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

George Michael and The Year The Music Died

 

quote-you-ll-never-find-peace-of-mind-until-you-listen-to-your-heart-george-michael-19-84-19I was so blown away by the sad news of George Michael’s death that it was difficult to put it into words at first. Another one gone from the soundtrack of my life.  So many of the greats left us in 2016 and it really did feel like una tras otra.

I was living in Sacramento when Wham! first hit the airwaves and MTV.  While I thought they were handsome,  what really captivated me was George Michael’s voice.   I had all of the Wham! cassettes and forgot all about them once George Michael went solo.  Such a stellar, spectacular voice — I have always gravitated toward the singers, lead and background.  To hear George Michael’s music was to hear flawless vocal arrangements in his songs.    On many of the songs, I know the background vocals just as well as I do the lead ones.  George Michael’s voice seemed to get better with time — he never lost the power of that voice, no matter the scandals, no matter the substance abuse, no matter the age — he was blessed vocally as well as being a great songwriter.   Another thing I really enjoyed was listening to him cover songs, all kinds of songs, his vocal range could reach the notes to cover Freddie Mercury, as he did with “Somebody to Love” – not easy to match.   Or his distinctive version of The Police classic, “Roxanne” – we saw Sting in concert a few years ago and he still raved over it and said it was the “grown-up” version of the song.   Like all of the great vocalists, George Michael could unleash the power of his voice and then bring it back down to the basics.  Sooo glad that his music will live on forever and very sad that I will not be able to see him perform live — there’s always YouTube.  One of the best singers I have ever heard and right up there in my Top 5 favorites of all time y todavía guapísimo.  Rest In Peace George Michael.

My absolute favorite George Michael song, “Kissing A Fool” with the lyrics as I asked my godson STE2 to learn this for me, no excuses papa! LOL

I was in Denver, stuck in a blizzard and completely snowed-in and I saw this performance by George Michael on MTV and kept saying the f-word in amazement when I was able to hear/see this powerful version of Freedom 90.  This is the best version of the song in my opinion, love how they WORK it vocally.

I am a huge Queen and Freddie Mercury fan and I remember watching George Michael sing this song on the tribute show and praying that he wouldn’t eff it up and was floored when he, of course,  killed it on “Somebody To Love”

My sister and I went crazy over George Michael’s CD of cover songs, so many good songs!  But this one knocked us out as we were also huge fans of The Police.  This jazzy slower version shows how George Michael could work different music styles.

Sooooo many musical giants left, Bowie, Prince, Merle, Emilio, Sharon Jones, Juanga, Maurice White, Glenn Frey, Leonard Cohen, George Martin, and more. I will feature a few of my favorites below…

JUAN GABRIEL:   The ultimate showman, he always left it all on the stage, one of Mexico’s most prolific composers ever and there are so many songs but my favorites remain the “rancheras” with mariachi, I would always yell back comments when he would perform live, ask Natalie LOL.  His phrasing is incredible, watch and wonder when the man breathes.  Of course, his mannerisms are hilarious and second to none.

 

EMILIO NAVAIRA:  I started off my radio career playing Tejano music and I remember first hearing EMILIO Navaira as part of David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, loooove them.   I was on-air when Emilio went solo and he had the voice, the looks, and Raulito (his brother, who sings some of the best “segunda” ever) and this was filmed right at the peak of his fame…love his version of the classic “La Rama Del Mesquite”.  Love the energy of Tejano music!

SHARON JONES:  I have always loved Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings…her powerful voice blends well with Daryl Hall on “Do What You Want, Be What You Want”

MAURICE WHITE:  One of the greatest bands of all time, the elements of Earth, Wind, and Fire led by the great Maurice White.  We Torres5 were heavily into this band.  Thanks to our cousin Yolanda, who had this album.  Many many many hours were spent listening to this record in the ‘girls room’ and, once we bought other EWF albums, they did not leave the turntable for months on end.   This was the first song I remember hearing from EWF and I still say it’s one of the most hopeful and positive songs ever.

GLENN FREY:  Loooove the Eagles and especially loved to listen to Glenn Frey’s badass lyrics and personality.  I loved watching them in the older years because NO one harmonized like they did and they sounded great after all of these years.

Ya Es Hora: Turn Thought Into Action

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It seems as I’ve been on a constant journey to find my place in this world, to find something to achieve, to climb that mountain, to walk that mile. I always remember how I could move forward, from a very early age, to get what I wanted. While the tactics have changed dramatically with every ‘logro’. I could always see the big picture. Once I had achieved goal 1, my eye was always on finishing goals 2 or 3.

So, to come to a point in my life where it all stops has been straight-up scary, emotional, crazy, and unbelievable, not to mention humbling.  Getting myself from Point A to Point B, which used to be ‘asi de facil’ now seem so overwhelming and insurmountable some days. My process has always been to turn inward and basically hibernate as I figured things out. This was easier when I was living on my own, I could be in my own house and think, see, feel, say, do whatever I wanted. No one has ever seen that side of my life, until very recently. Dad worries about me when he sees me like this, “mija, go somewhere, you need to go be with your friends”, I know he cares but what I need is to be comfortable in my “safe space” these days.   There HAS to be a reason why I’m left to figure out my next moves in the place where it all started:  at the Ranch, in my home, in the “girls’ room”.  This was the place where I first started to dream about what I wanted for my life.  Full circle.

