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.

 

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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!

 

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!

 

QueQUE? WHAT did he just say?

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When life happens to you, which way do you turn?  Do you embrace your Inner Chingona?  Or do you take a detour via Ms. Paz (Peace) and end up at your Inner CHILLONA?  Crying, frustrated, depressed.     I would love to say that we all follow our Inner Chingona all of the time and, sadly, this is not the case.

I love my BFFs.  It’s amazing how empowering it is to be with them, it’s like getting a reality check with love, there is nothing that they do not know, there is nothing that we hold back from each other.    You can only imagine what topics are covered when we are together…When I heard this story, I told her that I just HAD to write about it because, as I listened to the story, and stated my words almost verbatim, it became the title of today’s post,…here is the story, what would you have done?

For this story, I revive 2 of my former characters, Yolanda and Rafa…

 

Things were really going great with Rafa and Yolanda.   At first, their romance centered around Friday nights, where they would usually go out and do ‘couple’ things, away from their co-workers, friends, family.  Come Monday, all would revert back to professional lives:  Rafa as the boss, the Sales Manager of the stations, Yolanda as one of his top employees, cutting deals, bringing in money for the stations’ bottom lines.   Yolanda was relieved that things were going well since there was no way that she wanted anyone to think that the boss was 100% responsible for her success, this was a partnership and she was doing her share of the heavy-lifting.   The sides of the radio roads were littered with too many women who got involved with their boss and lost everything once the relationship went bad.

One Monday, things changed a little.   Rafa asks Yolanda, “I’ve got this family thing on Saturday, think you wanna go?”   “Sure”, she replies.  On the surface, Yolanda was cool but inside, she was a jumble of excitement and nerves.  Meeting family is major and Yolanda could barely concentrate on anything but ‘oh my God, he wants me to meet his familia, will they like me? will they hate me? could I meet him there in case things don’t go well and I’m trapped there? I really want this to go well!  I want them to like me, OMG…”

All week, Yolanda is taking all of her clothes out of the closet and trying them on.   The family thing didn’t sound too formal but Yolanda didn’t want to go all fachosa either.   Rafa keeps asking her if she’s nervous and, of course, she answers, “no, why would I be?” when she was mere steps from having an attack of ‘chorros‘ LOL   “Note:  Make sure you know where all of bathrooms are at all times on Saturday!”     Rafa didn’t seem nervous at all either, Yolanda thought, ‘this must be meant to be, it will all go great’.

Saturday morning comes and Yolanda is nervous but feeling confident on her choice of a skirt and sweater set that, ‘made me look cool, in, young, hot’…but not too hot because you know how Mexican familias are, they are not into showing too much, and the standard is set pretty high for women who are professional with careers, etc.   Yolanda is just finishing putting her makeup on when the doorbell rings…

Rafa’s first words to Yolanda when she opened the door were, “well, I was going to have you meet my mother but not if you’re dressed like that.”  QueQUEWhaaat?  Rafa had seen Yolanda dress this way a million times before and had no problem with it, she was in total shock and her excitement for the day had gone just as if someone let the air out of a balloon.   Now it was obvious that Rafa WAS nervous and, as it turns out, had some expectations for how the day would go…but did not tell Yolanda what these expectations were.

So what happened next?  Does Yolanda listen to her Inner Chingona, leave her outfit on, and risk that Rafa decides not to take her, or that if he takes her, not introduce her properly to his familia?  Does Ms. Paz pay a visit to the situation, and have Yolanda change her outfit to ‘keep the peace’ and leave the pathway open for Inner Chillona to bring tears, resentment, frustration to the mix?  I swear that I forgot to ask how the story really ended, how do I end this story?

#InnerChingona

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Very First Day Baaaaack In the Day…

I always remember November 4th as a very momentous day … it was the very first time that I ever spoke on-air while in my Broadcasting class at KNBS 90.3 when I was in high school. My mom, of all people, encouraged me to sign up for this Broadcasting class back in the day because, according to her, I was always saying that I wanted to be on the air. I swear that I do not even remember saying this when I was a child…but know one thing: the MINUTE I walked into the studio, I so KNEW that I was where I was meant to be!

I was shaking and very nervous thinking what lots of people think:  that there are so many people listening LOL — my school station was only about 200 watts I think so maybe it was about 5 or 10 people listening, if THAT.   The very first thing was read a PSA (public service announcement in both English and Spanish) and then I was asked to introduce a couple of songs during an hour during that day…my face still gets red when I think about it! LOL    Eventually, like many of us who start off in campus radio, I had my own show on Tuesday nights.  My target audience was my brothers and sisters and I played whatever they liked … I remember that the guys at the station would tell me that I had a nice voice but that they didn’t recognize any of my music LOL.   Eventually, I got it that I had to follow a Top 40 format, or at least try to…

While I may be a little more jaded now because my entire career has been spent in radio … and while I moved from on-air to the Marketing side … I know that all of my brothers/sisters in radio will agree with me on this one:  there is absolutely no energy like the one that emanates from a radio station…especially one that is rising in popularity…it’s awesome!

Some of my radio stories:

CARMEN SO GOT IN TROUBLE FOR PLAYING THIS SONG THREE TIMES IN A ROW…Just because I liked it LOL  “Got to Be Real” Cheryl Lynn…like this vid of Patti Labelle and Mariah Carey singing this song because I used to sing it all loud like that…

http://youtu.be/svfiHptJ_-A

FIRST SONG I PLAYED ON-AIR ON AS A PAID WEEKEND PERSONALITY … at a Tejano station and had no clue who David Lee Garza was … mucho menos his singer Emilio Navaira … needless to say, I became a fan that MINUTE…”Me Quieres Tu o Te Quiero Yo”  David Lee Garza

http://youtu.be/ICg_nYpYfPA

ONCE ON MIDDAYS, I EITHER STARTED OR ENDED MY SHOW WITH THIS SONG…what else but “Se Me Perdio La Cadenita” Sonora Dinamita

http://youtu.be/x7VNvss0Va4

BEING THAT I CAME FROM A TEJANO STATION, MY NEW LISTENERS ALWAYS KNEW THAT THEY WOULD HEAR music by Selena…I was probably one of the only ones on air who didn’t pronounce her name ‘Se-le-na’,  she was always “Se-lee-na” to me…

http://youtu.be/FJ7SWuiKjVM

THIS SONG WAS ON WHEN I TRIPPED AND FELL IN FRONT OF MY STUDIO WHILE RUNNING FROM THE BATHROOM, I COULD NEVER HEAR IT EVER AGAIN WITHOUT LAUGHING AND THINKING ABOUT THE BIG BRUISE ON MY KNEE LOL     ‘Tumbando Cana’ Banda Maguey

http://youtu.be/sSLWtWGxiTs

Sooooo many more stories and my share of ‘radio nightmares’ – where you dream that the mic won’t work and you have to talk that second or you’re unable to ‘pot’ turn up the music on time, etc.      My career has taken me to many places, I’ve gotten to meet so many people and do so many events…it’s always been fun and I’ve always been lucky — I always knew what I wanted to do … love it!