Rainy Day…Music Day

 

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife

5/52 #52EssaysNextWave2019

It’s raining outside.

Rainy days and nights are perfect for listening to music.   In fact, this is what I’m doing as I wait out this California storm.  Looking out of the window, watching the cars go by, watching the colors and reflections of the stoplights, store lights, car lights, watching the raindrops on the window change colors as this all happens…all to the sounds of music that I love.

Took me back to when we had records and would make a conscious decision to listen to music.  All of us Torres5 had a record player in our rooms and a stack of records that always made it onto that turntable.  You would go thru the box of 45 records, mine were kept in a couple of shoeboxes; or go thru our vinyl albums, check out the covers to see if there was a song you wanted to hear, reject the records that you knew were going to scratch or skip LOL and, of course, someone would have to be “dj” and physically put the 45 or LP onto the turntable and get the needle into the correct groove/song that we all wanted to listen to.   And listen we would, for hours on end.

I don’t know that many people take that kind of time to enjoy music anymore, kind of makes me sad that our little ones may never know that kind of fun – the fun of reading album liner notes, looking at the face of an artist/singer as you listen to their music that you “know” s/he is singing just for you, laying on your bed daydreaming, sometimes looking out of the window, sometimes not, sometimes with the lights on, others with the lights off , letting the music take you away to another place, freeing you from life’s problems, helping you think about your next move, helping you recover from a broken heart.   Or falling asleep hearing that unmistakable click over and over telling you that the record/album has ended.

Radio, iTunes, mp3s, Pandora, Spotify can bring us all of the music we need and, I can get the same enjoyment blasting my music on the commute, a long drive, train rides and in my headphones but I do miss those days when we actually took time out of our day specifically to listen to music.   In my case, I loved to sing along (and still do) to great songs.  One of the reasons I’ve loved working in the radio industry is precisely because, in certain moments, concerts and station events specifically, you’re able to see the power of music and the joy listening to music brings to our listeners.  There’s no way that I’m the only one who loves music listening days (and nights).

In my family, we cannot listen to music at night, because we always want to hear the next song and we get no sleep LOL  And now I’ve decided that I am going to break out our vinyl and show our TorresBabies what it’s all about 🙂  I think that they will love it.

Here are some of the songs that we Torres5 listened to a LOT, so much so, that I associate the songs with said sibling and, believe me, there are thousands more songs in both English and Spanish, but I decided to go with the first song that popped into my head.

Here’s one that brother Mikey always loved and I wonder if he still sings it at his gigs today (probably):

Hollywood Swinging/Kool and the Gang

 

When I hear any Santana song, my thoughts automatically go to my brother Martin, who loves, “the number one Chicano in the world” as he puts it.

Incident At Neshabur/Santana

 

This album holds the record for never leaving the turntable for MONTHS and months.  We TorresSisters know every single song on all of the Heatwave albums because Kiki wouldn’t let us take the record off :).  But no one like sister Kiki to sing these songs and she would work the high notes too.

Mind Blowing Decisions/Heatwave

 

As Christy is the youngest, she had to listen to whatever we wanted and was, many times, the one who we assigned to be ‘dj’ to change the records LOL.   This is one of her absolute favorite songs and, by that time, it was likely on CD.

Kiss From A Rose/Seal

 

Most of the vinyl I bought back in the day was Tejano and the mighty Latin Breed was the first Tejano band I remember hearing.  I can safely say that I was one of the first of the Torres5 to really get into musica Tejana – now we love it and everyone always thinks we’re from there 🙂  Still love tejano music and the Latin Breed never gets old.

De Que Te Quejas Mi Amor/Latin Breed

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In 2019 Hay Comida En Casa

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When I first saw this ‘advice’ on my social media, I had to laugh because who hasn’t heard this in one language or another?  “We have food at home”, I know that I heard this many times come out of Mama’s mouth.  Then later, as I was going through my receipts and bills, I thought of this again and really thought about it:  a big chunk of my receipts, and I always have a mountain of receipts, were for a coffee here, un McDonalds alla, and on and on.  Not only did I need to rethink my food spending, I could probably save a good chunk of money and live a healthier life by taking advantage of the fact that “hay comida en casa“.

