My life and hard times

I’m at the good old Hard Times Cafe, oh how I’ve missed it! I walked here, which took a very long Hard Time, since it started raining partway through and feeling sorry for myself always slows me down. I’m going to stay here ALL DAY LONG and no one can stop me. Except maybe the 75 cent refills, which is kind of steep, don’t you think? The preliminary cup is only a buck though. I guess if I wasn’t planning to drink 25 cups of coffee over the course of 6 hours it would be reasonable.

I worked my first full non-training weekend these past three days, and had a great time doing it. Our clientele seems to be about 50% couples over 65, 25% ladies who lunch, and 20% gay men, all of which are genres of people I usually like a lot, just to generalize wildly for a minute here. The other 5% are, you know, other kinds of people.

And my co-workers are totally lovely. I admit I was skeptical at first, because they were all wearing white button-down shirts, but then I realized HEY, I too am wearing a white button-down shirt because this is our uniform, and underneath these shirts are nipples cool people who wear other clothes when they are allowed the choice.

*

Ok I’m at a different cafe now and it’s two days later. Really the only “thing” that has happened to me is, I got hit by a car on Friday and flew into the air and lost my shoe and my bike is totaled but I am FINE FINE FINE. Bruised but fine. The man who hit me cried harder than I did. I was in a crosswalk with a green light and a walk sign and he just took a corner too fast and wasn’t paying attention and I had a disbelieving second of “Oh shit I’m getting hit by a car” and then I was on the ground. And then I was sitting up, and then this guy was running over to me with tears in his eyes saying “I didn’t see you, I didn’t see you, should I call 911, I didn’t see you, oh Miss I’m so sorry oh Miss I didn’t see you,” and then I stood up and kind of shook myself out and patted myself down and was like, “Actually, I think I’m fine. I think I’m just completely okay.” And he went and retrieved my shoe and I put it back on and he ushered me to the sidewalk and made me take down all his information, and then we looked at my bike and decided it was fine too, and meanwhile passers-by kept coming up and saying, “You should go to a hospital, you really should go get checked out, you really should,” but my animal run-and-hide-and-lick-your-wounds-in-secret instinct was kicking in and I just wanted to go home, so the guy drove away and I walked a pretty shocky five blocks and then tried to get on my bike and that’s when I realized it was wrecked.

The very best part of this experience is that the guy who hit me’s email handle is mrrockandroll.

After this near death experience I feel really wise (and also really scared of cars). Let me share with you my wisdom.

- Wear a helmet, you miserable slob.

- Even if you think you’re fine, go to a hospital. I am pretty sure I actually am fine, but it was really stupid of me to refuse immediate help, for insurance as well as health reasons.

- Get a police report. Again, even if you think you’re fine, and even if you hate law enforcement and all it stands for, call the cops and let them do their serious little cop thing with witnesses and statements and everything, because then your accident will be on record and when your bike turns out to be totaled five blocks later, it’ll make the whole insurance shenanigan a lot smoother.

I’m bikeless for the time being, and since I’m feeling a bit skittish around bicycles I can’t say I mind. It has been nice walking everywhere. Although it does take quite a large chunk of time that two wheels could eat right up.

Anyway, that is my thrilling tale of slammed by a car.

Lara and I went to the CC on Monday and loaded the jukebox with Beatles’ songs, and the staff was so happy and impressed with our impeccable musical taste that they bought us lots of drinks and I slept until 11am the next morning. We also beat some people in pool. And then lost to them.

I went to the CC on Sunday afternoon to do some profile writing and took a break to play a game of pool alone, but let me tell you, even on a Sunday at 4pm it is absolutely hellish to be a young woman trying to play pool alone at a bar. There weren’t that many people there but every single one of them had a) Advice on how to play, b) Offers to be my partner, or c) Comments regarding the fact that I am a female person. It was so frustrating I just quit with half the balls still on the table, and went back out to the patio to try and be more invisible behind my computer.

There was a guy sitting alone a couple tables away, and these two drunk dudes ambled up and were like, “Bro, you look lonely, can we share your table?” and he said, cool as you please, “I’m kind of digging having the space to myself right now, but thanks,” and I thought, that’s how it’s done!!! Firm but polite. They backed right off. Would that line work if I tried it? I’ll get back to you on that. I’d have to customize a little because I don’t say “digging” and I’d trip on it for sure.

Then I watched that guy go hit on a girl sitting alone at a table, and eavesdropped on their love connection. She was sitting with her feet up on a chair, smoking cigarettes and staring around the patio with vivid interest and making lots of eye contact, and seemed very glad to be chatted up — which made me unfairly angry for a second, like, Women like you are the reason I can’t play pool alone!!!, and then I felt so fucking bad for even thinking it. I mean, I don’t know, people should be able to approach other people in a friendly manner, and I guess a bar is a place where that dynamic is fostered and expected, so maybe I can’t be pissed off? Playing pool alone could be construed as a public go-ahead to approach the bench, since pool is a partner game and the absence of a partner is super conspicuous in that context — so conspicuous it could seem almost an invitation. And there are times I don’t mind being hit on, in fact I welcome it. So how do I resolve this, do I hang an OPEN/CLOSED sign around my neck and flip it depending on my mood? Simply trying to “give off vibes” doesn’t work for me. Is that my fault, because my default is smiling? Is it possible I’m overthinking this whole situation?

I will leave you with some Mary Ruefle, from the essay collection Madness, Rack, and Honey, which I’m re-reading for what will not be anywhere close to the first time. This is from “On Sentimentality,” and is specifically in reference to a Keats poem called “This Living Hand,” but I found it relevant outside that context.

“The poem is nothing but a gigantic, disembodied hand pointing a finger at someone. That finger is a magnet and a conductor: it reaches out to the vague, ill-defined you like God reaching within an inch of Adam, and it charges the reader with all the responsibility in the world: go figure these things out for yourself, while you still have blood in your veins.”

Blah blah blog

I live in Minneapolis again! It feels wonderful. Last time I lived here I was working in a liquor store and waiting in mounting desperation to hear back from grad schools, most of which rejected me, and some of which didn’t. (The latter event truly seems miraculous now, looking back at the shit I sent in for my writing sample.) Now that I’ve spent four years away and have completely grown up, I work in a fancy restaurant and am not waiting to hear back from anybody. At the liquor store, when I had a headache or felt down about anything, my boss told me to duck behind the counter and take a shot of Pucker or Fireball, and sometimes I did, which about sums up my emotional state during that last year. I’ve got higher hopes for this next go-round. 

I’ve also got renewed ambitions towards this blog, i.e. I plan to update it more than once every three months. It’s too bad that it’s easier to blog when my life is sedate and boring than when it’s exciting and intercontinental, but as B*witched always said, c’est la vie. I have a routine now. Or at least I’m working towards one. Currently I’m in my new favorite coffee shop, and was here yesterday, and will be here again tomorrow and the next day and the next, ad infinitum, because I can only write well when I do the exact same thing every dang morning. I’ve tried to pretend this isn’t so, since I’m flexible in most other areas of my life and it should stand to reason I’d be a flexible writer, as well, but I’m not, I’m rigid as fuck and there’s no changing it. I drink the same thing each day (an Americano upon arrival, then drip coffee after the first 500 words). I even sit in the same seat whenever possible. Once I went to Bernice’s Bakery and there was someone sitting at “my” table, and instead of sucking it up and sitting elsewhere, I started crying and walked home.

Anyway, part of my new-and-improved blog regime is I’m going to keep the posts short. Staccato. Bullet-pointed. Here are things I’ve recently done.

- I went to Sam and Claire’s beautiful spectacular wedding and cried so hard I developed a minor eye infection and had to put hot compresses on my right eye for a week and a half afterwards until the swelling went down. I also saw a bunch of beloved Macalester people I hadn’t seen in far too long, and they’re all like doctors and lawyers but still sooooo fun.

