Four Magic Words: “Just Let Me Know”

We all know about the missing sock phenomenon. Pre-wash, all sock pairs are present and accounted for. Then, post-wash, 1 sometimes more ankle grazers go missing, inexplicably lost into the laundered abyss.

This is a story of the missing Cock phenomenon. See if you can relate:


After a few flirty emails, you and your online match finally decide to meet in person. You arrive at a local café at 6 pm, prime casual hour. He walks in. You spot each other immediately. You can’t hide your relief that for once, he actually resembles the guy in his profile pictures. He smiles wide. You smile wide. The date takes off like a paper airplane on the moon.

Hours pass in engrossing, uninterrupted conversation. No awkward pauses. No forced topics on favorite music and movies. You talk about your dreams and passions. You share intimate stories of childhood pets dying in your arms after 15 years of unconditional love. Then, practical jokes played on friends and family. The exchange is like the perfect mix tape, pensive songs followed by poppy beats, back down then up, Thom Yorke to Tom Petty, somber… sweet… silly.

6 pm somehow turns into midnight. The café staff starts stacking chairs on tables. He says he doesn’t want the date to be over. You agree. He settles the bill. You go on a walk through the city, quieted by its quiet, as comfortable in silence as you were steeped in chatter. At last, you both agree the night that has already ended must end. He walks you to your car. You embrace. He says he can’t wait to do this again. You agree, and drive home wearing a huge, shit-eating grin and eyes glazed over by the haze of a long-forgotten hope.

Then, tomorrow passes into 3 days into 5. Not a word. Not a cricket chirping. The kind of silence that devours a dense forest right before a demon presence falls upon it. And in that time, you apply FOUR kinds of logic to the experience:

  • Psychological: (In hindsight, this is definitely the most cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs of all lines of thinking.)

Sounds like: Clearly, he’s terrified by how strong his feelings are for me. He’s intimidated by my winning combination of wit, warmth, and charm. He’s in total anguish by the fact that he has found his dream girl but isn’t yet the man he knows I deserve to have.

  • Mechanical:

Sounds like:  My phone must be broken. I can dial out, but clearly for some reason, nobody can dial in to my number. I’m going to call all of my friends and ask them to ring me back as a test. (Note: If it does work, then obviously his particular carrier is not compatible with mine.)

  • Physical:

Sounds like: Oh dear god! He’s been hit by a Mack Truck/ Space debris/ sniper/ Rogue Wave on his way home from picking me up a bouquet of flowers for our next date.

  • Metaphysical: (aka, the XY-Files)

Sounds like: Por dios! He has fallen through a tear in the space-time continuum and is now forever trapped in a parallel universe for which our lives will never intersect again.

And/or: I imagined our whole encounter while immersed in some hallucinatory Fugue state/ sleepwalking fantasy. In this case, I return to the place I dreamt we met, where the employees recount the still-talked-about night I sat down in a booth and engaged in a rapturous conversation with myself for 6 hours.

4 stages later and you’re still out of one’s fruit tree because in the end, there is no reasonable explanation for the post-amazing-date-blow off. It’s making you unglued which only further feeds into the stereotype that all women are emotional freaky-deaks. To which I say:

That 80’s movie where Harrison Ford goes into the shower only to come out and find his wife missing from INSIDE the hotel room isn’t called “Even Steven” or “Cool as a Cucumber.” It’s called “FRANTIC!” because sudden, inexplicable disappearance is un-fucking-nerving.

 So, here’s what happened.

In the afterglow turned blow of yet another one of these missing cock experiences, I called my stepmother to gripe and moan. And all of a sudden, she had this brilliant idea for how to get the closure I so desperately needed.  Don’t call him. Don’t email him. Simply text him FOUR specific words: “JUST LET ME KNOW.”

Just Let Me Know: So simple yet so profound. Not aggressive. Not accusatory. Just one human being asking another human being to do the decent thing: Just let me know if you’ve had a change of heart, a change of address, a change of sex.

And 9 times out of 10, the response is immediate. Days, maybe weeks of crushing, ambiguous silence stopped dead in its tracks. And yes, 9 times out of 10, it is exactly what you expect it to be: He has had a change of heart. But seeing those words after simply imagining them – while it may sting at first – makes it possible to finally let go and move on.

So ladies — from Obi Won Kenobi (i.e. my step-mom) – “USE THE FOUR WORDS, THE FOUR WORDS WILL SET YOU FREE.”

