HEALTH opening for Crystal Castles @ FLUXX, San Diego
Photo: Matthew Cooper iPhone

In my skin

Sometimes I think I want to blog about what I'm wearing and where I found it on clearance and what great shoes are cute and comfortable. I talk about these things to friends in real life. Then I imagine all the photos that people post of themselves when they blog about their style and I know that 90% of my shots would come out like this.

Let me explain what is going on with my face; because I am cocking finger pistols, I am also saying, "Chk-chk." And I can't stop even though Matthew pointed out that it isn't entirely necessary to SAY chk-chk when pretending that my hands are guns. Doesn't matter. Incidentally, this expression is very similar to my "smile" at the dentist's receptionist the other day when half my face was numb.

I took these photos outside of a deli in LA where we ate before heading down to the Idol TV finale. I wanted to show Robin and Kelly that I was wearing the awesome t-shirt they bought for me at the Sicilian Festival in San Diego and had given me the night before.

You can't really see the shirt but there is a tree and the tree is a person and their arms are trunks. It reminded them of the Berlin tree I have tattooed on my arm. In this photo I believe I think I'm sneaking up on someone.

I have a hard time taking myself seriously in photos and am generally an inelegant subject. I can be going about my day perfectly gracefully but as soon as the camera is on me, I'm constipated. I don't know exactly what this means, besides the fact that I'm turning into my mother. Am I not as comfortable in my skin as I think I am? Hm. Something to think about.

These things happened at the American Idol finale

** I developed a crush on Beyoncé during her performance and kept thinking, "She's so...PRETTY..." When Ryan Seacrest gave a little recap and mentioned Beyoncé, I said outloud, "Hell yeah!" Matthew and I both paused for two seconds and looked at each other. Then he said, "You just did that."

Note: mom and dad, if Neill's crush on Tina Turner wanes, you might show him a Beyoncé video on the iPad. He should be good for another year or so of hitting replay.

** The guy on the Segway who was rolling very slowly up the aisle in the theater, smiling. He looked really happy. When he passed our row, I saw that his Segway had GOLD RIMS. Yes.

** During commercial breaks, when the judges were getting powdered in their chairs and Ryan Seacrest was getting powdered backstage, another host came out to entertain the audience - Cory, who was the intermission host on the tour a few years.

Once I was walking Matthew through the arena and the Pop Tart mascot snuck up behind him. Cory drew attention to this by saying into his mic, "Hey, it's Jess's boyfriend!" and the cameras caught it so what people saw on the giant LED screens was Matthew scurrying towards a seat, being chased by a life-sized Pop Tart.

** I thought I'd get misty-eyed when Bono and the Edge were onstage since it would be the first time I've ever seen my teenage idols play live. I liked their song but think the whole Spiderman gimmick threw off my emotions a bit, though I did still think, "That man (Bono) will always have a piece of my heart."

** Ron Jeremy was sitting a few rows up from us. I don't know how I feel about this, if I feel anything, but somehow it seems worth mentioning.

** At the party that night I saw lots of people for whom it's been a long time and bear hugs ensued. With Gus - dancer, homie, and huge Neill Roncker fan - there was also squealing. I cracked up with former Idols going back to 2006 and made a power fist when someone I didn't know said he was also from Ohio. Good night.

Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles @ FLUXX, San Diego
Photo credit: Matthew Cooper iPhone


Iron Mountain

Kelly has made appearances in Prague, Texas, and Berlin, and was recently in Oceanside. I totally get Kelly's style of travel because for years and years I would decide to go somewhere and by the end of the week, I was in another state or country. I loved making decisions like this and can appreciate it in others.

When I moved to Oceanside, Kelly told me I should hang out with her friend Robin. Kelly and Robin go back years to when they both lived in Corpus Christi, Texas, before Robin was in the Navy and Kelly was making her way around the world. Robin, a huge music follower, and I started going to live shows together and Robin kept me updated on Kelly's whereabouts: Costa Rica, back in the states, and then suddenly flying to Oceanside on a whim.

It was perfect. Matthew and I had already made plans with his friend Jacob and Robin to jointly celebrate Robin's transfer to Virginia, my leaving for American Idol, and Jacob's birthday. We added Andrew Mera and Kelly to the mix and went to San Diego last weekend. It was very fun and I discovered a few new places but GOOD LORD the Gaslamp District is obnoxious. Every night I've walked around there has felt like Mardi Gras and I know that appeals to some people but not me. My goal when I get back in September is to get out of downtown and explore the rest of San Diego. I can't take more girls puking into their stilettos.

