The Breeze Through Mama’s Window

 

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It’s Sunday afternoon, between one and two in the afternoon, and, as I sat down to eat my lunch, I looked down at my plate, glanced at the TV, and looked out of the window, I had to smile, then I had to laugh.

I am eating mac and cheese, watching some movie on Turner Classic Movies, and enjoying the breeze from the window on this hot day. Why is this funny, you ask?

This is so something Mama would do.

This is Mama’s time of day.

This could almost be her sitting here eating her favorite macaroni and cheese, watching one of her classic movies and looking out of her window. As I sit here, I can hear myself asking her, “Mama, what do you feel like eating?” if she didn’t know, I would read off a list of her favorites…fruit and cottage cheese, tostadas, mac and cheese, salad…and 9 times out of 10, it was mac and cheese.

The breeze from Mama’s window is the BEST in all of the house. I remember, many times, how Mama would give a little sigh when we would open her window as she sat in her chair or was in her bed. At first, I was completely mortified that a hospital bed would take residence in the living room – especially when Mama had a perfectly good bedroom. Now I get it, the great breeze and being in the living room allowed Mama to keep calm and cool, to stay connected in her part of the world, and to live life with all of us instead of being holed up in a room in the back, in the back where the window was higher up and with no breeze.

This was the time of day when Mama would really rest.  It was usually quieter, and once I opened all of the windows in the house, the breeze would kick in, and she could relax and sleep knowing that one of us was in the house.  Even now, when I notice Mama’s time of day, I try to keep things quiet JUST in case she wants to stop by and visit us.

The day the folks came to take her bed away, the big sister in me kicked in when I saw my siblings faces filled with sadness. I made them bring in a table that minute so that I could set up a table with Mama’s pictures and things. We still have that table all of these months later, the table is right against Mama’s window and my sister changes it and blings it up throughout the year. Mama’s chair is in the exact spot where her bed was right next to her nightstand. If you sit in this chair facing the window, it’s all about “aaaaah” the minute that breeze hits your face.

As a family, we did everything for our mother and, for the most part, this family has decided to mourn “happy” – we miss our mother so much and we like her right there in the mix with us as we go about our lives.   It is very comforting knowing that, in some way, she is still in her favorite spot of her house.   Maybe the breeze is her way of stopping in to say hi to us.

At least I like to think so.

I Have Nothing, Yet I Have Everything

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When I arrived at the grocery cashier to pay for my items.  I had cash, but not enough to pay for the groceries.  I needed like $10 and change that would be charged to my ATM card.    And then, just like that, my ATM card was declined.

Luckily, I ended up having cash in my purse.  That was GodJesusVirgenOfG working it for me.  As I left the store with my groceries, I was calm on the outside.  On the inside, a war was raging.  I was near tears…of embarrassment, anger, frustration.  Oh and I did that feeling sorry for myself thing too.   Whyyyyyy?  Again?  You name it, I thought it.

However, by the time I arrived to the Jeep, my fit was over, I remember hitting the steering wheel a couple of times to get out the remaining rage and then I was done.  It was time to have my ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment.  I turned on my music and Sting’s song “Fragile” comes on, perfect song to get me thinking.  Granted, “Fragile” deals with the destruction of our planet, and my issues are but a speck on the face of the earth.  Somehow this realization makes my dilemma more manageable.  I have been thinking for the past couple of hours now, as I cooked dinner for Dad in this super-intense heat, kept repeating the song, I sweated out my rage, and willed myself not to take out my mess on my Dad.  You’ll be proud of me, I did not yell at him at all.   Now as I sit here writing, barely two hours later, ready to connect with JesusGodVirgenOfG to help me out of this desmadre, I’m proud of myself that I have taken more responsibility for my fit-throwing life and, at this moment, I know only one thing:  I have nothing, yet I have everything.

