Monday, October 30, 2006

Cabo San Lucas

My sister, The Redhead, loves this story more than life itself.

I once dated a guy who was a tax attorney. He will be known herein as "The Greek". He was from the East Coast and was educated in some of the nation's best schools. He was athletic. He was tall. He was ridiculously handsome. And he was-- as I later found out at an airport twelve hundred miles from home-- an asshole.

The Greek and I were fixed up by a mutual acquaintance who thought we had a lot in common. Actually, we had nothing in common, but she meant well. He showed up at my apartment to pick me up for dinner, wearing a well-worn blue jacket, grey slacks, and a rep tie. His dark hair shone. His brown eyes sparkled. He opened the car door for me.

We drove to the restaurant, and he explained why he was a Republican. He talked about many subjects, most of which he knew nothing about. "Homelessness" and "poverty" were two themes he talked about with great authority. "They're just lazy," he said of the homeless population. "Well, lots of them are mentally unstable and can't take care of themselves, " I offered. "Oh, I don't think that's true," he said, "They just want a free handout." When we got to the restaurant and parked the car, there was a homeless man near the entrance, asking for money. Oddly, The Greek gave him a dollar. "Hm," I thought.

I don't remember the dinner that night, but I do remember wanting to give The Greek a couple more chances. Besides, he could be so sweet and gentlemanly. He opened doors. He said "please" and "thank you". I wanted to see if there was more to him than silly political leanings with which I didn't agree.

We attended his office Christmas party together where we were a big hit. In hindsight, I think it was because his co-workers were astounded that he found a date to accompany him. It was an excellent Christmas party, though, and it was fun. Too bad I was there with The Greek; I would have enjoyed myself much more had I been there with someone else.

So we began to "date", meaning phone calls to one another, staying over at one another's houses during "school nights", making plans for upcoming weekends. When The Greek proposed a romantic trip together to Cabo San Lucas, I thought it would be a very nice long weekend getaway, so I said yes.

A week before leaving for Mexico, The Greek called me and said, "Do you have your money for the trip yet? I've paid the travel agent and need your money."

"Huh?" I said, not too intelligently.

"The money. For Cabo. Do you have it for me?"

"I have no idea what you're talking about. What money?"

"Your half of the trip. Do you have the money?" he said, kind of snotty.

I bristled. "No. I don't have the money. Actually, I have no money. I didn't know I was going to be paying half. You invited me, remember? I didn't know we were going dutch. To Mexico."

Silence from The Greek. "Well, I'm not paying for all of it," he said. "This is our weekend. Together. I just assumed you'd know that you were going to pay half."

"Well, I just assumed," I said, a little heated, "That since you invited me, and I'm a secretary and make about one-fifth the salary that you do as a tax attorney, that you'd be paying for the trip. I guess our trip is off, because I can't afford to go to Cabo with you."

Our conversation ended there. He called back a few minutes later. "I'll pay for you-- let's just go and have a nice time, okay?" "Okay," I said, cementing my sister's favorite story in family lore.

Fast foward to the tiny airport in Cabo San Lucas. Coming off the plane, we were inundated with free breakfast offers from the timeshare whores. I was not interested in speaking to these people, but The Greek, always excited about free food because he was a.) a pig and b.) cheap, signed us up for a crappy free breakfast in exchange for our time listening to the timeshare whore's spiel about their fabulous Mexican properties. This irritated the crap out of me. I went through customs while he was signing us up. I stood in the small, glassed-in entryway of the airport, with most of our luggage, waiting for the Greek to finish up his timeshare business. He appeared on the other side of the security gate.

