Aqui Hay Gato Encerrado

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Anyone who knows me KNOWS that I am not an animal person.  Mucho menos, cats.  I’ve always been afraid of cats.   And now I actually help my nephew take care of his cats, every day, I shake my head in disbelief and swear that I’m going to call the pet adoption folks on them some days.

Lately, I’ve been saying the following dicho “hay gato encerrado”, a Spanish saying that literally means, “there’s a cat locked up” but figuratively it means “there’s something fishy”  “hmmm…that’s suspicious” or “I smell a rat”.    There are a couple of situations troubling me lately and, some days, I’m thinking way too much about how to handle them, do I change them, do I not, do I turn the other way, do I walk away? do I stick it out? what do I do? what? how?

So with all this stuff on my mind, I check into my hotel room, ready to get a good night’s sleep, as I had a very early meeting the following day.    I felt like a little kid, when they do that little laugh of happiness when they get into their pj’s.  I love pajamas!  I turned the TV on, no signal, it didn’t work.   Oh well, I started watching Netflix on my tablet and soon I was fast asleep.

A few hours later, I am dreaming and am hearing this weird sound, a sound so loud it wakes me up.  As I had fallen asleep with the light on, I look up and what do I see?  A big cat on the other side of the room and it’s meowing loud!  And. no. I. am. not. dreaming.  Where in the hell was this cat?  And how did I not see it?  And WHO would leave a cat in a room?  And what was up with the housekeeping people? I am vacillating between fear and asco and the cat runs under the bed, where he’d probably been the entire time…uuuuugh.

I immediately called the front desk and demanded that someone come for this cat and to get me into another room and who cares if it was 3am?

So weird that my mind had been thinking all week, “aqui hay gato encerrado” and then there REALLY was a trapped cat un gato encerrado.  I still shiver and get asco when I think about that night and thank you GodJesusVirgenOfG that the cat wasn’t on top of me or on the bed or anything!  Also I laugh when I think that maybe the cat started freaking out if/when he heard me snoring LOL.

In either case, it was like my thoughts actually came to life, and came to life in a scary way with that big and loud cat.   Let’s hope that these suspicious, rat-smelling situations settle down and get taken out of my way, just like hotel security took away that “gato encerrado“.

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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!

 

 

 

Inner Chingona Visualization: My Event in One Minute, Fourteen Seconds

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We all have one.  Anyone who plans events as I do has at least one.  That one song that will help you visualize, conceptualize, and see your event happening before your eyes.  I have many songs to walk me through an event:  set-up, event happening, tear-down.   We event folk, those of us who really work it and want to make an event successful, ALWAYS do some type of imagining/thinking about/visualizing…I just happen to work it better to music.

Maybe it’s because I started doing events at such a young age, I was still in the 3rd grade, but, at that age, I was already visualizing what my friends would think about this or that, what would they think of me doing this kind of stuff, how could I put in something they liked, that would impress them, into an event or program.  I trip out on how important working a crowd was to me, even waaaay back in the day.

As the majority of the events that I did (and do) seem to take place outside, the movie taking place in my mind almost always takes place at an outdoor venue.   I tend to respond to Classic Chicano/Latin Rock (Malo, Santana, El Chicano, War, etc.) when I need a soundtrack for my future event.  Usually I’m in my Jeep driving when inspiration really hits and I start thinking about how an event will look, sound, smell, and feel…I imagine who will be attending my event and when they will get there, I imagine how the view will look from the stage, to the stage, everything.

While I have a bunch of songs to choose from when I’m in visualization mode, this song always seems to get me going big-time: The classic “Nena” by Malo.   Once I break it down, you may want to listen to the song as you read this (a second time) so that you may see what I see…

 

Beginning Percussion:  This song starts off with straight percussion and what I see in my mind is the very start of the day, we are just driving onto the site, sometimes we have to drive very slowly through the entire festival site to get to where we need to be, no one is there but the folks unloading their booths, setting up the stage, event barricades just going up, people drinking that first, and perhaps only, cup of cafe for the day.  We finally get to our spot, step out of the vehicles and check out the place…

First guitar riffs:  We are now unloading our vehicles, delivering tables and chairs to clients, helping them set up, getting banners up, setting up sound system, making sure that our tents are set up, getting the backstage and VIP areas set up, we are in serious work-it mode, we are movin’ fast, we are on a deadline…

First horn sounds:  Almost time for “Doors” (for the event to start).  Time to take stock of the entire set-up, are we missing anything, ice?  send someone for ice;  trash cans for the backstage area, send someone to get to the event organizers for what we need, quick check of all of our booths and stage, first entertainers ready to jump on stage,  are we all good to go?

