Rest In Peace?

#52EssaysNextWave 12/52

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!

 

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Just Say Good Morning Already

#52EssaysNextWave 9/52

5 years old.   I was getting ready to start kindergarten.  Everyone telling me how exciting school would be, how many friends I would make, how many fun things I would do.   I was having trouble with this, I didn’t feel excited at all.

That first day, I remember being dressed in my blue dress with the white sweater, white socks and black mary jane shoes.  I don’t really remember anyone bringing me into Mrs. Brunton’s class.  I remember that I was just there.   I don’t want to think that I was just put on the bus to face it all alone.

Because that’s exactly what it felt like to me.  Like I was left all alone.  Without Mama.  And how were the kids doing at home without me?  This place seemed too big.  This place didn’t feel nice.  And why do I even have to come here?  This is what I used to tell myself every single day before and after crying tears into my little white sweater before hanging it up on the little hook.

Circle time.  Circle time was a nightmare for me.  First, I was afraid.  Second, I was almost in tears and didn’t want anyone to see me cry.  If I spoke up, people would see my fear and hear the quivering of my voice like I wanted to cry, who wants to be known as a big baby?

My teacher, Mrs. Brunton, was not kid-friendly, and to this very sensitive and scared little girl, not one kind word, not one nod of understanding.   She lost patience with me that first day when I did not answer “good morning” to her during circle time.    On that first day, she punished me for not speaking during circle time.  I had to stay inside during recess time, trying to understand what I had done wrong.

This went on for many, many weeks during that first year of school.  I remember being able to breathe and feeling so relieved “having” to stay in the classroom with the lights turned off during recess.  I was in there with the “bad kids” – always two or three kids.  But I did not have to feel the wrath of Mrs. Brunton for those blessed few minutes and my little mind would think and think about how to get the nerve up to be able to say “good morning”, how much easier my life might be, how much happier I might be — at least that’s what Mama and Daddy would tell me almost every night at home about saying “good morning” the next day.

Once the kids would come in from recess, I’d feel a little stronger.  And then this woman would have something negative to say.  Always something negative.  And my resolve to say “good morning” would crumble.

It finally got to the point where I was over being labeled one of the “bad kids”,  I wasn’t a bad person, I was a good girl.  There were a couple of kids who had not yet spoken up, and who had finally said “good morning” to the teacher and, when I saw that nothing bad happened to them after that, I started to think that, maybe it was time for me to say “good morning”.

It amazes me how, at that very young age, that I was able to watch things around me and find the safe time to use my voice and improve my situation.  One morning,  I shocked Mrs. Brunton and delighted the entire class when I finally answered “good morning”.

It would have been so much easier had the lady been a little more understanding and treated little Carmen with a little more care in those first weeks of school instead of losing her patience and being judgemental.   Little Carmens of the world need to be empowered and reminded of the rules for the classroom instead of being told that she is a bad girl.  All I remembered was feeling this intense pressure all of the time to say “good morning” – from home, at school, to the point of having headaches.  Now I think about…Who was right?  Who was wrong? How could this situation been handled in a more positive manner?  Why was it so hard for me to say “good morning”? why was this person so mean?

Shortly after that first “good morning”, the school year was, thankfully, over.   My parents received progress reports from Mrs. Brunton stating that I was withdrawn and would likely have learning issues throughout my school years.  Fast forward to first grade, and Little Carmen was happy, outgoing, and learning a lot.  I had a great teacher who was much more kid-friendly and I was able to thrive.  I also remember being happy to show my lil sister starting kindergarten that I wasn’t afraid or unhappy anymore.

Many years later, I heard that Mrs. Brunton was no longer teaching.  I felt a little vindicated, that 5-year-old Little Carmen was not crazy, that her instincts WERE right, that this was NOT a good person, especially not one to be in charge of the education, physical and emotional security of babies just starting out.  I was still a little angry, as I felt as if I got myself through this traumatic experience.  Even though it was the only way to relieve the stress from all sides, I spent many years trying to move past that fateful “good morning”.

I always harbor the hope that little ones have an easier time of their first days of school…that their little spirits are not broken as mine was, that they have positive people in their corners to help them see that there are more great teachers than bad ones.

I also know that this was one of the first times that my InnerChingona helped me get through it, even though, at the time, I had no clue who she was.

