People, Uncategorized

First world car problems in your twenties

I’ll admit it, I didn’t know how good I had it. I was car spoiled.

I don’t mean I had a fancy car. It wasn’t even a new car. And my parents endlessly reminded me that they owned the car and that letting me drive it was a favor. As if I was going to steal it like a common criminal.

But my dad did make sure it was always in proper order. He could put a Lohan car victim back together again. I mean he is that good. He would change my oil, spark plugs, deal with the tires, vacuum it, everything.

Back in 2011, I was lucky to have gotten an internship at a nonprofit called Keep Houston Beautiful. If any of you are from Houston, you know what a death trap Allen Parkway turns into when it rains. It’s like the Indy 500 and someone has put baby oil on your wheels. The city even carved out grooves in the road but that didn’t really help. So inevitably, I hydroplaned on my way back from work one rainy day and flipped over medians. I screamed my face off as an incoming car landed cozily in the middle of my vehicle.

Seriously though, I just did a google search for allen parkway and this was the number two result: Hummer flips, kills driver on Allen Parkway.

The car was still drivable but I was shaken and even more terrified to make the call to my parents. There were pieces hanging off, all the tires were flat, the back door looked like it had been sat on by Wreck it Ralph and to top it all off, the police officers thought my hysterical ugly crying was hilarious.

Still, my dad rejuvenated this piece of metal like a phoenix rises from the ashes. He should be on Pimp My Ride. I made him watch an episode with me once and he pretty much muttered “I can do that, that’s not hard,” the entire time.

Fast forward two years.

I drove that baby half way across the country. We’re adventuring all over Southern California and we couldn’t be happier.

I don’t have an actual picture but if I did, it would look something like this.

or this

The honeymoon phase had lasted a long time. I think I knew this in the back of my mind but I was too busy getting carried away by my car — literally. So when she started malfunctioning, I figured those were just her little quirks and I would love them just the same.

I’m an idiot.

When your car does weird things, call a professional. Hell call anyone who has ever talked to you about cars for more than 10 minutes. I feel like this is a PSA.

Alright, alright. It was just the battery. I could handle that. But two trips to Auto Zone, a new battery and a bum wheel proved me wrong. This was the most painful adulting I had done in a while. In college it was about paying taxes correctly, budgeting, learning to tip, building credit and learning the value of a dollar.

But now it was about learning that the world looks at you differently. You’re not a kid anymore and therefore you’re not immune to it’s sporadic inconveniences that sting like lemon juice in a paper cut. Everything can seem great and suddenly you’re out $443 the same week you accidentally get a parking ticket and some jerk steals your bike.

And it’s all because you’re so much closer to being a real adult than when you first  joined the ranks of the Y Generation, feeling valiant but proceeding uncouthly.

Last year it was all, “who am I?” “I say yes to adventure and the occasional day-drink” and now it’s all “I’m making my own natural almond bars and biking to work because I respect the environment and my wallet.”

This mundane incident reminded me that while my hangover tolerance is plummeting, the single gray hair count is rising and I’m one year closer to dropping the early from my semi-broad age definer, I can still embrace the haphazard parts of being a young adult.


About life and driving, and which one needs better maps

When you’re on the road, you find you have a lot of time to think.

You have a lot of time to think when you’re on a trail, too.

You might even find that you have a lot of time to think when you’re taking the trash out.

You don’t have as much time to think when you’re avoiding rocks in the road.

Or when you’re avoiding sharp spikes.

You don’t have as much time to think when you’re trying to figure out how to climb over something.

And sometimes there is something interesting in your way that causes your mind to be led astray by imagination and you find there is time to think after all.

But beautiful things can be distracting. So you have to find your way on the road again.

You think about a lot of things as you go down this road.

The beauty and wonder of life.

And maybe how fragile it is and how quickly it can be taken away.

I get lost a lot when I’m driving. But there always seems to be a map or a sign letting me know where I’m headed.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with maps. So you just kinda have to keep going. Until you run into something so great, you don’t have to think about it.


Moving and meeting memorable Marys

There are a lot of memorable Marys in my life.

