My Scarlett

You know that line from Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” where he raps, “Driving so slow but B.K.’s from Texas”?

That’s my experience driving around New York today.

And it took months and hell, but I finally got my baby, Scarlett, back.

After getting into my car, I drove it around trying to find a parking spot. Then when I couldn’t, I decided to drive it to Jersey and back.

Which was okay. Since it had been in a parking garage for the past few months undriven, a friend advise I drive it around in order for the oil to re-lube the engine.

Before I headed off to NJ, I reconnected my phone to play my Madonna playlist on Spotify. I needed to hear MY music in the car. MY car.

And on the way, I found myself feeling at ease behind the wheel. I danced in my car seat as I sang along with Madonna and her “Rebel Heart” discography.

It was then I realized another little thing in life: being able to sing your heart out in your car, as loud and as off tune as you want.

There’s no one telling you to turn it down or be quiet, and who cares if people watch you act a fool? You’re in your own little space.

It makes the drive more tolerable and enjoyable.

When I drive home, I’ll be singing with Madonna, Sia, Celine, No Doubt, Selena, Lana Del Rey…

And on and on and on…

Freedom 2016

Once again, 2016 took an 80’s icon.

When I first heard George Michael passed away, the first song and image that came to mind was, “Freedom! ’90.”

This is one of my favorite George Michael songs, and it was personal in that you had to change your life to live your truth, to be happy.

I blasted this song as my EAS (expiration of active service) approached. It was the end to one chapter, and on to the next. It was something I knew I needed to do.

It’s a song I still listen to from time to time, for when I once again, felt ready and anxiously awaiting for the next chapter in my life.

The only way to go is up, and George Michael has moved on to his final chapter. His music is the afterword.

Rest in peace, George Michael.

“Freedom! ’90,” George Michael

I think there’s something you should know

I think it’s time I stopped the show

There’s something deep inside of me
There’s someone I forgot to be
Take back your picture in a frame
Don’t think that I’ll be back again
I just hope you understand
Sometimes the clothes do not make the man
All we have to do now
Is take these lies and make them true somehow
All we have to see
Is that I don’t belong to you
And you don’t belong to me, yea yea
Freedom
Freedom

Freedom

My Holiday Song

This post is a day late; Madge’s birthday is on the 16th. Forgive me; my run broke me off, thus slowing me down.

Nevertheless, the post must go on!

Yesterday, I ran.

I ran on a trail I haven’t been before at before. My sister has plenty of times, but for me, it was brand spanking new.

I brought my phone, instead of my iPod for the run (really, mostly walk) this time. I browse through my Spotify library, and decided to run/walk to a Madonna playlist. I mean after all, it was her birthday.

I settled on her latest, Rebel Heart. Then my PT began.

I usually listen to the words when I run, as a way to pump me up and push me on the trail. And I usually skip songs if they’re too slow. However, I just left the playlist alone as I did my thing.

I thought about what I wanted to write about on Madonna’s birthday. I thought about how she inspired me through much of my life.

While my high school classmates relied on Eminem, Korn, or Shania Twain to survive the awkward years, I started listening to Madonna. I mean, really listen to her.

Ray of Light was what I listened to when I got home, when I could close the door and cry or be inspired.

I traveled round the world

Looking for a home

I found myself in crowded rooms

Feeling so alone

Drowned World/Substitute For Love

Granted, at 18 the only worldly place I visited was Mexico. But I wasn’t popular; I often felt alone around my classmates. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I tried to when I was little, but as I got older popularity fell to the back and just decided not fitting in wasn’t so bad. Lonely, but not so bad.

And I had dreams. I wanted to so bad to go to school in New York City. When I think back on it now, I wanted to go not because of prestigious schools like NYU, but because I wanted to leave the small town in Texas and pursue my dreams in NYC. As the saying goes, “If I can make it there, then I can make it anywhere.”

The only thing is, I just had to find a way to get there.