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

My Trip of Normal: Going from One Comfort Zone to Another

#52EssaysNextWave  2/52

$29 for a one-way ticket? Unbelievable.

Should I take advantage of this? Where should I go? When should I go?

Back in the day, it wouldn’t have even been a thought. I would have just picked a place and went. That I even had to THINK about it, made me think. When did I stop being spontaneous? When did I lose my sense of fun?  My sense of aventada-ness? When did I start feeling square and un-cool? and dare I say it, as my comadre says, become all old and churrida?

Life happens. In these past few years, so much had happened in my life that it took all my energy to keep afloat, that was all that I could do, the day-to-day, survival, only the necessary.

I decided to travel to one of my hometowns: Denver. It had been a long time since I’d been back and this time, I knew that, if I went, that all I wanted to do were normal things like drive around and reconnect with my ‘fam-friends’, friends who became familia. This trip had to be postponed twice because I was sick with flu/bronchitis. So, when I finally started preparing for my trip, only a couple of days before I was set to leave, I was nervous and excited.

I was excited to see snow and be in the freezing cold air – I was nervous as I had been so sick a few weeks earlier and doctors forbade contact with cold weather. I was excited to rent a car and drive around to see everyone instead of being driven around. I was nervous – how would I get around; would I get lost? I was excited to see friends. I was nervous thinking that I wouldn’t have time to see anyone, what would they think of me? Would I be able to hold a conversation? Would I be a good guest? I was excited to travel alone, as I had done many times before. I was nervous, what if something happened to me? Should I make a will? Will Dad be ok? What about my work projects? Would things get done?

The minute I got off the plane in Denver. I was happily surprised to know that it all felt like I had just been there yesterday, I laughed as I walked to the train to take me to Baggage Claim, como si nada. As I waited outside for my shuttle, I was loving life, gone was the doubt, the sense of aventada-ness BACK front and center. I felt energized, ready for fun, cool, and proud that I made it safe and sound.

Snow? Cual snow? I was outside in fresh air that was warmer than California and carrying my coat, as they say, ‘de adorno’, for decoration only, as there was no need for it. Everyone was saying that the first snowstorm in weeks was on the way…

As I took the wheel that first day, I was exhilarated. It was like I knew where I was, but I didn’t know where I was. So much had changed yet so much was the same. As I started visiting that first day, I was thanking God for GPS which got me door-to-door – just like it does for me every day. All my fam friends live in the many suburbs of Denver, which to my delight, I was still able to navigate with ease. The snow started late that night and, when I left for “home”, it was coming down hard.

Now I was nervous. Snow and the freeways, SOLOS. Freeways are rarely empty in California. Colorado freeways are lonelier and don’t have as many lights on the roads in California. Even though I knew where I was going, I still had the GPS on. Snow hitting my windshield, me using the wiper fluid to break up the snow and hoping it wouldn’t freeze over.

Nerves turned to joy once I neared my hotel. Snow, snow and mas snow at the hotel and no parking LOL. I couldn’t open the windows to smell the snow air because it would have been all in the car. However, once I felt the crunch of the snow on my feet, that first rush of freezing air that makes you shiver out loud, this was one happy girl and I finally felt as I were home.

As you can imagine, the morning was beautiful. It was snowing and, as I went out to put gasoline in the car, I noticed two things: I forgot my gloves and how in the heck was I going to get the snow off the windows? Driving felt as I did the very first time I drove in snow…I drove slowly and in the tire tracks made by the car in front of me. That is, until ‘costumbre’ kicked in and I was back to driving as I always do, minus the ‘ilegalidades’ – crazy u-turns, taking pictures as I drove, talking on the phone, etc.

Best thing about my trip of normal: Feeling as excited, nervous, scared, as when I found the huevos to make the decision to move from everything that I had ever known, to a totally different world, where I knew no one, where I could make a totally new start in life. Opening my mind to all things new. No boundaries.

Also, it was great to “live on my own” again for a few days, to walk around in bra and chones or without bra and chones LOL. I didn’t realize how much I missed living in my own place, coming and going como me diera la gana. I was able to think about so many things that needed attention in my life and make plans accordingly without work or personal distractions, without people in my face, and blessed to look at life out of a new window.

Changing it the eff up was what I desperately needed, and I didn’t realize it until I stepped out of my comfort zone into another comfort zone.  That sense of A-V-E-N-T-A-D-A-N-E-S-S breaking through the mundane, out of my own way, the haters, the nay-sayers, the ‘no’s’, allowing me to do things another way, not the way ‘it’s always been done’ .  So much fun.