"Hey-- can you throw me my wallet? They're both in that blue bag. I need the one with the credit cards." Anyone who knew The Greek knew that he carried two wallets-- one for cash, one for credit cards, business cards and the like. I opened the bag, and saw both wallets. I took them both out and opened one to see if it was the one he wanted. The Greek started screaming at me:
"DON'T LOOK THROUGH MY FUCKING WALLET! JUST THROW ME THE GODDAMN WALLET!!!" His face was twisted and red with anger. People in the airport turned and stared at him, then at me, the offending bitch looking through the man's wallet. I felt my face get hot and threw it at his head. "HERE'S THE WALLET!" I said, picking up our luggage and stalking out to the "limo"(i.e., "van"), furious and embarrassed. I threw our stuff in the "limo" and got in the back seat, slamming the door behind me. What a great start to our stupid vacation.

The Greek opened the door and got in. He immediately got up into my face and I into his, both of us eye-to-eye, screaming at each other, "HOW DARE YOU YELL AT ME LIKE THAT. NO ONE SPEAKS TO ME LIKE THAT," "WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE LOOKING THROUGH MY WALLET," etc., our fingers pointing into each other's faces. Finally, I sat back and said, "I'm not going to speak to you about this anymore." I squeezed away from him, into the door of the "limo" and looked out the window. Other tourists soon piled in the "limo" for the ride to the hotel. Idle chit-chat ensued. The Greek held a copy of "The Firm" and someone asked him if he'd seen the movie, which had just come out. "Yes," said The Greek, "Actually, I really enjoyed it. I'm a tax attorney." Oh God, I moaned inwardly, What an idiot. He tried to speak to me on the 30 minute ride to the hotel, and I ignored him.

We went to our room, which was beautiful and had a balcony facing the bay. "What a waste," I thought to myself. "Too bad I'm here with an idiot." Without a word, I changed into my bikini. "I'm going to the pool. See you later," I said to The Greek. I installed myself in a lounge chair, facing the ocean, and started ordering fruity alcoholic beverages. "Are you a guest at the hotel?" said my waiter. "Oh, yes! Just charge it all to my room," I said.

Soon The Greek lumbered down to the pool area. He sat next to me. "Are you still mad?" he wheedled. "Yes, and I don't want to talk to you," I said, flipping the pages of my magazine. He sat in the pool at the bar area and read his stupid book. He ordered drinks and of course, food. He sat there for several hours while the sun beat mercilessly on his back. "He forgot to put on his suntan lotion. Good. I hope his skin falls off," I thought.

When The Greek's back was turned, I left the pool area and went to the front desk. "I need to make a call to the United States, please. It's kind of an emergency." I explained to the manager what had happened. "I'm here with a guy who kind of scares me and I want to fly back home tomorrow. Can I use the house phone to call the airlines and my family?" "Of course," clucked the manager. "We are so sorry about what happened! We hope this doesn't keep you from visiting us once again!" "Oh, no! Of course not! I'd love to come back," I said.

I called Alaska Airlines and made a plane reservation for the following afternoon, then called my stepmother. "Can you pick me up at the airport?" I asked. "Sure," she said. "I can't wait to hear about this."

I went back to our room and showered. When I emerged, The Greek was there. "My back is all burned," he whined. It was--- a bright, vivid red. "Will you put aloe vera on it for me?" At this point, the thought of touching The Greek made me shudder, but I felt kind of sorry for him because I was about to tell him of my plan for the following day. So I rubbed aloe vera on his stupid fat back.

At dinner that evening, I told The Greek of my plan. He didn't believe me. "No you're not," he said confidently. "We just got here. You didn't get a plane ticket."

"Yes. I did. I'm leaving tomorrow at 2:00."

"Why? I don't get it! Why are you leaving?"

"Because you screamed at me in the middle of the airport. Don't you remember? You were screaming at me! You were accusing me of going through your wallet. I'm not interested in spending the next three days with you. So I'm leaving."

"Okay," he smirked. We finished dinner.

