Prince: Part of the Soundtrack of My Life



As I heard the news of Prince Rogers Nelson’s death on 4/21/2016, I didn’t realize how much his music was a part of my life…

When I first heard “When Doves Cry”, it stopped me in my tracks. So different, so original, so creative. All of the songs on that album were really different, cool, authentic. It hit all of my roommates and I as well.

Nisie was always a huge Rick James fan, and, once she heard Prince, it was over LOL I always remember Nis saying “Priiiiince!” every time she heard a Prince song on the radio, no matter where we were, or every time she played his music at our place, which was often. That’s how I learned every word to the almost every song, the ‘Purple Rain’ album was played that much.

“Purple Rain” is a song that is almost trance-like and like an anthem. I remember my Comadre and I were sitting at our place, as one of our parties was ending and most of the people had gone, it was madrugada like 4 or 5 in the morning, and as I was coming back into the house after saying goodbye to folks, “Purple Rain” is being played over and over and I find my Comadre sitting on one of the inside steps and she’s crying. As we sat there talking it out, I remember “Purple Rain” still being played over and over for what was probably hours or so.

“My Name Is Prince” and “Diamonds and Pearls” take me to my first years in radio. I’ve always had the luck to work in stations that have so many different type of music formats in the same place so it’s like your mind is blown because you hear so much more different music in one day than the average person. I’d go from one side of the building hearing Spanish blasting on one side and end up at the other hearing “Ma name is Prince …” Loved it.

Like many of my radio fam, we have the luck of going to many many concerts. And many of us remember many a day when you’d get an email or hear an announcement that there are extra tickets ‘up front’ — this usually meant that winners did not pick up their tickets and, so that they wouldn’t go to waste, the “first come, first served” announcement would come. Sometimes I’d make it, sometimes not. I was in Denver at the time, and the announcement came, this time for Prince tickets and this time I made it. Add to this, our station was a few blocks away from Fiddler’s Green, the venue I used to refer to as Denver’s version of the Bay’s Shoreline Amphitheater.

Colorado BFF Sandra and I walked to Fiddler’s and were pleasantly surprised to walk in to see/hear his opening act: Chaka Khan, yay! And then to watch this man in concert, I watched him play every instrument on stage, take no breaks, and was completely blown away by his talent, his originality, and inventive arrangements of so many songs, new and old. I have never seen anyone else work a show like Prince, ever. You just knew that you were in the midst of genius.

The few times that I saw Prince do interviews, I was struck by how funny, smart, and insightful he was.  I respected how true he was to himself always,  even when he stood alone, especially in the way he changed the music business by standing up for himself and his music.  Legend.

This weekend will be to appreciate the music Prince made, watch the almost non-stop media coverage, and send up a prayer for his safe passage as he begins the next journey. RIP Prince.


April Writing Challenge Day 7: Tattoo You

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Never my thing I must confess.  I associated tattoos as something that folks do in a borrachera or pendejada one night and then wake up regretting it!  I have seen many many people tattoo a person’s name on parts of their bodies, only to regret it and have to make changes to permanent ink.  In fact, I’ve seen a covered-up tattoo on my Dad’s arm and I’ve heard about the many body parts where people have put names of their loves — all I think about is how painful that must be.  As I was checking out tattoos online, I just had to check out ones with my name…they looked painful LOL.  Not that it’s likely, but if I were to get a tattoo, I could only handle my initial…no, not even that, I have NO tolerance for pain.

So when I saw this subject on the writing challenge, I almost skipped it…after all, who would know? who would check up on me? LOL   And then I thought I would put it out on social media to see what kind of response I would get…thanks to all that responded, I’ve learned a lot about why you get tattoos — mad respect to you for your bravery, tolerance for pain, and huevos to put your story out there for the world to see.  Some of us write, some of us want to be written on and read, as one would read a book.  This is what I came to appreciate the most:  that these tattoos all have special significance and it is a creative way to express yourselves and to mark major events and people in your lives…

Tattoos are dedicated to familia, children, parents, favorite singers, spiritual symbols, and even animals and cartoon figures…here are some of your responses…

DS:  I have 4, 2 are for my dad since he was cremated, so daily reminders of him and the man I want to be. 2 others are only 1/2 done that are going to be bucket list destination tattoos.

MT:  I have a bumblebee that I got the year Adriana turned 18, it represents perseverance. Then for Myda, I got a sunflower, she’s always been the sunshine in my life. I still need to add 3 butterflies, for Rocio, Ayda and Noemi. My 5 nieces are my girls and I love them very much.