- I went to Maud and Dan’s gloriously gorgeous wedding and saw many of my Montana friends for the first time in a YEAR, which is crazy because some of them I only knew for two years anyway, so I hadn’t seen them for half the time I’d known them. Does that make sense? Math. It was so good to see them. One has a doctor girlfriend, and another a lawyer fiancé, but none of us specifically are anything like that, which is maybe the difference between wannabe-writers and wannabe-people.

- I drove across the country in my trusty white beast of a Subaru, and also learned about this YouTube phenomenon called “unboxing videos,” in which people buy stuff and then unpack it for a rapt audience of FREAKS. I mean, listen, I have some out-of-the-norm internet interests myself, like fanfiction and the purposeful googling of haunted dollhouses, so I won’t go so far as to judge, unless you count the word “freak” as a judgment… which I guess it is, so I guess, yeah, I’m judging, but in an impressed, amused, oh-what-will-humans-do-next kind of way, like a distant god.

All this to say, 22 hours alone in the car does funny things to the human psyche, so when I stopped for lunch somewhere in Illinois, I made my own unboxing video, mostly for my father, who is as baffled by these things as I.

So I will leave you with this video of me unpacking a bag of food I smuggled out from the complimentary breakfast bar at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Toledo, Ohio. Sitting in my car and filming myself with my phone was a seriously narcissistic experience, but I definitely learned some important lessons, foremost of which is, I talk out of one side of my mouth!!! I am a lopsided Sylvester Stallone-style speaker!!! It’s not even subtle, it’s full-on. I can’t believe it. I haven’t seen myself on video in years and years and it came as an unpleasant shock.

Hello hello again

Hello. I’m in Seattle! Why haven’t I updated this blog for months and months, you ask? Because I kept not writing, and things kept happening, and the idea of trying to scramble to virtually keep up with myself was daunting, and so I kept not writing and things kept happening, ad infinitum.

I realize that complaining about a blog being stressful is like complaining about being a vegetarian at a hot dog stand — it’s my choice, it’s a privilege, and I have no right to whine about it! So I won’t. But I have to break the no-writing seal somehow, so I’ll break it here, in this coffee shop, sitting across from a pretty blond girl in a knitted hat who looked like I’d threatened her with rat poison and a hot poker when I asked, “Mind if I sit here?” Sorry, girl. It’s raining and everyone wants coffee and you’ve got the best table in the house. SHARE LIKE A GROWN-UP.

Not-so-briefly, here is where I’ve been, and what I did there.

El Bruc, Spain, at the Can Serrat residency: 3 weeks. Most productive 3 weeks of my life, no joke, I wrote 100 pages! Also drank a lot of wine and went running a lot in the olive groves and read, in no particular order, with my grades:

China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station (A, even though he way overuses the words “Profane” and “obscene” — also I googled “Is China Mieville married” for a while after reading it, thinking, Yes, maybe we could fall in love); Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (D, I resented every second I spent reading this book); Helen Oyeyemi’s Mr. Fox (A-); Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (A, I cried out all the water in my body); Karen Joy Fowler’s The Jane Austen Book Club (B); Jane Bowle’s Two Serious Ladies (A-); Joshua Ferris’ And Then We Came to the End (A, how have I not read this before???); Natsuo Kirino’s Grotesque (B); Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (B+), and Qiu Xiaolong’s Death of the Red Heroine (C, throwaway).

Barcelona, Spain, with my sister and Chloe: 6 days. Got pick-pocketed and deserved it because I kept thinking, I’m a fabulously savvy world-traveler, nobody would pick-pocket me, but then I went to a club and got drunk and left my backpack open and they did. I would have been totally screwed except my debit card was in a different, hidden pocket of my backpack, so I could still access money, thank goodness! I did, however, lose my University of Montana student ID, which I’ve been using for the past two years to get cheap entrance into museums, and that was a real blow.

I wouldn’t have my debit card at all if it weren’t for something that had happened earlier in the night… and though the story is a bit risqué, I think I come off relatively okay in it, so I’ll tell you. (Nicole, if you’re reading this, which you’re probably not, it might sound familiar because I basically cut-and-pasted this next part from an email I sent you.)

So, I was in a long line for the club’s women’s restroom when this girl came stumbling up with her hand over her mouth, gagging and retching uncontrollably like she was on the verge of puking everywhere. Quickly I cleared the way for her and hustled her to the front of the line so she wouldn’t vomit all over the floor, but right as the bathroom door was closing on her sick little face, she grabbed my wrist and said, “Come in with me? Please?” I thought, Okay, she probably just needs a nice gentle female presence there while she pukes, I can understand that, so I let her yank me inside. The second the door was shut, she whirled around with a triumphant kind of mania in her eyes and said, “Ha! Those fucking idiots! I’m not sick at all, I just want to do some coke in peace, thanks for helping me out! Do you have a credit card?” This is of course the moment when I should have bolted but honestly she scared me a little and I thought it better to just be cool, so I got my debit card out of my wallet and watched her cut a bunch of coke with it. She offered me some and I declined. “I’ve actually never done coke,” I said (the truth), and she started telling me how great it was between snorts, but I remain unconvinced. Anyway, when she was done, she handed me my card back, and I was in such a hurry to get out of there that instead of carefully tucking it back into my wallet (which was stolen a short time later), I shoved it into a different pocket and scrammed. So, thank you, awful cokehead Spanish girl, for helping me keep my debit card. At the time I was upset by you.  But now I think of you fondly.

Granada, Spain, still with sister and Chloe: 3 days. If I were to move anywhere in Spain, I’d go to Granada. It’s so mystically fun. I’ve seen the Alhambra twice now, 9 years apart, and it’s amazing what a difference those years made. When I went with Zack and Glennon after high school, it was free and nearly empty, no lines, no crowds, no tickets. These days you have to buy your ticket far in advance (remember that if you plan to go!), and then you’ve got a set timeframe to enter the castle grounds. There were an absurd number of people there. Jesse and Chloe and I stayed for about five hours, and there was still a lot we didn’t see; but after five hours we were pretty burned-out on touring. The last twenty minutes were just kind of a desperate singleminded trek to get the heck out and find a sandwich.

In Granada, you get a free tapas with every alcoholic drink ordered — a fact I knew, but forgot to remember the first time we went out to dinner. We picked this awful Mexican restaurant simply because it was there and we were moose-eatingly hungry, and Jesse and Chloe ordered enchiladas — which, judging from the photos, were huge bubbling platters of food, and much-anticipated. But a few minutes after the waitress brought our wine, she came out with three plates of teeny, tiny, dried-up, pizza-bite-looking enchiladas, and we all started freaking out. “Oh my god this is nine euros? Oh my god this cannot be happening. Oh my god I’m so hungry! We have to talk to the waitress. This is crazy. I’m so mad. I’m an American and I demand more food.” Etc. Then we looked around and realized everyone seemed to have a mini-enchilada. “Wait. Is this like — what is this?” And then I remembered about gratis Granada tapas, and we sank into sheepishness as we understood that we’d been ravenously complaining about a free appetizer.

We also saw some truly wonderful flamenco and met some nice young men who let us share their table and then led us to a super-fun music club where a lady-fronted band performed an absolutely incredible cover of “No Diggety” — which the Europeans did NOT appreciate as much as they should have. You could pick out every American in the crowd (there were like 5 of us) because we were all transfigured by joy the second we realized what song she was singing, and started fist-pumping exuberantly and shouting along with our eyes closed in bliss. I thought the wonders of No Diggety had crossed international lines but I guess not.