Traveling down this road

Watching the signs as I go

I think I’ll follow the sun

Isn’t everyone just

 

Traveling down their own road

Watching the signs as they go

I think I’ll follow my heart

It’s a very good place to start

Sky Fits Heaven

The only thing is, I just had to find a way to get there.

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Ray of Light is what cemented me to be a fan. It was the album that made me anticipate her next album, and made me go back to her catalog and enjoy the songs as they are. Because back then, when I saw Like A Prayer or see little clips of Justify My Love on MTV, I used to think Madonna had good music, but she wasn’t a good or Christian person. How dare she offend the Catholic faith?!

Now, I get it. I understand why she did what she did. She pushed boundaries, she had a vision, and she knew what she wanted. Back then I had no freaking idea what the hell I wanted, other than I wanted to leave Texas. To do what? To be a singer. To be a makeup artist. To be a writer. Hell, if Madonna can make it with $35 dollars in her pocket, standing in the middle of Times Square, then I can, too! I’ll figure it out!

Of course, I know now I can’t. Especially since you need to make a six-figure income to live in NYC, according to CNBC.

And I learned on my life journey that I didn’t have the passion or dedication to be a singer. I love makeup, but I love putting it on me, not on another face. And I knew I was good at writing, but I just didn’t think I was good at it.

So now what?

No, I couldn’t go to NYC if I had no idea what I wanted to do. Really, I needed to build the confidence that Madonna had.

Cut to me, 17 years later. I finally graduated college. I finally know what I want to do and what I am meant to do.

Now I just have to find the job where I can write the news for the people.

And for me, my “music” is the people, the issues. It’s what helps me to find stories, and what I hope will bring people together.

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How I make America great

I am Sara Samora. I am a daughter, sister, journalist, Marine vet, and now college graduate.

#HowIMakeAmericaGreat is by being passionate and angry. I raised my right hand and sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, as well as to uphold honor, courage, and commitment.

Although the uniform came off, it doesn’t mean my duty ended.

Now I serve in a different way: bringing the news to you, the public.

With degree in hand, I want to continue to make a change. I want to start a revolution.

Are you with me?

#‎HowImakeAmericagreat‬ is a social media campaign launched by the Emerging Latino Leaders Fellowship. The hashtag defies the stereotypes about -but not limited to- Latinos. Thus, anybody can participate, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, etc.

Join the ‪#‎ELL2016‬ students and show the presidential candidates how everyday Latinos make a difference.

Post a photo of how you make America great, using the hashtags and challenge your friends to participate, too.

I can’t wait to see other stories of everyday people. I hope you participate and read them, too.

Soundtrack: departure, honor, and love

 

I saw this video on my Instagram and Facebook feeds recently, and this video just pulled me in. Not only because it displayed all the clues of “R+L=J” since season one, but because the music keeps me glued to the screen, and keeps me coming back to see it again.

The music is from another HBO show, The Leftovers. The song is entitled, The Departure and was written by Max Richter.music-notes-heart-wallpaper-music-heart

I love soundtracks. I am one of those nerds who goes in search of t
he music after I see the movie or show, upload it to my iPod then blast it in my car.

And yes, even if it is classical music.

There’s just something about music who puts you back in that scene. The emotion or state of mind, and having the images accompanied by the music makes the impact that much greater.

I came to find out however, that there are various versions of The Departure, so the one you hear is possibly the “Diary” version. Maybe. Don’t quote me on it. I just may purchase all versions and blast them all in my car, on repeat.

Enjoy!

SOURCE: Jon Snow Facebook Page

Cersei That Walk to Escapism

HBO-got

Photo source: Game of Thrones, HBO

Lately, the news has been overwhelming with daily injustices. And sometimes we need a little escapism, especially during these times.

Thus, I was excited about today’s Emmy Award nominations. I hoped an actress from one of my favorite shows would be nominated, and I was ecstatic to see she is.

Game Of Thrones is one of the best shows on television, and this past season has been one of the best and most exciting yet. Moreover, I have been impressed with Lena Headey’s performance of Cersei Lannister. I have a love/hate thing for this character, and the season finale brought me life!