Second horn sounds:  Doors open.  People starting to come into the festival.  Which way do they go?  left to the booths, right to the food booths, straight-ahead to my area, the stage area.   There’s usually a Ballet Folklorico starting things off on-stage, warming the crowd up, we have officially passed GO, the event is ON.  People selling their stuff, people at the door checking thru bags, purses before entry, lines starting to form at the food booths…

The first “Nena” sounds and the remainder of the song:  I envision people enjoying the music, kicking back in the grass and sunshine enjoying their food and hanging out with each other, walking around, the looks of surprise “heeeeey!” before the big hugs after seeing familia and old friends, many now with beer in hand, some dancing going on, lots of folks watching entertainment from the stage, thinking to myself, ‘how can they be out there in this sun?”,  bands coming into the stage area, bands getting off of the stage, us trying to make sure no one makes off with someone else’s equipment, our folks enjoying food in the VIP Area, all going smooth.

The final percussion:  We’re an hour away from the close of the event, people are starting to pack up and go home, final act is on stage, partyers still out en force, booths running out of food, last call for alcohol, we are starting to try to get a head start on getting all of our stuff together ready to pack into the vehicles, and kicking back at the backstage area of the event, happy that all has gone smooth, “man my feet hurt” and doing that loud sighing thing as we sit down, likely the first time we have sat that long all day.  Event day over.

Most of this all happens within the first minute and 14 seconds of the song.  This is all I need to see and hear.  I am no rocket scientist but, if I am unable to visualize any event within 1:14, then it will likely not be a successful one.  Once I’m able to see the event coming together in my mind, I’m able to see the big picture, start getting that energy rolling into the right direction so that I can work out the small details in between the lines.   This formula rarely fails me and my method has helped keep my madness in check, kept me focused, and kept me “on it”.

Find whatever you need to motivate you through an event or a project or a workout or any steps to a better you…if it’s music, you’ll  KNOW when you’ve found the right song or mix because work will not feel like work anymore, it will feel effortless, it will feel like this is that way things are meant to go, it will feel like they will be a success…all it takes is opening your mind, finding your sense of ‘aventada-ness’, and using your imagination.  Try it!

 

Embracing Death with Love FELIZ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 2017

 

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Dia de Los Muertos is such a beautiful Mexican tradition that has done the one thing that no one had been able to do: take away my fear of death. My fears surrounding death were related to things that I could only imagine: suffering, pain, leaving suddenly, violence. My imagination ran wild, I would imagine zombies walking about, people moaning in pain, screams of fear. Maybe it was all of the Halloween monster-type stuff in the movies and TV. Lots of the Halloween stuff is based on that, el Dia de Los Muertos is not…el Dia de Los Muertos is a great time to remember those you love who are no longer with you and shows you how to honor your loved one by getting their favorite things together and making them an altar.

Mama’s altar is on display 24/7.  We change it up for the holidays and the sentiment is the same:  we honor Mama and our good memories of her.  It’s so comforting to see her near her favorite window in her house.   I soooo love this tradition and love to see how my friends celebrate this special time of the year.   The holiday offers the hope that our loved ones will come to be with us one more time, the altars, the candles, the flowers, their things, their favorite foods are meant to guide them back to us.  Folks decorate altars in their homes, in the cemetery, at festivals, at celebrations.

I thought you would like to see altars created by my friends…so unique, so cool, awesome:

Ninel & Karla & The Cortez Fam honor their Mama and their loved ones…

Gracie and the Solorio Family honor their recently departed mother…

BFF Trini and Daddy’s Girl Trini honors her father along with familia…

Part of the Mejia Family’s awesome setup – this altar is dedicated to mariachis


Anna’s tribute to her father and departed familia…

My lil cousin Jami and Michael’s very first altar honoring their grandparents and Mama and their familia… loooove it!