Lagos, Portugal, alone, technically, though I was surrounded by 20 year-old Australians chugging beer and trying to hump each other: 3 days. PARTY TOWN. Holy toledo. This was the moment I realized I might be getting too old to stay in dirt-cheap hostels. The beaches were beautiful. The rain was constant. I read Emma by Jane Austen (A) and realized Clueless is the best movie adaptation of all time, and also read Room by Emma Donoghue (A) and stayed up shaking and crying deep into the night.

Odeceixe, Portugal, alone: 6 days. What a gorgeous town. White buildings and a hot buzzing road that follows a river to the cliffs and ocean. I stayed in a place called Hostel Seixe, which I recommend with all of my heart. It was so beautiful, and the woman who runs it, Nadine, is such a fun and open and lovely person. Her two year-old daughter shares my name but is cuter than I am. There was just one another guest, a Flemish darling my age and height named Ruth, and she stayed for only two nights, sadly.

I took a surfing lesson, the horrors of which I will not detail here, but suffice to say it was HARD and it was SCARY and I thought I was going to be swept out to sea and die and I never want to do it again. I’d optimistically signed up for both a morning and an afternoon lesson, and like all new activities I try, I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to be a total prodigy and just wow the fuck out of anyone watching me. “You’ve really never done this before?” my instructor would ask, all admiration. For the record, the only thing I’ve ever been intrinsically good at is spelling. I don’t know why I keep thinking I’ll surprisingly be awesome at anything else. Anyway, after the morning lesson it was clear to me that the very last thing I wanted was to ever touch a surfboard again, but there was REAL peer pressure going on, the likes of which I haven’t experienced maybe ever. I mean, I wanted to abuse substances in high school; nobody ever had to convince me. But my surf instructor was like, “Come on, don’t be a chicken,” and this German girl kept calling me a baby and a schmuck, and the French guy who was scared of water was like, “If I can do it, you can do it,” and I felt so crushed and unwilling and cowardly I was near tears. “It’s braver to quit sometimes,” I kept telling myself, “Just say no!” but really all I wanted was somebody gentle to tell me I didn’t have to do anything I didn’t want to do.

And then I saw Ruth sitting on the beach, and though we’d only spoken for about five minutes the night before, I knew instantly that she was the person I needed, and that she would give me the permission I wanted, and I made a beeline for her and told her everything.

“You absolutely should not surf again,” she said immediately. “Why should we do things we don’t find enjoyable? Life is too short.” And then we had lunch and drank cappucinos and talked about everything important for twelve hours until she had to go to sleep and catch a bus away, and now I love her forever.

Lisbon, Portugal, with my dad! Fritzi Törzs!: 7 days.

Butttt you’re going to have to wait to hear about this magical time, because we’ve fast-forwarded three days and I’m back in Acton, Massachusetts, in my little sister’s childhood bedroom, and there’s a terrific storm that sounds like planes crashing (or maybe I’m just overly-paranoid from the terrible news and the never-ending airplanes I’ve been riding). I stopped writing this blog post three days ago in Seattle to go have lunch with my dear pal Margaret. That day she introduced me to smoked trout in a can, which is delicious.

I am currently kinda cracked-out from a red-eye flight and so will continue this fascinating saga of my adventures some other time. Or maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll leave you frantically wondering, BUT WHAT DID SHE DO IN LISBON? I believe in the literary world this is called a “cliffhanger” or a “cool story bro.”

The Fancy Guide to Oaxaca

Okay, I don’t know which is more misleading, the word “fancy” or the word “guide.” But during my time here I’ve asked the internet lots of things, like “How far is the beach” and “Calories in mole negro” and “Tarot readings Oaxaca esoterica psychic,” and got about 50/50 helpful answers/crap. So I figured I may as well post some of the things that the internet couldn’t satisfactorily tell me, since I’ve stumbled around the city for a while and it’s rare I get a chance to share my knowledge because it’s rare I have shareable knowledge. (In part because I often get confused between what I “know” and what I “think.” Like the time I accidentally told a lot of customers that Caffe Dolce used to be a bank. “Yeah,” I said to everyone, “all those rooms downstairs used to be vaults!” False. It was never anything but Caffe Dolce. The building was constructed specifically to be Caffe Dolce. Which I found out when a fellow waitress mentioned there was a crazy rumor going around that it used to be a bank. “Wait, it didn’t?” I said. And lost all my cred forever and ever amen.)

1. How far is the beach? (From Oaxaca City, that is.) 

I don’t know in terms of concrete measurements, but when I asked the internet I learned you can take an expensive ADO bus to Puerto Escondido and it will take you 13 hours, which is why I never did it. ORRRR you can take a cheap van that will take you 6 hours!!! Which of those sounds like the better option to you? I found out about the van too late, but you can learn from my mistake. When you’re in Oaxaca city, just ask everyone you see where the vans to Puerto Escondido are, and someone will tell you, and then you can find them and be at the beach in 6 hours; a trip that would be completely worth it not least because if you tell a Mexican you spent 2 1/2 months in Oaxaca without going to the beach they will look at you like you’re a chewed-up piece of gum that was orphaned at a young age.  (Disgust/sympathy, if that simile confused you.)

2. How many calories in Mole Negro?

Lots and lots!!! It has almonds, chocolate, sugar and raisins, to name a few of the thousand ingredients. Think about if you blended up a huge bag of trail mix and added a ton of oil and chile for good measure… that’s about the calorie content. I’m not a regular calorie-counter but Mole Negro tastes so good I just knew it had to be terrible for me. It’s got some healthy stuff in it (see: almonds), so if you’re a health freak just concentrate on those protein-packed little darlings while you furtively lick your plate.

3. Tarot readings Oaxaca esoterica psychic

The internet was not helpful on this front. And I only recently noticed there are signs all over the city with a phone number for Tarot readings, but I never called because a) The sign is really confusing, it says “All types of work guaranteed, you don’t pay until you see results!” which doesn’t make sense for me, Tarot-wise. I’m not a results-based reader, and as I’ve never had a professional reading, I don’t know if such a businesslike attitude is normal, but anyway, it freaked me out and I didn’t call. And b) I cannot speak Spanish on the phone. Face-to-face I’m great, but get me on the phone and I talk like a really loud two year-old. Heriberto’s mom called the other day while he was out and I foolishly answered and said something along the lines of, “HERIBERTO IS A HOUSE. SORRY, HERIBERTO IS NOT A HOUSE.”

But if you want a Tarot reading in Oaxaca, keep your eyes out for those signs. Also there are signs in shop windows, in the kinds of stores that sells magical religious soaps and amulets, yet the Tarot reader is never there, and you’ll have to use the phone to find them, so, nope, couldn’t do it. However, if you’re into it, they sell spells here in the markets and the stores. I think they’re little sachets of herbs with some instructions. I didn’t try any because they all seem sort of mean-hearted and against code. Like there’s one called TapaBocas to shut people up, especially girls, I guess. Look.

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Mexico City is where the real magic happens, it seems. Speaking of…

4. Mexico City

The internet didn’t warn me that everyone calls Mexico City either “Mexico,” or “el D.F.,” which is very confusing when you first arrive. Because you’re like, “What, aren’t we already in Mexico?” Or you’re like, “Who the heck is el Jefe?” because you think it’s one poorly-pronounced word and don’t realize that it’s actually an abbreviation for Distrito Federal. Now you know!

If you want to go to Mexico City, well, this is how I did it. I took the ADO GL, which is a $20 step above the standard ADO OCC. (ADO is a bus company.) If you’re fancy like moi, you too should take the GL, because it has lots of leg room for us long-legged bitches, and they give you a bottle of water and instant coffee packets although you should NOT drink the unbottled water on the bus because I am pretty sure that’s what gave me horrific food poisoning two weeks ago! (See “Food poisoning,” below.) And if you’re fancier than I am (I know, is that even possible?) you can take the platinum line. But if you’re just a normal sorry sack of unfancy working gal, you can take the OCC and you’ll be okay. It takes around 6 or 7 hours and they will entertain you with terrible movies. You should bring lots of snacks if you like eating when you’re bored (as I do).