Luckily for me, there were two queen-sized beds in our room. He wanted to sleep with me that night. "I don't think so," I said. We slept in separate beds. Early the following morning, the dim light leaking through the curtain of the slider, I awoke to The Greek snoring loudly, laying next to me. In my bed. Oh God, I said to myself for the 10 millionth time in the last 24 hours. I poked him. "Greek. Wake up." He woke up. He smiled and put his arms around me. "How are you this morning?" he asked. "Great. I'm getting up. I have a busy day ahead of me." He said, "Are you really leaving? Why don't you just lay here with me and relax for awhile?" I squirmed away from him. "No-- I really need to get going. I'm hungry," I said. I got away from him and went into the bathroom to take a shower. Two o'clock wouldn't come fast enough.

Insult to injury-- my sympathy for The Greek overflowed into breakfast, where we dined compliments of the timeshare whores. Then we listened to their timeshare spiel. The Greek asked questions, got brochures, etc., while I seethed. We finally escaped. I went to the pool, of course, to work on the tan and order fruity cocktails. The Greek wore a t-shirt and sat close by, but not too close. We didn't speak.

One-thirty. I go up to the room and begin to throw everything into my suitcase. The Greek came in to the room. "I just don't buy it," he said. "Well, you can walk me out to the van. Maybe then you'll believe I'm going," I said, annoyed at his arrogance. I picked up my suitcase, and left the room. He followed me. "Your plane leaves at 3?" "Yep," I said. The van stood idling outside the entryway to the hotel. I gave my suitcase to the driver, and he opened the door to the van. I got in and he shut the door.

The Greek stood there with no expression on his face. I opened the door and said, "I'll talk to you later." The driver got in, put the van in gear, and off we went to the airport.

I arrived home before dinner.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Rush didn't get it.

Because my Mom suffers from Parkinson's Disease, I want to share a couple thoughts about Rush Limbaugh's recent comments about Michael J. Fox.

Rush was annoyed at Fox's appearance in a couple of political ads, wherein Fox is supporting certain political candidates because of their positive stance on stem-cell research. During the ad, Fox was displaying classic Parkinson's symptoms, lots of body movement, slurred speech, head jerks, etc. Commenting on Fox's appearance in the ad, Rush said, "Come on people. Either he hadn't taken his medicine or he was acting."

As usual, Rush missed the point. Those are Fox's symptoms. And as far as Fox skipping his meds to impact the ad, so what? The point is-- THOSE ARE FOX'S SYMPTOMS. Those are some of the things that your body can do when you have Parkinson's. Quite possibly, Fox wanted to strip himself bare and show what this disease does to people. In doing so, people could see the symptoms in the raw, and maybe those people watching would vote to support the candidates who back stem-cell research.

Sorry if it made you uncomfortable, Rush, to see Fox jerking around, waving his hands. That's what Parkinson's looks like, you dumbass.

I've noticed that lots of the people who think stem-cell research is unethical are also people who haven't had to deal with the diseases or the challenges the research would benefit.

A very cruel part of me hopes that something horrible befalls them or a very close loved one, something like Parkinson's or paralysis or anything that could benefit from stem-cell research, just so they can see what it's really like for the folks who are dealing with it every goddamn day.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Simple Girl

Tonight a blizzard is supposed to clobber us. This makes me very happy.

I have a routine I like to follow in the hours leading up to a storm. On my way home from work, I'll join the like-minded mob at the grocery store and stock up on ingredients for potato/leek soup. Next, I'm off to the liquor store to get some delicious red wine. Once home, I'll pour myself a glass of wine, then I'll chop, saute, simmer and stir my way to homemade soup joy. After dinner and washing the dishes and making everything in my house just so, I'll light candles and snuggle up with Pickles (Feline #3) under the down comforter, and gaze at the snow falling outside my bedroom window.

Simple stuff, you know?

