Archive | March, 2009

The Life (not death) of Selena

31 Mar

selenara14 years ago today, Selena was killed by a single bullet to her back at the age of 23. A lot of Spanglish speaking Latinos can relate to Selena because of what she was: a hard-working young person with a positive attitude and proud of her roots. She was unapologetically Latina with her brown skin, big hoop earrings, crinkled dark hair, and big red lips. Watch any of her performances, and she looks like she’s having. Her husky voice sounded nothing like her Latina pop contemporaries, Latina singers usually prized for sounding “feminine”. And she had paid her dues, working in smoky nightclubs, slowly rising to become an international artist, performing in the biggest arenas in the US, and selling millions of albums, even winning a Grammy. But what’s even more fun is to watch how Selena interacted with her fans. She treated them like friends not fans.

What’s ironic is that it’s Selena’s joy for life that made her so endearing to Latinos. She genuinely seemed grateful for her success. That’s why her death was so poignant, because she seemed to really appreciate life.

It’s not how big Selena might have become but how big she would have become. Selena was able to wake up people who had long felt ignored. Latinos who worked in fields and in offices alike slowly united behind her. Even if “mainstream” didn’t accept her she would have come with a built-in audience. It wasn’t just because they liked her music, but because she represented the best there is in us, what we tell our children: with hard work you can succeed. We would have made sure Selena succeeded, we still do. She deserves it.

Watch how much fun she has singing this song

Bryan smiles more than Mona Lisa

28 Mar

This picture of Bryan makes me happy. I took it at Disneyworld earlier this year while watching the evening lights parade in the Magic Kingdom. That was his face the entire time we were there, filled with excitement and wonder. Like a little boy discovering fun for the first time.

That was the point of our trip. I planned it down to the minute, the seats we would have, the rides we would ride, and in which order, so I could elicit that kind of look. There were no surprises for me, I knew everything that was going to happen and when. But my happiness came from seeing him most excited.

So back to the picture, Bryan doesn’t smile often. He smirks, laughs, but doesn’t smile. He doesn’t smile because when he was in high school as a wrestler he got hit on the jaw pretty hard. First one tooth fell out, then another, and more. A young man with no teeth.

So most of his front teeth are fake, and he refuses to smile big because he still self-conscious about his teeth.

But look at this picture. Does he look like he’s trying to hide his smile? He even knew the camera was pointed at him and he didn’t care. He was having so much fun and showed it on his face. This is one of my favorite pictures.



Expensive Family

27 Mar

I’ve always been the poor one in the family. My parents and brothers and sisters would give me money as gifts for Christmas to help me pay for school and for the expenses of buying my nieces and nephews gifts.

The economy has made my entire family poor, being they all have tourist-depended jobs.  But my third job has brought a little extra money my way. First thing I did was pay off all my debts. And now I can, for the first time, put a tiny bit aside to save. But I have also been buying things, things for my family, and I’m wondering how okay that is.

I’m stuck in a dilemma. My third job is temporary, so I figured the best thing was to do with the extra money was to save it, especially with this economy. But I’ve been buying things like plane tickets for my mom to go see her Dr., paying for my sister’s kids to come visit her while she’s on Oahu for work and they’re going to school on Maui, and giving my other sister some money for my niece’s Quinceanera.

But I also want to save. I have to think about my own stability, and saving money would help me make sure I don’t end up in bad times later on. I’m also thinking about moving, which means I need first rent and deposit. I was even thinking about buying a new car. I’ve never had a new car, and I feel like I deserve one in this stage of my life. Hmm…just as I typed that last sentence, the one about me “deserving” a new car, made me laugh. My dad has never had a new car, and he has certainly deserved it. It’s clear now.

Obviously I have to help out my family with as much as I can. I’ll have some money subtracted from my paycheck to add to a savings account each paycheck, and the rest will be spent on them. The car can wait.