Once you’re in Mexico City, as far as I’m concerned you’re on your own. This is a guide to Oaxaca. Jesus.

5. Food poisoning (okay, the internet could probably tell you all about this one.)

My recent bout of food poisoning was, unfortunately, well-deserved. I’ve spent years bragging about my stomach of steel and how I not-so-secretly believe I’m immune to all toxins (based on the fact that years ago it took three separate occasions of ingesting LSD for it to have any effect on me, but anyway don’t do drugs!!!!!!!!!!) and swearing that I could eat a deconstructed rancid taco off a dirty bathroom floor and be FINE, and then I’d joke, “I’m probably jinxing myself, huh?” before knocking on wood. But I guess I forgot to knock on wood about two weeks ago, because right after I got back from el D.F. I spent seven whole days unable to eat anything but bananas and jello.

Luckily I recovered just as Nicole and Robby came into town! It was good timing, all said and done.

I’m pretty sure I got it from drinking the “tap” water provided on the bus for tea. Or maybe it was a tuna empanada (I get nauseous just writing those words, what was I thinking). The moral of this story is, even superhumans such as I can be struck down by illness. Eat everything everywhere, but take normal preventative measures like don’t drink any unbottled/unboiled water and wash your fruits and vegetables and don’t eat fucking tuna empanadas ugggggh.

I got over it just fine, although for a minute there I was pretty sure I’d never be able to stand up or chew food again. I didn’t take any medication until the 7th day, and then it was just some over-the-counter slow-down-your-bowels stuff so I could run around without worrying about bathroom visits (TMI sorry). My doctor provided me with a super-strong antibiotic to take in case of food poisoning, but it’s an antibiotic that really frightens me (Ciprofloxocin, google it, or don’t if you want to sleep at night) and I would never ever take it unless I was in the most dire of straits. I didn’t look at the package when she prescribed it because I’m a sheep and usually just do what doctors tell me. But from now on I’m going to pay more attention.

6. Hierve el Aguas

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Go to here. It’s a petrified waterfall with a naturally-occurring infinity pool that looks out over endless mountains, and it’s gorrrrrgeous. I went twice; once with Heri and Sara, on a weekday when almost nobody was there but us (that’s me and Sara in the picture above), and then again with Robby and Nicole, on the first Monday of Semana Santa (also Robby’s birthday). There were, no exaggeration, probably over 5 million people there. Okay, slight exaggeration. But it was packed. A very different experience, but no less fun. We got touristy and drank these things called Piña Locas, which is an entire pineapple cut up and put back in itself, plus orange juice and mescal and, of course, chile. I’m including a picture because have you ever seen a more I’m-on-vacation drink in your life?

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Hierve el Aguas is about two hours outside the city, and there’s a few ways of getting there. One is taking a tour that leaves from a hotel and also stops at some other very worthy places along the way (Tule, Tlacolula, and Mitla), but I realllllly don’t recommend taking the tour. For one, those towns are all worth visits on their own, and for another, it’s way, way more expensive than what you’d pay if you figure out the transportation yourself. All you have to do is take a colectivo from the Central de Abastos (see below) to Mitla, and then from Mitla take a camioneta to Hierve el Aguas. The colectivo is a shared taxi where you’ll be sweatily squished up against strangers and so can make some friends, and the camioneta is a truck with jury-rigged seats and a roof. They are easy to catch, and leave at all hours of the day. Go early, and don’t stay at Hierve el Aguas past 5pm or else transportation will be trickier and I can’t promise you won’t have to sleep by the side of the road cuddling a burro for warmth.

7. La Central de Abastos 

This is where you can catch all the busses and colectivos your little heart could ever desire. Plus taxis. It’s a sprawling jungle of a place, and the colectivo/bus/transportation area is in front of the biggest, most confusing market in Oaxaca. From where the colectivos are, just walk straight up Calle Trujano for like ten minutes and you’re at the Zócalo, which I will not be addressing here since googling “Oaxaca Zócalo” will tell you much more than I can. If you can’t find Trujano just ask everyone until someone tells you.

8. Slow Walkers

Oaxaqueñ@s walk sooooooo slowly. They are short, and relaxed. I am tall and anxious. A slim, five-foot Oaxaqueñ@ can somehow magically manage to take up a whole wide sidewalk and the fast walkers among us are forced to do a frustrated little shuffle-in-place dance behind them until the traffic stops whizzing by for long enough to dart out into the street and pass them. It was a good lesson in patience. I mean, let’s be real: I don’t have a job, I don’t have anywhere to be, why the hell do I feel the need to run everywhere?

(Nevertheless, I feel the need to run everywhere. So was often filled with impotent fast-walking American rage.)

9. Sweaters

Children, don’t do what I have done. Just bring one. If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want space in your suitcase for buying cheap and beautiful handmade gifts for everyone you know. Though it gets cool at night, it is unspeakably hot here during the day: I promise you won’t need a cardigan, two wool sweaters, a sweatshirt, and a down vest. (This is what happens when you pack for summer during a snowstorm.) At the very most, bring a cardigan and a sweatshirt. If I could do-over that’s what I wouldn’t over-do.

10. Chapulines

 

I already mentioned these in a previous post, but that was early on in the trip and I didn’t know at the time how much these little crispy dead grasshoppers would come to mean to me. I love them so much. The best ones should be crunchy but with a little bit of inner gush to them — you can tell by looking at them if they’re too dry, because they look desiccated and brown, while the more delicious ones are red and juicy-looking. I like them with chile, but if you’re spice-averse you can get them without (whyyyy).

The best ones I found are at the market in Etla, right in front of the breakfast place there, which you should also pay a visit to!!! I don’t know if it has a name… but it’s right outside of the main everyday market and has outdoor and indoor tables and lots of fabulous old ladies cooking up a storm behind the counter. I have only sampled the vegetarian items, entomatadas (tortillas bathed in tomato sauce) and salsa de huevo (scrambled eggs bathed in tomato sauce), but they were absolutely freaking delicious, and I can only imagine the meaty items are the same. Also, every meal comes with an appetizer of fresh loaf of sweet, anise-y pan de yema (egg bread) and a cup of chocolate with water or milk, according to your preferences. (I like it with water, personally.)

Anyway, the lady selling chapulines right in front of that restaurant knows what’s up, holy shit her chapulines are soooo good. Also sometimes she has her baby with her, Max, who has the hugest cheeks I’ve ever seen. One morning Heri and Sara and I went for breakfast and Sara and I watched longingly as a steady stream of women came up and snuggled Max and kissed his miraculous fat face, and when I went to get my chapulines fix his mother must have seen straight into my soul, because she sighed and held Max up to me and said, “Do you want to kiss him?” DID I EVER. And it was everything I’d dreamed (well, a little stickier). If anybody reading this actually takes any of this advice, he’ll probably be older and not as cute by the time you see him. Sorry for your loss.

In my opinion, here is the best way to enjoy chapulines. Make a guacamole with white onion, salt, lime and avocados, and heat up a stack of corn tortillas. Fill the tortillas with guacamole and chapulines. Eat. Praise the heavens.

I made art, it’s called Selfie With Bags of Delicious Dead Bugs.

