Reading Into 2019

#52SlicesOfChingonaLife  #52EssaysNextWave2019 2/52

Excited with my first reading list for 2019.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Stunned Into Silence At the Carwash

#52EssaysNextWave 17/52

As I was taking my Jeep into the car wash earlier, and the water was shooting out onto the car, there was no signal for the radio (yes, I always listen to the radio), so I saw that I had a CD in the player. A saber which CD, it had been so long since I listened to the CD player.

It happened to be one of my homemade driving CDs – I usually make these for myself and my sisters. This happened to be one that we all loved. So, I’m sitting in the Jeep enjoying the music as the car was covered with soap bubbles and brushes went back and forth removing copious amounts of dirt and grime, the black Jeep looked gray from the dust and dirt I’m embarrassed to admit.

And then a song comes on and I was stunned into silence. It was a song that took me back to a final conversation after a breakup. OMG. The words were almost verbatim what I had told him! The song is called, “I Try” and, while she is not the original singer of this song (it is Angela Bofill),  the version that hit me straight in the face is sung by the great Maysa Leak of the band Incognito, a favorite vocalist of the Torres Sisters.

So I’m sitting in the car, completely into this song, eyes closed, nodding my head to every beat of the music, and thinking back to that final conversation…you know the one, where you have nothing else left to lose, where you throw it all out there, where you are at your most vulnerable and, dare I say it, your most straight-up honest. Nothing was said in attempts to get him back, I always sensed that there was no turning back thus it wasn’t as elegant as I would have liked at times. It was the moment to throw it all in his face, calmly. So, imagine when I heard Maysa Leak sing “my” words….

…I try to do the best I can for you, but it seems it’s not enough
…Can’t you see that you’re hurting me, and I want, I want this pain to stop
…You know that I tried to be with you
…You know that I wanted to see it through.
…You know that I needed to make you mine.
…It was only a matter of time.

Looking back, this was one of the best conversations ever. I may have been very hurt, but I saw this man for what he was and wanted no part of this drama anymore because, in my heart of hearts, I knew that he would not change and besides, there was already someone else in the picture to deal with his mess. Mujeriego. We all have had at least one.

Another song to add to the personal soundtrack of my life. When you think about it, we all have at least one song that can transport us to another time and place, good or bad. While I almost wished that I had this song around then to get me through this sad time, I loved the fact that I could now listen to the words of the song and still dedicate it to myself (and him) LOL It’s more bittersweet for me now than bitter. Love how music, in the end, always heals, always makes bad times more bearable, makes good times even more awesome.

By the time I left the car wash, my Jeep was sparkling-clean, and I felt as if my soul had also taken a refreshing shower as well, so I was all smiles as I went off to finish conquering the day.

 

Enjoy Maysa Leak’s version of “I Try”

 

A Joyous Moment

#52EssaysNextWave 15/52

Just looked on my drafts, unwritten posts, unfinished essays, and find that I have over FOUR HUNDRED of them.

Every one who writes has a perfect situation where inspiration and creativity flows like a cool breeze or a gentle stream.  No drama, no craziness, no rush, no interruptions.

Here is my Joyous Moment:  Right now, here I sit, alone, in the living room of the house, all windows and doors open at this hour, music blasting, with only the light of Mama’s table, the TV, my laptop and a little flashlight, and me writing.  I’ve been at it for a few hours now and haaaaaappppy!

Especially as event season is upon me, I tend to write a lot every day, but I write proposals, copy points, event timelines, etc.   My mind is beyond busy with constant ‘to-do’ lists, what needs to get done, what has been done.  Granted, this helps me immensely to keep things moving and in order, and while it is joyous when events go well, it does not give me enough of these kinds of joyous moments, where I am ‘me’, at peace with the world, recharging my batteries, doing things that I love to do.

It helps that the house is completely quiet this weekend, as Dad is out-of-town.  Usually all of the lights are on, he’s working on some project or another, his music or TV shows blasting, and it doesn’t feel like a girl’s house LOL.  This type of night reminds me of almost every night when I lived in my own place.  While I still come and go as I please, it’s different with roommates and you know how it is, it’s a little harder to find those “me time” moments.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s no where else I’d rather be, but sometimes, it’s the BEST to be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want.