And, here are a few pictures from the Ranch Dia de Los Muertos celebration honoring Mama and all of our fam who has departed…

 

Rest In Peace:  Margaret Torres, Edmundo Torres, Adela Melena, Prudencio Melena, Baltazar Perez, Neftali Orozco, Willie Herrera I, Juan Lucio, Mama Lupita Lucio, Joe Hernandez, Freddy Hernandez, Alfonso Grijalva, Albina Grijalva, Louie Rodriguez, Eddie Rafanan, Jenny Rodriguez, Jennifer Rafanan, Elio Rafanan, Robert Grijalva, Vera Espinoza, Ralph Espinoza, Joey Espinoza, Jess Grijalva, Rosa Sylvia Grijalva, Martin Prieto, Mark Prieto, Connie Cruz, Beatrice Hernandez

RIP Friends:  David Navarro, Joe Nieves, Maria Antonieta Garcia, Rosa Salinas, Rene Garcia, Roberto Vallejo Pantoja, Gabriel Rangel, Jr. Rangel, Cora Rangel, Marina Beltran, John Beltran, Susan Casillas, George Casillas, Ernie Gonzalez, Rosie Gonzalez, Rosita Aragon, Guillermo Prince, Salvador Sierra, Bernardo Santillan, Jose Gutierrez, Neal Sanchez, Ms. Gwen … I know that I will need to edit this as I’ve likely forgotten to list someone.

 

Gone. But never forgotten.  Feliz Dia de Los Muertos.

Feliz Dia del Locutor and Love to my RadioFam

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I’ve been part of the radio industry, in some way, shape, or form, since I was in high school.  My mother was the one who encouraged me to sign up for Broadcasting in the 10th grade, telling me that I always used to say that I wanted to be on the radio.  I do not remember saying it, but I do remember wondering what it must be like to be able to say a few words and to have the whole world able to hear them.  Love that there is a day to celebrate folks in radio…today is Dia del Locutor aka Radio Announcer aka Radio DJ aka Radio On-Air Personality.

I remember hearing the dj’s on-air and wondering how they made it all happen:  how did they change the songs?  How did they know when/how to talk on the mic?  Were there that many people in the studio all of the time? (when commercials would come on).  Going into that first Broadcasting class, the only girl, was super exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.  The very first words I uttered into that microphone had me sounding scared LOL, I was shaking big time.  Shaking but determined to get over it and get on that air.   I learned everything by doing it, by not being afraid to try,  ‘a la brava’, there were no women mentors in school.  Even when I learned how to run a studio and I knew how things were done, I never lost that wonder when I’d listen to the radio.

Once I got my first radio job on-air, I was still nervous but knew that this was where I needed to be.  In those first couple of years I saw it all:  station being sold, people getting fired, finding people in various stages of drunkenness, with women, with men, high on drugs, passed out, doing ‘it’ on top of a conference room table, in a studio, in a station van.  I learned QUICK that this was one crazy world.  I also learned that this craziness was not going to scare me off:  I was ready to work, work and work to do the best job I could do.

This crazy world has always been one of the most comfortable places for me.  I never needed alcohol or drugs to keep up.  My challenge has always been workaholic related.  Fast-paced, energetic, crazy, straight-up drama some days, rarely calm.  It was the perfect environment for me to unleash my energy.   One cannot enter into this world without that ‘chispa’, that spark of energy that moves you forward when everyone else has gone home, when everyone else has said “f#$% it, I’m out”, when you need to finish that copy, that proposal, that commercial, that schedule, etc.  You must put in the time in order to survive much less succeed.  None of my colleagues at KNBS, my high school station, stayed with radio as long as I have – sad, because some of them were really good.

For many years, my place was in the studio on-air.  My dad is still waiting for me to go back on-air, that I could do it just as well as “la negrita esa” aka Oprah LOL.   I loved my time on-air, I was one of those who loved answering the phones and made many lasting friends.  Recording commercials was straight-up madness for me, I was and am a perfectionist and would do take after take after take in order to get it right.  But like anything in radio, if you’re heart isn’t into it 100%, you need to move on.  When the walls started to close in on me, I knew that I was ready to move on to Marketing/Promotions/Events…waaay fun!  No bigger high that seeing a packed venue, folks having fun at the events.  I’m the type of event nerd that doesn’t watch the artist on stage, I watch the audience and try to count how many show up LOL.