After HBO aired the episode, I couldn’t help but think Lena Headey better be nominated.
Really, the Television Academy should give her the award.

I hope they do. I want to see Lena Headey “Cersei That Walk” up the podium and take her award. She deserves it.

I only have a couple of upsets over the Emmy snubs, such as “Orange is the New Black.”  Thank goodness OITNB redeem itself with this season. It had me hooked from beginning to end. Perhaps it was too dark?

And the other snub? GoT’s music score. *HOW* can you snub the music score for this season??

Anyway, I shall end this post with a fun video. While I was on HBO’s site looking for photos, I fell upon this interactive site where you can join the “Hall of Faces” of the Many Face God. The nerd in me had to join.

Dear Little Freedom Fighter

Feature photo credit: Salem-News.com, Arizona Department of Veteran Services

On Saturday, I attended the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals Gala in head-to-toe 80’s attire. I was able to go due to my video submission in their travel journalism contest.

I didn’t win, but one thing I kept thinking about is a little girl I met that night. She was there with another student with their advisor of an after school program.

They have a little journalism program where they broadcast the news in the morning. I thought it was pretty cool and asked the kids if that was what they wanted to do when they grow up.

The boy said maybe. The little girl shook her head no.

“I’m going to join the Army,” she said.

Her advisor was surprised. “Really?” she said to her.

The little girl nodded her head as she chewed on a piece of bread.

I asked her “Why the Army?” inquiring about her choice of branch.

“Because I want to fight for my country,” the little girl said.

“Wow!” I said. Then I told the little girl that I served my country, too, as a Marine.

The advisor was surprised at this, too.

I wanted to speak with the girl. I wanted to give her advice, the way an NCO (non-commissioned officer) would when a private or PFC arrives to his/her duty station, fresh from boot camp.

I never did, though. I felt she probably wouldn’t understand, or that her mind will change in the next few years.

Today, the school’s Veteran Services and Wellness Center teamed up to screen clips from the documentary, The Invisible War accompanied with a panel.

If you don’t know about this film here is a synopsis: men and women who were sexually assaulted or raped in the service speak about their experience. The film also takes a closer look at how the military handles these cases.

It made me think about the time I spoke with my cousin, who’s married to a Marine vet, but was still active when I joined.

“Aye yai yai,” my cousin tells me over the phone. “I wish you told me you were joining. I know women who said a woman shouldn’t join the Marines.”

It didn’t made sense to me. I wanted to join, I wanted to do something with substance, and was the most difficult. The Marines was it. Nevermind what the naysayers say, I’m joining.

Of course, it’s while I was in that I see what could concern love ones. It wasn’t just the risk of going to war, it was also the risk of just walking to your barracks room and have your male cohorts sniff you because you are the “new meat.” It’s constantly hearing from comrades how women shouldn’t be in the military because one woman fell back on the run, nevermind the majority of their sisters kicking ass and leading. It’s all on one woman.

I started thinking about the little girl again, the little freedom fighter.

I started imagining the girl grown up, with her hair in a slicked, tight sock bun. Then I started wondering what her choices will be when she joins, how different the military will be for women. It made me wonder if I had said something to her that night, if maybe, just maybe, she would take it to heart. Maybe, just maybe, she will tattoo these words in the back of her mind, and remember my advice.

Dear Little Freedom Fighter, I wish I got to tell you that it’s beautiful that you want to fight for your country. But right before you raise your right hand and swear in seven or eight years from now, let me give you some advice.

First of all, don’t let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. There will be people –men especially –who will discredit you as soon as you arrive to your first duty station, checking in with your service uniform and hair neatly set.

Some will try to come at you. Some will ask you politely, and depending on your answer, may or may still treat you with respect.

If someone hurts you in any way, don’t let that keep you from making noise, raising your voice. If you cry, who cares! You’re human. Let it out.