YL:  I have 3 my first one is on my ankle and it’s a Rosario (rosary), it was my first one ever.  I was a troubled child and wanted a religious image….. My second is my kids initials on my left wrist and my third is on my neck, a butterfly to me it represents Jenni Rivera my favorite singer…. Mariposa!


BT:  I have a hello kitty peeking from the top of a big pink bow.  Well…Hello Kitty is timeless and I am a girly girl!


MH:  Mine is a cover up…I like it and would like another one!


JJ:  I have only 1, but it’s lil Kermit the frog. I’ve always loved frogs & have a huge collections. I got the tattoo to represent something I am, that I love.  I’m planning on getting one w/ my sisters as well. Something that shows the world our bond together.


NRV:  My sorority sister and I were supposed to get our first tattoo’s together. She was killed in Honduras at 19 in tragic car accident. I got what I had planned to get with her for my 21st birthday. When I was in my 20’s I went through a very rough patch and firmly believed that music saved me. I went to Mexico and got a clef note on my wrist. When Jose was born I had a vision of la Virgen G. I promised her I would always have roses for her. The three roses on my left foot are my kept promise, one for each member of my little family. When my grandpa and Tio died within months of each other, two very different, but amazing male presences in my life, I commemorated them with a little feather and the name of my grandpa’s favorite song, the way people like him and I live our lives, A Mi Manera. Finally, last year really kicked my butt. Between accidents, deaths in the family, and my parents’ incident, I found myself constantly seeking milagros. I now have a permanent reminder that regardless how difficult life gets, milagros do happen. Milagros exist.


CM:  I have dog tags in memory of my cousin that died in Afghanistan serving this country .I got it because he was more like my brother we were close an I wanted to carry his memory every where I go plus I love tattoos to me it’s like stained glass on a church and the beauty just radiates through!


HV:  All of my tattoos are for my family, one is the date my dad took his last heartbeat.  There is also one which is for my team!


Thanks ALL for helping me with this blog entry!

April Writing Challenge, Day 6: First 3 of Music Shuffle

April Writing Challenge, Day 6:

Put Your music player on shuffle and write about the first 3 songs that play…talk about those songs….

Song 1: Fue Un Placer Conocerte – Rocío Durcal
No brainer. Rocio Durcal is one the best singers of all time in my book. Since her passing a few years ago, I have yet to see a great female artist who worked it like Rocio. Born in Spain, she was like a Gidget type of artist, very poppy music and all that. It wasn’t until she recorded rancheras with el mariachi that she became internationally famous. I remember watching her on TV all of the time and I remember that she was Mama’s very favorite singer ever.
When I got into radio, Rocio’s music was one of the things that I could share with Mama. It’s funny, any one who knows me, knows that with all of the hook-ups that I had to concerts, etc., that my familia wasn’t really into that, so it was very rare to see my parents at any events where I was working. Except for Rocio: my mother was always ready to see Rocio in concert and I loved to be able to make this happen for her.
Somehow it always seemed to be me taking Mama to the casinos and you know how casinos are, in the middle of nowhere so it’s a guaranteed long drive. Some of my best memories were blasting Rocio Durcal in the car and watching Mama transform from tense and apurada to relaxed, happy, and she would sing LOUD too especially on the way to the casinos…on the way back, she would be lost in thought enjoying the music.  Mama had her favorite Rocio songs and so did I, but this song was one that we both LOVED…and would sing it a todo volumen, she did the high part, I did the low part LOL.  Here’s the super duo of Rocio Durcal and Juan Gabriel, “Fue Un Placer Conocerte”


Song 2:  Que Culpa Tengo, Little Joe y La Familia

omg!  This is one song that I regularly saaaaang in the Jeep at full blast!  It is one of the very first Tejano songs I heard in my life and it’s such a classic that always sounds good.  I must find a karaoke somewhere or have a few drinks and make my familia MTB back me up on this LOL.

I love the song because it’s kinda in your face, basically it’s “you knew how I was when you met me, NOW it’s a problem?”  These are my favorite songs ever to sing because there is no way that you can halfass this type of song, you really have to feel it, to be one beat short of letting out a grito when you sing it.   I’ve listened to enough Little Joe songs in my life to think that HE has to like these types of songs, because he sings so many of them, and has sung himself into legend-status.

