as possible, do it.  God love us, we tried to tell Mama “why do you need that? are all of these blankets and pillows necessary? etc.   Your children will learn, as we had to, that, as long as you are able to make decisions about your care, then it is up to them to respect your decisions.

Please  pay attention to how you feel and what works for you, or not.  Some days Mama would come out of dialysis completely exhausted.  However, she did need to take her medicine and eat something.  Either we would have something hot and cooked ready or she would want to pick something up.   Once we would help Mama into her bed, the BEST sound ever was the sigh she would let out when her head hit the pillow.  I grew to love “Mama’s Time Of Day” — somewhere between 2 and 4 in the afternoon, where the house was quiet, she would either watch TV or look out of her window before drifting off to sleep.   Please do not be afraid to rest, please do not try to stay up or awake for anyone if you don’t feel like it, naps will save everyone’s sanity and give you the rest that your body needs.

Sometimes the treatments will make your body cramp up or your blood pressure will get low.   You’re lucky, you are able to walk and get up to walk off a cramp.  Our mother was partially paralyzed and cramps were sheer torture for her.  One thing that always helped Mama when her body would cramp was to eat something salty:  lemons with salt, pickles, olives, chips.  Sodium levels are low and it’s important that you tell the dialysis crew that you are cramping up so that they can help you out.  Also let them know if you are dizzy ASAP so that they can make adjustments to bring your blood pressure up.

I don’t tell this to you to scare you any more than you might be.  It will take time for you and the familia to figure out how things will go for you.  I can also say that I have friends who are on dialysis, who drive themselves to and from their treatments, who handle the treatments well, who LIVE for years and years.  I have one friend who has been on dialysis for over 10 years and is going strong.   There may also be the possibility of a kidney transplant as another family friend was able to do.  If you feel afraid, someone can always go with you to your treatments.  One of us was usually with Mama thru her entire treatment.

Dialysis is not a death sentence.   Right now, it is what will keep you alive and although I personally have not gone thru the treatments, I did learn how to make Mama more comfortable and, for a long time, Mama felt better (once she got used to the treatments) Although things were not easy, I would do it again in an instant if she could be here with us.  You knew Margaret, quiet but she spoke up when she had to do so and speak up she did when it came to her care and what worked for her — I know that you will do the same and pray for you and the family to muster the strength and committment to make dialysis work for you the best way possible.

Let your family and friends be there for you.  You are so blessed to have the prayers of an entire community, they would help you I know.  Our family has already walked the road that you are just starting on.  Any questions you have, any information you need, any fears you would like soothed, please call us.  We love you and are here for you.

Collateral Damage No More #52essays2017

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#52essays2017

It’s late afternoon, and I am all into the project at hand, headphones on, music playing, I’m 100% focused.  I see my phone light up, and see a familiar phone number, “woooow, it’s Mr. C, and it has been a very long time since I’ve talked to him, should I answer or not?  I don’t know, especially after that last time…”  Pride be damned, the chismosa in me wants to know whassup, so I pick up the phone:  “Hello”, “Hey Carmen how are you doing? I feel really bad about what happened and wanted to apologize for going crazy with the texts and I want to apologize to your friends for getting all up in their faces but you have to understand that I was receiving so many weird texts and calls and I was really tripping and was scared.” 

Story of my life these past couple of years.

Let me explain the incident Mr. C is referring to:   I had sent out a group text and, sin querer, his number was included on the group text.  The message was a positive one, I was updating friends on my life.  I was getting positive responses from all except for Mr. C.  His responses were of the “eff-you” and “who the eff is this” nature.  A text war ensued when, PJ, another friend included on the text,  jumped to my defense and began to tell Mr. C off via text and then all hell broke loose.   I finally texted both PJ and Mr. C separately to ask them to stop with this back and forth texting madness and promptly received an “ok” from PJ and Mr. C replied “eff off“.  That was close to a year ago.

I didn’t even have to ask what types of calls or texts Mr. C had been receiving because I knew exactly whom he had been referring to.  Regular readers of my blog know that I have been completely cyber-abused/harassed by Joe.   You name it, I’ve seen it, you name it, it happened.  The majority of this mess has taken place publicly and online:  thousands of emails, text messages, social media postings.    I just put my head down and tried to weather the storm and get through my life.    It was painfully obvious that this man needed an outlet for his rage and I was the target.

It was one thing to come after me.  But he took it to the next level:  this person transferred his rage and major issues in his life to people totally unrelated to him.  These innocent bystanders became collateral damage in a fight with someone unknown to them, having to deal with receiving posts, emails, text messages that talked about me in the worst and most vile way, and he would tell these people things that I “said” or “thought” about them – friends, colleagues, bosses, family, even people whom he thought I knew, were not immune.