Then wipe those tears, and fight. Because you’re not only fighting for your country, you’re fighting for your brother and sisters-in-arms. You will be a leader, and how you handle situations will inspire your junior service members to be just as great, if not greater than you. Otherwise, they will learn from your mistakes and use it for good or evil.

Little Freedom Fighter, if you continue to pursue fighting for your country, I hope the best for you. Don’t rush to get married, and don’t rush to have babies. Take your time; enjoy life and your duty station, especially if the duty station is somewhere overseas like Japan.

Stay strong and keep your head up, Little Freedom Fighter. And perhaps by the time your start seeking out military branches to enlist, hopefully somebody –if not me –will tell you something similar.

Hopefully, you’ll be attached to a unit with phenomenal leadership, and take care of you.

And maybe, you’ll change your mind on service branches. The Marines are always in need of a few good women to join.

 

When I grow up, I want to be Dolores Huerta

Tonight I got to interview an iconic activist, Dolores Huerta.

She was one the sweetest women I ever met, and to be honest, I expected a grouchy viejita. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps I have been watching too many Mitú videos.

When I entered the room, I was surprised at how tiny she was. And she looked so frail when the Houston mayor helped her up the stairs to get on stage.

But, that was only a look, an assumption; it didn’t mean she was.

When I spoke to her, and hearing her speak on stage after, I couldn’t help but think and smile a little to myself.

For one, I was witnessing a woman who made history by pushing for change. Every little wrinkle must have a story within the crevices, moments of when she was successful and when she failed. Even if she did failed, it did not stop her. Another wrinkle was formed to tell a story of trying things a different way, just to get the end result: justice.

It was refreshing hearing a powerful Latina speak about women’s rights, and refreshing to hear a woman say the thing that wouldn’t be said in many a living room: that we raise our women to be victims.

“No!” Huerta’s voice boomed throughout the room. “You need to be able to take care of yourself.”

She preaches that we should raise our women to be strong so that we won’t be manipulated.

That’s something I wish my elders would say; that’s something I want to spread to the future generation. It made my smile grow wider.

Then I see a little girl with a cell phone in her hand. She walks up front so she can get a picture of Huerta and the rest of the panel.

I couldn’t help but think that this isn’t the first time her mother took her to events like these. This little girl is being exposed to various definitions of the word, “Justice.” She probably already visited a voting booth, standing near by as her mother makes her selection of representatives who will decide the ways of our future.

She probably accompanied her mother for door canvasing as well.

And if her mother works in a political office or a civil service of some sort, it wouldn’t surprise me if almost everyday was “Take your daughter to work” day.

Seeing that little girl gave me hope; it gave me hope that she will grow up, to become aware of what’s going on in her community and the world. It gave me hope that when she witnesses injustice, she will speak up. Probably in a tiny voice at first, worried if she’s doing it right. Nonetheless, that voice will soon grow in crescendo, full of anger and confidence.

She will find ways on how to use her voice, from voting to joining the system. Whichever platform she chooses, she will find one in which she can make the biggest impact.

Huerta said she took her eleven children with her everywhere as she fought and marched along. She said it ended up being a good thing; it made them strong. One is a doctor, another a lawyer, another a chef. One of her daughters works the social media for her organization, the Dolores Huerta Foundation.

“Leave them a legacy of justice; they’ll learn to appreciate things,” Huerta said.

While Huerta has been thanked and told how she has made history, she said she didn’t fight to be in a history book; she fought to change history.

“We’re doing this because it’s the right thing,” she said. “We’re put on this earth for justice, not to accumulate things.”

She adds that when you pass away and you’re in a hearse, you don’t have U-Haul being pulled along.

Right before the Q & A ended, Dolores wanted everyone in the room to raise their fists and say, “¡Si se puede!”

“C’mon,” she said. “¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede!”

Soon, the sound of clapping to the beat of the consonants could be heard in the room. It was the sound of hope, the sound that today’s and future generations can, and will, do something to make change.

Purple Tears

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Photo from Glefia.com

I have no words when I heard the news today.

Please don’t be true.