Sometimes you have an office, a cubicle, a little chair and a small table, a seat in the station van, somewhere in the middle of a ‘jaripeo’ to work from and, somehow, that’s all you need to get the job done.  I can work from anywhere but my favorite office was that corner oficina, two huge windows for walls.  I was able to make things happen in this corner, where I rarely needed to turn the lights on, where I could see what the weather looked like outside, where I could stare out at the trees as I worked out ideas for events.

While folks may say that radio is dying because of social media, ipods, streaming services…I do not agree.  People want to turn their device on and feel the thrill of someone being at home, to know that the lights are on, that someone is in the station. Especially if that someone will play a favorite song, send out a shout out, give you a prize.  This is what I hear from people all of the time, they always ask about this ‘locutor’ or that on-air personality, they always get excited when I tell them how they can win, they always love to talk about their favorite songs or artists. That has never changed.  I guess that it’s my job to remind folks how cool radio is…

To the many members of my radio familia, in both English and Spanish, who work it daily, maybe our stories are different, but I believe that we all have that spark, that ‘chispa’ to give to this world, to make things sound big, bad, colorful, wild, and fun.  We truly do have radio in our blood.    People always want to tell you how to do the job, but there are truly only a few who can do this kind of work and do it well.  It would take me forever to write out all of your names but I have had the privilege of working with so many great people and learning from them. It may be Dia del Locutor but it’s really for all of us who have worked On-air, Sales, Traffic, Production, Marketing, Promotions, and all of those GMs out there.   My RadioFam is one of a kind.  No hay como mi gente de la radio.  Feliz Dia del Locutor!

 

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.

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

Get Your Song On: Music Appreciation Torres-Style!

#52essays2017

As I was sitting in the front seat with my lil niece goddaughters in the back, they were singing kiddie songs for a while, the cutest sound ever is listening to my 2-year-old baby niece-goddaughters, both of whom are barely learning to talk, sing out the words!  Imagine “chee” for “tree” in their little high baby voices …. looove them.  I didn’t want them to know that I was recording them so you’ll see the road as you listen to the cuteness.

After they sang their songs, I turned on the radio, which I always do for my 8-year-old niece-goddaughter, this girl knows ALL of the top songs on the radio and, as I was listening to her sing all of the words to song after song, I love that she knew all of the words and I also know that there was no way that she could have really understood what she was singing – as many of us did when we were that age.  And she kept saying what we’ve all said, at one time or another, ‘ooooh, this is MY song, I love that song!’

There is so much music that I get into these days that I’ve loved for years, but only NOW do I get it.   I usually find myself saying, “yup”, “y si!”, “oh yeah” or “umm hmm!” and think to myself, “wow, what a great song, I love the way he or she sang/wrote this!” Songs may as well be musical blog entries:  they usually talk about one feeling or emotion or event or person because songs usually fit into 3 to 5 minutes.  The song hooks repeat over and over again and I see them as blog titles or clever hash tags, don’t you think?  It takes a little bit of living, loving, losing, or lamenting to really have a lyric hit you right in the face.  It takes a little bit of courage to admit, even if it’s just to yourself, that you ‘get it‘ and, in that way, music helps you recognize the good, bad, and ugly in yourself and can either help you heal, get you mad enough to change your situation, to realize that you were right (or wrong) about a certain person or situation, to, as my famfriend Jorge says, ‘get your drank on and cry like a lil bitch’– especially if you were telling yourself to be strong and not cry.  Music can be some of the best and cheapest therapy ever!