How was I supposed to deal with that?  I had people calling or emailing me, completely freaked out, offended, angry, afraid by these sick messages and calls.  Many people, for different reasons, turned their backs on me.  Some were afraid:  “I have kids, I can’t be worrying that this guy is following you or something”, some were angry:  “why the hell is he contacting my supervisor? Putting this kind of stuff on my work website?; others attributed it to him being straight-up crazy, ‘why is he putting your phone number out there? Why is he putting my phone number out there? Why is he asking me to fire you?

I couldn’t aplogize for something that I had not done and it got to a point where I could tell in a person’s face, voice, text, or email that they had received one of his disturbing messages.  I was forced to experience extreme vulnerability, I had nowhere to hide, everything was out there for the world to see.  It was almost too much to bear.

The things I did to try to prevent any more collateral damage astound me:

I remember that I screamed out this question to Joe, “WHAT. WILL. IT. TAKE. for you to stop calling my job and letting me work?” after being completely overwhelmed by one call after another after another after another to my OFFICE for at least an hour or more day after day.   My co-workers had nothing to do with this, nor did clients or listeners yet they were collateral damage, their day was disrupted by his pendejadas.   I was stunned when he said that he wanted money, and the amount was in the thousands of dollars.   It was not my proudest moment, but I did pay his price.  Did it work?  No.     I was trying so hard to keep it together and trying to show the world that I was fine and dealing with it.  But the thought of him going after others just to get his point across, was enough to keep me in line, to keep me afraid that he would go off on innocent bystanders in my life – my parents, my siblings, my boss, my friends, my colleagues.

I have since learned that there is no rhyme or reason to this type of person’s madness, that he would resort to anything in attempts to control me or my actions.  The twisted goal was to intentionally damage my reputation, my friendships, spread derogatory messages, false rumors, embarrassing me, humiliating me, damaging my self-image, stealing my privacy and my security.

Joe succeeded, for a short while.   I was worrying about others so much that I forgot to take care of myself, to rest, to destress, to relax.   When I was completely exhausted and broken down, I had nothing left.  You would think that I would have come to my senses.   But there I went again, de pendeja, trying to change things on my own:  I thought, “I’ll meet up with him and try to talk some sense into him, I’ll make him stop calling my parents’ house all night every night”, what did this accomplish?  An argument that escalated into a fight with him taking the keys out of the ignition of my Jeep and leaving me stranded.  Looking back, this was one of the turning points, I had to ask for help… OMG it was a mixture of feeling utterly mortified and relieved at the same time, there was no point in trying to act as if anymore.  My primo didn’t judge me, thank God, as he helped me call the police, get keys made, all the while talking to me so that I would know that I was not alone and advising me to bring God into the mix so that He could help me get myself together.

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Eventually, I LISTENED as my Inner Chingona stepped in to help lift me:   I finally recognized that, for all of my personal drama, that I was always able to get a job, my reputation might have been a little tarnished but I could still work it.   I saw, firsthand, that my family would never turn their back on me – they might be disappointed or angry with the situation, but always there for me.   Friends and colleagues are, slowly but surely, making their way back.  Many of the conversations are similar to the one I had with Mr. C – where they were afraid, angry, and concerned for their safety.  While some have come back, sadly, others continue to stay away.  I can’t blame them, especially as, to this day, they still receive random filth and sick messages.  All under aliases of course and, what can I do?  I cannot control him or his actions.

Aside from collateral damage suffered by friends, colleagues, and family,  I continue to work on my personal collateral damage.  It is extensive:  loss of confidence, loss of privacy, loss of security, the almost PTSD effects of having all of my business put out there in the most negative, destructive way – flashbacks and nightmares can come back when I least expect it.  It hurts to have to relive some of these things but the ONLY way change happens is if you are willing to peel OFF the layers of hurt, humiliation, anger, and embarrassment as you bring this darkness into the light.

E v e r y t h i n g  is now documented, there’s no other way around it.  Having these receipts helped me get justice when I needed it the first time around. The way I see it, things will catch up to Joe eventually.  I can only deal with my collateral damage and continue to keep moving forward.   Part of the healing is to show others that they are not alone, to tell my story, to help someone break the cycle, to not be afraid to reach out, to show others that, yes, I made some SonsaTontaPendeja choices, yet I have come out on the other side.   Peace and, peace of mind, especially, is the greatest feeling ever.

I’ve learned, the hard way, that I must take care of myself, especially as much of my life and work is handled online and via smartphone.   These tips work for me and will really help you be safe and secure.  Also, I might add, you need to start thinking as an abuser does – abusers go thru great lengths to cover their tracks which makes it difficult for you or the justice system to find them … you can learn how to do this in order to take care of yourself, to have your own back, to stay safe, to have peace of mind.