So tonight, I will sit back and enjoy this Joyous Moment, Me Time, Girl Time, blast MY favorite music, and write until I get sleepy…or write all night like I’ve been known to do.

I must make time for these Joyous Moments (and writing) more often.

 

Dinner Time: The Power of Connecting

#52EssaysNextWave  13/52

A rare day off.

Just in from dinner with familia.

After I invited the fam, I went round and round, do I feel like going?  why did I invite everyone?  I’ve been cleaning and all I want to do is relax.  I was actually nervous about getting together with my familia.  I’m overthinking everything.  What was that about?

As I sat there with them, I was happy.  I was relaxed.  And I noticed that they were happy and relaxed too.

I was able to talk with them, no need to get into heavy-duty issues, at least not that minute.  It was fun to talk about our day, our week, my sister’s workout, my baby niece’s friend Rafita from school, joking with my niece and nephew, just having fun.  No one with their phones out, just hanging out, at least for most of the dinner.

The type A in me always tends to make things more complicated than they need to be, turning everything into an event…the reality is that sometimes all that is needed is to connect, really connect, with the people whom we love.

How do we do this?  For me, it’s all about making sure that I DIS-connect in order to RE-connect.

  1.  Put the phone down.
  2.  Look everyone in the face, listen to them.
  3.  Enjoy their company.
  4.  Work will always be there, leave work alone.
  5.  Be present.
  6.  Relax.

Driving home, I realized how much I actually MISSED my family.   I miss connecting with them – especially when I’m so busy with events that it seems that there’s no time to connect.  Tonight is a sign that I need to connect more often.  No big event required.  No over thinking.  Sometimes all it takes is a table, chairs, sharing a meal, and good conversation.

Thanks, familia!

The Phone Call

#52EssaysNextWave 11/52

Marisa ran toward her desk when she heard the phone ringing.  “This is Marisa” she answered.  From the line, she heard the words that she had been dreading, “You Gonna Talk to Me Now Bitch?”.   Marisa could feel the color drain from her face and then shoot back up, her heart felt as if it would jump out of her chest, she could barely keep her composure, she couldn’t completely go off as she was, after all, in her office cubicle and others would have surely heard this conversation had she ‘gone there’.  Marisa’s mind raced a million miles a millisecond, “whaaat? how? hoooooow? OMG! what do I do? chiiiingao! what do I do? omg.  How? HOW? Hooooooooooooow in the f@#$ did he find me? What do I say to him?”

“Answer me bitch!  Did you think that I wouldn’t find you? Noooow talk your shit bitch!”  Marisa was taken aback, stunned.  “I really can’t talk right now” was all that Marisa could get out of her mouth and she hung up.  A few seconds later, the phone rang again…and again…again…and again.  After finally turning the ringer off and saying a silent prayer hoping that no one in the office noticed what was up, Marisa gathered her things and left the office for an “appointment”.

Once in the “safety” of her car, Marisa was completely in disbelief and shock.  Should she cry? scream? call someone? call him back? quit?  what?   Ten minutes seemed like an eternity sitting in that car, completely unglued and uncertain of what her next move should be.

It was apparent that Marisa’s getaway plan had not worked as she had hoped.  This was job number FOUR and, for this one, for the first time, Marisa had to change cities.   If he was able to get to her direct work line, then he HAD to now know where she was working, did he know where she lived too?  Taking deep breaths, looking right to left, searching for signs of her coworkers, for anyone strange, for him, she put her head down, trying to hide the tears streaming down her face, and quietly drove away, unsure of where she would go next.

Sadly, this is typical when a woman finally finds the nerve to remove herself from a bad situation.  She leaves thinking that ‘things will be better’, almost hopeful, almost positive that she’s done the right thing.    No one tells her that leaving is the beginning of almost uncontrollable drama.  There are still more roads that lead to  fear, anger, humiliation, shame, sadness, and sometimes, violence before it’s all said and done.  No one tells her that the madness will come at her from any/all sides, with sometimes double/triple/quadruple force.    That this will the most difficult and dangerous time of all.  That there are no guarantees that she will come out of this journey intact, much less alive.   Life truly becomes day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute where all she does is question herself and her decisions.   Everything gets even more complicated and overwhelming.   For every time she puts her head up, she must continue to put her head down in order to get through the day, to show her family and friends that she is alright, to strive for some semblance of normalcy in a world that has come crashing down in front of her.