I don’t remember being this financially challenged EVER.  I also don’t remember being this CALM about it either.  When I decided to live my life “freelance” style,  I was nervous.  Gone was the security, gone was the majority of my disposable income, but, happily, gone was that gnawing feeling that something was either left undone or not done right at all after a weekend of events.  In my business, something seemingly innocent like finding pictures of a banner not hung just so was cause for straight-up alarm and could make my Mondays feel like I was being rolled over on coals of fire and could convert a perfect event into the latest nightmare.

Best decision I ever made?  As pobre as I am at this moment, I believe I made the right decision.   My personal drama made it necessary for me to step back from my industry, and, once I had a summer completely off, where I no longer had to work every single weekend, every holiday, and arrive late or miss events with my family, I knew that GodJesusVirgenOfG had put the more important things of life in front of my face:  familia, friends, writing, rest, and relaxation.

I tell my media and event colleagues that I am not the Carmen of back in the day:  the one who SLEPT at work, living and breathing events 24/7 to make events happen.  Don’t get me wrong, I can and do kick ass at the events that I choose to work on, I will never lose that competitive drive completely I guess.  However,  I also remember the Carmen who would work when she was beyond exhausted and almost drove off the Sunol Grade before she, thankfully,  woke up, I remember having to make the very painful decision to leave one job after another in search of my peace.    Little by little, I’ve reconnected with my familia/friends and now live a relatively peaceful life.

Now that my priorities have completely changed, I still need to be able to get over myself and re-do my financial life.  First,  I am done screaming ‘SonsaTontaPendeja‘ at myself – there is no way that I have been the first (or the last) person to have an ATM card declined.  Second, I gain nothing by blaming others for my lack of feria.  Third, it is essential that I get my sense of aventada-ness and hustle back front and center and do what I have always done:  worked it from the minute I put it in writing.   This is not the place for my InnerChillona…it is time to completely work it as my InnerChingona would do.  Find income. Invest in my future. Create more savings. Keep Working That Budget.

My business is seasonal.  As I have no millionario or sugar daddy waiting in the wings with a bolsa de dinero (cash), it is imperative that I get back on my own two feet in order to survive today as well as the slow period (November thru February).  I am intelligent, resourceful, with marketable skills that would be an asset to many.  Now I have to get my huevos together and these suggestions have helped me… maybe they’ll help you as well.

From Ginger Dean, Founder of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Funds’

How Do I Get Back And Stand On My Two Feet? 

Self-sufficiency is sexy.

Go back to school. Start there. Did you finish college or high school? Do you want to go back to graduate school? What are you passionate about that requires a degree or certificate? Do you need to go back to school? These are all questions that you have to ask yourself if your path to returning to the work force involves going back to school.  For me, it’s all about closing the circle:  Passing the State Interpreter Exam and I have already started researching getting a second BA Degree in Spanish from all of the units that I took at SFSU for Interpretation and Translation, I also want to take some basic design classes to keep up with the young uns in Marketing.  

Start a business. Along the same lines of going back to school, what are you passionate about? Do you see a need in the market that hasn’t been filled? How can you work to fill that need while creating income for yourself? This can include producing your own stuff to sell on Etsy or Ebay as well.  My ideas are good, my ideas fill a need, a lot of this is already in progress, now it’s get the hell out of my own way and really make this happen.   This is the scariest part of moving forward, because there’s nothing left to say, it’s time to work it.

Renew or update your skills. If you’re in a field like myself, then you’ll need to make sure that applicable licenses or certifications are always up to date as allowing them to lapse costs more time and money. Talk to the licensing or certification board within your field and find out what you need to do in order to maintain your skills in this area. If you plan on applying to jobs that require a license or certification then you’ll need to make sure this is up to date. Attend workshops and conferences in an effort to remain up to date with the current trends in your field as well. This also gives you the opportunity to network with others.  My goal of passing the State Interpreter Exam is still very much real and I’ve now added other skills and licenses/certifications that I will need in order to become competitive in my own business.  Pobre or not, I am willing to invest in my new future.