Sometimes you gotta go there to find yourself again.

And again, and again.

 

2017

#52essays2017 52/52

Yay! I made it thru the #52essays2017 Challenge  — writing one essay per week. For the most part, I kept up really well but you know how life is, it really gets in your way some times.  I gained more confidence as a writer and always look forward to the time when inspiration hits.  The best part about this challenge was that I finally see the value of FINISHING WHAT YOU START. I was able to do this time and time again throughout 2017 and it is one great feeling to commit to a project and finish it!

I’m one day away from the big day: putting on my first New Year’s Eve Gala. It’s been all about flying without a net. Scary. Yet invigorating.  As I sit here reviewing everything, I see that I’ve done pretty good in getting the major stuff paid for before the event starts.   Yes, I’m still in “light the candle” mode because I’d love to break even with the event, maybe make a lil extra.   We had a couple of WTF freak-out moments earlier today and there are a few things that I cannot have because we cannot afford them – yet.  All that’s left for me to do is to find my peace and visualize everyone coming in and having a spectacular evening.   Last year at this time, I couldn’t even THINK about doing something like this, I was completely down and out.  2017 taught me that things can and do change for the better … if you’re willing to clear your decks of negativity, pendejadas, and close-mindedness.

I still have a way to go health-wize but I did a number of fitness challenges one after the other and saw my health improve, my lonja go down a little, my clothes get baggy, and my attitude began to change and my confidence started to come back.

In events land, you have to be confident and move forward even when others say that “we’ve always done it this or that way”, “we can’t do that” or “how are you gonna make that happen?”   I’m living proof that having your sense of “aventada-ness” and a “mevalemadre attitude” front and center when you need them, that GodJesusVirgenOfG can help you go farther than you could ever imagine.  I needed good things to happen in 2017 and they finally did.

For part of 2017, I worked with special needs kids and lil pre-kinder bebitos and had the time of my life.  I left happy and TIRED every day.    I now know that God puts you where you need to be and, let me tell you, I gained more respect for teachers and parents.  There is a reason why I have no children of my own but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be a NinaCarmen, AuntyCarmen, a mentor, or a friend. All they want is a little bit of your time and attention.

In no particular order, here is what I’d like to happen in 2018:

What I’m happiest about:  TorresBabies, Torres5, my life with Dad Mike Torres, my writing, my events, our monthly prayer nights.

What I need to work on:  Making time with friends, working out, owning my power, learning to say ‘no’, not going OFF, making peace with the past

What I’m hopeful for:  A better world, Immigration Reform, patience, justice, successful events, change in Washington

Sad that we lost:  family friends Bernardo Santillan, Neftali Orosco

Personal Goals I’d like to accomplish:  Pass State Exam, Bring my Personal debt down, help keep our family together.

 

Have a safe and Happy New Year!  More to come in 2018…

 

 

 

The Things We Treasure: Nacimientos at Christmastime

#52essays2017  #51/52

I’m such a thing person sometimes, I have the hardest time throwing things out.  So to write about things I treasure should have been easy.  Not.

It’s Christmastime.  The time when gifts are exchanged, etc.  What did I ask for?  A giant sized bottle of Dawn for dishes and the giant PineSol LOL.  I’ve asked for these kinds of things for years as I’ve never been into the “gifts” part of things – ever.   Things I treasure most aren’t really things, they’re more like traditions, experiences, familia, friends.

All that, and the Ranch Nacimiento/Nativity, Mama’s smaller house nacimiento, working with our Ranch kids for the annual Christmas play, eating tamales and more.

The Ranch Nacimiento, especially, is priceless and unique.  There are people, animals, baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, little burros, people carrying wood and animals on their backs like they did back in the day.  And in this year’s pilgrimage on the Nacimiento, another King was seen walking to see baby Jesus…and there he was, Elvis!  My grandma Mama Lupita collected the majority of the pieces herself and brought them back from her many trips to Mexico — most times, she was travelling by bus and I’m still amazed at how many figurines she had amassed, and how many of them made the trips intact.