While Kelly was here I also did statistics homework with her (wheeee!), ate peanut butter pie, and went hiking at Iron Mountain in Poway, CA. The day started with rain and I wondered if Robin or Kelly would cancel. I doubted it considering the treacherous rock climbing and boat sinking tales I've heard from Kelly and I was right. What's a little mud on a mountain trail? Pshaw.

San Luis Rey River Trail

In my tradition of getting nostalgic for things that are not yet in my past, I'm already missing the bike path in Oceanside.

I started out riding my bike on the path but realized in the last month that I prefer to walk it. Not all nine miles each way; I walk two and a half out and back and its become one of my favorite routines. It marks a break in my day from being at the computer, especially if I go out in the late morning. If I go in late afternoon-early evening, it separates the work part of my day to the eating dinner and watching a movie on the couch part. Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I make phone calls, sometimes I'm silent.

laughing quietly to myself

About the rap Matthew made up this morning, "I don't give a fuck, I eat cookies for breakfast..." We wondered if Ice-T could make these lyrics sound tough and decided that yeah, he could.


5 more days

With less than a week before I go to LA for a month of Idol rehearsals, I have to prioritize what I can get done before leaving. When I'm feeling dramatic I think, "On Sunday my life as I know it will be over until September." Funny how watching a Christian Slater movie marathon is creeping steadily up the ranks of my to-do list: The Legend of Billie Jean, Gleaming the Cube, Pump up the Volume, Heathers. Also: get my hair cut, have tea with Robin and Kelly, take the dog on many walks. And work, work, work so I'm prepared on Monday.

I finished a few grown up tasks like getting health insurance and reading a book on tax deductions. Sorry, skimming a book on tax deductions. It got less painful as I went and I started realizing that taxes are just a big game - not a cool or fun one, but a game nonetheless - and I just need to learn a few rules. Still, it wasn't bedtime reading. I sat in the library and sped read the important parts and took notes. Useful but a chore.

I also bought Groupons for Matthew and I to go to a dentist since we don't have dental insurance.

Our appointments were on Friday and I was, as usual, unconcerned. I have a history of being the MVP at the dentist, good teeth being one of my things. A lot of things don't come easily to me but strong teeth do so I tend to strut out of the dentist lobby with a new brush and travel-sized toothpaste, thinking I don't even need these friendly reminders. MY TEETH CLEAN THEMSELVES. My front two turn in but that's maybe not surprising since I haven't had braces since 1984. My childhood dentist Dr. Mills was so proud of the work he did on my teeth that year that he took white plaster before and after molds and displayed them in the glass case on the wall by the receptionist with the other overachievers. I associate the dentist with praise and new toys.

This might explain my reaction when my new dentist told me I had a cavity, my first cavity. I was a hundred percent ready to call bullshit on Dr. Javaheri but he got all high tech, took a photo of my cavity and displayed it on the giant flat screen television in the room so I could see it for myself. This was the opposite of Dr. Mills' glass case of pride. I was faced with the full-color high-definition image of the inside of my mouth, slick with saliva and in that one spot three teeth from the back on the left side it looked like a small rotting sponge. There would be no argument.

As soon as I made my filling appointment for Monday, I hightailed it out to the sidewalk and when Matthew exited with a Colgate bag and free toothpaste, I was accusatory.

"I didn't get one of those!"

"Yes, you did," he said, "You just ran out too quickly. The woman at the desk thinks you're upset and asked me if you're okay."

"Oh," I said. "What'd you tell her?"

"I covered for you and said that you're just stressed because you're leaving town in a few days."

"Oh. Thanks."

Yesterday I went back for the filling. I didn't like the smell of my tooth burning, though it was preferable to the Lasik smell of one's eye burning, but it was painless overall. I wanted the receptionist to see how not-upset I was so I flashed her a big smile as I was paying. It felt weird; I touched the left side of my face. Oh right, completely numb. What did that smile look like? When I got to the car, I flashed the same smile in the rearview mirror and then started laughing out of the side that wasn't frozen. So creepy.


I want to have Mogwai's baby. I was so happy to hear them live at Belly Up in Solana Beach, to rock back and forth, nod my head, smile. To hear the sort-of lead singer (they don't much sing) say into what we called the thank you mic, "Thanks very much, cheers" after each song. After they left the stage the lights stayed off and I asked Matthew why we do encores. When did the encore become the fashion and why? But I'm psyched they did because when they came back out they played my favorite, Auto Rock, the song me and my people walked down the aisle to a year ago. Love!

Photo credit: Matthew Cooper's iPhone because they confiscated my camera at the door. No love from the Belly Up bouncers.

laughing quietly to myself

About how today I said, "DUDE..." and did a double hang ten with my hands and I wasn't even kidding. What is this state doing to me?

laughing quietly to myself

About how I just made up a dance called the bow-legged octopus.