My mother’s name is Mary. There’s Mary Bo Peep. That Mary all those people pray to and that sometimes appears on trees.

But today I was quite fortunate to have met another memorable Mary. We only spoke on the phone 15 minutes and seven seconds but I haven’t been able to forget the things she said to me.

Mary is 63 and was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago. Around the same time, her sister was diagnosed with colon cancer.

“I am really pleased that this horrible experience with my sister and I having cancer at the same time has brought our family closer. We’re all so far apart geographically,” she told me.

It’s not often you hear the word pleased and having cancer in the same sentence. But she told me at the beginning of the interview, she has always been an optimistic person.

“I don’t really think that I’ve changed a whole lot. I’ve always been an optimistic person and I still am. You tend to value each day a little more than you used to. You get the possibility of mortality every day and that’s frightening but then you realize you can certainly still fight.”

This sort of positivity is truly impressive. And it reminded me of my cousin’s. She was the exact same way. I swear this girl would pretty much have parties to cheer her friends up about the cancer she was fighting. She basically had a “beat cancer” campaign that politicians and vegans everywhere would be jealous of.

In a year, I’ll be her age.

But she inspires me all the time. In the same way, Mary inspired me today.

I felt a bop on my head and like the lights had finally come on when Mary was talking to me about going through chemo. How she had to go through it for six months in the beginning, and then on-and-off after that. She talked about the things you realize.

“Chemo is very hard. You don’t know what tired is.”

I asked her what advice she would give to new patients. At the very end of her answer, it sounded as if her tone had changed from giving advice to new patients to just giving advice.

“And I would say, do as much physical exercise as you can do. If all you can do is walk to the mailbox, then you walk there. Because the day after that, you’ll be able to walk to the corner. And the day after that, you will be able to walk around the block, and that helps a lot with your mental outlook.”

I just moved to Riverside, California for a new job and I hadn’t written since my move. I had thought about it a lot but picking up your life and moving to a new city where you have never been and you don’t know anyone and starting a new job in the same circumstances, well. That makes a person tired. Or so I thought, until today.

I hope some Mary inspires you someday.


A letter to my upstairs neighbor

I’m sorry.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Dodging each other in the parking lot, crossing through the grass to avoid close proximity to one another, constantly staring at something ever so intently on the ground so eye contact never occurs.


You seem like a decent guy. I saw you with your daughter the other day. I feel like you said hi to my dad one time he was in town. We’ve both lived next to each other for a year now without any issues. So you might be feeling like what I did was uncalled for and maybe it was. Maybe I should have just called the complex and let them deal with it.

But really, can we just be real about this? If I can Shazam your music from my dining room, I think I have the right to ask you to turn it down. And not because I don’t like the music from the decade that saw the end of the Cold War and the beginning of AIDS. I just don’t feel like listening to the artist formerly known as Prince at 8 a.m. on a weekend.

See, even he thinks it’s too loud.

And to be honest, it wasn’t all you. You were really just the straw breaking the camel’s back like a freight train would break tracks made out of glass.

Sleep is a very crucial thing for me. It has been ever since I lost the ability to stay awake for days at a time like when I was a foolish girl in college wasting precious sleep time by watching marathons of Arrested Development and texting my friends about how much I hated my new roommate because she only cleaned the apartment when she was drunk. I know, it didn’t make any sense to me either.

I’m not saying I need eight hours of sleep every night, but waking up early in an unnatural manner or without purpose just does something to me. Almost to the point of physical pain.

Recently, I was listening to a Radiolab podcast where they talked about measuring pain. It’s not an easy thing to explain to someone else–the pain you’re feeling. One woman they interviewed said she put it in terms of what she would do or trade to have the pain go away. Shortening her life span to make it stop was a bargain she would have taken at the time.

And I know you don’t know me, but just imagine for a second what could compel me to put on pants (yet another thing I hate doing), venture out into the horribly blinding brightness of the sun, hike up the tower of stairs to your apartment, and ask you to please relieve me of the pain I was in. If you think about it like that, it makes total sense and you shouldn’t hate me anymore.