Something clicked in me in that instant, and I decided that, yes, I had complete control of everything that goes into my mouth.  I also cook for Dad a lot as well.   We could both benefit from eating healthier and, what if something happened to either of us?  Something that would make a doctor tell us “this is it, if you continue eating this or that, you will die”.   I had heard of a friend’s wife being told something similar, that she would have to change her eating habits that second or she would die.

I noticed that I had begun to eat emotionally.   I remember going home after an emotional day and chowing down.  I didn’t even enjoy it.  Then there was the day where I had gotten it into my head that I needed to have chocolate every day, bought a candy bar, which I didn’t really even want, and ate it, so unsatisfying.   And THEN, because truth does not lie, I saw a picture of myself and I look like I swallowed a giant ball, lonjas for days.

After seeing the picture, I realized that I hadn’t felt healthy for a couple of weeks.  That something had really been on my mind bothering me during this time, didn’t think “I should call someone and talk this out”, no, it was “I need to make some guacamole”.   I hadn’t been checking on myself lately.  Taking care of myself had become a battle with my sick ‘woe is me, no one checks on me either’ mind.   My lack of self-care was showing (literally) and, after I realized it, it was ‘ON’.  That day, I even wrote in my journal, “this is IT, there has to be another way”.  I started listing the things that I could do in that moment to save my life.

I had a list of about 5 or 6 things that would need to be handled immediately.  I decided that I needed to brown bag it with real food, not jusgueria junk food,  drink water, SLEEP more, rest when I needed to, think about the real food that I liked to eat so that I would have more of it at the house,  choose better foods for Dad as well.  I also felt that I had to be much smarter about my commute which was tearing my patience and rest to shreds.   If I could tackle these necessary things, I might feel better and have time to do more of what I really wanted to do.

The first night of “taking care of myself” saw immediate results, I slept better than ever, the aches and pains, both physical and emotional, suddenly felt more manageable.   Taking leftovers, oranges, apples, bananas, water, etc, to eat was actually really satisfying and, while I did ‘need’ a piece of chocolate that first week, it was nowhere near the desperation that I had felt the week before.   And surprise, how productive was I?  I got soooo much done that I amazed myself.

The takeaway from this post is that, if you don’t take care of yourself emotionally, it WILL catch up with you physically.  Look at your emotional health before spending money on that huge meal or shiny new toy — you’ll end up with a bigass lonja and a lot less money in your bank account.  I want more for myself in 2019 and, like all new endeavors, it will take time to get there.  I’m ready.

 

 

Reading Into 2019

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Excited with my first reading list for 2019.

I used to have a designated reading corner in every house I lived in. However, it’s been harder now that I’m at the Ranch.  Plus, at some point, those books did eventually make the move to any or all of the following locations:

1. My purse or bag
2. The bathroom
3. The bedroom

When I noticed that my phone started taking over and I was starting to click into articles, etc., I decided it was time to think about how I read. I love having a book in my hand, I love going through the pages, if there are pictures, I spend time checking out the pictures and, as square as it may sound, I really love physically opening and closing the book, like I’m going in and out of another world.

I can do Kindle, or read sometimes off of my smartphone,  but it’s not the same, it feels like I do when I’m chisme-scrolling through social media, email, etc.  It’s easy to click things, dismiss them, or worse, forget about them as you chisme-scroll.  It becomes more difficult to lose myself in Kindle/Phone and I really do love to lose myself in a good book.

Yesterday, my family celebrated Christmas (on 3KingsDay) and my lil niece was very excited about a ‘chapter book’ that she had received as a gift. I loooove that she likes to read and looks forward to it.  My goal has become to expose my lil ones to reading, to going to the library, book fairs, book sales, you name it.  I have seen folks checking out something like 40 or 50 books at a time for their children, I don’t know if I’d go that far but it would be fun to go for it if my littles wanted to do it.

I remember always checking books out from the library even as a little girl.  I’m still a library girl at heart and tend to go straight to the ‘new’ book section as it is a big section and I always find something.    I had a goal once to read all Latino authors from A to Z;  I think I got to the G’s and got off track, I should revisit that goal.