Find Your Sisterhood of Success AKA “Personal Board Of Advisors”

Who supports you professionally when it’s time to make hard professional decisions? Do you have a group of women or even one woman who you can turn to? I take that back, it doesn’t have to be a woman. Anyone who supports you and is able to provide professional guidance will do.  Women are more successful when they have mentors guiding them both personally and professionally. Especially when women mentor women. Great things happen!  This one I loooooove!  I’ve had what I call my Personal Focus Group for years… tons of friends/colegas who are experts in my industry, good friends, in business for themselves, and my badasses who work it Corporate America, Government, and the Latino community.  I’ve also started reaching out to those who can help me as I navigate my way to my new future.  

All of the above is true investment in my future which will require un chingo de hustle and all of the confidence that I can muster.   Can you believe that I actually had a conference call for another contract after my ATM declined, a sign for sure…it may be just what I need right now and the only way that I will know for sure is to put my butt right back out there and pray that JesusGodVirgenOfG see things my way.

Sometimes it take losing everything to realize that all is not lost, even though, at this moment, I have nothing (material), yet I have everything  – family, opportunities, creativity, and dare I say it, confidence.

It’s about time.

Confidently working toward that day when the ATM always goes through LOL.

 

 

Challenge out of the NoLonjaZone, Phase II

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The journey out of the NoLonjaZone has completed its first phase. I finished the health challenge from May15-June15 where I drank no soda, drank 1 gallon of water per day, did 20 minutes of exercise, ate when I was hungry and tried to cut down on emotional eating. What did I learn?

I learned that I am able to finish what I start.  Not perfectly, but I did complete my goal.  Eventually, I hope to be able to finish e v e r y t h i n g  I start.    For all of my “me” time speeches, it was not that easy to carve out time for myself and for my health.  Now that I’ve completed this challenge, I feel much better physically that I did on May 15th.  I have got to keep making time for my health, especially when I do not feel like working out that day/night.  Every time I walk, jump rope, run, exercise, I always feel better once I’m done…it’s the getting started that I struggle with.

My challenges have been with making time to exercise on the weekends.  If I have an event, my energy is focused on making sure I’m 100 percent into arriving on time, doing the job, and getting home at a decent hour and working out hasn’t been factored in that much.  At least not yet anyway.   The emotional eating was difficult to combat at first but now I’ve tried drinking water when I say that I’m hungry because, many times, I may be just thirsty or bored.   And you better MOVE out of my way when I am hungry LOL.   Drinking the water is getting easier and I swear that I have drunk a lot of the big bottled water in the house just by myself.   It’s easier to drink a lot of water especially in this heat and you will need to become accustomed to using the bathroom a LOT.

Talking about my progress has been what has kept me accountable to the friends who have wanted to take the health challenge as well.  It actually motivates me to keep going knowing that others are with me on the journey of living healthier.  Since my exercise of choice has been walking, I’m really glad that, years ago, I would look for places to walk anywhere along my commute routes so it’s been fun revisiting all of my walking spots.

Focusing on my health has moved off of the back burner in my life.   Taking charge of my health is empowering and I feel like it’s the first step in getting all areas of my life together.     My self-confidence had taken a beating and I have, only now, started to step out of that misery into my life now.  However, my life and my confidence are still out of sync. So unsettling.  Especially as I was always blessed with confidence and with the huevos to make things happen in my life always.  I look forward to stop living my life tentatively and hanging out with my good friend and ally:  confidence.  Making time for myself to work out, to eat better, to live healthier is the only way that I can think of to get my confidence back.

Next steps?  I’ve started Round 2 of the Health Challenge with a group of fun and brave individuals who, like me, are ready to take healthy steps our own way, combining health with busy lives, as we move toward the NoLonjaZone.  It’s been a great feeling of accomplishment to finish what I start.  For once.