But I don’t know if you will ever know.

Hopefully, I can make you muffins and a mix CD of the best of the 80s and we can put this behind us.

Until then, just know, it wasn’t you. It was the pain.


Obama does IAmA on Reddit, Romney makes Myspace page in retaliation

Okay, not really.  Mitt clearly made his page  a while ago since he has 21,782 friends already. Yes, Tom is in his top 12, but sadly Paul Ryan doesn’t have a Myspace, so Gary Sato gets his spot. I think it’s because of his profile picture, but that’s just me.

Unfortunately, Mitt hasn’t updated his playlist but he does have one featured song, Elvis Presley’s “A Little Less Conversation.”

I wonder if he added that after Todd Akin’s speech.

Anyway, if you still haven’t discovered the awesome sauce that is Reddit, you may not have heard President Obama did an IAmA (Ask Me Anything) yesterday and crashed the website. Surprise, surprise.

For those of you who don’t want to leaf through comment after comment of cat questions, I’ll summarize for you.

Hi, I’m Barack Obama, President of the United States. Ask me anything. I’ll be taking your questions for half an hour starting at about 4:30 ET.

Obligatory photo to prove it was him. He also tweeted about it.

Questions he answers:

What are you going to do to end the corrupting influence of money in politics during your second term? –suzmerk

Money has always been a factor in politics, but we are seeing something new in the no-holds barred flow of seven and eight figure checks, most undisclosed, into super-PACs; they fundamentally threaten to overwhelm the political process over the long run and drown out the voices of ordinary citizens. We need to start with passing the Disclose Act that is already written and been sponsored in Congress – to at least force disclosure of who is giving to who. We should also pass legislation prohibiting the bundling of campaign contributions from lobbyists. Over the longer term, I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight of the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.

What was the most difficult decision that you had to make during this term? –FifthSurprise

The decision to surge our forces in afghanistan. Any time you send our brave men and women into battle, you know that not everyone will come home safely, and that necessarily weighs heavily on you. The decision did help us blunt the taliban’s momentum, and is allowing us to transition to afghan lead – so we will have recovered that surge at the end of this month, and will end the war at the end of 2014. But knowing of the heroes that have fallen is something you never forget.

We know how Republicans feel about protecting Internet Freedom. Is Internet Freedom an issue you’d push to add to the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform? –SharkGirl

Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody – from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won’t stray from that principle – and it will be reflected in the platform.

What is the first thing you’ll do on November 7th, win or lose? –daveforamerica

Win or lose, I’ll be thanking everybody who is working so hard – especially all the volunteers in field offices all across the country, and the amazing young people in our campaign offices.

Are you considering increasing funds to the space program? –ormirian

Making sure we stay at the forefront of space exploration is a big priority for my administration. The passing of Neil Armstrong this week is a reminder of the inspiration and wonder that our space program has provided in the past; the curiosity probe on mars is a reminder of what remains to be discovered. The key is to make sure that we invest in cutting edge research that can take us to the next level – so even as we continue work with the international space station, we are focused on a potential mission to a asteroid as a prelude to a manned Mars flight.

I am recent law school graduate. Despite graduating from a top school, I find myself unemployed with a large student loan debt burden. While I’m sure my immediate prospects will improve in time, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the future knowing that my ability to live a productive life — to have a fulfilling career, to buy a house, to someday raise a family — is hampered by my debt and the bleak economic outlook for young people. I know that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Many of us are demoralized. Your 2008 campaign was successful in large part due to the efforts of younger demographics. We worked for you, we campaigned for you, and we turned out in record numbers to vote for you. What can I say to encourage those in similar situations as I am to show up again in November? What hope can you offer us for your second term? –hmlee