Either way, I have decided that, no matter how busy life gets, that I will go through 2019 with a ‘libro’ in my hand.   I’m searching for a place to create a reading corner, for now it’s in my Jeep, where I spend the majority of my time and I almost finished “An Unlikely Journey” by Julian Castro over the weekend in the peace and quiet of the car.   Highly recommend this book especially if you grew up as I did:   culture, both of them,  front and center, activists as mentors, student activities, and working with and for your community.

Doesn’t matter where you open a book, or how you open that book, whatever and wherever works.  Just read.

 

QueQUE? Celebrating A Solas

It was December 31st.  I was sitting at home and feeling hesitant and excited at the same time.

I had decided that I wanted to spend my New Year’s Eve alone and found what I wrote over the weekend:

I want to spend New Year’s Eve alone, I do not feel like fake sentiment, I do not feel like hearing the noise of ringing in another year. Don’t get me wrong, I feel grateful to see another year, and admit that I’m not as jodida at the end of this year as I had been in other years. However, I feel the need to rejoice and celebrate in complete silence, in a very quiet way. I do not want to babysit anyone, to ensure that everyone is having a fun time, I want to be still with myself, my thoughts.

Celebrating alone is not something that I have really ever done, I’ve never admitted that I wanted to be by myself for once, who would believe it?  After all, my family’s holiday has always been New Year’s Eve, always with a huge party/dance, ever since I can remember.  I’ve always been involved in some event or another all up in the mix from start to finish.  I think that the last time I stayed home on New Year’s Eve was when I was packing up my place in Denver, getting ready to come back to California.  I was so busy, I didn’t think about it.

This time, however, I felt the true need to recharge, not only was I burnt-out physically, I was burnt-out spiritually.   The thought of being able to stay home and not have to be “on” felt almost like I was going to go out, party and throw down shots, that’s how exciting it was for me.

When the clock struck midnight, I was watching a movie and lounging in the recliner in my clean, quiet, house and I even whispered “Happy New Year” to myself.  Relaxed, rested, rejoicing in the promise of what 2019 will bring and thanking GodJesusVirgenOfG that my family understood my need to celebrate a solas and to start thinking about how I want to spend this new year.

Sometimes you have to shake things up to get yourself back on track.  Worked for me.

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An American Job: Tapiando Cebolla

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Driving home an hour or so ago, I was driving thru what we call the ‘islands’ from the Bay to the Ranch. It’s one of the richest agricultural areas nestled between cities in the San Joaquin Delta. Just about all you see are fields, cornfields, tomato fields, onion fields and more.

On my way thru early this morning, all the workers were just getting situated in field after field. I thought to myself, “wow it’s early, they’ll be done for the day around 2 or 3 this afternoon.”

As I passed thru this evening, I was stunned to see workers STILL working. They had those huge work lights going to light their way. Now what really got to me was WHAT they were harvesting.

Tapiando cebolla”. Topping onions.

It must be said that I have not spent my entire life working the fields. However, I did work a few summers. Topping onions is one of the most unpleasant tasks of them all. This work involves shears and you are to trim off the long green stems of the onion and the stringy thin stems at the top of the onion and proceed to fill up sacks with the ‘topped’ onions.

The goal is to top all the onions in the long rows and put them into the sacks. I still remember looking down the row to see that we had sooooo many sacks left to fill to finish an entire row. Not only was I not the fastest worker, sometimes I’d cut my fingers with the shears…OMG imagine the stinging of the juice from the onions mixed with dirt, aaaaay! Miserable.

My eternal respect for those who harvest the food that we eat daily. It’s harvest season thus they are working hard around the clock. Topping onions is difficult enough in the light of day, but at this hour of the night, albeit it’s much cooler out of the hot sun, it must be even more complicated to work at filling those sacks in the dark.

As I write this entry, I shake my head, these folks are the topic of so much debate, so much racism and so much negativity yet there they are, en chinga, working it to get these crops harvested. And leave it to Latinos to find humor in even the worst work situation: I could actually hear them joking and laughing and the music going strong as they worked. These workers seemed so far removed from the intensity of the immigration debate…doing what they always do…working it.

