coffee Jello

My favorite thing about Monterrey, Mexico is coffee Jello.

Where are you, inventor of coffee Jello? I want to hug.

It doesn't have the restorative qualities of a strong americano or the sleepy effect of a sugary rich dessert but conceptually I'm on coffee Jello's side.


These cigarettes are killing you.

If, by chance, you didn't get the message from the side of the box that says in capital letters to be careful because these cigarettes are killing you, turn it over and let Chile introduce you to Don Miguel and his tracheotomy hole. Alright, Chile. I GET IT.


Dear hoo hoo

What should one send your friend when she has part of her cervix removed?


With the following card:

Dear hoo hoo,
Heal up real soon.
We will miss you

Thanks for the inspiration (you know who you are).


Wicked case of meat spurs

After eating anywhere between two and ten pounds of Buenos Aires steak plus bread, antipasto, flan, and two liters of Quilmes beer, we decided to WALK THE MEAT OFF back to the hotel. We hadn't yet realized that the meat would develop a personality of its own, complete with likes and dislikes, and that the meat did not like to be walked. Moreover, we would exhibit symptoms of those who are, if not possessed, at the very least INHABITED by something out of the ordinary.

"I'm high on meat," I said in the restaurant. "I haven't felt like this since that Seattle brunch with Jane's family made me weep."

Frank announced that his feet felt funny.

"Do you think it's the meat?" I asked.

"I have meat feet," he replied.

"Like it's sunk all the way down into your heels?"

"I think that would be meat spurs."

Outside a disco:

"Do you think the meat wants to dance?" 

"The meat definitely wants to feel the rhythm."

When I tried drinking a glass of water:

"Okay, don't do that. The meat doesn't like the water."


Tango tourist

Twenty hours, three flights, and one long nap after leaving Los Angeles, Frank and I hit the sidewalks of Buenos Aires. We had a day before I had to go to River Plate stadium to see the stage and figure out where to plug in and set up the teleprompter equipment that I barely know how to use but will totally pretend to in front of FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND High School Musical fans.

And it's not like I had insomnia last night and woke up every twenty minutes to the thought of USB ports malfunctioning or anything. That happens all the time. I'm sure it's not at all related to teleprompter anxiety. Forty-four thousand people? Great.

My agenda for Saturday was tango and meat. I would have been pleased to see someone else tango or do anything else peripheral like ogle tango shoes. After asking directions and walking in many circles, we found tango row AKA Suipacha street and I, who has never danced a step of tango unless you count the dramatic impersonations I did backstage on the Benise tour, bought an outrageously smoking pair of black and red heels.

Meat time! We asked our cab driver for a Argentinian grill parrillada recommendation, preferably a neighborhood full of locals and not just tourists, but when we pulled up to the corner there may as well have been crickets chirping and tumbleweed rolling down the street.

"Where are all the people?" I asked.

"It's early," the driver said.

"Ooooh yeah," we said, looking at our watches. 7 pm. None of the restaurants open until 8pm because no one even considers eating until MAYBE 9 pm. Unless you are us with our tango shoe bags slung over our shoulders, peering up and down the deserted intersection.


I'm not afraid to talk about your cervix

I'm not a person to run from a conversation about cervixes, although I used to be better about it. Or worse.

Ten years ago, at Evergreen, I stood in front of fifty classmates and lectured them on the glory and the power of menstruation. I was studying women's health and public health and while I never went so far as to wear purple and call myself a goddess, I might have participated in a girls-only drum circle or two. Afterwards I probably back to my dorm room to weave some macrame jewelry and patch my overalls; I don't really remember.

Once Jocardo asked me what a cervix looked like and I held up my worn-down-to-the-nub tube of Chapstick and flashed him the waxy donut end.

"THAT," I told him. "That's what it looks like."

Jocardo nodded and vowed to start buying Carmex.

Now I'm not as impassioned about enjoying PMS and the messages from the universe that it delivers and I honestly don't care if tampons are patriarchal because pads are a pain in the motherf'ing ass but I AM diligent about going to Planned Parenthood every year to check out my business.