I understand how tough it is out there for recent grads. You’re right – your long term prospects are great, but that doesn’t help in the short term. Obviously some of the steps we have taken already help young people at the start of their careers. Because of the health care bill, you can stay on your parent’s plan until you’re twenty six. Because of our student loan bill, we are lowering the debt burdens that young people have to carry. But the key for your future, and all our futures, is an economy that is growing and creating solid middle class jobs – and that’s why the choice in this election is so important. The other party has two ideas for growth – more taxs cuts for the wealthy (paid for by raising tax burdens on the middle class and gutting investments like education) and getting rid of regulations we’ve put in place to control the excesses on wall street and help consumers. These ideas have been tried, they didnt work, and will make the economy worse. I want to keep promoting advanced manufacturing that will bring jobs back to America, promote all-American energy sources (including wind and solar), keep investing in education and make college more affordable, rebuild our infrastructure, invest in science, and reduce our deficit in a balanced way with prudent spending cuts and higher taxes on folks making more than $250,000/year. I don’t promise that this will solve all our immediate economic challenges, but my plans will lay the foundation for long term growth for your generation, and for generations to follow. So don’t be discouraged – we didn’t get into this fix overnight, and we won’t get out overnight, but we are making progress and with your help will make more.

Who’s your favourite Basketball player? –karlfranks

Jordan – I’m a Bulls guy.

What’s the recipe for the White House’s beer? –silent1mezzo

It will be out soon! I can tell from first hand experience, it is tasty.

How are you going help small businesses in 2013 and 2014? and what if any bills are you going to implement for small businesses, in 2013, and 2014?

We’ve really focused on this since I came into office – 18 tax cuts for small business, easier funding from the SBA. Going forward, I want to keep taxes low for the 98 percent of small businesses that have $250,000 or less in income, make it easier for small business to access financing, and expand their opportunities to export. And we will be implementing the Jobs Act bill that I signed that will make it easier for startups to access crowd-funding and reduce their tax burden at the start-up stage.

How do you balance family life and hobbies with, well, being the POTUS? –gobearss

It’s hard – truthfully the main thing other than work is just making sure that I’m spending enough time with michelle and the girls. The big advantage I have is that I live above the store – so I have no commute! So we make sure that when I’m in DC I never miss dinner with them at 6:30 pm – even if I have to go back down to the Oval for work later in the evening. I do work out every morning as well, and try to get a basketball or golf game in on the weekends just to get out of the bubble. Speaking of balance, though, I need to get going so I’m back in DC in time for dinner. But I want to thank everybody at reddit for participating – this is an example of how technology and the internet can empower the sorts of conversations that strengthen our democracy over the long run. AND REMEMBER TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER – if you need to know how to register, go to By the way, if you want to know what I think about this whole reddit experience – NOT BAD!

If you don’t know the NOT BAD meme. Get it together.

I was happy to see that a lot of users responded to each other’s questions that Obama did not answer.

President Obama, why didn’t you close Guantanamo Bay as you promised you would? –sheabd01

He signed an order closing it, and Congress denied funding to put it into effect. –aggie1391

Maybe I romanticize education too much. But it’s literally the reason I am the person I am today. Maybe it’s why I love Reddit so much. Because it tells me things I don’t know and should know.

Anyway, I hope this was informative and interesting for you.

Side note: Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian (kn0thing) and possibly love of my life was lurking as well.

How the hell did you guys pull this one off? –TheAtomicPlayboy

This is reddit. You all pulled this off by becoming the front page of the internet.

edit: I’m also hoping the administration was so responsive because secretly they’re all redditors. –kn0thing


My Saturday and road trip to Corpus Christi with Chicano hipsters

This entire day was unreal.

I woke up in bed with a gay man and my dog. Luckily, I didn’t over sleep. I was supposed to give a class that morning and had stayed at my friend Louie’s place the night before watching bad movies and drinking wine. I gathered my things and went home to get ready for the class. I should have made coffee.

I didn’t expect many people to show up. I meant to print out flyers and put them up around town but it had slipped my mind completely. When I arrived at the library, I saw a former intern unpacking what appeared to be camera equipment.

What are you doing?

Oh hey, I don’t know if you remember me I used to intern…

Of course, I remember you. (you sat three feet away me for months)

I’m with the local station now and we’re filming these library sessions for the public channel.

Great. Because I wasn’t nervous enough. In retrospect, this was great because if no one showed up, at least there was a chance someone, somewhere would see it, even if by accident. After the class, I threatened him.