Let’s do this!  See details below…we’re on this challenge now June 19 thru July 19.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Chasing the Blue Amongst The Clouds

 

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What a great feeling.  It’s like all of the stars line up, all of your ducks are in a row, all is as it should be. all is perfect, everything is crystal clear, there is a reason for this madness, you understand everything.  For a split-second.  And then it all comes crashing back to you, all of your fears, all of your mistakes, all of your regadas, all of your pendejadas, all up in your face.  You feel defeated, like you’ve taken 10 steps back, you’re angry, sad and mad all at once.

As I was driving home a couple of weeks ago, I experienced this exact same sensation.  I remember that it was a cloudy afternoon and my eye focused on the part of the sky that had broken free from the clouds, where you could see the blue of the sky piercing through the gray clouds.   When I looked into that blue spot, it was as if a part of my heart opened up, the purest part,  the part that was open to new experiences and the part that did not allow me to hold myself back, the part where I was unafraid.  It was as if I was thinking in overdrive:  I started thinking of and seeing Mama, happy and alive, seeing my family members and friends happy and productive, myself fearless and working toward my goals, I could even hear music in that blue sky, and it was like all of these happy feelings were swirling around in the sky, happily blending together.  I was even crying tears of happiness and all felt right in my world.

And then I stopped looking at the blue sky and it all faded away.  Try as I could, I was unable to get that feeling back again.  It was like I got afraid, afraid to see what life would be like in that swirl of happiness.  I totally got into my own way and messed things up big time.   Now I’m trying to figure out how to get back to that place.

As I don’t feel like super-analyzing this experience today…I’ll just let my InnerChingona give her two cents on this moment:   While I’m getting better, I’m not there yet, it’s very hard for me to trust anything new, no matter how positive it is and no matter how much good it will do for me.   I’ve got to keep working on staying the hell out of my own way and just let things be!  I need to handle this mess before moving on the next phase in my life.

That I was able to have a glimpse, albeit a small glimpse, into what my life can be motivates me to keep working at getting this heavy desmadre of baggage out of my way so that the blue sky does not fade away when the clouds of life appear, and you know that clouds will always come back.  I also like that I have finally been able to see the blue through the clouds, even for a few seconds.

It has been a long time.

Challenge Yourself Out Of The NoLonjaZone, Phase 1

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I am on Day 21 of a 30-Day Health Challenge.  The goal is to live healthier and  since May 15th thru June 15th, I am drinking no soda, 1 gallon of water per day, 20 minutes of exercise a day, no emotional eating, that is – eat only when hungry, and to try to do one plank for 30 seconds per day.

How has it gone?  It hasn’t been as bad as I thought.  I’ve been walking every single day, I’ve been able to cut down my emotional eating dramatically and actually started to wait for the hunger pangs in my stomach, I tried doing the plank thing for one day and never went back to it LOL.  What I have done instead is do the jump rope, squats and I’ve actually r u n.   The difficult days to work out have been the weekends – this family always seems to have something planned and I have not been that great at managing my time in that regard.   There have also been days when I would be waaaay pissed off because I did not want to work out … but once I would get done with it, I always felt better.

What have I learned so far?  I feel better.  I have been sleeping better.  I have discovered what my weak spots are food-wise, I find that by getting folks to do the challenge with me has kept me motivated and sharing my stories has actually kept me more accountable.   The water has me constantly in the bathroom LOL but I do feel much healthier.  One of my favorite drinks has always been ‘coca con hielo‘ aka a Coke with ice.  It was getting to the point that I had to have at least one with ice daily and I still miss this, especially about 3pm, hey, some people want cafe, I want ‘coca con hielo’.  The ONE weak spot that totally surprised me was that I crave chocolate ice cream like 24/7, maybe it’s a hot-weather thing  but that struggle is real LOL.