  1. Change your usernames and passwords frequently.
  2. Block your caller ID on your phone if someone is harassing you.
  3. Turn off GPS location facilities on your computer, camera, and phone.
  4. Use a safe email address. Don’t be afraid to create a new one if you have to.
  5. Do not hesitate to block anyone from your social media sites.
  6. Watch who you add as “friends”, red flags are: sites with no profile picture, no mutual friends, sites that were created the day you receive the friend request, weird names, or names that sound contrived, made up.
  7. Use a safe and public computer (i.e. public library) and do not use any computers that belong to people whom your abuser knows. Don’t lend your computer out to anyone.
  8. Delete your internet history (although digital footprints can never be entirely deleted)
  9. Document any and everything that doesn’t feel safe to you
  10. The most important tip:  If it feels unsafe, LISTEN to your Inner Chingona, do not discount that little voice inside of you, our bodies sense danger before our minds get their hands around it.

 

This was not an easy post to think about or write about mucho menos putting my business out there for the world to see.  I actually started this post a couple of years ago but I never seemed to be able to read what I had written so most of these words have lived in the “drafts” section of this blog.   As I read this completed post, I realized something very powerful:  that I am standing in my truth, stronger, and protected, putting my business out there myself – it no longer feels like someone ripped off all of my clothes, pulled out the rug from under me, and left me thrown to the side of the road to die.  My survival depended on me listening to my gut aka Inner Chingona –to learn how to channel my fear and start the long process of fixing the broken pieces of my life.

It didn’t happen overnight.  But it IS happening.

 

#52essays2017

 

Going Home. Ni Modo. Sometimes You “Have” To.

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I was struck by a television show I was watching earlier tonight: the character was Latino, and he had come home to find his mother lying on the floor, she had fallen. The caregiver had been gone for a couple of hours and the character was furious and went after the caregiver with the can of whoopass. At the end of the show, this character was going into his mother’s home, where he tells her how beautiful she looks, to which she responds that she had to look her best because she was so happy that her son was moving back home. And then the mom starts being a mom – “come sit down with me, watch my show, can you make me a sandwich?”  I had to laugh because I sooo related to this and this proves to me that I am not the only one who has “had” come back home.

As I write, I’m now in my “apartment” AKA the “girls room” – the place where I grew up. It is sooo deja vu right now, the way the light looks, the way the house sounds kind of quiet, the way I’m playing the radio low, and, as it is tuned into a classic oldies station, it feels as if I am back in time to when I used to be in the room doing my homework! LOL


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My view in the “girls room”

Regular readers of my blog know my story of moving back home to be with my folks. Mama has since passed and it’s me and my father. While I admit that I  miss my former life profoundly which consisted of spending time with my now FamFriends, going out a lot, working a lot, trying to work on having a meaningful relationship in my life, and finding my place in the world.  However, I now realize that I was always looking for a sense of family and togetherness in every city I have lived/worked.  As I was alone with family far away, I didn’t really have to deal with work getting in the way of family things plus I was usually far enough so I wasn’t mired in the day-to-day routine.   To my amazement, I now realize that one of the things that I missed was the sense of ‘home’ – that peaceful feeling of being able to relax completely, to be yourself, to know that you are totally safe and loved.

I’m now all up in the day-to-day trying to keep this house in order, always watchful of my father.  Tonight, he seems down and, while I try not to get all up in his business, I feel better knowing that he’s not by himself.  My fear is coming home to find him fallen down or hurt or worse.   I just want him to be safe and happy.   I know now that familia has to work together to contribute to the peace, safety, and love that makes our house feel like a home.

This peace and joy did not come easy.  Caregiving is not an easy gig and the struggle is real because, at the end of the day, you are NOT their parent, even though it feels like it a lot of the time.  You are all up in their things and, in this house at least, no one likes it when you move their stuff around.   Also, in this house, Mama used to say that her kids were all chiefs as we all have our opinion on everything LOL.    She was right.  I especially would go crazy when things did not go my way and when this family would not follow the schedule that I made for us.  I had to learn to bite my tongue and to pick my battles.  I had to stop judging them for a million things, and just love them.

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For any of you who have “had” to move back home, these tips really helped me to make it a little easier.

  1.  Respect that it is not easy for your parents either:  someone, even their daughter, coming into their space can feel disruptive and they may be embarrassed that the house isn’t as neat as it used to be, or that they can’t do the things they used to.
  2. Dignity goes a long way.  I learned this first-hand when I was the one “assigned” to clean and change Mama’s clothes.  I was so concerned that she was comfortable as fast as possible that I didn’t cover the exposed parts of her body like I should have  One day, I just watched Toni, one of the hospice nurses, as she moved and bathed Mama with such care and dignity so that I could try to make her comfortable.
  3. Live like roommates and have the roommate talk:  This sets simple ground rules and has worked wonders for family unity and understanding.  It allows everyone in the house to live their lives, work, spend time with friends and work out issues.
  4. Respect each other’s space, get out of each other’s way when need be.  I have, on occasion, dropped Dad off to have a few drinks and sing with the mariachi and then pick him up … talk about Turning the Tables! He, on the other hand, is always telling me to get out of the house and go out, that he’ll be alright.
  5. Create Your Support Crew:  You may need help getting folks to appointments, getting meals handled, picking up meds, cleaning the house or to listen to you vent.  People do want to help how they can and, even if it’s just for a couple of hours, let someone be there for you as you care for your parents.