If this makes me look bad, I know where to find you now.

He laughed and said he would make it look great. I asked him if he could shop in clapping after my presentation and perhaps a glow around my entire body. He thought it was a great idea, too.

I left the library feeling incredibly accomplished for a Saturday. The local pet store was having free teeth cleaning and nail trimmings for dogs so I went to pick up Orbison. I’m pretty sure the girl who works there thinks I am the biggest freak because I always go take pictures of the gerbils and bunnies. She watches me though which makes me a bit uncomfortable but I think it’s mainly because she is kinda bored.

I feel like that dinosaur scares the crap out of him

I texted Louie when I was on my way back.

Are you alive yet?


What time are we leaving? That is, if Caro ever finds her keys.

I know! I’m looking for them but I don’t think they are here. My apartment is a wreck.

I found the keys in my car and an hour later we headed out. Louie immediately took over the music situation because Caro is an NPR addict and he just wasn’t having it.

This is not road trip playable!

We listened to an a Capella band do covers of contemporary pop songs. We had this book in the car, the name escapes me, about sex in Chicago that Louie was actually published in. I read a story from it out loud and it sounded like the gay version of 50 Shades of Grey.

This car ride still wasn’t awkward which was nice. You really take a chance signing up to be stuck in a compact space for an extended period of time with people you haven’t known that long. What if they say something really crazy and you can’t walk away from it?

What are those Jewish quinceañeras called?

Are you talking about Bar mitzvahs?


And thus, #shitcarosays was born.

We were headed to Corpus to do some shopping for tax-free weekend. Once we got into town Caro actually called someone to ask what mall we should go to. We all have iPhones.

But I guess it is really refreshing that she does this. Side note: on Sunday she discovered the cadillac of laundromats in Victoria by asking the woman at the customer care center in H-E-B what place she recommended.

Once we entered the mall, we realized we had not mentally prepared ourselves for tax-free weekend. Just passing by the food court may have been one of the most traumatic experiences of my life. There were children, preteens, pregnant woman and obese people everywhere. If I had a penny for every time I saw a teenager wearing a shirt with the words “swag” or “yolo” on it I could hire someone to burn down the factories where those shirts are made.

After the mall, we wandered around downtown. Downtown Corpus is actually pretty neat looking if you ignore all the closed store fronts and the faint smell of fish.

Louie is always talking about Caro’s “hipster nonesense.” He is the poster child for the Chicano hipster.

The day ended with the three of us spending $180 on sushi and specialty cocktails. I ate and drank things I couldn’t pronounce, judged people, talked about my feelings and my friends talked about theirs.

Why isn’t there a place like this in Victoria?

Because people wouldn’t know what to do with it. Look at us, we can’t control ourselves.

Can I live here?

Then Caro gets all Caro and says, “I want to move to Paris. I want a cat named Bernard.” #shitcarosays

The ride back was wonderful. Caro and I bonded over random tejano music. We listened to Girl in a Coma, they’re an indie band from San Antonio that does covers of Mexican pop songs. We passed through a bridge illuminated with trippy lights and rolled down the window to take photos, marveling like children do at bubbles.

I poked my feet out the window. I always find it gross when I see people do this but this evening I understood.


Having your parents over when you’re in your twenties

I was running at the park when it happened. Wanting to change up the scenery, I headed to the park for a long run as punishment for the cookie and red, velvet cake I had this week. I ended up going around the whole park because I can’t read signs and am easily distracted by birds. So much so that I just end up following them and thus spent two hours walking/running/crawling in tunnels around the park.

Anyway, my mother called. I hit ignore immediately. Can’t have her messing up my jams. I need music to stay in the zone sometimes when I workout because I’m not a freak that loves to run for hours. But she called again. As a general rule, if someone calls me three times in a row, I answer. Regardless of what I am doing. It’s clearly a life or death situation in my book.

“Hey…[long pause.]”


“We’re leaving in a bit.”


“To Victoria. To pick up your car.”