If it is, I’m glad I got to see him in concert when he came to Houston.

But it is true.

I wasn’t feeling too good today, so I stayed home. But I still had to do an interview for an article.

And right when I was about to call, it’s when I heard the news.

I had to hold my tears in and compose myself.

Afterward, I looked for a performance of “Purple Rain.”

And once I heard it, the tears fell.

I can’t believe you’re gone. It’s really true.

The world lost a legend, a genius, someone who would not bow down to the major label.

They lost someone who broke the rules and wrote his own, and he probably played all the instruments to accompany his rule book.

Yours was a show I remembered, dancing and moving.

I was out of my seat all throughout the performance. And I don’t think I have ever been to a show that made me forget the heeled boots I wore, because I was having a good time.

I vowed to see you again, whenever you returned, but I never did.

Nonetheless, I got to see you live. I got to experience the purple magic.

Today, I mourn purple tears. Today, the music died again.

Thank you for sharing your talents with us, oh Purple One. Your deed is done on this world.

Now go spread your musicology from amongst the clouds.

“I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you
Laughing in the purple rain”

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday: It’s World Book Day, but reading was the devil

So today is World Book Day, a day when authors, book illustrators and reading are celebrated.

And it’s especially a day for children to come together to appreciate reading, or so says the World Book Day website.

Seeing this, it made me wish “celebrations” like this existed when I was growing up. I mean sure, we had the Pizza Hut Book It program at school, which rewarded us when we read a certain number of books with a personal pizza pan. But it wasn’t enough initiative to get others excited about reading, or at least to me it wasn’t.

Growing up, I loved reading. I still do. However, it wasn’t always easy growing up as a book nerd. Especially when you had a mother who –God bless her soul –would get on to you for reading everything but the Holy Book.

I would spend my allowance on cassette tapes and books, and I would get excited when my class went to the library or when my school held a book fair. I always got excited when the Scholastic order form came out, for it was my newspaper, my first shopping catalog.

I would try to save money for a book. I would hold on to that order form or return to the book section at Wal-Mart or whatever store, just to get that book I’ve had my eye on.

And I would try to find the best book deals, so that maybe, just maybe, I could get another book. Especially if I couldn’t decide which book to buy! If I could buy both, I would.

The books I purchased were R. L. Stine’s Fear Street series, the Sweet Valley (twins and high school) series, The Babysitters Club, and of course, anything by Christopher Pike. And with Christopher Pike’s books, I felt like a rebel. His books would have a couple of curse words, and the Catholic girl in me would be shocked, and afraid that my mother would find out. She was already angry that I spend my money on music and books, why add more fuel to the fire?

Now, you would think that a parent would be thrill to see her child’s love of reading bloom, and encourage her to increase her book collection. Not so with my mother.

“If you love reading so much, why don’t you read the bible?” she would yelled at me.

I don’t remember my response, but I do recall how I felt. It was sadness and aghast. I didn’t comprehend why she wasn’t proud of me for this. I thought she would be, but instead she got angry.

And so for my birthday one year, in order to make my mother happy and perhaps, ease up on my reading choices, I asked for a bible. And the Catholic bible was what I received.

Did I read it? Eh. Not really. I would bring it to Sunday School, and try to follow along in class. Though it didn’t give me the excitement that a regular book did. It failed to create the wild imagination in my head like the other books did.

Not saying the bible is good or bad, but I probably felt that way due being force to read the bible, and the implication that the bible is good, and any other book is bad.

Except I disagree with this. My mother saw Fear Street and Christopher Pike books as the devil. I think she had the fear that many Latina mothers had, that the diablo would come through the book and possessed my soul or haunt the home.

As I mentioned before, I still love to read. I love getting lost in a book. I only wish my mother was accepting of my love for words, since words are my way of expressing myself. And words allow me to tell a story, and will be my way to earn a living.

Words make me happy. I hope my writings -whether in opinion, blogging, or reporting form- make you happy or make some sort of impact as other writers have done for me.