Poop! Totally worth writing on public property.


Felix NYC

Felix spent some quality time over the last few days in New York!
Photo credits: Cathy Hickey



2nd Ave & 3rd Street, New York
Photo: Halle Heyman


Urine therapy

I thought I was going to keep my cool with this topic but I can't. URINE THERAPY. Does anyone know anything about this?

The extent of my knowledge until yesterday's internet research was this: I hung out with a guy in New York who once told me that peeing on wounds helps them heal faster. I immediately chalked this up to his being from Oregon and decided that this was just a typical thing that he'd say since he also ran a car on veggie oil and loved the smell of his own armpits. I, by the way, think my pits are rank but would love a veggie car. Or electric, thank you.

I forgot all about the said healing properties of urine until yesterday when I read online about urinary tract infections in dogs. Patsy has either randomly decided to get super interested in tree trunks and marking her territory or something is going on with her peehole because she's been crouching in the grass about ten times longer than usual and nothing is coming out. She's also been waking me up in the morning by touching her nose to mine and whining, totally uncool and not normally tolerated behavior except now I think she might have a UTI so I get up to take her out. As one who has suffered a hundred UTIs, I sympathize.

Normally, we take Patsy to the vet right away but I'm being cautious because she just finished a bottle of antibiotics that she was on for three weeks. She had a yeast infection IN HER ROLLS OF BELLY FAT. YES. She also had "yeasties", as the vets like to call them, in her ears and paws. She was basically an adorable walking yeast infection. Merrick told me that yogurt helps prevent infections in dogs and I searched more online and learned the benefits of apple cider vinegar AFTER I got caught in the urine therapy wormhole.

It was not good.

I found myself making my way down a thread of messages by people discussing the ways that they use their urine: they drink it, they use it as mouthwash, they rub it all over their face with a cotton ball every morning. I was horrified but also drawn in and conflicted. So many of the people taking part in the conversation were afraid to tell anyone in their lives that they were using their urine therapeutically. They were thrilled with the results but ashamed by the method so were living - and thriving! - silently with the secret. The problem for me was also that most of them were using the urine to clear up their complexions, something that is very much pissing me off right now.

My skin has been going from okay to bad to worse and since we moved has taken on new characteristics. Besides my regular monthly breakout around my chin and jawline, I have a rash of zits on my neck and around my ears that doesn't go away. My forehead is bumpy, worse in some places than others. The skin around my mouth is constantly erupting. I've tried lots and lots of products and usually I deal okay with this vexing adult acne because I have perspective on what is truly important in my life and the means to buy fancy foundation. The day however, that I wore a surgical cap and slopped LUSH henna on my hair for seven hours, I had a good think. I am now of the age where I have a lot of gray hair AND teenager skin. It may be unjust but I'm sure it's not unheard of. It's just really annoying. At some point I will let all my gray hairs grow long and I will discover the reason my skin is so angry and then what? I'll find something else to be perturbed with.

In the meantime, all these people are having amazing success with their urine face rubs. They say morning pee is the best. The skin problems that have plagued them for years have all but disappeared. "It's sterile!" they say, "It's clean!!" One woman said that when she's home she always has pee on her face; she only washes it off when she leaves the house. "And does she wonder why she's not in a relationship?" I ask Matthew, not kindly.

I'm being cagey and unkind because a part of me would pee on a cotton ball in a heartbeat if I thought it would really help but I'm not comfortable with that. The other part of me would die of embarrassment at the thought of urine therapy and would never consider about it much less write about it.


homeless art and giant pickles

A few hours after I wrote about the so-called ghetto last week, I was going through old photos and found something. It is a photo of a diorama I made in sixth or seventh grade art class and I clearly spent some time constructing the simple three dimensional scene out of pieces of poster board and colored pencils. When I saw the photo the other day, though, I gaped because it is a homeless scene. I MADE A HOMELESS DIORAMA? I do not remember this but I'm not surprised. This diorama illustrates that my house may have been in Hyde Park but my school was in the hood.

The D and D Deli was a store across the street from my elementary school, Sands Montessori. Sometimes, if I wasn't taking the bus home and my mom was picking me up, I was allowed to buy a snack at the D and D Deli, Lemonheads or Fritos or some such thing. I never did buy a giant pickle in a plastic pouch, bobbing in its own green-tinted juices, though I saw a lot cross the deli's threshold. Those pickles totally freaked me out.


Sunday meandering

Sunday: read on the patio, coffee, bicycling, writing, Hill Street Cafe, talk to new friends Aaron and Wayne, sit in the grass, homemade sweet potato fries for dinner. The only thing missing was the New York Times.


Under I-5

Oceanside, CA bike path