Hey Cancer, Go F Yourself

asteroidI know. I KNOW. All across the planet, people are clinging to the last, rapidly fraying shreds of sustenance and sanity. Bombs are falling on orphanages, asteroids are hurtling toward earth, ice caps are melting, fault planes are splitting, starvation and prejudice and inequality are persisting while whole species of animals are being wiped out…

SO That the Very Last Thing the world needs is more airtime devoted to Angelina Jolie’s preventative double mastectomy.





I understand that being a movie star is NOT synonymous with moral superiority.

nick nolte

nick nolte mug shot

I don’t need to read gossip rags for it to sink in that OMG! famous people are actually “JUST LIKE US.” They get parking tickets and step in gum and despite all the influence and money in the world, fall victim to life-threatening diseases.

Except unlike us, they have no privacy. Ergo in some bizarro fun-house mirror surreality I know the most intensely personal details of someone whom I have never, and will likely never, meet. Yes, it’s creepy and twisted but it’s true. So I may as well use Angelina Jolie as a proxy for every carpool driving non-famous woman who took the exact same measures but managed NOT to land on the cover of People magazine to be extolled a hero among mortals.

But let’s face it — what Joliethesewomen did/do is fucking heroic. Seriously, Gawd forbid you find out your most psychologically defining female body parts and reproductive organs are IED’s with an 87% chance of exploding…

Who among us would go all Tomb Raider on said nemesis?

tombraiderI  for one would probably run away screaming like a lost, cookie-selling girl scout happening upon a fat camp. But…

That’s kinda sorta because when I think of cancer, I don’t think of fighting chances and preventative surgeries.

I think of what happens after you’ve already been diagnosed.

I don’t think of being a PREVIVOR.

I think about making the best of the time you have left.

I don’t think of Angelina Joliethesewomen who I have never, and will likely never, meet.

I think of my own mother, who lost her battle with Leukemia when she was 49 years young.


On one random winter morning, a tired oncologist walked into the hospital room where my mother waited to be discharged after a weeklong stay to treat a severe case of pneumonia. The door slowly closed behind him.

I often wonder what went on behind that door, what my mother’s initial reaction to the doctor’s diagnosis was. I wonder whether my father held her hand, if she held her breath, if the doctor held his head low to wait for the allotted time to pass for his patient to digest the information she had just received: that the pathologists had detected an abnormality in her blood tests; that the abnormality was Cancer; that without finding a bone marrow donor and undergoing a successful transplant and/or chemotherapy, she would have one to three years maximum left of her life.

How much time do you give a person to wrap their brains around words with such a ceaseless circumference? A New York minute? Enough to pop a family-sized bag of microwavable popcorn? The same half-hour you allot before jumping back into the pool after eating so as to avoid drowning?

My mother waited as long as possible to tell me, her youngest. I was twelve. I was a knobby kneed, tousled, tangled tomboy who picked scabs, noses and toes with an unmatched vulgarity that revolted even my older brother. Think Pigpen.

pigpenThe day, I was sitting at the kitchen counter, tilting a jar of maple syrup on its side and painstakingly filling each individual square on my Eggo waffle. My mother walked over and sat on the stool beside me. She asked if we could talk for a minute and something about the unnatural high-pitched shrill of her voice broke my concentration. I angled the jar too far. Syrup spilled over the brim of the square, drowning the whole perfect waffle grid beneath.

Put out, I dramatically swiveled to face her.

“I’m free NOW,” I barked.

She grabbed my hands and held them in her lap. She inhaled deeply, as if she were about to hold her breath under water. And then, a single ribbon of words left her lips and floated overhead: “Chemotherapy,”  “Bone-marrow transplant,”  “Platelet Count,” “Life expectancy,” and on until finally she came to a name that set off an alarm of recognition wired deep down inside me, in a place reserved solely for the cause of sheer and total panic: “Cancer.”

I didn’t know the textbook definition or the clinical details. I knew Cancer was a scaly, saber-toothed, Cyclopes/T-Rex interbred monster that lurked behind dimly lit, flickering street lamps in the dark night, tearing apart the flesh of alley cats as appetizers until the main course — an unsuspecting human with a family, patio furniture, and refrigerator artwork — passed by. I could feel him there, in the room with us, filing his claws on the razor sharp ends of his fangs, skulking, waiting for the moment she let her guard down.

trexI sized them up. It — versus — Her. She in one corner, 5 foot 6, 120 pounds, wearing a silk, shoulder-padded blouse and floor-length skirt. Her porcelain skin, delicate hands, lean long fingers, French-manicured nails, cherry red lipstick always smudged on her two front teeth.