As I was listening to this song, I was scrolling Facebook and see that my immensely-talented godson nephew MT3 was playing with his boss, Little Joe, in front of the Alamo for FiestaSanAntonio a few hours ago.  It’s so cool to watch familia workin it with this Tejano legend.  If I know MT3, he probably still gets a little starstruck and I looove that he’s out there repping our family name with the big boys.

The minute I heard Tejano music, I related INSTANTLY.  Related to the fact that I just KNEW that these guys were from this side of the border, speaking English first, Spanglish second LOL, loving our roots and having mad respect for the motherland but doing things our own way.    To hear Little Joe’s grito and shouting stuff in English like, “put it on!” like he does at the beginning of the song blew my mind out back in the day.   Here is “Que Culpa Tengo” by Little Joe y La Familia…classic.


Song 3:  Workin’ on a Groovy Thing, Patti Drew

First time I heard this song, it was when we were little and it was part of our Ita’s awesome record collection.  She may be a quiet and reserved person, but this lady has always loved music and especially this type of music.    My Grijalva cousins also loved this song so I heard it a lot as we hung out with them a lot back in the day.

The second time I remember hearing this song, sis Kiki was looking all over the place for a copy of this song, yes, this was before ‘You Tube’ and online radio.

A couple of years ago, I came upon this song on You Tube and really really got into it.  It’s one of the ones that I TRY to sing in the Jeep.  Sounds easy, but it’s a very hard song to sing and the one person who can really sing it and who has the air to hit all of the notes is, you guessed it, Kiki.

It’s also a great ‘driving’ song.  I drive so much that I need good music to keep me going!  Here’s Patti Drew, ‘Workin On A Groovy Thing’





April Writing Challenge, Day 5: A Place I Would Live But Have Never Visited

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At first, I had trouble with this challenge, I travelled a lot and moved around a lot for my various jobs. While I’ve always been able to make any place I have lived resemble home; I’ve always had “houses” because my mother always reminded me that I had one “home”, the Ranch.

As I thought more about living somewhere in a place that I’ve never visited, I was like, “whaaat?” I may have travelled a lot but never really sat around and dreamed of a place I’d love to visit. When I have a day off, I’m very happy to be at home, en piyama, kicking back, looooove those kind of days!

But then it hit me, there is one place that I would live that I’ve never visited: I would love to live in the place where Margaret Grijalva Torres now calls home, her ‘eternal home’ she would tell us. Has she seen Heaven yet? Is she still on her way to Heaven? Who cares? I would love to live wherever she is. What would I see? I would see my beautiful Mama walking, maybe even running, no stress or pain her face, wearing her famous coral-red lipstick, no cane, no wheelchair, no marks on her arms, relaxed, peaceful, happy. I hope she would have on heels (she loved heels). Maybe I’d see my grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends and, not that I wouldn’t love to see them, but Mama is the main person whom I  would  want to be able to see, hear, and feel again.




April Writing Challenge, Day 4: Ten Things About Me

about me

April Writing Challenge – Day 4
Ten Interesting Facts About Yourself

These are always fun…

In no particular order:

1. My favorite color is GREEN. Always has been. I especially like how being around green in nature can soothe me in seconds, how wearing something green makes me feel cool, anything looks better in green.


2. I am a preemie: I was 2 pounds and 5 ounces at birth 3 months before my due date. It’s also the reason I am named Carmen, no one was sure that I would make it or not so I was baptized and they looked at the Mexican calendar on July 16th – the day of Nuestra Sra. del Carmen thus my name. I was on my own for the first few months of my life in an incubator without a lot of physical contact and since then, I’ve always been very ticklish, I’ve never been very touchy-feely-huggy and I’ve always been able to sense when something is wrong or dangerous in places or people…


3. I am a great cook with simple dishes, just ask my Dad. I am no gourmet cook but I can work it with carne/chile, beans, rice, simple salad, eggs, fideo, papas – the basics. All of the years that I lived by myself, I laughed because my cooking was just ok so I must have always liked cooking for others.


4. I love my godchildren niece nephews like they were my own. Different ages, shapes, sizes, all shades of brown, some light, some dark, all beautiful. I really do try to be there for them, they’re all perfect said this Nina always.


5. I have worked for 13 different radio stations throughout my career. Every station has been a big part of my life and so many stories come with each of them, I’ve been blessed to meet and work with sooo many great people, some legends, some legends in their own minds! One day, I’d like to get all of my crews in one place and take a picture – now THEY were the best and my favorites! I spent more time with my crews than my own fam and friends – there is nothing we have not seen and I know that anytime I get with my radio fam, it will be ON: chisme, laughing, crying, etc. Love my industry. Once in radio, always in radio.