Love it that there is a team committed to doing this challenge, some on social media, and the ones who work it via text messages.  Either way, it’s very cool that I am not alone in this challenge.  Also, that I report on my progress daily, no matter how embarrassing, has really been the key to keeping it up.    It’s only a start and, if I make it through this challenge, I will get on another one, it’s time to stop giving power to my insecurity, to silence the voices of those who do not support me, and to embrace living a healthier life – which, by the way, came in handy yesterday when I took a bunch of my godchildren to the beach, including my 2-year old bebitas.  I had more energy and was able to go up a steep shortcut path made of sand without breaking my neck LOL.

At this point, the only thing I can suggest is that you do what you can, when you can and that this is only a start.

The journey continues to the No Lonja Zone. (Lonja = MuffinTop = Gordita-Ness).

In Just One-Thousandth of a Second

 

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It was the middle of the workday and I had to be at an appointment by 4pm in the downtown area.  You know how it is trying to find a parking space in any downtown area at that hour, I was doing the praying thing and ended up at a stoplight right near one of the radio stations I used to call home.  I’m sitting there staring almost into space, not really looking at anyone or anything in particular, lost in thought about when I worked there.

You know how it feels when you think someone is staring at you?   I first looked up at the traffic light, still red, and then I see him standing at the corner.   Still handsome.  Combing his hair differently.  Hands locked with a beautiful blonde, she was taller than him, and he looked really happy.   Now I didn’t expect that he would run over to me or say anything to me but did I expect him to turn all colors of red as he caught my eye for a millisecond? No.  He then turned away and kept his face down.

We were friends for a very short time and got along very well but the timing was off to get into anything serious.   So no goodbyes were said, maybe there’d be a chance to try again in the future.  So when I saw his face again and I didn’t even get what we call the ‘Mexican Hello’ – where you just lift your head as if giving a saludo with your eyes, I felt sad.  But wait, not in the sad that you might think,  I wasn’t thinking in “what if” mode, I was sad because we were friends and it was pretty apparent that he didn’t want to be my friend, at least not in that moment, likely never.

During the couple of intense years where I, or anyone who had any connection to me, received, almost daily, tons of texts, phone calls, postings on social media, emails sent out to colleagues and superiors from Joe in his insane rage; this man was targeted and harassed almost as much as I was.

Pinche collateral damage maldito.  I hate it.  No one deserved to have to put up with pendejadas from such a misguided and emotionally unstable person.   I’ve never expected EVERYone to always give me the benefit of the doubt, everyone’s situation is different.  However, I do know that this man had to change jobs at least once and I know that it is not easy to clear up a professional reputation after this type of nightmare…knowing this makes me sad.  I’ve also had to accept that this will likely not be the last time I have to deal with the after-effects of this past insanity.  There is no way that I could have stopped this madness is what I have to keep telling myself.

So once the light turned green and the Jeep moved forward, I could now feel his eyes on me, I did not try to meet his gaze, I tried very hard to keep my head up, to say a little prayer for his happiness, and, more important, I did not look back.

 

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Which One Is Easier? Life? or Death?

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It was Cinco de Mayo morning. I had events in two cities that year. I remember. I was setting up in one city and getting ready to head to a Cinco de Mayo parade in another. I was to meet Rosa so that we could handle the parade.

I kept calling and no answer, nada. I thought that she might have overslept, as we had gone to see my family at a gig the night before.  As I got closer, I kept calling and getting angrier because I really needed to get to the parade as it was time to line up.  Each message I left was something like, “mujer! get the eff up, we cannot be late and I don’t have time to go for you, hello? your client will be pissed and why do I have to take care of this sh– too!? Jeez…”

Once I got to the event, I was more angry than concerned, I admit.  Cinco de Mayo is the biggest time of the year in SpanishRadioLand and it is the one time of the year that I do NOT tolerate this kind of irresponsibility, no call, no text, nada?  I was livid.  However, I got us through the day and that was that.