IMG_1363My mother did not seem built for battle. She snuck frozen bonbons in the pockets of her bathrobe before turning off the kitchen lights at night, all the while waiting for her cucumber face mask to harden. She smelled of suntan lotion and lemon juice all year long. She ate pizza with a fork and knife, hung doilies from every doorknob in our house, and sprinkled potpourri on our pillowcases. She loved Neil Diamond and Dynasty, central air-conditioning, and the cool salty breeze that snaked across the Atlantic shoreline, on which she could be found every summer lounging under a giant beach umbrella wearing a straw hat with a brim as wide as an inner tube, and black tinted sunglasses that took up half of her face.

Every hour or so, she would walk down to the water, pressing one hand on the top of her head to hold down her hat as the sides flapped furiously in the wind, and waving out to me and my brother with the other. Cautiously, she would edge further and further in, pausing to let the waves crash against her shins and settle into the shore. From where I waded, she looked like an exotic sea bird with iridescent white plumes sprouting forth from a small black body, a brown crown, and red beak, combing the coast for crabs and beached jelly fish.

And in the other corner — IT. Heightless, weightless, widthless. Everywhere and everything at once. All caustic, blistering breath.

The odds were against her. I knew that, even as she promised otherwise, even as she swore to come out of this fight stylishly windswept, strutting in a pair of pumps lined with the taut skin of the vanquished beast…

Three years later, I came home from school and found my father and brother sitting at the kitchen counter with their heads bowed low as if pinned beneath invisible guillotines. I thought what a curious thing to be happening in the middle of the afternoon on a week day while the lawn man was kneeling on his dirt-soaked knees yanking out weeds in our backyard, while the cat yawned, while the bread in the breadbasket gathered mold, while the washing machine churned our whites around.

And then I looked up to my parent’s bedroom where my mother chose to spend her final months. I could tell it was empty in a way that only vacant hospital rooms with the beds turned up can be. At that moment, I understood that she was gone. The beast had won.


The fact is — there is nothing redemptive or enlightening about being a kid — heck, being any age — and having your mom get taken away forever. It’s not character building; it doesn’t make you deeper. As a pre-pubescent girl, processing the loss is about as possible as balancing a boulder on a drink straw. It’s a wrecking ball through innocence, an irreversible change to your molecular composition in ways you’ll never fully understand.

Simply put, it sucks donkey balls.

That Angelina Jolie — on behalf of every man and woman who has taken/will take the same preventive measures to stand up to the beast and say “Hey Cancer, Go F Yourself,” — mad bad mother fucking props to you (s).

My mom and I

My mom and I

I Want My HPV (not. herpes.)

If someone put a gun to my head and asked what the three great loves of my life are, I’d probably… well, crap my pants.

If the assailant continued to stick around even after that, then I’d probably say something like:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday I’m speaking to that last object of my desire. Specifically, to a February 15 GA Voice op-ed piece titled “Cars Aren’t The Problem With Share the Road,” by Melissa Carter. As it were, this single editorial has quickly become to the Atlanta cycling community what a Paula Dean cookbook is to a vegan food festival.

pigletI won’t lie. When I first read the piece, my initial thoughts were not exactly — how shall I say — ladylike. I heart Bikes. I wear my “I WANT HPV” t-shirt with pride (HPV as in Human Powered Vehicle, not herpes). I’m an avid rider and yes, in my ideal universe Atlanta Streets Alive — the bi-annual festival in which major city roadways are shut down to automobiles and opened only to foot or bike traffic — would be the norm.

That said, I’m just sane enough to know how unrealistic that is. After moving to Atlanta, I even bought a car after seven years of being a two-wheeled purist. And I’ll be the first to admit how grateful I am to have said car around should the need arise.

But as much I’d like to print Melissa Carter’s face on a “WANTED” spoke card, she’s not all wrong. She’s just really short-sighted, never more so than in her opening paragraph. There, Carter suggests every traffic jam she’s ever been stuck in “was caused by a bicycle.”

I call bull shitake.

If you can get past that doozy without gagging, Carter does go on to make some valid points. Chief among them:

A “4,000 pound vehicle that can reach speeds well over 100 mph” is not meant to “coexist on the same roads in harmony” with a 30 pound bicycle with an average speed of 20 mph.

I could not agree more. When it was created in 2000, Share the Road was designed to educate “all road users [including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, etc…] about interacting safely in and around large trucks and buses.” ( That didn’t mean adding bicycle hand signals to the driver’s Ed curriculum and calling it a day. Obviously infrastructure has to be implemented that creates clear and generous divisions between the two. To say Georgia lacks in that area is a gross understatement.