However, my absolute favorites are those pieces that Grandma would try to “fix” when they would break.  There was that one little lamb whose leg had broken off which was then “fixed” by putting on an Elmer’s glue orange cap in place of the leg LOL.  Here’s the one gentleman whose legs had broken off.  Grandma gave him a new lease on life by placing him into a NyQuil cap LOL so now he could at least stand up even if he couldn’t walk.

When I first moved out, Mama had put a bunch of family “heirlooms” into my boxes and, one of the treasures was HER small plastic Nativity scene that I had seen for my entire life each Christmas.   My mother loved putting out her nativity scene (or having us put it up for her) every year and it’s the tradition that warms my heart,  knowing that I would see the same thing each year.  Very comforting to know that a few little beaten-up knickknacks can bring us to smiles (and tears)

Mama’s Nacimiento 2017

My most prized possessions are shared with others:  my entire Ranch family loves the Ranch Nacimiento and we love Mama’s Nacimiento at our house every year.  These traditions work it for us and I hope that I help keep these family customs alive.

Feliz Navidad All.   Below are pictures of just PART of the Ranch Nacimiento.  You’ll note that Mama sewed clothes for Mary and Joseph waaay back in the day.  This is one amazing display.

Scenes from the Ranch Nativity

 

 

 

 

The Nameless Lady

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My brother is so much like Mama.  He regularly performs random acts of kindness, buying food for hungry folks, sitting and talking with the homeless, always, always thinking of others.   I always say that I’m going to try to be like that and, this past weekend, I feel as if I came close.

I was out delivering Mama’s Treat Bags.  We make them every holiday to give out to her doctor’s office and her friends at DaVita Dialysis, she did this in life and wanted us to carry on the tradition.

On this particular morning, I was visiting the dialysis folks and handed one of the bags to a woman whom I’d never seen before.  I was struck by the way she grabbed for my hand to thank me – just like Mama used to grab my hand.   I didn’t even ask her name.   She told me that she had been in dialysis for a few weeks now and, as she grabbed my hand, she asks me, “was your Mom scared when she would come here at first?”

I started to tell this lady how Mama made the deal with us when it was time for her to do dialysis:  that “if I have to go through this, so do all of you“, and for the first few months, one of us stayed right there with her the entire time she went through her treatment.   I told her that Mama was very afraid at first and, while she never totally liked her time at dialysis, she was able to somewhat embrace her situation…until she decided that enough was enough.

The woman seemed to totally relate to what I was saying and she started crying quietly.   I held her hand for a few minutes more and had the feeling that Mama was present there, helping to comfort this woman.   I realized that, with every time I take out Mama’s treat bags, that I learn more about her journey, how, in many ways, she did this treatment for us more than for herself, how strong-willed she was, how else to explain the motivation it took for her to get up every day and soldier on, that my mother had so much faith, faith that it was all part of His plan.   Also, I gain more admiration for my mother:  as bad as she was feeling some days, she always wanted to make folks feel better, to not feel so alone in the world.

This nameless lady put me and my ego in check QUICK.  She’s on a life-changing journey, and not an easy one.  I felt happy that I made her feel better for those few minutes and she was able to not feel so afraid and alone.  Who knows what her life is like?  Who is there to make sure she eats before (or after) treatments?  Does she drive to the treatments?  Is her family supporting her?  I have no clue.  All I know is that I could sense that this woman was strong, strong enough to admit that she was afraid yet still there trying to get better.

I hope that I can see her next time I’m there.  I’ll have to ask her what her name is.

Maybe I’ll show her this story.

 

 

Inner Chingona’s Heartbeat …”La Corazonada”

 

 

#52essays2017  49/52

 

For better or for worse, I’ve always had a very strong sixth sense.   My family noticed it before I did.  When I was really young,  I would go somewhere and if it didn’t feel safe or I felt scared, I would just cry.   As I got older, I would do one of two things:  I would feel the negative or scary vibe and say “no” and I wouldn’t go there or, more often than not, I’d ignore my sixth sense AKA Inner Chingona, thinking that it was nonsense, that I had no reason to feel fear or trepidation of people and situations.   9 times out of 10, I walked straight into a wall por SonsaTontaPendeja, what I got for not listening to the alarms going off in me.

 

As I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish at home, I had no concept of “la corazonada“.  A “corazonada” is a hunch, presentiment, foreboding, courage, an impulse of the heart to encounter dangers.  Imagine my relief when I heard a co-worker say, “ay, tuve una corazonada“, I knew that I wasn’t crazy, that I wasn’t the only one whose body felt what was going to happen before my mind could wrap its arms around it.  My family swears that I’m “corazonada-prone” because I was born prematurely and lived the first 3 months of my life with little/no physical contact, so I was forced to develop my other survival skills.