I can only imagine how much more these folks could produce if people were actually grateful to them for providing food for their tables but, no, these workers and their families have to live in fear for so many things, discrimination, separation of familias, injury, illness…all this in the name of “American Jobs” which, by the way, no “American” wants to do.

My short time working in the fields was enough motivation to work at something else, anything else, but the fields. God bless our Latino brothers and sisters who take it for the team day (and night).

Rest In Peace?

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Today’s is my lovely Mama’s birthday may she RIP.

I’m known to post regularly about Mama: random memories, how many months it’s been since she’s left us (44 months in a few days), pictures that I find around the house, pictures of her table that we update with each holiday, her tradition of giving treat bags to her friends (which, by the way, I’ve passed two holidays because my life got crazy-busy, yes, I feel guilty) and more.

More than once, I’ve had folks tell me that I should let her go, that I should let my mother rest in peace, that I have separation anxiety issues.

Having gone through the trauma of losing my mother, I’ve realized a few things:

  1.  Everyone grieves differently.
  2.  Everyone honors their loved ones in their own way.
  3.  The greatest gift that Margaret gave us, her familia, was sitting us down and telling us how she intended to live out her life, that she loved us and knew that we loved her, and that she knew that we would always be together.

Mama was right.  When she was gone, we would have each other to hold on to, we would know that we were loved, and we would know that she was going to be happy in her eternal home.

So the fact that I celebrate my mother constantly does not necessarily mean that I want time to stop, that I want her back, that I want things to stay as they always have, that I’ve not accepted her departure.  Wrong.  Margaret told us she would be alright, that she was ready to leave, that she would be happy.  There is no way that I would want Mama to be sad or suffering here on earth when she was clearly ready to go HOME.

It took me much longer than my siblings to accept this harsh truth when Mama first told us what was what.  However,  I became so convinced that Mama was right as we took care of her those final weeks:  no food, no water, no medicine and she didn’t look weak or emaciated or sad or suffering.  When it was time, it was time.

When she was with us, we Torres5 would always marvel about the crazy positive reaction would be on social media to anything we posted about Margaret, she would be a little shy when we’d tell her or read folks’ birthday wishes or comments to this or that post, but then you would see her famous little quiet smile.  Mama used to always tell me, “omg, this isn’t a competition!” to which I’d answer, “Of course it isn’t, you always win!”

Happy Birthday Mama/Mother/Mom/Negra/Prieta/Marga!

 

Reaching For the Stars from the “Fil”

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This morning, I had the opportunity to listen to Astronaut Jose Hernandez speak. We are from the same area and, while I knew about him going from farm worker to astronaut;  I confess, I never really knew his story. Now granted, I have never had aspirations of working it as an astronaut, but, as he spoke, I found that I could totally relate to his advice on the importance of having goals and making a road map to get you where you want to be.

I really enjoyed his storytelling as well. I’m always looking for authors whom I can relate to, who can tell my story. Just as I search for authors, I always listen to any Latinos who speak to see if they tell my story. I’ve heard many many many Latinos and Latinas speak yet no one came as close as Dr. Hernandez did this morning. He was funny without really even trying, he broke out the Spanglish as many of us do, and proceeded to talk about the important things we all share: familia, education, goals.

Familia is key to keeping you safe, on an emotional level, as you pursue your goals. Who else can you trust enough to tell you straight-up truth, keep it real, and support you at the same time?  Hearing the stories about family as he spoke in Spanglish were hilarious, heartwarming and they hit home for me.

As in his house, for us, college was not an option but an expectation. Our parents told us to try college for one semester and, if it wasn’t for us, it wasn’t for us. Part of Dr. Hernandez’ plan included putting in the work, no excuses, to get what you want, no matter what you are trying to accomplish.  I kept thinking about 2 or 3 unfinished life goals that I am now inspired to revisit and ‘get on it’ to make these goals a reality.

My father only needed to take us to work the fields very few times before we knew that it wasn’t for us, and that, like both our parents, we were destined to study and earn a living another way, not in  the fields. I’ve learned, thru my education, that my job is what I’ve worked for…radio and events are not for everyone and there is no way that I would have known that I could make a living at it had I not gone to college, university and got all into clubs, campus radio, events and taken the classes. I always joke that I get now get paid for what I had always done for free since I was a child.