On the majority of metro Atlanta streets, a bike “lane” is qualified by a white stencil drawing of a helmeted stick figure on two wheels visible right before driving your car over it. Last check, Georgia ranked 23rd in the nation for being bike friendly (League of American Bicyclists).

bikelaneBut nowhere in her article does Carter suggest ways of improving said infrastructure. Rather than being constructive, Carter is openly cynical: The system is flawed and therefore should not exist. That she places no blame whatsoever on the part of cars for the Share the Road debacle is inconceivable. Instead, she holds the “arrogant” cyclist who “flippantly” disobeys traffic laws responsible for sabotaging any real STR potentiality.

Dear Melissa Carter, for every self-righteous cyclist that leans up against your car or whizzes past you in the turn lane — I will raise you two SUV-driving jacktards who intentionally try and run biking-me off the road to compensate for their gherkin-sized genitalia.


Given that she sees bicyclists as the weak link in the STR chain, Carter’s proposed solution is — unsurprisingly — to hold the pedaling population more accountable for their actions. She writes:

“I want everyone who wants to put their bikes on the main road to get a license and a tag. That certainly isn’t a new idea. A similar effort took place last year in Oregon when a proposed ballot measure sought to create a bicycle education program for people who have not taken the Oregon driver’s test. It would also mandate more police enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists… The measure would have required a fee for the endorsement test and registration via a license plate for all bicycles in Oregon.”

I have one word: Portland. If Georgia was anywhere near the stratosphere of Portland in terms of accommodating a safe and amenable car/bike coexistence, then I would be first in line to apply for my bicycle license. As it were, it’s like comparing RadioShack to the Apple store. Georgia is bike-phobia; Portland is bike-phoria.

  • As of a 2012 survey, a whopping 1% of all federal transportation tax money in Georgia was allocated toward bicycle and pedestrian projects. ( — versus — In 2011, Portland’s mayor Sam Adams allocated 17% of the amount of uncommitted transportation funding to bike projects (The Oregonian)
  • Georgia is ranked 23rd most bike-friendly state in the nation (League of American Bicyclists) — versus — Oregon at 5th
  • Atlanta has 30 miles bicycle lanes — versus — Portland has over 100.

Carter wants bicyclists to get licensed to codify their understanding of traffic laws and hold them accountable for breaking those laws. She fails to acknowledge the other obvious benefit here: The fee for said licenses could go directly into building a solid bike-friendly infrastructure in Georgia.

Once again, Carter is unable to see any way of improving the situation. “I don’t believe in sharing the road,” she yields. I imagine little girl she also had issues sharing her toys with other kids on the playground too.

Instead, Carter is resigned to the cluster-muck that is GA’s Share the Road; and the best she can hope for is that the bicyclist holding her up in “stand still traffic” has a valid license plate.

I am way more optimistic. While it’s still in its rubbing two sticks together stages of creating a bike-friendly culture, Georgia is light years from where it was ten, twenty years ago. When I was growing up near Atlanta in the late 90s, the only reason you’d see someone on a bike was if their driver’s license was revoked.

Now, we have “road diet” programs and the Beltline. And the most recent coup: At the beginning of this year, Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council approved a $2.47 million overhaul of Georgia’s streets to create “high-quality” bicycle projects, including:

  • Doubling the percentage of people who bike to work from 1.1percent to 2.2 percent
  • Becoming top ten U.S. city for cycling to work and cycling safety
  • Doubling total miles of bicycle lanes/cycle tracks to 60
  • Doubling total miles of linked shared-use paths to 60
  • Securing Silver or Gold Bicycle Friendly Community status from the League of American Cyclists, joining the ranks of Boston and Denver
  • Introducing bicycle sharing program that supports local economy

In the meantime, viva la velocipedes.

Saaaaaaave Yourself! But Leave Joe Pesci with Me

Let me make one thing perfectly clear. I do NOT condone stalking. A restraining order is NOT the ultimate symbol of affection. No means No. And love does NOT mean never having to say you’re sorry for the severed horse head left on the doorstep.

There is a big difference between perseverance and prowling. The one does not involve hair sniffing or sleep watching with night goggles or tethering oneself to the undercarriage of a car in order to hitch a ride to your “soul mate’s” house.

capefearIt’s good, clean, ole’ fashion courtship. And, after a solid year of wooing Write Club Atlanta, reciting love poems and planting beds of various perennials outside its cyber window — i was finally invited inside!