6. My favorite city is San Antonio. I remember the first time I went there; I did not want to come back LOL. As my familia was not one to go back/forth to Mexico like a lot of my familia and friends did, and we did not speak Spanish at home; going to San Antonio was great – I related and felt at home right away. San Antonio, after all, is, as one of my friends from Mexico tells me, “no es Mexicano, es Mexican-American”, and love how he says it with an accent ‘mes-i-can, am-errr-i-can’! You can feel the vibe of this city, very Latino, Mex Am, Chicano, everyone looks like you, everyone speaks English or Spanglish, and when I heard Tejano radio for the first time: where they speak in Spanglish – I was like ‘whaaaat?’ loved it. I’ve been there many times throughout the years, and it’s still the same feeling. Great place.


7. When I went to meet the man who would be my boss at the Charter Way Denny’s, I sat with the wrong ‘white man’ LOL I still laugh when I think of the first time I met Mike Murphy. Who knew that he would be my first mentor and champion in radio. I learned so much from him about this industry and about how to conduct myself – no school could have done it better. I miss working with him every day.


8. Once I owned that I loved to write, my writing got much better. I was very much of the school that to do things by yourself was not cool so, for many years, I did not do them.  Now it is different.  I can get lost in my writing and am trying to write stories that I have never seen or heard before, which sound like me, where I can speak like I always do: in English, Spanish, and Spanglish, which celebrate family, friendship, culture. Part of becoming a better writer is to get to know yourself, working on this every day!


9. I am trying to pass the State Interpreter Exam for what feels like the millionth time. This past time, I was so close to passing that it really depressed me. But then again, I thought to myself, ‘you got this close/far on your own, by yourself, you can do it again’ When I think of all of the people I know who are working in the field without certification, I think, I should just do that and be done with it. But it is all about closing the circle and finishing what I started on that day that someone dared me to go to the orientation meeting at SFSU, saying that I’d probably not get in … not only did I get in, I was able to hang with my colegas, and I was not afraid to try it ever – even if I messed up. You better know I’ll pass the exam eventually.


10. I know how to get to a Starbucks in almost every city in the Bay Area, Stockton, Modesto, and Sacramento areas and all ranchos in between. I work very well in these places, they are just loud enough for me to do my Interpreter Drill Exercises, and, once I put on my headphones, I am able to get into a good writing groove and work my ideas out. Sometimes the stars line up and I get a good table with good lighting and it’s not too low or too high or too wobbly and I can get so much done. I have about 10 regular places where they know me, know what I am going to order, and they are always very nice about letting me stay while they close up when I’m on a roll.

April Writing Challenge, Day 3: First Love, First Kiss


April Writing Challenge, Day 3
Your first love…Your first kiss…

It’s not that I’ve ever been against love, I just had too many things that I wanted to do with my life that it never was one of my priorities. I always was planning some event or another…my entire life.  I didn’t feel confident with myself then to even think about dating anyone.  I can count on one hand the times that I have been in like or in love. I don’t fall in love that often, but when I do, I admit that I fall hard.

When I moved out to go the University, as my Comadre will attest, I was very much from the rancho, I knew nothing about anything. I was always able to talk to anyone and make friends easily but I didn’t know how to live with anyone other than my family, didn’t know how to get around anywhere, barely drove, didn’t know much about hanging out or dating anyone.

Enter Mr. Kam (not his real name), we met in class and started studying together and hanging out. I didn’t even realize that I was in love with him until, one night out with friends, we dropped him off at his house and I was sitting in the car all quiet. Our friend Joe (may he RIP) famous for his big mouth and talking s&^#  yells out, ‘oooh check out Carmen, all in love’, I remember telling him, ‘shut up Joe!’ and then sitting in the car in stunned silence embarrassed… because he was right.

The first kiss came in front of my house a few weeks later as Mr. Kam said goodbye for the summer. It was a very fun time. And then after a while, it wasn’t…like most first loves, they are not usually the one, the endings are more painful than most…it was all tears and drama and I was convinced that I was going to die of dehydration from crying and I was going to die of a broken heart, I remember telling my friends, ‘I just feel like I’m dying!’ LOL

Looking back, it was only meant to last for those couple of years and the breakup was the kindest and sweetest one ever. It’s the way all relationships should end, with a great open and honest conversation, with relatively little drama, some tears, and good wishes all around. I am glad that we have remained lifelong friends.