Oh, okay. I’m running. Call you later. [PANIC]

Okay, normally I would panic. But it’s been a pretty boring week so I had done a lot of cleaning already and I actually kinda missed my parents.

I figured I had a couple of hours so I took some photos at the park before heading back.

Clearly, the next stop was at the store for some alcohol and a movie because we tend to sit around awkwardly and I wanted to avoid that since my teenage cousin was coming along for the ride too, bless her soul.

Once my mother called me to let me know they were in town, I just started pacing. The wireless went out again at that moment so I couldn’t distract myself. I was so excited to see them even if it was only going to be for a couple of hours. I paced some more and told Orbison to calm down because he was making me nervous. He looked at me from the couch where he was trying to sleep and gave me  a look that said, “Pull yourself together. And bring me a taco.” I thought about how different this was compared to a year ago. A year ago, I would probably still be running around, hiding random things I thought they would judge me for and texting my bff about what an inconvenience this was. Just then Orbison leaped toward the door.

They brought me chicken nuggets and the food tasted like love.

Once upon a time my mother visited me and ripped the fan chain out in a hulk-like fashion. Maintenance took a look and said they would replace it. That was several weeks ago. My dad took a look at it as soon as he walked in and deemed it unfix-able as well. It always touches my heart how he always checks the apartment looking for things that might need fixing. I remember he got upset when I was younger because I rearranged my room while he was at work. He didn’t care that I had moved things, he was just sad I didn’t need his help. Yea, that’s the kind of dad I have.

My dad went to bed before the movie was over so my mom and I did what we do best. Stayed up and gossiped about random family members/people we work with/anyone who we happened to see that day. It was great.

It blows my mind that there was a time I didn’t know how to talk or be around these people. They’re actually pretty cool.


Why I always talk to strangers even though my parents taught me not to

He was sitting in a red, fold out chair. The kind you see parents take to school fields so they can sit and watch their kids play sports. It looked just like the one I have in my room. An American flag was draped down the wall behind him. It was as long as the green door to his apartment is tall. He had on a faded blue baseball cap and held a natty light in his hand. I almost walked passed him but remembered seeing him out of the corner of my eye the first time I walked around the complex.

He looked comfortable. The way you look when you’re in your usual spot. The giant flag didn’t shock me so much. The number of plants he had around was sort of strange. Maybe he liked to grow things. Maybe his roommate potted them.

“Say, uh, what kinda dog is that?” he said in a scratchy, typical Texan drawl.

Who could resist? I knew he was a stranger, but I sized him up quickly and figured I could take the old man if he tried anything funny. And by funny I mean one of the million scenarios my parents decided would be my possible kidnapping or murder by a stranger.

“He’s a terrier mix,” I said.

“Huh, well he’s gotta be mixed with something to have a tail like that,” he said, chuckling.

I should have told him he was half pig. My dog is kinda fat with pink, triangle ears and a curly tail. Orbison went up to him and let the man pet him. He wagged his tail, too. I think Orbison has a good judge of character.

Usually, I ask everyone their name and try to sneak a photo. I’m still kicking myself for not doing it. I guess sometimes I feel like I’m bothering people because I ask so many questions. But as I told the man to have a good night and walked away I thought, “Maybe he was just looking for someone to talk to.”

Just like I do some nights.

I’ve walked around this complex enough to know he isn’t the only one. Plenty of people sit on their porch or patio on plastic chairs, benches or stairs. They watch everyone go by. Occasionally waving at a neighbor they’ve gotten to know.

If I could meet someone new everyday, it would be my favorite part of the day. I love hearing new stories and meeting new characters. Everyone has something to show you and I’m continually fascinated by how different each person is or what you could end up having in common with someone you thought was completely different from you. This man, who has a huge flag displayed on his apartment wall, drinks half water/half beer and is probably more than twice my age, is just like me tonight.

We sit in our respective spots and admire a pig dog.

I do hope that man wasn’t lonely. And that he just likes to sit on his porch sometimes and enjoy a beer like my dad does occasionally.

But the next time I see him, I’ll certainly ask his name. Maybe even where he got his plants or that enormous flag.