 

I can go into an event, any event, and usually know whether it will be successful or not.  The longest days have been the ones where I’ve known the event was a bomb yet had to stay there the entire time “just in case” things changed.  Like the time, we gave away tons of free tickets to a water park for Cinco de Mayo, and it R A I N E D or the time that I put on a beautiful event, did everything right, and the crowd did not show up.  Where do you hide?  You’ve got to put the brave face on and keep moving … and praying the clock goes faster!

 

There were a few times when I just knew that it was destined to be a bad night with a certain gentleman.   Every time that I would stay thinking that things would get better, I was always wrong and ended up with a migraine or worse, one time I threw up in a car while I was driving from the stress of a bad situation.   Each time, I would be kicking myself for walking right into these situations.  I’ve since learned that you can only see what you want to see, where you become more “educated” in life and see that there is more to the universe than the four walls you continue to bang your head against.   Once I’ve seen the proverbial light, it is almost impossible for me to take any steps back.  It’s like my “corazonada” practically pounds out of my chest to ensure that I don’t take a certain road, walk back into a situation or deal with certain individuals.

 

It’s all about embracing “la corazonada“.  It’s better than any thump on the head, slap in the face, flashing red light, danger alarm.  The trick is be still and listen, listen to your mind when it says, “I’m scared“, or “this doesn’t feel right“, listen to your body when you get that stomach ache, those “chorros“, that headache, those chills, and not just listen…move out of that place, away from that person, out of your own way.

 

The thing is, that, if you don’t learn how to listen for the negative things and deal with them, HOW will you ever be able to listen to your mind and body for the GOOD things when they happen…things like successful events, fun times, positive people, and good “corazonadas“?

 

It’s your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aaay! The Showers of Change

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This happened earlier tonight:

“The time has come to change Mama’s shower curtain. Tried to find something Daddy would like. As I was looking, I started telling the señoras working there what I was doing and, like true Latinas, they do that “aaay” thing, hug me and tell me their stories of throwing things out/saving things that their parents left behind and we were all almost crying. It did feel nice to be completely understood tonight.”

It’s a kinship borne of sadness, bittersweet memories, of feeling like there’s a hole in you – some days, it feels all-consuming, others it’s more of a dull ache.   And then when you finally are able to laugh, feel happier, able to move forward from your loss, you still miss them.    Once you lose a parent, you 100% understand what a person is going through when their mother or father passes.   No words are necessary.  And, yes, you really do feel that “aaay” in your heart when you know that someone has lost their parent!

It’s so hard for us to throw any of Mama’s things out sometimes.  I had to text the Torres5 to gently let them know that we would be changing the shower curtain, I feel like, if I don’t tell them or “ask” their permission to make changes, that Mama won’t be right with it either.  And knowing my mother, she would be all for my changing the shower curtain.   Her shower curtain had circles of green, blue, and lavender so I chose more “guy” colors – black and gray with his own circles.  Dad really liked it.   Even though I feel like “aaay”, it really is time and Dad has really been working on beautifying our bathroom lately so he’s excited to change-up the look of the place.

Dad is so funny.  Right away, he starts working on one of his “home-improvement” projects and typical me, “OMG Dad, que haces?”.  Turns out he’s making me a little shelf for me to put my “jabon” on, a soap dish, that no one else can use.   Big smiles that remind me how blessed I am to be able to enjoy the simplest things in my life with my father, that it’s sometimes OK to move forward and keep living life.

We all do change in different ways, at different levels, on different timelines.  Sometimes, those “aaay” moments are a good way to track your progress (or not), the “aaays” certainly keep you honest and, if you’re lucky, you are able to feel your feelings instead of backing them up, holding them all in.  What a relief to be able to feel sadness, joy, anger, uncertainty, pain, loss, blessings…isn’t it funny how a simple shower curtain or a soap dish can change your outlook on life?

To be able to share your “aaay” moments with people who understand is even better.  Thank God for those women in Walmart who “got it” and helped me see that, sometimes, change is a positive thing for me, for Dad, for my siblings, and for Mama.

 

Mike Torres, my father, working on my soap dish for my “jabon”… aaay!

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!