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This list goes up to

11. Being Vegetarian in Oaxaca

It was really easy. I’m not very strict (obviously, I just sang gospel about grasshoppers) and I’m sure I accidentally ingested some chicken broth or something while here — and also, I eat fish! so I’m a pescetarian — but aside from a constant low-level burning desire to stuff my face with chicken tinga, I encountered no problems. When you get any kind of street food like tlayudas or memelas, just make sure they hold the “asiento,” which is pork lard. And tell whoever you’re ordering from that you don’t eat meat, and then tell them you’re a vegetarian (repeating yourself two different ways is always better than staring down a plate of beef you didn’t order). Because of tortillas, rice, mole, and the glorious triad of beans, tomatoes, and avocados, you could probably even be vegan here without much trouble, although the thought of spending time in Oaxaca without eating quesillo (a heavenly string-cheeselike food that comes rolled in a ball like yarn, called “quesillo” here but “Queso Oaxaca” everywhere else) makes me sad.

*

So that’s my spiel. My last piece of advice is, go to Oaxaca if you have the chance. You might not be lucky enough to have an amazingly hospitable pal like Heriberto, but you will have a fantastic time nonetheless. I will certainly be returning, and am already dream-planning my next trip to Mexico to see more of this huge/hugely interesting country.

And, as a single woman traveling alone, I have to say I felt quite safe. As always, I was as careful as I could possibly be while still doing what I wanted. Like, I didn’t take any night buses. I didn’t go near Michoacan. I didn’t stumble the streets alone at night. When traveling, I always think of my father’s motto for us when we were kids: “Safety, politeness, and critical thinking.” I keep that in my mind at all times, with the word “fun” photobombing in the background.

Next time I update this blog, I’ll be in Spain!!! In a monastery town called El Bruc, outside of Barcelona, doing a residency at a place called Can Serrat. I have a full day of travel tomorrow, then a week in the states with my family, then off again. I’m excited and grateful and guilty, like always. Godddddd I hope I write something good. Otherwise what’s the point of me? A question for the ages, that.

Ojalá que mañana yo no tenga un chingo de problemas con la pinche aduana; no mames güey, quiero pasar con los chapulines sin estar chingada por los leyes. Por lo menos no voy a estar peda esta noche y cruda mañana.

(That was my attempt to use lots of Mexican slang in one sentence. Translation: “I hope tomorrow I won’t have a fuckton of problems with fucking customs. No shit dude, I want to go through with grasshoppers without getting fucked by the law. At least I won’t be drunk tonight and hungover tomorrow.” That last bit, directly translated, means, “At least I won’t be fart tonight and raw tomorrow.” LOLLLL gross.)

Ahí nos vemos, pendej@s.

Máximo

I am in Mexico City! And am leaving tomorrow. I’ve been here for… 5 nights? But not consecutively. More on that later.

First things first, nine days ago — on my first night here — I went to a Lucha Libre and had my mind blown for three hours straight and am still not over it. Lucha Libre is Mexican wrestling, I’m sure you can picture it: wild serial-killer masks, tiny gold-spangled speedos, enormous muscles and impractically long hair, famous for the spectacle as much as the sport. I knew before I went that it was rigged; I mean, I knew that the results of the match were pre-decided; but I didn’t realize how incredibly choreographed the thing would be, nor how gymnastic. It was not uncommon for a wrestler to launch himself off the ropes, do a triple handspring, and land with his legs locked around the neck of his opponent, then flip them both over the railing to land on their feet outside the ring. It was like watching a violent, absurd ballet with scantily clad cheerleaders/Veelas between each act.

There were many notable things about the fight, not least of which is the fact that they were selling RAMEN SOUP as a concession snack in the arena. Popcorn, beer, Maruchan. I mean, that’s genius, right? Who doesn’t want to slurp tepid dehydrated noodles while screaming “KILL HIM, SHOCKER!” in Spanish? (Spoiler: I didn’t want to. I stuck with beer. Lots. of. beer.)

(Context, I was with a nice Libertarian boy from Colorado.)

Another bizarre twist was the character of Máximo, whose whole schtick is that he’s gay. He was wearing a tiny purple dress-like costume, and had a pink mohawk, and in between slamming men to the floor with inhuman strength, he did an enormous amount of prancing. There was a running gag throughout his fight that he was in love with Negro Casas, a black-haired beefcake who defended Máximo from the other fighters so many times that I thought, Okay, this is real, this is actual romance, I’m sitting in Mexico in a packed arena of screaming fans watching two male wrestlers enact their devotion. But then at the end of the fight Máximo tried to kiss Negro Casas and Negro Casas decked him hard and he fell to the floor knocked-out cold. (Or, fake knocked-out.)

I just did not know how to run analysis on that situation! On one hand, I was pleased as punch to see an openly gay wrestler. But on the other, bigger, stronger hand, I thought it was fucked-up to turn the idea of a gay guy into a hilarious caricature. Everyone loved Máximo, like everyone loves the gay best friend. (Shout-out to Jonathan, worst gay best friend ever, never once has he waltzed me around the room telling me I’m beautiful a la Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding).

(Also shout-out to whoever’s playing “My Heart Will Go On” on the violin in their hostel room right now. It sounds really good.)

The most distressing part about the Máximo thing, however, is that he’s not actually gay. Whaaaaat? He’s married to another wrestler, a GIRL. Ew.

Another popular, caricature-y wrestler was this very fat man everyone adored — they were all screaming some word I didn’t recognize, and when I asked the guys behind me I realized I didn’t recognize it because it was in English. They were screaming “PORKY!!!”

Turns out Porky is Máximo’s dad. 

Turns out, in fact, that the world of the luchadores is super interconnected — everyone’s married to or related to everyone else. Beyond bizarre!

Also bizarre is the reason I left Mexico city in the middle of my stay… which is that my second night at the hostel I ran into three ’09 Macalester girls, Becky, Becca, and Allison. Becca and Allison lived in the veggie co-op with me, and Becca was my roommate for a semester!!! They were both visiting Becky, who’s in the Peace Corps stationed in a tiny mountain town about an hour outside Pachuca. Is that crazy or is that crazy? People who travel all the time can seem kind of woo-y, I think, always talking about interconnectedness and how to surf life’s waves or whatever, but that’s because when you travel a lot, you realize that the world really can be a beautifully intimate place.

I ended up accompanying them to Becky’s town, Carboneras, for four nights, and had a wonderful time hiking in the national park system and riding rickety packed-full vans across mountain ridges. I also rode a horsey and two little boats!

Here I am on top of a mountain I conquered. You can’t tell but I’m clinging to the rock for dear life… it was a lot higher than it looks in the photo.

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Here’s a marvelous sheep.

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Here’s a view of Carboneras, the town where Becky lives. This is taken from right outside her door.

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Then when I came back to Mexico City, on Friday I went to a music festival and saw, among other bands, Arcade Fire. Also the Polyphonic Spree and a bunch of Mexican bands. We walked around in an overheated daze and drank lots of beer and danced and swung for a while on some swings. A great success overall.

Then yesterday I went to Frida Kahlo’s house, which is now a museum, and paid $4 extra for a performance, which involved a woman dressed up as Frida Kahlo taking us on a tour and talking about her life. Interspersed with the recitation were a few select musical numbers — apparently popular songs from the time period — which “Frida” sang dramatically while accompanied by a solo violinist. It was one of those things where I kept trying to catch someone’s eye so I could giggle about it, but everybody else seemed more moved than amused… I even caught a woman wiping her eyes. This is a peril of traveling alone.

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But then I ended up getting a little teary at the exhibit of Frida’s gorgeous clothes, including her hand-decorated back braces and false leg. So who am I to say what’s funny and what’s sad?