Sunday, October 22, 2006


A girlfriend and I were out one afternoon, and we were stopped at a red light. A sketchy-looking fellow was crossing the street in front of her car, and my friend instinctively reached over and locked her car door. I chuckled at her. She turned to me and asked, "Aren't you afraid of anything?" and I answered truthfully, "Oh, I'm afraid of LOTS of things." Examples:


My sister sent me an email with an attached photo of a guy sea-kayaking. Following him was a very interested 18-foot Great White Shark. I opened that photo and just about shit my pants, because sharks, although I've never been face-to-face with one in the wild, are one of my biggest fears. The idea that a prehistoric creature can eat me makes me very, very nervous. Even more, if you are about to be eaten by a shark, you're in his habitat and there's not a whole lot you can do to protect yourself. This irrational fear of mine can be traced to seeing "Jaws" at age 12. The idea you cannot see this creature when it's about to attack you, it can eat you whole, or it can take a large chunk out of you if it's just feeling curious or finicky, fills me with unspeakable dread and fear. After seeing "Jaws", I was afraid to swim in pools, take showers, and go to the bathroom. To this day I don't like big bodies of water, including fresh water (go ahead and Google "Matawan Creek" and you'll see what I'm talking about). I still have nightmares about sharks on a weekly basis.


I know-- it's an odd one. Note I'm not afraid of my own shower curtain.

Hotel/Motel shower curtains are the worst. Think about it: maids don't change or clean a shower curtain after a guest has checked out of the room, so you know that dead skin cells, butt hair, spit and God knows what else is on that shower curtain, which is just inches from your naked skin. The worst possible thing that could happen is someone enters the bathroom while you're showering, a draft enters the shower stall, blowing the putrid shower curtain inward, and it sticks to your body. Aaaaaaggggghhh! I've tried to understand this fear of shower curtains. I have done searches on the web thinking there was a name to this possible phobia, but I've been unsuccessful in this search. Maybe the fear should be categorized under a phobia of germs, filth, or disgusting bodily fluids that you don't want to know about.


Hairy ones that can jump. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Working Stiff

I'll be honest and tell you that writing this blog is a means to an end. Perhaps I'll get lucky, be discovered by a huge publishing house, and will be offered lots of opportunities to write in magazines, books, etc. You can't be discovered if you don't put your ass out there, and I am not arrogant enough to think that my writing skills, such as they are, are so mesmerizing and so delightful that a publisher will find me on this blog and whisk me away to New York City. However, I'm trying to get my writing chops, and in the meantime, I'll have to work for a living.

"Work" means "office work". I've worked in a variety of offices throughout my adult life, and oh God... it is a boring way to make money. I don't produce anything meaningful, at least to me. Rather, I am a conduit to which my boss passes taped information, the tape plays into my ear, my fingers move on a keyboard to create a letter or document to a client, and I give that letter or document to my boss. I presume the letter or document gets signed and mailed out, for I have personally never seen this happen. I will say that at the very least, this stuff I produce has information that means something to our clients, so I guess we are providing a service to them. Whatever. It's as dull as dirt.

I think a lot about how I got here. When I was seventeen, I wanted to go to music school and become a fabulous vocalist. That didn't happen. For the next 20 years, I tried college off and on, never sticking to it and getting a degree. Meanwhile, I was living life and I had to pay for things, so I found I was kind of good at working in an office. I've stuck with the office thing, and consequently, my talents and wishes were squelched by necessity.

I do know several people who do what they love to do for their work, and they also make a living from doing it. My brother-in-law is one person. He owns a design studio. He is excited about what he does. I think that's pretty neat. Another person who loves what he does is an old friend/my lust-object, who owns a music store. It's his baby. Both of these guys do not think of what they do as work. That's key in making a living, I think. It's something to aspire to in life. It's what should be taught to students, starting in kindergarten.

Working in an office requires unnatural behavior. One must be unfailingly polite to one's co-workers. One must never rock the boat or offer unpopular opinions. One must not dress as an individual-- one must dress within the accepted parameters of that office's taste. One must not reveal one's personal life at the office. One must participate in stupid office functions, such as baby showers and birthday celebrations, often for people one does not care for in particular. One must not curse at work, if one works in an office. One must not bring food to the office that will offend the olfactory senses of co-workers (fish, popcorn). I'm sure someone would argue that these "rules" keep the office on an even keel. I will not argue with that point, but I will say that these rules are stultefying.