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A lot of women of a certain age hit this ceiling – been there done that, where you feel adrift, lost, not-cool, not ‘in’, washed-up. I was relieved to see that I am not the only person who goes thru this. Lots of women “are less likely to share their opinions in a group of people, most likely to apologize for things that aren’t their fault, less likely to take risks, more likely to take criticism personally and less likely to consider themselves competent in their work” (Allison Fallon, 2015) Who hasn’t had these thoughts? Have you had the courage to voice these thoughts, even to yourself? I want this back:  it will require a lot more than wishful thinking. I love this quote:

“CONFIDENCE IS THE STUFF THAT TURNS THOUGHTS INTO ACTION”                                            (Richard Petty, Kay & Shipman, 2014).

To live the kind of life I want to live now requires mega confidence. I want to work when I want, how I want, on projects I want – easier said than done. Making things happen is what I’ve always done my entire life. The difference being that I was making things happen for s o m e o n e  e l s e. Easier because it wasn’t my money, not my resources, not my problem if things didn’t go as planned, I could always walk away and continue with my life. Now that I’ve come to the edge, the ‘now or never’, the fork in the road, the ‘do or die’, it is time for me to do some major work.

Not everything or everyone is invited or welcome on my journey, I have got to take this time and get those things, situations, and people weighing me down out of my life, my thoughts in order, my plan worked up, and I’ve got to get through my lack of self-confidence. It’s time to stop thinking that I’m “lucky”, like I haven’t worked my ass off to be here, it’s like I’m ready, but my body and mind don’t believe me yet.

Therefore, the remaining 2016 posts will be dedicated to getting myself in training to receive 2017 opportunities,           and to B E L I E V E that this is how things are gonna go. I will be driving this car, once and for all, back to Confidence. There is no way that I’m going out like this, with no fight. But the first task is to stop seeing myself through someone else’s eyes …

TO BE CONTINUED

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.

 

 

Juan Gabriel 1950-2016

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My godson MT3 calls me this afternoon with this news: “Nina, Juan Gabriel died. Just wanted you to know.” WWWOOOWWW.

One of the giants of Mexican and Latin music, gone.  He was at one of his homes in Santa Monica, CA and had a heart attack today 8/28/2016.  Juan Gabriel was currently on tour and had done his final concert at The Forum in Los Angeles, CA on Friday night.

Once I got home, I went straight to the TV hoping that I had not missed news coverage on the passing of this icon.  Fast forward, four hours later, and there is still coverage on Spanish TV about Juan Gabriel’s death.  What struck me was the astounding amount of songs that this man composed in his lifetime.  Every story would have Juanga’s music playing, “Amor Eterno”, “Yo No Naci Para Amar” “Abrazame Muy Fuerte” “No Tengo Dinero” “Querida” “Noa Noa” “No Me Vuelvo A Enamorar” “Hasta Que Te Conoci” and the list goes on and on and on.   My social media has blown up with every other post on Juanga’s passing.  So much of my radio and event fam has a story to tell about him.

Throughout my entire career in radio, I have been surrounded by Juan Gabriel music, all of his MANY hits I have played on the radio, to so many of his concerts, I have taken winners in to “Meet & Greets”, given out concert tickets, and I remember one time that we were taking winners to take pictures with Juan Gabriel, who, at the time, was not crazy about taking pictures.  So there I go making sure that my winners get their photo, and my crew and I each take a picture with him.  When we got the pictures back, we were told that they had been “damaged” during the processing and everyone’s pictures with Juanga came out fuzzy, grainy, and dark.   Sera cierto?  My picture is somewhere in my storage unit, so I have not included it in this entry.

Another time, I took winners to LA to see a concert at Universal Studios, it wasn’t Juan Gabriel :).  My BFF Maria GarciaRIP and her friend went with us.  As I was flying to SFO with winners and Maria was flying to Sac Airport, my flight left first.  Later that evening, I get a call from Maria saying that her flight had been delayed.  While they were waiting for their flight, they decided to go to one of the airport restaurants.  Once seated, to their absolute shock, guess who was at the next table?  None other than Juan Gabriel!  You better know Maria checked it all out and proceeds to tell me that Juanga had iced tea and a salad with Thousand Island dressing, and that he kept asking for more dressing LOL

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Juan Gabriel was one of Mama’s favorite artists EVER.  One of the joys of my life was to have been able to take her to see him in concert, she loved it.   I was very excited when Rocio Durcal (Mama’s #1 artist) and Juan Gabriel were on tour TOGETHER.   When they sang together, it was pure magic.  And, as Rocio became an international star by singing songs written by Juan Gabriel, including my mother’s favorite song, “Amor Eterno”, everytime I hear either of these two legends, my thoughts go first to Mama and how much she enjoyed their music.  Here they are “a duo” singing “Fue Un Placer Conocerte”, straight-up perfection.