While on the drive home, I tried to call Rosa again and, still, no answer.  Her daughter had gone on a trip with her school so she wasn’t home and I wished that I knew how to get of hold of Rosa’s ex to see if he had seen her.   I was thinking that both Rosa and I were going to be leaving the station soon as we had both gotten other jobs and would be moving from the area.  Rosa was going to be moving during the upcoming week which is why we were out celebrating the night before, she would be leaving right after Cinco and her ex was not happy about her leaving, he was all up with another woman yet he still kept Rosa hanging on – she had decided that she’d had enough and was down for for a change.

On that Monday after the Cinco de Mayo festivals, I was at the station and had just completed my on-air shift, when I got the call.  The police called me to see if I could go into speak with them regarding the circumstances around Rosa’s death.   Upon hearing the news, I was almost inconsolable and very much in shock and disbelief.   Turns out that she was found in her garage with a rope around her neck near the running car that had been rammed into the washer/dryer, found by her mother and daughter when Rosa failed to show up to pick up her daughter from the aforementioned trip.

The first question the detectives asked me was ‘did you think that your friend was capable of suicide?’.  I didn’t think so but I did know that, some days, I would have to talk her into getting to the office, going to pick her up even, so that she wouldn’t lose her job.  Looking back, the pain of depression is very real, and Rosa was trying to fight it off, to make a new start for herself.   I was numb and became very depressed as well over Rosa’s death.  I couldn’t sleep, I was afraid to be by myself, I was afraid for Rosa, was she at peace? was she still in pain? what was she thinking when she decided it was time to end it and stop her pain?

To this day, I still do not understand what got into Rosa’s mind that she needed to end it all.  I suppose that it’s true that for some folks, living is harder than dying.   After my intense sadness, I spent a good long minute being mas enojada que la fregada /mad as hell.  Frustrated that I could do nothing to help her, to save her.  I did try, but it wasn’t enough.  Angry that her daughter would grow up without her mama, angry that her ex had indeed been at her home that night but it was never proven that he had anything to do with her death.

Now I choose to remember the good things:  her laugh, her unique way of telling me the chisme, how she used to tell me that dressing up and putting on ‘lipistick rojo‘ would make my day better, the hilarious ways she would use the f-word, that she loved pearls, and loved to wear red.  Rosa, for all of her sad times, was able to always be my champion and was all for me ‘moving on’ to the next opportunity and helped me find my InnerChingona when I needed it most.  It was absolutely the best thing for my career that I made this move.  I smile when I think that she never let me forget that, after a crazy night, that I got to work with only one work shoe with me, and she covered for me at work so that I could go out and buy a pair of shoes and save my reputation LOL!

I’m still trying to learn to watch for the signs of desperation and suicide in a person so that, maybe, I can let them talk it out and find their power.  I’ve been very down before but not to the point of ending it all.  Maybe that’s a gift that Rosa gave me, to show me how to handle my business and stress another way.  Quien sabe?

I wish she were here.  Especially today.  It’s her birthday.

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The Comadre Chronicles: This Reina Has Her Own Back! #52essays2017

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I was hanging out with my BFF Comadre last night and, like many of us girls do, we were looking at how the other women in the place were dressed and doing that side-glance thing to each other and saying things like ‘mmm hmmm’ or ‘I don’t know about that dress’, and things like that.   Now my Comadre and I have not ever been been 100% slim in all of the years we’ve known each other so we didn’t really have room to be talking about folks LOL.

Let’s take the story back a few years.  Back in the day, I was in my first semester of college and I wanted to do what I always do:  get involved in clubs and campus events.  When I met MariaLuisa, it was obvious that she was one of the most popular people on campus, she knew e v e r y o n e.  I felt really intimidated by her because, by all accounts, I was very much a square.  Carmen wore socks with skirts, braids in my hair, no makeup, and I knew almost nothing about life and I did not feel very popular.   Fast forward a few years, we ended up roommates when we went on to the University.   I was so glad that I had someone to hang out with as I started a new phase in my life.  While it was always easy for me to make friends, I was beyond amazed at how my Comadre really worked it with people, by the end of the week, this girl knew half the school and had invites to all kinds of events and parties.