Here are some examples of the rules I've personally broken and what happened:

I worked at a law firm whose managing partner (arrogant prick) hated, HATED, HATED the smell of popcorn being popped in the microwave. It was an average-sized firm with 12 attorneys and their staff, and it took up an entire floor of an office building. You'd think that something as insignificant as the smell of popcorn wafting out of the firm's kitchen, into the very large work area, would invite no comment or thought whatsoever. But the first time I innocently popped the kernels of hate in the microwave, the managing partner actually asked me to please never pop popcorn in the microwave again, as it made him sick to smell it. I thought, "Dude, I'm just some little worker bee trying to get through my day, making fourteen bucks an hour, and if a stupid bag of popcorn is going to help me do it, you should be happy that I've found a way to keep smiling. But no. You come to my desk and ruin my day saying such a nit-picky, bullshitty thing. You are an old, bitter woman disguised as a fat, rich attorney, and you're dressed in Dockers your wife picked out for you." Asshole.

I once worked for a gentleman who had certain convictions of a highly religious nature. I was his receptionist. He had a terrible habit of not returning calls to his clients in a timely manner. His clients would call back again and again, demanding to speak to my boss, angrier and angrier with each phone call. One day I gave the boss a note that read, "So-and-so called, and he's really pissed he hasn't heard from you." My boss held the message in front of me. He underlined the word"pissed" with his finger, and said, "Angry. Upset. Annoyed. Perturbed." He was a veritable thesaurus of words, indicating that "pissed" had offended his pure and light-filled brain. I was offended that he hadn't returned this person's call to answer his questions, after the client had paid a thousand bucks for boss's services, and that my boss kept dodging him, but I had rocked the boat by using an undesireable word in the phone message.

So fuck offices.

This is why I want to write. It's a creative outlet that's also anti-social, AND there's a possibility that it can supplement one's income. I'll be able to work in my pajamas, pick my nose, play with my cats, and drink wine, ALL while I'm working! That's awesome!

Monday, October 16, 2006


I have never been married, although I’ve been proposed to twice. The first time was many years ago when my then boyfriend asked me to marry him. It didn’t work out, and he wound up marrying a nice Southern girl. The second time was this Algerian guy I knew who needed a green card. He came by my house with his Swedish girlfriend in tow, and asked me if I would marry him so he could stay in the United States. I’m guessing his girlfriend spoke some English, but if she didn’t, she understood my answer-- “NO”-- by the universal language of the door slamming in their faces.

Perennially single, I find the idea of marriage exotic and foreign. I have thought a lot about engagements, marriage, and commitment to one person. I stare at married couples and I am mystified. If I stare long enough, perhaps I’ll crack the code and get it. "What is it like to have someone around all the time?" I ask myself. "Are they as happy as they look? How cool to have a built-in sex partner right there! Do they have a joint checking account? How do they know when the other person has written a check? What happens if one hates what the other cooked for dinner? Do they have to cook an extra meal? Do they talk on the phone to one another during the day and if so, what about? Do they have extra T.V.’s in their house in case one person doesn't want to watch what the other one does? Are they allowed to have friends of the opposite sex? Do they sleep in the same bed when they’re pissed at each other?" These questions reveal that clearly, I'm without a clue as to how couples work.

In the last two months, three of my girlfriends have informed me that they have been proposed to, are getting married, and they want me to plan their weddings and receptions. Me-- the person who sleeps with her cats. The person who eats food out of the pan in which it was cooked. The woman who would spend her last twenty bucks on cute shoes or tabloid magazines rather than food. The girl who gets drunk and writes weird emails to her friends.