I grew up in a musical household so I’ve had music in my life since like forever.  Music in English and in Spanish.  My father, Mike Torres, is a musical legend in our community, he sang Spanish Mass for many, many years at our church, he was part of the local Mariachi Los Jilgueros as a guitar player and singer,  he founded the Trio Los Torres as well as The Mike Torres Band, a straight-up fun party band! The MTB is now managed by my brothers and sister and has included, from time to time, cousins, nephews, and nieces.  Dad now plays whenever he feels like it, he’s earned it.  To this day, my father practices his music e v e r y day.  My parents also communicated via music — what they could or would not say to each other, they would play or sing at each other:  Mama would play a song LOUD and/or Dad would sing a song. Depending on the song, we could surmise when it was ON  or when they were making up LOL!   My father has also said that music has ‘saved’ his kids’ sanity:  nearly all of my siblings and nieces/nephews have been part of school bands, rock bands, latin bands, sing, rap, in both languages.    Music in the house always, and we are surrounded by music:  my current next door neighbors are a small garage studio and a larger recording and rehearsal studio used daily by one family member or another and their fellow musicians.   The video above is our 4th generation of future musicians LOL;  below you will see the first, second, and third generations.  This won’t be the last time that I feature my fun and superblessedtalented musical familia and this is only some of them!

I am constantly being asked why I’m not in the band, or if I sing?   I have mad respect for musicians and lack the patience to sit and learn how to play instruments.  Does karaoke count?  Because I do have the nerve to do karaoke and without drinking shots LOL.  Mostly, I am a fan of all types of music and of my awesome fam:  please enjoy part of Music Appreciation Night Torres-style!     #52essays2017

 

My godson nephews having laff attack with their grandpa LOL

Here is part of the 3rd generation, STE2 and MT3, once they stopped laughing,  singing the classic “Nunca Jamas” with Grandpa Mike Torres.

Below are Mike Torres I, Mike Torres II, Mike Torres III singing the famed Mexican corrido “Siete Leguas” at what was a very happy day for our familia, at a 40th Anniversary celebration of The Mike Torres Band.

Here is the fun-loving, energetic, Mike Torres Band…Dad, front and center, Mike, Jr., on accordeon/vocals, sis Christina on keyboards, brother Martin on drums, nephew STE2 on sax … this vid is a few years old and the band lineup has changed slightly but I love it because this captures how much fun the family has onstage and how they can fill a dance floor faster than most bands, maybe it’s because, once they start the first musical note, they are onstage with no breaks for up to four hours!  I don’t think that Dad has to worry about his musical legacy with the 3rd and 4th generations of Torres musicians learning, playing and practicing and appreciating the gift of music.

#AshTag

 

Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday opens Lent, a season of fasting and prayer. Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and is chiefly observed by Catholics, although many other Christians observe it too. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting. The practice includes the wearing of ashes on the head. The ashes symbolize the dust from which God made us. Ashes also symbolize grief, in this case, grief that we have sinned and caused division from God.

For most of my life, I have gone to Mass on Ash Wednesday, no meat on Fridays, always wondering what to give up for Lent – candy, chocolate, salt, fast food were always some of the things I would give up because I “had” to, I don’t know if I ever really took Ash Wednesday that seriously until this year. Not only did I take it more seriously, I felt like a lot of people did as well.

Maybe it’s the wave of negativity that is going through our country right now…all of the hate-filled sentiment in the country: anti-immigrant, anti-Latino, anti-Muslim, and more have people on edge and fearful of their families’ future…but I sensed that people are looking for their higher power to help them find peace and comfort in this very uncertain world.

In either case, I decided that, this year, I would give up something that I needed to change about myself or my life. Normally, one is supposed to keep these things to themselves as it is something between you and God. But, in the spirit of keeping myself accountable, I am giving up the following for Lent: Doubt, Worry, Fear of Failure, and Arriving Late. It really is time for me to stop doubting the plan that God has for me, worrying will not help me anymore at all, and there is no way that I will know success unless I experience failure. Arriving where I need to be on time will keep me punctual, honest, and accountable. It will not be easy (especially the last one), but I as I am already in major-change mode, a few more changes wouldn’t be so bad.

Sincere prayers are always good too.  Spreading positive energy is so important, especially toward those individuals who need prayers, especially those who think that they don’t need any support or prayers.  Praying for people might help them do the right thing and to be more positive…I can only imagine that any positive, peaceful, and happy thoughts and prayers will make our world feel more stable, less uncertain, hopeful and full of love.   I’m done wallowing in negativity and I am ready for a spiritual journey…

I have 40 days to try to change a part of my world, looking forward to a Happy Easter.

#52essays2017

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

#52essays2017