I had never lived anywhere but on the Ranch and, once I stopped being all homesick and miedosa, I started to have a lot of fun and was waaay into clubs and events.  My Comadre was great at encouraging me to live my life and to remind me that “this ain’t the Rancho, girl” LOL.    Every morning, my Comadre would make me LOL when she would look in the mirror and say, “chingao, que buenota eres!” as she blew a kiss into the mirror.  It didn’t matter to her that she was not flaquita, girl embraced her curves.  This was the greatest affirmation ever and I began to understand how she was always so popular, why guys were always after her, why she was so much fun.  She loved herself, and not in that conceited way, she knew how to be there for herself.

As roommates do, we held many long talks about life and when my Comadre told me this story, I admired her all the more.

When my Comadre was in high school in Coachella, she was all into school events (surprise, surprise) and Student Goverment.  As she tells it, she was very into school spirit and had a ton of friends.   Around Homecoming time, the students were nominating girls for Homecoming Queen and my Comadre, as a member of Student Government, was assigned to go around to classes to pick up the completed nomination forms.  “As I went from class to class, picking up the slips, I would look down and see my name and I thought “no, someone is playing a joke on me.” Mary says she finally stopped looking at the notes and, after collecting them all, turned the votes in to be counted.

The most vote-getters would be announced at a Pep Rally with the entire school present.  There would be five finalists announced.  Mary was her spirit-crazy self, having a good time with her schoolmates.  “And then they called the final name, and it was ME.  I could not believe it!”  My Comadre remembers that, when her name was called, that there was a huuuuuuge cheer from the students, but she decided that she wasn’t going to think twice about it.

“I remember that my Mama made me a really nice green velvet dress and, the night of Homecoming,  I remember getting into the convertibles to drive into the stadium thinking that this was fun and that things would be back to normal soon.”   The time had come to make the announcement for Homecoming Queen and Mary remembers, “I kept hearing the other girls’ names being announced as runner-ups and thinking ‘no way I’ll win’” Finally, it was time to announce the Homecoming Queen and HER NAME was called!

How exciting!  As she got up into the convertible again to be driven around the stadium, my Comadre remembers waving to all of the groups of friends including the cholas LOL  this girl, crown and all, starts doing chola poses in front of these girls to their great delight.   How cool was that?   When the time came for pictures, the four statuesque runner-ups towered over Queen Mary and then they did something unforgettable:  they walked away from this queen, choosing not to stand with her, stunned that this short gordita could actually WIN as Homecoming Queen,

My heart broke a little for my Comadre when she told me this.  But then I thought about how Mary has always been true to who she is:  she may have never been tall or thin but that never stopped her – ever.  My Comadre has always carried herself like a queen, a ‘reina‘, she has always been able to find that little piece of self-esteem when she’s needed it to keep moving forward, and girl talks to anyone, anywhere, anytime, she is the definite life of the party.  One of the things we both have fun with is when the beautiful model-type girls look at her, mouths open in wonder when the guys gravitate toward her- and this happens to this day.  While Mary was momentarily hurt that those Homecoming Court girls would not stand by her, she took what she learned from this experience and she always says that there’s room for women of any sizes a n y w h e r e, and that you should never let your size get in the way of anything you want to do in your life.   I’ve always loved being her friend and have always said that we all need a friend like my Comadre:  her sense of aventada-ness is second to none, her mevalemadre attitude is front and center, she is the most fun and authentic person I know who embraces her gordita-ness and doesn’t let the flaquitas get her down.  I still watch her and learn how to act from Queen MariaLuisaArceFelix!

At this writing, I’m still searching for a Homecoming Queen pic of MariaLuisa and will post as soon as I find one!