I’m going to take this moment to confess that I’m in my bed writing this blog entry at 11pm on my last night in Mexico City. I know I should be out living it up but I’m leaving early tomorrow and I’m tired. Today I went to the Pyramids in Teotihuacan with a bunch of kindly French kids and we got hardcore rain-and-thundered on while we were at the top of the pyramid we’d spent forty minutes sloooowwwwwlllyyy climbing up in a huge, crowded line of Mexican tourists. It was exciting and fun and wet and cold. I had to tie my dress between my legs so it didn’t fly up in the wind. I also spent a good part of the day desperately trying to surface my one semester of college French so I could communicate. Then we went to Wendy’s?! I didn’t realize what was happening until we walked through the door (see earlier note re: communication issues). I ate a baked potato and a fish sandwich, which tasted awesome, as you can probably imagine. Wendy’s is delicious. LOLLLL probably for some people that’s not weird but for me it was extremely surreal.

And now I’m going to bed. My other roommates — two Chilean grown-up women and two Argentine not-as-grown-up women — are already asleep, so I don’t feel so lame.

Buenas nochesssss que te sueñas con los angelitos. Well, que me sueña. I don’t know what you all are planning.

Tragic Buffy (mis)Translations

I know I should be posting about more interesting things but this has been weighing heavily on my mind.

So, here in Mexico there are mandatory Spanish subtitles on all Netflix programs, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, aka the greatest show of all time ever, aka what I am currently re-watching bit by bitty bit. I am a fan of Buffy. And when I say I’m a fan of something I REALLY MEAN IT. Like, undying loyalty, think about it at least once a day, three lines of dialogue can bring me to tears, fan. I don’t get full on fangirl often, but when I do it’s for life. So far as an adult I’ve felt this way about just four things: The Beatles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Harry Potter, and Supernatural, though I’ve only been an “active” fanfiction-writing fan for Supernatural because it’s by the far the most flawed product and is always crying out to be tampered with and improved. (As a kid, being “into” fantasy series was basically all I did until sixth grade/boobs; special shout-out to Dealing with Dragons, the Song of the Lioness, and a Song of Ice and Fire, hollaaaa.)

Anyway, I am trying to impress upon you the deep love and respect I have for Buffy, because only if you understand my attachment will you understand how personally I’ve been taking these TERRIBLE HORRIBLE NO GOOD translations. Oh my god they are killing me with wooden stakes. My heart breaks for all Spanish-speaking Buffy fans, because the dialogue is the best part of the show and the (un-turn-offable!) Netflix translations just suck the blood right out of the veins of the script! 

I decided to take notes and share them, because I need to publicly be in pain, and that’s what the internet is for. The English comes first, the Netflix butchery comes second. This is just from one episode!!!

1. It’s just a long, cultural tradition of raging insincerity. Embrace it.

It’s an old hypocritical tradition. Put it into practice.

2. Well, I’ve got the list narrowed down to just under infinity.

The list of suspects is really long. 

3. Okay, so I’ll do what Monsieur Silk Knickers did!

I’ll do what the French sorcerer did.

4. All prayin’ no slayin’.

Only speeches. I’m not going to kill anybody. 

5. Riley: You sure this isn’t your way of making me feel less, what were the words… “cute and weak and kittenish?”

Buffy: … Kitteny.

Riley: You sure this isn’t your way of making me feel less “attractively in danger?”

Buffy: … Cute.

6. Hey! Necessary opposable thumb here!

Hey! You bruised my thumb!

7. Giles, I noticed you’re doing the smallest amount of helping that can actually be called helping.

Giles, you’re not helping much.

8. Lots of pointing and scowling.

Giving orders and making faces.

9. Nothing like getting your ass kicked to make your ass hurt.

When you get a beating, it hurts.

10. Any breakthroughs on the identity of Miss Congeniality?

Do you know who the girl is?

11. You’re a god. You’re like the god of boyfriends.

You’re great. You’re the best boyfriend in the world.

12. Dawn: Come on. Who’s the man?

Buffy: You are. A very short, annoying man.

Dawn: Who’s the best?

Buffy: You. The best at not minding your own business.

… But besides being in total agony every so often regarding these translations, everything’s great, thanks for asking. Took a cooking class yesterday and learned how to make some ungodly delicious chile rellenos buttttt this is not a food blog so I won’t go into detail because if I start I won’t stop and I don’t want to be that girl. I will give a quick plug for Casa de los Sabores, however, because if you’re ever in Oaxaca and want to drop a bunch of money on a cooking class, this one is stellar and so much fun.

I wandered into a bazaar the other day and found a vast selection of used books and got really excited until I realized they were all old gynecology textbooks with incredibly graphic pictures of shit like “tricomoniasus” … then glanced up and watched the gentleman beside me realize the same thing, and we both kind of backed away and didn’t look at each other.

For the record, men don’t yell dirty things at me in the streets here, which I really appreciate. In the Gambia people kept trying to aggressively ask for my hand in marriage, and in Argentina they would shout things like, “If you were an apple I’d eat you down to the seeds!” or “Sing Jingle bells and pull my hair!” In Buenos Aires I had to give a spoken final for my Philosophy class, and spent hours and hours carefully preparing a fifteen minute speech on Focault and Nietzsche, and when the time came I entered the little room, sat down across from the professor at the table, and felt proudly confident as I began to deliver my exam.

After about thirty seconds, the professor — an older man, pouchy eyes, pinstriped vest, you know the type — waved his hand to stop me. “Hang on,” he said. “Tell me what you think about the men here. Do they catcall you a lot?”

“Uh,” I said, not sure how this fit in with Foucault, thinking maybe something about the panopticon and surveillance, “Yes?”

“And?” he said. “Do you like it?”

“Like it?” I said. “No.”

“No?” He sat back and steepled his hands, smiling. “But in the U.S., if you step out on the street and no one compliments you, how do you know you’re looking good?”

I foolishly still thought this line of questioning had something to do with my speech, so I kept trying to bring it back around to the thinkers we’d studied. “I look… in a mirror? Like… Lacan’s mirror… phase?” Stretch. 

“Come on,” he said. “Admit it. It’s nice to be told you look pretty!”

And so help me, I feminist failed. Hard. I just wanted to get out of there. So I said, “Okay. You’re right. It is kind of nice. In the U.S., no one appreciates my efforts, but here I always get feedback on a good outfit, and that makes me happy.”

“I’m glad you like Buenos Aires,” he said, and sent me out. That was it. Five minutes and a total surrender of my personal politics got me an A. No joke. I still feel gross about it six years later.

So yeah, two thumbs up for the Mexican men. The most forceful thing anyone’s said to me here is “Hola,” and then when I didn’t respond, “Hey, are you sleeping?”

Of course, I am literally three times the size of all the men here, and so maybe am too huge to be catcalled. Before I came I was complaining to Nicole that a standard response, when I told people I was going to Oaxaca, was, “Oh, the men are all really short!”, and it pissed me off because, like, what kind of thing to say is that? For one, I didn’t come here to find a husband, and for another, surely there are more interesting comments to be made about a whole region of the world? But annoyed as I was, I now acknowledge the truth. I am comparatively enormous.

Benito Juarez, a Oaxacan and former President of Mexico, was and is the shortest leader of any country ever, at FOUR FOOT SIX. I mean, that is real short right there. You have to respect that.

Also… on a somber note… I just have to say I’ve been following the news about the missing Malaysian Airlines flight with morbid and horrified fascination. The whole story is just so disturbing. A crash is tragic — but an entire airplane vanishing with scarcely a trace? Uncanny. Out of a nightmare. So hard not to imagine being on that plane; so hard not to start spinning terrible possibilities. Best case scenario is it got Donnie Darko’d through a wormhole. I don’t know what the worst case could be. My imagination doesn’t want to go that far.

I’d rather not end low, so, I just read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and it’s amazing.

Good night!

Brief interviews with Oaxacan foodstuffs

I promise this isn’t going to turn into a food blog. But it would be IMPOSSIBLE to be here in Oaxaca and not talk about the glaring fact that their food is AMAZING. In fact it’s become my main topic of conversation. I think I say, “Por dios está riquísima” even more than I say “Cómo se dice…?” or “I think I’m getting a sunburn.”