Recently one of my friends had her own yearly pap smear and was told that she had pre-cancerous cells on her cervix. This freaked us out because the c word is inherently scary but she also found out that calling a cell pre-c doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Turned out, however, that her cervix had some severe cell growth, so a few days ago they knocked her out to scrape the cells and cut away a little part of her waxy donut.

I can barely sit still when writing the words "scrape" and "cut" in this context and when I spoke to her on the phone about it, I was walking down the street, shaking the words off with my wrists and legs between steps like they were body tics.

I also learned that all this scraping and cutting is due to a STD called Human Papillomavirus which makes the cells grow in the first place. And that HPV is FAR more common - 20 million people have it right now - than we realize. There are 100 types of HPV and most types are low-risk and without symptoms, so unless we get a genital wart or an abnormal pap, our body fights the infection off and we stay happily ignorant that we are one of half of all people having sex who get HPV at some point. The high-risk strains of HPV can lead to cancer.

After I got off the phone with my friend and shook off the last few tics, I pulled this Tell Someone postcard out of the folder where I'd kept it for a few months. I'd kept it because I like the drawing but never really looked at the back. Now I looked at it more closely and saw that, golly, it's about cervical cancer!

Thanks universe! Sorry I haven't paid as much attention to you since graduating from Evergreen.


If on school bus, don't panic

I watched Griffith Park burn yesterday from the parking lot at work, seven miles away, and heard that ash was falling in Atwater Village. I got home at 1 am and the fire was still only thirty percent contained. Part of the neighborhood to the west, Los Feliz, had been evacuated. A volcano appeared to be erupting at the end of the street.

I thought about worrying but decided I was too sleep-deprived to bother and also decided that the river and interstate between us and the oversized orange flames would keep the fire on that side of the highway.

Everything about California brushfires - tearing across mountains, jumping ridges, straddling canyons – is new to me. What I gather, though, is that besides the high temperatures, lack of rain, zero humidity, kids playing with fireworks, and smokers flicking lit cigarettes around the forest, it’s about wind blowing the flames and embers around and igniting the fire in different directions. Maybe even over interstates.

I'm no longer terrified of every single possible threat from the outside world, so last night I simply hoped for the best and fell asleep without even consulting the list of instructions that I made in 1982 for exactly this kind of situation, "Rules for fire + fire + fire + fire". If I had, I would have gotten the following tips:

#5 Always help your little brother or sister + if he is retarded like my brother

#7 Do not ever trampel people

#10 If a fire happens to be in your house the first thing to do is get out and stay out at your meeting place and you better have one!

#14 Always be careful of pink panthers

(I think my mom accidentally slipped me my brother's medication the day I made this list)

#15 If on school bus, don't panic

#16 And never panic


My Liberal Arts degree comes in handy again

My favorite part of doing work that I'm unqualified for is the moment when I suddenly start understanding sentences that five minutes before sounded like the person was speaking in Icelandic. Until recently, my brain seized when the High School Musical crew said anything to me more technical than "extension cord". Now I'm questioning my liberal arts background because I totally could have been an engineering major.

I was setting up my teleprompter station on stage left when the cameraman came over to say hello and get down to business. He told me what I'll be responsible for during load out and I listened and nodded along.

Unplug the power? Got it.

Pack the three monitors in my road case? Check.

Make sure I put the prompter software away carefully and store it far far away from anything giving off a magnetic charge so that I don't irreparably damage it like I did yesterday and we have to get a new version flown in? NO PROBLEM.

Then I started asking questions.

"Is this DVI to video piece connected properly to the DA Box? And what exactly does this DA Box do again? Distribute signal? Right. Now for adapting the video to the Edison box, do I need any more female BNC to male RCA connectors?"


Living on transvestite hooker block

I'm having a who am I and what the hell is going on around here day. My discomfort may be due to the fact that I tried to get fancy and waxed my girl mustache instead of bleaching it. I had a reaction so I'm now walking around with a disfiguring ZITSTACHE and the product I bought at Sephora to supposedly help has dried out everything so whatever patch of skin isn't erupting is instead peeling.