Out of all of the many, many, many songs of Juan Gabriel, I have always been a fan of his straight-up, in your face, tomacabron songs OF COURSE accompanied by mariachi.  His phrasing, his fast-paced style of fitting so many words in one line so they sound like one lyric is second to none, I would sit in amazement wondering when this man took a breath.   Juanga felt every word and every note of the song, his interpretation was, many times, more than a performance, it was a tour de force.  Juan Gabriel was fun, flashy, emotional, divo, authentic, original, gifted, prolific, and would leave it all on the stage, every time.   Check out the video below and see for yourself!

My all-time favorite Juan Gabriel songs are “Se Me Olvido Otra Vez”, “Insensible”, “Te Voy A Olvidar” and “La Diferencia”… here is Rocio Durcal in what is my very favorite version of “La Diferencia”

I could go on and on and on.  Juan Gabriel was already beloved in life for the music that was the soundtrack to people’s lives.  His influence on future composers and musicians will be felt for many years to come.  No habra otro igual.  Que En Paz Descanse Juan Gabriel.

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Maria Antonieta Garcia: BFFSisterFamFriend! I Will Miss You.

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Said my final goodbyes to my friend Maria during these past couple of days.   It has been a sad time for me.   I have been blessed to have friendships that have lasted years and years.  Maria is the first of my group of BFFFamiliaByChoice friends to leave and, as I drove thru her town today, all I could do was cry for my friend.  The one thing that she had asked was that we remember her with a smile, but for that minute, I could not.

When I got to her reception, I was able to see so many friends that we had in common, so many people that I have met thru Maria, so there was so much to talk about as we remembered our friend and so many ways that we honored her:  one friend catered with Maria’s favorite foods, one friend described that everything she wore that day had been gifts to her from Maria – from her jewelry to her clothing;  sooo many teachers were present (as Maria was a teacher) and it was very cool to see/hear the impact she had on their lives.

I sat with friends who had me laughing (and crying) as we talked about adventure after adventure like:

  1.  When we used to go out to the clubs, guys used to come up and ask our guy friend’s permission to dance with us LOL and el muy cínico used to answer “dos dolares por favor” LOL
  2. How I publicly thanked Georgia, Maria’s friend, who used to let us ALL stay over at her house in SF after we’d close down the clubs.  I didn’t remember that it was a studio apartment until today.
  3.  The time my creative friend dressed up as “Miss Zanahoria/Miss Carrot” for a Halloween party and she made her kickass bouquet of carrots and made a CROWN out of baby carrots — sooo awesome and I remember telling her, “WHO could top that?”
  4. The many times we got kicked out of the Student Union and various other places on campus por desmadrozos.
  5. The time Carlos had the nerve to ask Maria why women got so irritable during that time of the month LOL  Girl broke it down for him about half of our insides coming out of this little hole, etc. in such graphic detail that I still laugh about it and get serious asco too.
  6. Then there was the  time that there was an enano/midget who was dancing right near Maria’s chest — Hilarious and we never let her live this down!
  7. The time we all went to the Mariner’s /A’s baseball game with Maria, and we sat on the Mariner’s side and kept cheering for the A’s and checking out the fine ball players.  Girl was a serious game-watcher and we really tried her patience that night LOL.

There are soooo many more that I will save for when I meet up with all of my friends when we hang out together in Maria’s honor.  In fact, we’ve already started planning our next get-together.  You know there be great food, algo para tomar, chisme, chisme, chisme, music, tears, and, of course, laughter.

One of Maria’s aunts saw me sitting there, laughing and crying, and she told me to keep doing that, to keep honoring her niece forever.  It will not be hard, Maria was one of my greatest friends.  Below please find my thoughts the actual day that my friend left us … Saturday, July 23rd at 1:30pm:

 

My BFF Maria Garcia left this world earlier this afternoon. I’m very sad that Maria has left us so soon, I’m very proud that my friend fought until the very end, I’m so grateful that she wanted to be my friend for all of these years, I’m blessed to have had Maria as a member of my BFFs, a sister that I chose for myself and my familia, and I’m very hopeful that Maria will be reunited with her beloved Mama and maybe she’ll see my Mama as well in her eternal home. Thank you Jesus Lord Virgen of G for allowing me to have such an awesome group of BFFs, we are missing one now but we will be able to remember and honor Maria always: fun-loving, hilarious-funny, could talk to anyone anywhere anytime, major baseball and sports fan, great dancer, loved fine dining, always had her makeup and nails on point, love it that we could share makeup always being the same color LOL, creative, great teacher, kind-hearted, giving, patient with me:  her non-sports loving, non-animal loving, non-adventureous foodie who always wanted tacos or papas instead of trying out new foods. I will miss you sooooo very much, I was always happy to be your friend, and will never forget you Maria Antonieta Garcia, love you sister.

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