April Writing Challenge Day 2: My First Memory


Today’s topic:

My First Memory.

The very first thing I remember was looking up at designs on a wall, but I was moving, or was it the wall moving? It felt kind of stuffy, and I wanted to be able to see and breathe. I could hear movement, footsteps, people talking, and other sounds that I couldn’t identify. It wasn’t dark, so I wasn’t scared. I don’t even remember being nervous, I just wanted to be able to see and breathe!

After what seemed like a very long time, I instantly felt the wall fall down, and felt fresh, cool air all around, my eyes squinted and struggled to focus, the colors were so bright: green grass, trees, bright blue skies, and there were a lot of people around, it was so loud too! I started to look around and I didn’t see anyone that I recognized, then I started to get scared and nervous and I could feel my eyes water and my breathing start to accelerate, and then I felt a strong hand around me and I looked up to see who it was…

Half crying, I saw her, then I started laughing too! It was Mama! She hugged me, held me tighter and, when I looked down, I saw the pink moving wall again, this time, Mama put it around me as she held me. I felt safe. I felt happy.

—the first paragraph is what I remember, I really did remember a pink wall, and it took me years to figure out what it was. I like to think that this is what happens when folks take the baby blanket off of the baby carrier or off of a baby’s head. We always want to protect babies from the elements, the sun, the wind, the cold, the heat and, ever since I can remember, I remember how it felt under that blanket…to this day, I don’t need more than one very thin blanket and, 9 times out of 10, arms and legs are not covered. LOL And you better know that I will be the first to uncover a baby and take that blanket off so they can breathe.



April Writing Challenge Day 1

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APRIL WRITING CHALLENGE DAY 1: This writing challenge came at the right time, I’ve been in a writing funk lately…I’ve been trying to deal with my personal issues and, while I know that writing is cathartic for me, I’ve chosen not to make the time. That’s always a flashing red light for me that I’m not taking care of myself as I should. Here’s hoping that by May 1st, I’ll be back where I need to be, writing and, more important, finishing up all of the many many drafts that I’ve started! The daily topics will be random and I will try to keep them short LOL. Today’s topic:

Five Problems with Social Media.

In no particular order, here are my thoughts:
1 – People are losing the art of communication. Go into any room, wait on any train or bus, go into any restaurant, any home, any table, and chances are, you will see all people together but disconnected, all focused on their smartphones or tablets. It’s almost like no one is comfortable without looking onto a screen. I admit I’m guilty of this as well. However, I draw the line when there are little kids in my group or when I’m in an important meeting. I’ve always been pretty good at starting up conversations with anyone, anytime, and it’s more fun than looking at a screen.

2 – Spelling words correctly is no longer a priority. Some of the spelling and grammatical errors are embarrassing and it’s probably inevitable as lots of folks spell like if they were texting. What gets me is when people spell like that on important documents like resumes and business correspondence. Spell check is available on any/every social media and on every smartphone, laptop, PC. So many times, I find something really great that someone has said and I cannot bring myself to read, much less forward the message or picture after I find major spelling errors like UR, KE, KIERO, IMA, etc.

3 – Everything is done for a “like”. It’s kind of sad when I see things like this. When folks put things out there for attention, for a “like”. It’s like people are inventing another life, another identity on social media. In my view, there is no reason to put everything out there on social media, because not everyone is your real friend, not everyone has your best interest at heart. My family and real friends know the real me and we connect on another level besides just social media. So my social media experience is a small window into my life, my entire life is not for public consumption.

4 – Once something is placed online, it is there for eternity. Sadly, I have learned this the hard way. A person has consistently tried to embarrass, shame, humiliate, harass me via posts, pictures and messages on social media. It’s been 5 years now, wow, that I’ve had to monitor and report all of this mess. And then, every once in a while, something will turn up online again posted by this person and what can I say? What can I do? Nada. Just keep filing reports and keeping my head held high – not easy some days, but, eso si, I love being connected and will not be scared away again, and I will always be more careful.

5 – It is almost impossible to ‘turn off’.   Every night especially, if I don’t watch it, I can be online for hours thus losing sleep. When I’m on the road, I’m checking the darn thing constantly. This is where I need to do the most work: allowing my mind and body to rest on a consistent basis. I go through periods when I am off for days and days and then I’m back on 24/7. Being that I like my sleep, I’ll start putting my blackberry on vibrate and the sleep timer on the TV, let’s see how this works! Algo es algo.