In trying to make the best of the situation happening on my face, I told Jane who was bummed on the phone, "If it makes you feel any better, I have a zit mustache."

And it did help Jane. So Jane feels better about her life but I somehow took 25 minutes to try on fourteen t-shirts in the morning before going with the one I picked out in the first place. And I was just dressing for was the High School Musical show rehearsal. Do I need a perfect t-shirt to sit in a room putting Spanish lines into a script that I'll later feed to the cast on stage as the new TELEPROMPTER OPERATOR for the South American tour? Hell naw! And don't even get me started on how random my job is. The point is that learning to use a teleprompter does not require the right t-shirt.

Earlier this morning I called Miguel, who is in town from Seattle for a coffee conference.

"Miguel," I said, "I'm sorry I didn't make it to the party last night."

"Oh, no, it's okay," he said, "I'm sorry, too, for..." before unsuccessfully wracking his brain to find something to be sorry about just out of habit. He's a very polite overapologizer.

"Where are you?" I asked.

"Hollywood Boulevard and Vine," he said.

"What! I'm riding my bike over to say hi before I go to work."

When I got myself and my zit mustache to Hollywood Blvd, I called him again, "Hey, I'm here."

"I'm in an oxygen bar with tubes stuck up my nose. I'll be done in five minutes," he said.

"Wow. Okay." Who am I to judge? But that is funny.

We threaded our way through the tourists on the sidewalk who were posing for photos with fake Gene Simmons and fake Michael Jackson and then crossed the street to sit outside a coffeeshop. Miguel asked me about living in Southern California and I automatically distanced myself from our immediate surroundings, "Look, this street is nuts. I've never even been over here before."

Right then, a man dressed as either Moses or Anakin Skywalker walked past our table.

"But my neighborhood, Atwater Village, is a regular place to live. Totally nice."

Later, after cursing my entire collection of t-shirts and typing way too many exclamation points into the teleprompter (MUCHAS, MUCHAS GRACIAS, BUENOS AIRES!!!!!), and after walking past Fergie in the hallway of the rehearsal space and mistaking her for just another gal with long extensions, super big sunglasses, and a miniature dog, I came home, sank into a chair, and decided not to go anywhere for the rest of the night because I can't even take it anymore, not today.

Frank left to see some music with his nephew, Josh, but called me right away to tell me about the transvestite who lifted her skirt to show some leg as he drove past.

"Oh, that's nice," I said.

"Yeah, and he or she is working our block exactly, right between our house and the light."

"Really?" I said.

But I didn't need convincing because that is this kind of day.


Anti-Hipster Hipster

Yesterday I paid someone to rub hot lava stones on my legs and back.

After the massage therapist balanced the stones on my muscles and drove his body weight into the knots in my back through his TINY POINTY elbow, he wrapped my feet in steamy towels and placed what felt like beanbags on the backs of my knees.

At this point, I thought two things. 1) Is he balancing beanbags on my knees? 2) If I feel better afterwards, he can shoot particle beam lasers into my muscles for all I care. Turns out the "beanbags" were a robe and once I wiped the drool off my face and made eye contact, he told me I really need to stretch and be more conscious of how I carry weight on my back.

Hm. I wonder if he's talking about last week's four-hour bike ride that I did wearing a backpack stuffed with my computer, several books, my journal, my ipod, my camera, and some extra clothes. I'm really glad I took all that stuff with me, especially since THE ONLY THING I USED WAS THE CAMERA, which weighs 5 ounces.

It was worth it, though, because I got to make fun of Matt for taking a water break outside the Brady Brunch house and for being an AHH: Anti-Hipster Hipster.

"What's that mean?" Matt asked in a tone that indicated he was considering getting defensive.

"It means that you're nice and genuine and you're kind of turned off by the scene but you wear OBEY t-shirts and grandpa shorts and white grommet belts on bike rides."

Matt did what was the ultimate proof that he's not a true hipster: he laughed at himself.