Change doesn’t have to be disruptive forever.  The way I see it, my parents gave us everything we needed to get out there in the world and as, nothing is free, it is important for me to be here now for my father.  Respect, dignity, open communication, support system, and stepping back when need be can make any situation bearable, even fun.  My Dad and I, thank God, are able to talk to each other.

Hablando se entiende la gente.  I’m smiling right now because we just had what is a typical nighttime conversation between Dad and I:  “Mija, quiero un taquito para tomarme la medicina”  he usually likes a snack when he takes his meds.  This Daddy’s girl says, “ok but ‘con tortillas de maiz‘ because it’s late.”   My father is Team Flour Tortillas all the way and I’m Corn Tortilla girl — and this is how we compromise LOL .  There you have it:  Another peaceful night at home on the Ranch.

#52essays2017

 

Elections 2016: Hopeful or Hopeless?

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Woke up. The sun is shining. The world did not end. Disappointed? Yes. Devastated? No. Hopeless.  No.  Hopeful.  Yes, especially for our lil ones.  Our history shows us that nothing worth changing comes easy. Determined? More than ever. Justice, fairness, and equality is worth the fight. This was not the time, but, make no mistake, quieran o no, the time will come.

All one has to do is turn on TV, Radio, or Social Media and the barrage of ‘whys’ are overwhelming.  Why did people do this?  Why didn’t people do that?  Why did this happen?  Why did you vote this way?  Why did you vote that way?  The way I see it, we all had a right to vote in this election, we all need to own our decision one way or another.  I’m glad that we live in a free country where we can safely think and vote however we want to do so.

One feeling has dragged me down during this entire election process:  the feeling that the “movement” was based on fear, racism, discrimination, sexism, and negativity.  I also had the feeling that the “movement” was a place where I would not be welcome, that the “movement” was angry that a person of color was running this country IN SPITE OF fear, racism, discrimination, sexism, and negativity.   The cultural divide of this country is real and I’ve never seen this anything this bad in my life.  I would love to say that it doesn’t exist and that the “movement” will be inclusive but the jury is still out on that one.

What the “movement” should know:

  1.  No one can hide racism, no matter how subtle.  This campaign was straight-up in-your-face racist and so many other things.   I will be watching to see how the “movement” embraces national unity eso si.
  2. The numbers do not lie.  No one will be able to stop the inevitable fact that this country is, increasingly, a country of color.   Latinos came out to vote this time around and, in some state precincts, the numbers were off the charts.  Latinos are younger, still having babies, many of our elders registered and were proud to cast their vote.  Latinos will need to keep organizing and stick together ESPECIALLY as the “movement” will make the road to progress and justice a very rough one.
  3. I have seen and worked with people who are misguided and very afraid of the changing colors of this country on BOTH sides.  The “movement” folk cannot handle the beauty of vibrant colors and, for the folks of color, it’s just another day.  For them, this is the way things have always been:  fear, racism, discrimination, sexism, and negativity rule the day.  The misguided approach usually involves name-calling and lashing out in negative ways which hurts everyone.  Change is scary.  I believe that there is some truth to Van Jones’ theory that this election was a “white-wash against a changing country” (video clip below).
  4. Latinos WORK it and do not give up nor do we give in easily.  We are completely accustomed to working from a disadvantage.  Therefore, we are completely adept at working our way out of ANY type of situation.  Throw it at us, we deal with it, we work it, especially if it will affect the lives of our families.  Resilience and stamina is something that the “movement” has yet to show me.

Is this a hopeless situation?  No.  A political tornado has hit.  As we go thru the mess, piece by piece, we will find our bearings, we will find that foundation and resilience that has served our parents, grandparents,and  antepasados so well, we will fight for our families and our community.  I remain inspired…inspired by the fact that raza got up and registered to vote and then they got up again, and, more importantly, VOTED.   I am hopeful that, while this was not the time nor the person to lead the fight for justice, equality, fair play, and positivity, that the time WILL come.  Our country will get it right, eventually.  Aaaand just in case it doesn’t, I pledge to be part of the solution, and not the problem.  I will do this for my littles especially so that they KNOW that they have every right and freedom available to them, to live in this great country and that they are empowered, confident and not afraid to have an opinion, that their “voto es su voz” even if it does not resonate with any movement.

Si Se Puede, Mil Veces, Si Se Puede.