These stories are part-me and part some of the women whom I’ve met along my journey of finding my way back from similar abusive situations, these women understood me from minute one, and helped me to regain my balance and my sense of self.  From time to time, I’ll share a story in hopes that someone reading this finds the courage to say “ya estuvo”, get their power back and change their life.

 

 

 

A Lil Bit of Cafe and Whole Lot of Jesus

#52EssaysNextWave #10/52

Saw this on a cup this morning — “All I Need Is A Little Bit of Coffee And A Whole Lot Of Jesus” and I’m totally relating about now!

Earlier this morning, my beloved Blackberry screen gave me the boot. I’m constantly teased about having a Blackberry…’do they still make Blackberry?’, ‘so do you like have a fax machine too?’. I don’t even trip when people tease me, I figure that, if I’m going to put money out for a smartphone, then it WILL be the kind of device I want. Blackberry girl por vida.  Some might say that I’m terca, and resistant to change  LOL.

I honestly do not remember the last time that I was without a phone. In radio, I always had use of phones provided by the company, for my past events, I’d activate a Metro batphone so that I wouldn’t mix my projects up. Not the case now and I’ll likely be without a phone for the next couple of days.

Me, who conducts the majority of my business on that Blackberry from my real oficina, my Jeep. I actually had to ‘serenarme/calm the eff down‘ when I realized that, in order for the insurance I pay on the thing to kick in, that it wouldn’t be right away.  I walked that parking lot starting to freak out  in the crazyass wind almost ready to throw down the cash LOL.  How am I going to live without my phone?

When I got back on the road and literally saw traffic in every direction of the freeway, I decided that I didn’t need to deal with that mess and got off of the roadway.  I also decided that I needed to see the ‘lado amable’ of the situation…getting myself out of the day-to-day grind and back into my positive frame of mind at my favorite happy place:  Writing. Listening to Music. Writing. Inhaling the smell of coffee. Writing. Calming down. Writing. Getting Inspired. Writing. Feeling grateful.  Writing.  Getting my prayer on.  Writing.  Realizing that not only Jesus, but God and the Virgen of G, have my back and that everything will be alright.

Disconnecting from the phone, Blackberry, email, social media is a good thing, a great thing.

That is, unless I go straight to the real ‘DT’s’. 

Or maybe I’ll get a good night’s sleep for once LOL

Si Se Puede Carmen!

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.

Reaching For the Stars from the “Fil”

#52EssaysNextWave 8/52

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#52EssaysNextWave 7/52

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

What? QueQUE? Dreaming of a Jorge.

#52EssaysNextWave  6/52

The other night I had a dream…here’s what I wrote right after I woke up: “OMG my dream last night. I was all in love with a lil man (short, not tall) who was a gentleman, who did what he said he was gonna do, who respected my fam including Mama who was there and his name was Jorge. I remember his face in the dream and it’s no one I knew or recognized. So Jorge, come out, come out, wherever you are LOL”

Some of the responses to this post were classic and made me LAUGH:

*** Someone told me that your mind can’t make up faces, so people in your dreams that you don’t recognize means that you have seen them somewhere recently, even if you don’t remember like the store or while driving so we should go to wherever you were yesterday working and look for him.

***All the Jorges please line up. Your presence is required immediately.

***Good luck Carmen! And if he has a brother let me know!!

***You remember his face . You have to have an artist draw his face.

and my favorite one…’where you at?’

It’s just fun to have a dream that is not a nightmare, nothing scary, nothing stressful, nothing heavy-duty, no self-help stuff, just something fun.  And you know what folks say, you gotta write those dreams down if you expect them to come true LOL.

Since Mama was in my dream, then maybe she can “mover sus influencias” up there with Him.