Our world today needs role models.  Role models are not just for the very young or those young people who are just starting out; they are also very important for those of us adults who tend to get stuck in our ways, in the way it’s always been done, living in “I can’t”, “I don’t have time”, or “I shouldn’t” mentality, who need an attitude adjustment along with a kick in the ass to get moving.   The most important thing I learned was that we never stop learning and, if we can work through our fears and insecurities, that we can achieve more than we ever imagined.

At least, that’s how I want to do it.   Once I get out of my own way.

I’ll have to thank Dr. Hernandez for this much needed “patada” the next time I see him LOL.

Feliz Dia Internacional de La Mujer/Happy International Women’s Day

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For all women who came before me who worked it and made it happen and paved the way.

For my mother who taught us, by example, to work it with class. Margaret, most definitely, lives in us.

For my aunts, who have always worked it for so many of us as bonus mothers, for my cousins, who teach us about life in ways that mothers didn’t LOL!

For my godmothers who are the best mentors ever and whom I try to emulate as I mentor, take care of, and enjoy my godchildren nieces and nephews.

For my radio fam goddaughters who are trying to make their way in life and I hope that I never lead you wrong when you ask for advice.  And for my wild, fun, and creative chicas of my radio fam, only WE know and understand the crazyass lives we live every day for “la radio”.

For Gina, Mandy, and Tisa, my goddaughters, I want to do better by you and share in your lives. Goals.

For my Comadre and BFFs, for keeping it real with me and loving me at the same time.

For those of you who visit this page and read my blog regularly, bet you didn’t know how much you inspire me!

For my sisters-in-law, past and present, we are family always.

For the “Mamita Club” – my niece goddaughters, AliyahAngelAntoniaAmyAdrianaDianaLuciaNicoleOliviaSeciliaYasminYesenia, the loves and beauties of my life who will change the world and I pray that you always know your worth and that NinaC is here forever for you.

And of course, to my sisters – the ones who have my back 24/7 and who are the best friends anyone could ever ask for.

I’m blessed to be surrounded by so many great women!  Let’s keep working it always, lifting each other up and supporting each other’s activities, families, lives, and careers.  FELIZ DIA INTERNACIONAL DE LA MUJER… HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY

Making Salsa: How Brava is Too Brava?

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Have you ever eaten salsa that was too hot? too hot to enjoy the flavor hot? angry hot?   I’ve heard folks say, “I hope that it’s not too “brava/hot” because I was “brava” mad as hell when I made it!”

Making salsa when you’re angry is not the smartest thing to do.   Although now that I write it out, I can see how it does help get you out of a bad mood.  Some of us like to make salsa in the blender, easy enough.  However, anger and making salsa can almost render the blender useless…why?   It’s much more cathartic when you put that knife in your hand and chop things up or if you break out the molcajete, put the food in and smash it, literally, between a rock and a hard place as you prepare it.

Take onions.  Chopping up onions automatically make your eyes water.  Sometimes this watering of eyes works when you want to try to hide your tears, “freaking cebolla! it’s the onions making my eyes water, I’m not mad, I’m not crying, no…hmmmmm!

The feel of chopping tomatoes is so cool as you push it into a pile or into a bowl as you cut it up.  Chopping up that tomate may just help you get your anger out and then literally helps to cool it off that quick.

Chile – chopping up one, look how nice that looks, will it make the salsa hot enough? Let me try chopping up another chile and then, after the fourth or fifth one, it’s hard to tell if that little green pile of chile is too much or too little, so you just stop.   By the time you actually get to cutting up the chile, you’ve got to think about cutting out the seeds (or not).  Taking out the seeds takes a few minutes and that might be a good thing, because taking out the seeds takes a lot of the fire out of your salsa.

Cilantro – chopping up cilantro as small as possible is never a bad thing, especially as lots of people can only take cilantro in small doses.  Garlic – same thing.  Both possess pungent odors that can have you doing that “uff” thing wrinkling your nose because the smell hits your senses immediately.  Kinda like smelling salts LOL, intense smells can make you alert, and sober you up and out of your mood for a moment at least.