I'm single, ignorant of marriage/engagement/dating-type stuff, but by God, I'll be planning their first day together as man and wife, right down to the very last detail.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


We began to drive. It was about 5:00 p.m., and we had an hour and a half of traveling ahead of us. It was cloudy, the sunset covered by incoming storm clouds. Intermittently, rain fell.

Outside of town, I could feel a change in the air, which became crisp, clear, and fresh from the rain. The pinon pine, made warm by the sun earlier in the day, released its aroma. The sun would make an appearance, lighting the mountains from behind, revealing a gold, mellow sky and raindrops scattering everywhere.

Further south, I talked about the cemetery we were going to visit. “It’s beautiful. It’s very desolate, out on the prairie. It’s a perfect night to see the ghostlights. I’ve heard that if the night is overcast, they’re better to see.” He was excited. We drank in the scenery flying by, the aspens in soft shades of green, creeping to gold; the rocky cliffs; the abandoned cabins, falling into piles of rotting wood from the many years of rain, sun and snow. “We’re about to come to the top of the pass, and you’ll see a beautiful view.” We crested the hill, and below us the valley spread as wide as the world, from north to south. The mountains, different here, were sharp blue points to the sky, shrouded in rain clouds and mist. At this point, the rainstorm that had been spilling over the mountains hit us. We drove for a few miles, rain flowing out of the sky, falling so fast that my wiper blades couldn’t keep up. Finally, it cleared. We drove into Silvercliff at that moment.

I turned left onto the dirt road, which would eventually dead-end (so to speak) at the cemetery. I drove slowly, as the road was ungraded and rocky. The last thing I needed was a flat tire out in the middle of nowhere, many miles from home, and no cell phone.

We drove slowly past the Protestant cemetery, then took the hairpin east to the dead end. At first you can’t see it, but as you creep forward, you see the crude iron gate surrounding the cemetery, with the grim arch over the entryway, proclaiming “The Assumption”. It was dusk as we drove through the gate.

The Assumption is bare, poignant. Tombstones of wood and cairns of coal dot the ground, along with traditional granite and iron markers. It’s several acres of land, but there are very few graves. Mostly it’s waving prairie grass, wind, and silence.

We got out of the car and began to walk around, wandering apart, at our own pace. The storm lifted to the west, where the clouds remained a deep blue-purple, but the sunset winked through, bright gold and fading fast. I stood on the edge of the graveyard, facing west with him to my left, thirty feet away. We were still. We listened to the wind blowing through the grass, and the whippoorwills sang to one another, ready for night to come. We stood for a long time without speaking.

We paced around the graveyard, where it was full dark. We spoke quietly, commenting on the many, many babies buried there, wondering if it was influenza, scarlet fever. We waited to see the ghostlights, which never came.

I suggested we go to see the Protestants.

We left the Assumption and drove west. We drove through the gates of the Protestant cemetery, where there are many more gravestones as compared to the Assumption.

We parked and began walking. We had flashlights trained to ground, avoiding the many gopher holes that pit the earth there.

Quietly, I commented, “It’s easy to see how your eyes could be tricked here.” I pointed to a white marker poking skyward, glowing in the night. “Yeah, and look over there,” he said, gesturing to the highway, where far-off car headlights winked between the pine boughs. We gravitated to a white picket fence that surrounded a marker, a couple who’d lived together a long time, and now slept together, forever. I was moved. He stood next to me, and I could smell his skin. I said slowly, “There isn’t another man in this world that I could do this with—and a man who totally gets it like you do. Anyone else would be saying they were bored, or they’d be jumping out from behind tombstones, trying to scare me.” He said, “Thanks for asking me.”

He whispered, “Look up.” I looked up and saw a mist of stars, millions and millions of lights, some sharp and bright, others soft, milky and faded. They clouded the sky in a soft gleam.

We stayed for about 45 minutes, then started the drive home. We never did see the ghostlights.