#52essays2017

 

 

Man of My Nightmares, Mother of My Dreams

#52essays2017

I was sitting down to dinner with one of my roommates when the doorbell rings. My roommate gets up to answer and it is our landlord, a very nice East Indian gentleman. I had just put a spoonful of papas into my mouth and tried to chew it up really fast before going to the door. “How are you Carmen?” he says, “Fine, what’s up?”, “Would you mind coming with me to the office please”? He didn’t seem that worried and, as the offices were really close to the apartment, we didn’t have much time to talk.

As I walk into the office, he asks me to follow him into the back room. My heart fell to the floor and I was in disbelief with what I saw.  I couldn’t believe that he had done this again, always trying to find me, always showing up at random places.  There he was, tied up like an animal, wearing a red and black checked shirt, one of those flannel ones, as it was cold outside. His head was turned so all I saw, at first, was his black hair. Then he turns around, face full of anger and rage, and then I hear his voice, “get me the f#$% outta here! tell this motherf#$%^&* to let me go!” In desperation, I was screaming, “OMG whyyyyy do you keep doing this!”. My landlord asks me if I want to call the authorities and then tells me that he was going to give this guy enough money to get to Elk Grove (?) and for me not to worry. All the while it is scream and cuss-out city with this man.  All I kept thinking was ‘just get him out of here and out of my life!’

So like a sonsatontapendeja, I let my landlord handle the situation thinking “all is good, he’ll be out of here” and actually go back to my dinner. The doorbell then rings again, and there he is, freed from the ropes that held him a few minutes earlier, and he is not screaming this time.  He quietly informs me that, “This is it.  Either you come back to me or I take matters into my own hands”  I remember being stunned, stunned that he actually showed up at my house again, scared of what he was going to do,  angry that I didn’t just call the police,  wondering where my phone was, do I scream? or not?  In the next second, he puts the gun to his face, pulls the trigger, and blows his face off, blood everywhere.

I woke up crying and completely freakiada that night.  I had been having nightmares for well over a week, every night, every time I woke up and fell back asleep, there would be another graphic, violent way that this person would kill himself.  I was getting worried about these nightmares and afraid to go to sleep.   I called the Crisis Center and, luckily, was able to set up time to speak with someone about my troubled and disruptive nightmares.   Turns out they were flashbacks of very negative, drama-filled, bitter times of my life when I did not yet have a handle on my situation.  I felt lucky that these flashbacks didn’t really occur when I was driving or in an important meeting or anything and was able to get some valuable exercises for working through flashbacks/PTSD and to remind myself of how far I have come from those days of madness.

So, guess what I dreamt last night?

I was at the Ranch in our kitchen.  We were all home as I could hear people talking in the other room and the TV was on a low volume.  I was taking out my small red crock pot  so that I could make beans like usual, and she says to me, “I don’t know about the beans in that crock pot…”  Como si nada, I respond, “you’ve never even tasted anything made in this pot,  how would you know?” ” I just know so make the beans on the stove”  Muttering, I start to prepare beans as she tells me to do so.    On the counter, I see a bunch of vegetables thrown all about and I’m like, “what is all THAT for?”, “I thought that I would make some soup for your Dad too so help me cut the vegetables”.  At first, I almost rolled my eyes, and then, in the middle of the dream, I get the knife to cut up the vegetables and smile at her and my mouth drops open. “Mama!!!!!! I’m not having a nightmare! And you’re HERE!”   There she was, Margaret Torres, looking beautiful, w a l k i n g, no cane or wheelchair in sight, she had a dress on and I could hear the click of her heels.    Mama tells me, “I’m always here, you know that;  you should trust more and stop worrying, I’m always here” and then I woke up!

It was the first night that I slept well in days, and, as it turned out, Mama still WORKS it for us, of this I am 100% convinced.   I need no man in my dreams, I do, however, need to see my mother sometimes.  The dream was so real.  I haven’t felt this comforted since my mother passed away in 2014.   That I was able to have a conversation with her was so great.   Thanks Mama!  MargaretLivesInMe.

#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.