Then again, it’s been said that food made with love tastes amazing and satisfying.   I wonder how food made while angry must taste like.  With salsa, it’s hard to tell because it’s supposed to be spicy hot.    The only takeaway from this post is, if you’re angry and making salsa, to chop up the chile peppers last, and do not forget to take the seeds out, and, maybe,by that time, after that work, you won’t be mad anymore and the salsa will be nice and spicy, not angry hot.

Now I’m craving salsa…wait…I better check myself, what kind of mood am I in? LOL

And NOW Inner Chillona Shows Up? Getting Your Cry On

 

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Sitting here on a full train on my way home.   Not only are people sitting all around me, they’re standing as well getting ready to get off at their stop.  Everyone around me is pretty much doing what I am:  headphones on, either on social media, listening to music or watching video or You Tube, anything to de-stress.   I can sit here and practically stare everyone in their faces and they are all lost in their own world, their own thoughts.

So why am I sitting here tonight fighting all types of emotion:  laughter, tears, sadness, anger, melancholy?  A song has just come onto my shuffle which hits me big time.   The person singing those lyrics inside of my head, my headphones, without knowing it, is singing my life, is singing exactly what I would say to this person were he in front of my face.  From the back of my mind, the back shelf, the back of the room, with her crybaby self, Inner Chillona has arrived.

NOW she shows up?  I am sitting here, not knowing where to hide my face, my eyes, the tears welling up in my eyes, it’s getting too dark for sunglasses, my Kleenex is in my bag under my chair, chiiiiingado!   Can these people see and/or sense my life flashing before my eyes?  It almost feels like those dreams where you’re walking around naked, trying to hide, looking for anything to cover yourself.   Maybe the folks sitting and standing all around me can see me visibly react as each word stuns me into silence…with the truth.

Moco rag aka used kleenex

The song is in Spanish and me, well, being a translator 😊, offer my rough translation of a couple of verses of the song, ‘MEJOR QUE A TI ME VA”  — hope it doesn’t get lost in the translation.

…What did you THINK … would happen?

…That I’d be thrown down, crying in some corner on the ground?

…That I’d live as if my life has ended?

…Not the case…

…I survived…

…I confess, starting over wasn’t easy …

…Lots of people say it’s karma…

…I swear I never wished you harm…

…But this is what you get …

…I watch as you pay for it all…

…Things are better for me than they are for you…

 

I sit here wishing that I could have had my chance to say this once or twice RIGHT when I wanted to. To have my emotions in check enough to be elegant and say “I’m out”, instead of screaming out “f%$* you!” at the top of my lungs as I drove off beyond angry and disgusted in the rain.    Isn’t it how we all want things to end?   Closed, clean, tidy in a box.  How I wish, brincos diera.

Then I realize that tonight’s music shuffle is probably not a coincidence either.  Maybe hearing these songs after so much time after drama gives you the power to be able to say what you need to say, even if the person is not in front of you, maybe years later, better late than never, when you’re ready to accept things as they were, as they are.  When you are safe enough to let these emotions out FINALLY.   How many times did I hold in rage, tears, coraje, emotions just to keep the peace, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with all too-familiar dramatics and consequences?

Your Inner Chillona may choose the most awkward places for you to react in tears, but, in my case, it always feels like it’s the right time, that I need to get these emotions out.  We need these types of songs to get our cry on sometimes, and as my fam friend Jorge says, “to cry like a lil bitch”, to remind us how far we’ve come, to remind us what’s left in our journey from ‘chillona‘ to ‘chingona‘ AKA getting our head straight(er).

If all I must do now in order to get my power back is to reach into my bag for Kleenex to wipe my tears and mocos, then I must not be as jodida as I was way back when LOL.   I just wish that Inner Chillona and all of her emotional moments would hit when I was in the safety of my Jeep or in the bathroom where no one could see me in all my tearful glory.

So when the NEXT song on the shuffle comes on, I have to smile:  it’s a song about nothing being a coincidence, everything happens for a reason, love, success, people in (or out) of your life…all very positive and moving forward.

Standing side to side with your Inner Chillona, in your own truth is powerful (and healthy) whether you set it to music or not.

 

 

My Inner Chillona song for the evening is featured below, complete with lyrics.