Most people who know me know I like my food soggy. In elementary school I used to sit on my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches until the bread got all gooey and red like it’d been shot. Bowls + spoons > plates and forks. Soup, oatmeal, pasta with too much sauce… If it’s hot and mushy, I’m likely to enjoy it. (P.S. Apparently mushy is German slang for vagina. Thanks Emily.)

Anyway, Oaxaca is all about the sauce. Mole is what it’s famous for (“the land of the seven moles”), but even un-moléed items are covered in salsas and pureed black beans and melted cheese, and they serve soup with like every meal, and it’s all so spoonable and messy and marvelous. This morning I had a cup of hot chocolate and a piece of bread meant to be dipped in the chocolate, and then deep-fried scrambled eggs soaked in some kind of heavenly tomato sauce that was meant to be sopped up with bread and tortillas. Soggy, soggy heaven.

(I wish there were a more appetizing word for “soggy” because I feel like it doesn’t really help my “this food is delicious” case.)

Plus there’s tomatoes in everything. DO YOU KNOW ABOUT ME AND TOMATOES? We are bosom buddies. Twin souls. Besties. And this place really knows the value of tomatoes. The value is, you should put them in everything except dessert. Though apparently there’s a sweet tomato pie that someone’s mom makes (Sam?).

There’s also lots of things I’ve never eaten before! I love trying new foods, because so far, the only food on this planet that I haven’t liked is papaya. EUGH to me it tastes like the inside of a cat.

So here are some pictures of a few new-to-me foods. No interviews, sorry, I’ll leave that to a real food blog. (“Tell me, fried eggs, do you have a good relationship with your mother?”) Just… reviews.

1. Guayaba

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Guys, this is a GUAVA!!!!!!!! I’ve aways thought of guava as a flavor, not a real-live fruit, but here it is! So adorable, no? The outer texture is kind of pear-like, and the inside is reminiscent of a passion fruit… kind of a slimy substance that suspends the seeds (alliteration sad emoticon ). The flavor is pure candy. Very tropical, for want of a better word.

Grade: A

2. Chicozapote

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Mushy. LOLZ. This is such a weird and delicious fruit. The texture is kind of like a very, very ripe pear — it has that mealy juiciness to it. It’s one of the naturally sweetest things I’ve ever tasted, as sweet as a dried date. The first bite shocked me. The second bite thrilled me.  The third bite, well, whatever, no need to get cheesy.

Grade: A

3. Nopal

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This is the prickly pear cactus! Uncooked it looks like an enormous green tongue. Cooked, it develops the same clear viscous coating that okra does, which I know some people don’t like, but doesn’t bother me. The flavor is slightly sour, almost a lemony tinge to it, and Heriberto sautéed it with garlic and onion, to great effect.

Grade: (Are you seeing a pattern? Told you I liked everything.)

4. Huitlacoche

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Known in the U.S. as “Corn Smut,” a very unforgiving name for a supremely tasty mushroom. Granted, it is horrifying to look upon. But the taste is awesome, especially sautéed with a little red onion and tucked into a quesadilla. They taste like earth, in a savory, understated kind of way.

Grade: A

 5. Chapulines

Great

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and small.

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Yeah kids, these are BUGS. Grasshoppers. The big ones were flavored only with salt, and the teensy ones have chile, too. I think they must also have some kind of lime or lemon, because there’s a sourness to them that I don’t think comes from their bodies… but I can’t be sure. When you bite into the big ones, their guts spurt out, hahahaha. The little ones, not so much. The only thing you have to worry about is legs stuck between your teeth. Also, if you eat them for dinner — as I did this evening, on a tortilla with guacamole — your plate can look a little infested when all’s said and done. They are pretty dang good, especially the babies. I don’t know how to describe their flavor, other than salty, citrusy, and spicy, with an underlying taste of soil, or grass, in a good way. They’re not dry or crunchy, but they’re satisfying in the same way potato chips and peanuts are. Excellent with beer!

Grade: A

Bonus!

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Okay, obviously not a food, but wow, Mexico does not play around with Jesus. Everywhere I look, there he is, suffering. It’s pretty effective. I see why Jews don’t have the monopoly on guilt. And lucky me, half-Catholic, half-Jewish, I’m the guiltiest gal around!

To summarize, aside from feeling sad for Jesus, my first week in Oaxaca has been completely delightful. Next post I won’t even MENTION food, I swear. Next time, you lucky little darlings get to read about BEVERAGES!!! (Just kidding. Maybe.)

The Beatles

Ha, bet that title got your attention! Actually this post has nothing to do with the Beatles. (Except this weekend WROR played every single Beatles song in alphabetical order in honor of the 50 year anniversary of their appearance on the Ed Sullivan show, so it’s been the greatest weekend ever for driving. Lucky, because since Friday I’ve driven from Barrington to Providence to Somerville to South Boston to Somerville to South Boston to Acton. Every few hours they had call-in prizes and I kept calling but didn’t win, so FUCK THEM, BASICALLY. Jusssssstttt kidding, WROR 4-ever!)

My little sister bought me a manicure today! It was my second. It took me like forty-five minutes to decide on a color; I kept going back and forth between “Cajun Shrimp” and “Your Dress is So Hollywood,” and on the patient advice of my sister and my manicurist I decided on the latter. It’s kind of a dusky coral/rose, like your Midwestern grandmother’s lipstick, and if it had a scent it’d be Jergens. I look so beautiful now.

And the manicure-lady was very complimentary towards my hands. She said my pinky nail was “small as a bean,” and that my fingers were “exceptionally long and soft.” Those are compliments, right?

This was the first weekend I’ve spent in Boston in a while — I came in on Friday to see Des Ark, then hung out with Z&G and Caitlin and Hannah, and got accidentally/on purpose drunkkkkkk. I’ve was on antibiotics for almost a month and haven’t had anything alcoholic for fear of making myself ill, so Friday was kind of a no-more-sulfamethoxazole celebration. I was well-behaved but kept falling asleep in my chair in Glennon’s kitchen.

Is it kosher to publicly admit drunkenness? Better than public drunkenness.

Full disclosure, I also got drunk last night with my sister and her boyfriend, but that was a downright CLASSY drunk. White wine! Plus I was wearing lipstick and dining on superior ravioli.

And okay I had ONE mimosa this morning for my stepdad’s birthday brunch. I know, I’m crazy.

Aside from this weekend, I’ve been mostly hanging out at my dad’s house in Rhode Island, eating eggs and watching Gossip Girl and playing solitaire on my stepmother’s iPad. Also hardcore bonding with their dog, Sienna, who’s my canine soulmate. She is perfection in dog form. I have big plans to steal her if I ever get a house and a job. Every time we hang out (which is all the time), I whisper in her ear, “You’re my dog” — an attempt at not-so-subliminal messaging. Unfortunately, Ella found me out, and is counteracting my brainwashing by ALSO whispering, “You’re my dog,” which is unfair because it’s true.

Let’s be real, though. Sienna adores me. See the picture below for evidence.

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I’m going to miss her when I leave for Oaxaca on WEDNESDAY! I’ll be gone until April 23, but I’ll have wi-fi so will be able to answer emails and maybe update this blog some.

Bookwise I’m re-reading Ian Pears’ An Instance of a Fingerpost (phenomenal), and trudging through The Luminaries, which is exquisitely written and contextually interesting yet can’t quite keep my attention. It’s very tour-de-forcy. And there aren’t really any female characters — which is not a feminist complaint, for once — it’s just, I’d rather read about women because I’m sexist and I like them better. But there’s no debating it’s an impressive book.

To Oaxaca I’m bringing several can’t-believe-you-haven’t-read-them-yet books – Middlemarch, Bleak House, and Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World, which is the first book in the Wheel of Time fantasy series, my sister’s favorite creative product on this earth aside from Buffy.

I’m also bringing sunscreen! And lots of other stuff, obviously. I’ll spare you my entire packing list, but spoiler alert: clothes.

Now I’m going to go rummage around my mother’s fridge for a snack. Wish me luck, and I’ll see you on the flip side. (By flip, I mean Mexican. See you on the Mexican side!)

Love, Emma.

My trip to Costa Rica, briefly presented in the form of titles to Upworthy posts

If you aren’t familiar with it, Upworthy is where you go on the internet when you want to cry about inspiring things, or the white patriarchy. Costa Rica is a country in Central America where you go in real life. (If you’re lucky! I am lucky.)

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Ever Feel Like Swimming Every Day in an Ocean the Color of a Mystical Turquoise Pearl? This Question is Calculated to Make You Super Jealous!

Owner of Jungle-Based Ziplining Business Speaks Candidly About Zooming Through the Air on a Piece of Wire and a Carabiner 200 Feet Above the Ground: “Sure, People Cry All the Time,” He Says.

Does Your Family Praise Your Foreign Language Skills? That’s Because They Can’t Understand Spanish and Don’t Realize You Told the Taxi Driver You Swam in a “Cataract” instead of a “Waterfall.”

A Twenty Seven Year-Old Girl Asked Google if That Huge Grey Spider She Saw Was Poisonous: the Answer Will Shock You!

The Struggles of Being a Woman in a Male-Dominated World, Evidenced by my Stepsister Cooking Dinner For Us Every Night. (Or, More Accurately, the Struggles of Being a Phenomenal Vegan Cook Amongst Mediocre Cheese-Melters.)

Do You Like Coconuts? So Do Adorable Monkeys! OMG So Cute! Just Like Furry Little Humans Except With No Sexual Impulse Control!

The Image of a Scarlet Macaw Regurgitating Green Pulp into Her Baby’s Throat is Awe-Inspiring, Icky.

I Dare You to Stereotype Dolphins After You’ve Seen Them Gamboling Around Your Kayak at Sunset.

Think You Understand Crabs? This Video of Crabs in a Compost Pile Will Make You Think Again.

CLICK TO WATCH

This Picture Needs No Introduction

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New Year’s Resolutions

Just kidding! I don’t make those. Instead I make thousands of hopeful daily resolutions like, “Even though this book is exciting and peeing is boring, I resolve to get off the couch soon and go to the bathroom.”

I’m reading the hit YA post-apocalyptic trilogy Divergent, a gift from my 13 year-old stepsister Ella, and am once again marveling at how some books can be so bad and so good at the same time. Every sentence is like a huge OUCH in my brain, yet it’s impossible to stop reading. As we have learned from The Hunger Games, and from living in America, entertainment is dangerous.

I left this blog too long and now I forget how to write blog entries. Jesse has been hassling me about it and so I resolved to write something today, but I’m feeling the seductive pull of meta-quicksand… that is, I’m really tempted to start writing about writing a blog, like when you got creative assignments in school and wrote about not knowing what to write about.

One of the reasons I haven’t updated in a while is, it’s the holidays, which means I get to see a lot of people I haven’t seen in a while — and I’m so happy to see them!!! But, like writing a blog entry, visiting with seldom-seen relatives and friends entails a great excess of talking about myself, and in very rigid patterns:

“Where are you living?” (Nowhere exactly.)

“What are you doing with your life?” (Nothing exactly.)

“What do you hope to do with your life?” (Everything exactly.)

“Boy are you tall!” (Yes.)

“Why don’t you write a best-selling post-apocalyptic YA series?” (Why don’t you buy farmland in Virginia and grow horses?)

It isn’t that I dislike talking about myself — obviously — but I prefer to do it within the bounds of conversation, not Q&A sessions. These sessions make me feel very young; they’re questions asked of a bushy-eyed just-graduated-from-college kid, not a nearly-27 year-old WOMYN. Except, okay, for all intents and purposes, I am just a kid. 27′s not that old, but it’s old for not having a job. And not having a place to live. And I don’t volunteer anywhere, and I don’t have a boyfriend, and I don’t have babies, and I don’t have a dog. And normally I don’t worry all that much, because I have other things — freedom!!! long hair!!! a Subaru!!! — but when I’m being asked the same concerned/amused/confused questions over and over again, I can’t help but turn the questioning on myself in the dark of the night, and mild hopeless panic ensues.

Also, super importantly, I’m trying to grow out my bangs in an attempt to come to terms with my face, and it’s the worst. (Not my face necessarily, just the whole process.) I badly want to chop them again but am holding out as a matter of commitment.

Also I haven’t written a fictive word in two weeks (!!!) and it’s starting to make me anxious, but I have no routine right now — I’m bouncing between houses, mostly my dad’s, my mom’s, my sister’s, and Glennon’s, and I feel like I’m constantly packing bags and forgetting my toothbrush. Not good writing conditions. At heart I’m kind of a domestic person, a homebody, but I’m always trying to counteract these instincts by forcing myself into adventure-type situations.

Several such adventures are upcoming.

Soonest starts next Tuesday — a weeklong trip to Costa Rica with my mother, stepfather, and stepsisters Sophie and Tessa, and Tessa’s boyfriend. Baby sister Jesse couldn’t come because she has to work, like a fucking grown-up.

And I may be spending at least February – April in Oaxaca, details pending.

And I’m doing a residency outside of Barcelona for the month of May, then being met by Jesse for the first week of June and traveling around.

I assume anyone reading this blog knows my situation, but just in case you’re asking how the hell I can afford my life, I’ll tell you. Although I’m extremely grateful, it’s not a happy story, and for a long time I couldn’t talk about it (I can’t even write about it without getting a little teary).

Doug, a very close family friend, died a few years ago (three years this month) and left me money. With it, I paid off my student loans and quit my awesome job at Caffe Dolce in Montana in order to pursue this writing-intensive itinerant lifestyle for one year. Doug was an avid reader and a heartfelt, immersive appreciator of music and literature, so I like to think he’d approve of my choices.

Inheriting money from a loved one is strange, and difficult. Especially dealing with other people’s reactions. It’s true that I’m “lucky,” but the price of that luck was the death of an amazing man, and my first experience with terrible grief and loss. I’d rather be broke with Doug still living. But that’s not the case, so. Here I am.

Jesse said to me the other day, “If you’re going to live a fabulous international lifestyle, the least you can do is blog about it for people who do have jobs and dogs.”

That’s the main reason for this guilty update.

As always, I miss everyone I’m not with, and think about you all the time.

And while I’m here, I recommend the books Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. The first I recommend in spite of its fast pace and videogame aesthetic, and the latter I recommend despite its seeming slow, old-fashioned pace. Couldn’t put either of them down!

There’s something intentionally timeless about Donna Tartt’s style — something antiquated in her syntax — (it’s jarring each time a word like iPhone appears) — and at first I found the down-the-nose narration a little wearying, but I grew to love it. I’ve loved all three of her novels. They all have a plodding literary quality interspersed with moments of almost exaggerated action, and while that might not sound flattering, for me it works to great effect.

In contrast, Ernest Cline is pell-mell action and a nonstop barrage of pop-culture references, almost none of which I got, but you don’t have to be up on ’80s movie trivia to have a great time reading the book. It’s puzzle-like and very exciting — takes place mostly inside a videogame. My closest videogame contact to date is Mario Kart, and I loved this novel, so I can’t imagine how excellent it would be for someone who’s actually ever played a videogame in their life.

Here’s a picture of my 18 year-old cat, Ben, who has gotten a bit smelly in his old age, but is still the cutest cuddliest darling on the planet.

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And, if you ever have a chance to take a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, DO IT!!! It’s literally the best.