And there, I was welcomed onto the sacred stage where once a month, the most bad-ass literary event this side of Mars takes place: the WCA Bout. Here’s how it all goes down:

  • 1 week before showtime, you are assigned a topic. In my case — “LIGHT”
  • At the very same time, my contender is assigned an opposing topic; i.e. “DARK”
  • You both have that single week to compose a folktale, yarn, memoir, ode, allegory, recipe, Unabomber manifesto, etc. around your topics.
  • That story, when read aloud, can last no longer than SEVEN minutes. There is an actual timer. It will go off. It is ego-crushingly loud. And you must stop reading or else you will be caned.
  • Opening Night: A brutal round of rock, paper & scissors determines whether you or your opponent reads first.
  • Once both stories are finished, an audience applause-o-meter decides the winner

clapometerOn Jan. 16, 2013 — I, as “LIGHT,” went up against “DARK.” Our moves were even, our talent nose-to-nose, our wit neck-to-neck.

It was Rocky versus Apollo, graham versus honey, Spy versus Spy.

But in the end, the applause-o-meter needle swung in my favor. My ears rung from the thunder-clapping of the crowd; everything moved in slow mo, suddenly I saw my arm being lifted into the air, outside of myself. It was official. I had WON.

Honestly, I never imagined anything could taste sweeter than my dessert nom de plume — the vegan Sunny Bear Sundae.  But I was wrong. Victory, dulce victory, is even better.

So today I’m sharing the story I wrote that earned me the Write Club Atlanta prize of eternal bragging rights: (Illustrations added)



I met Eric Hyman — yes HYMAN — in second grade art class. The teacher, Ms. Lee paired us for an exercise to sketch the other person’s eye. After a half-hour, she did a once around the room to take in the results. Then, she doubled back to Eric, grabbed his paper off his desk, and taped it the center of the chalkboard so we could all see.

 “BEHOLD!” she bellowed. “The only work in the entire class to contain this,” she pointed to a little white square Eric had drawn in the lower left corner of my pupil.

“Eric, will you be so kind as to tell everyone what that square is?”

“Uh, sure,” he muttered. “It’s the reflection of light in Nicole’s eye.”

And that’s Eric. Even at 8 years old, he grasped the intricate workings of the universe, smart in the kind of way that can’t be taught.

Not this “SHORT” bus rider. I was wearing a training bra before I fully understood that the sun didn’t actually rise in the day and duck back down at night.

ralphwiggumSomehow, though, from that 2nd grade eye exercise on, Eric and I were inseparable. By fifth grade, I was spending more time at his house than my own. We’d play Nintendo, make fart sounds, prank call people Bart Simpson style, and then when his phone rang, we’d answer,

“BUSTER Hyman, here,” OR

“PAPA Hyman, how may we help you?”

And 3-2-1 collapse into side-splitting hysterics.

After high school, life pulled us in different directions. But we still kept in touch. We wrote letters, we’d visit, and use holidays for random cross-country road trips.

And then, somehow after 22 years of being his platonic partner in crime, I started to have this reoccurring dream. In it, Eric and I were — how shall I put this — Slapping The Uglies.

He’d call as usual only now my heart would race and my cheeks would flush and I’d catch myself uttering the most asinine shit like,

“I hear a nasty cold front is moving into the Bay Area.”

Eventually it hit me. Eureka! I had a crush on Eric.

I decided to fly out west to tell him in person. I took a red eye. He took the day after I arrived off work. It was Easter Sunday, and we made a plan to honor our bearded Jewish broheim in HIGH holy style:

joepesciA day hike in Big Basin State park, where we’d test out the newest yield of Eric’s home-grown medical marijuana crop: a strain he named “Joe Pesci.”

By early afternoon, we reached the Pine Mountain ranger station, home to the famous “Buzzards Bluff.”

Elevation: 2,600 feet.

About 20 minutes into the hike and for the next hour, the incline was so steep I could literally reach my hand out and touch the path in front of me.

This was good. I couldn’t even talk if I wanted to.

Must. Conserve. Breath.

And then we made it to the top. We found a sweet little nook carved out of the stone with a panoramic view of the sweeping sequoias. Eric lit his Joe Pesci joint and passed it my way. I took a generous hit, held the smoke in my lungs, and puffed out a burning, tear-filled exhale.

I looked at Eric. In my head I said,

“If not for your friendship, I’d be a BATH SALT SNORTING Juggalo right now.”


But what came out was,


You ever.


How. Feet.

Are like.

Leg. Hands? “

I opted to put a pin in any life-altering revelations until I wasn’t high off my Joe Pesci gourd.

We stayed on Buzzards Bluff long enough for the actual namesakes to return to their nests after a full day of scavenging. Eric and I collected our things, scarfed down the only nourishment we had — a bag of chili cheese bugles and half a bottle of water — and began the descent.

Only this time, the trail marker on the tree in front of us was green, not the RED we followed up. But hey, what’s the difference? Green means go. Green means shortcut.

Our confidence was airtight. We moved in step, enchanted by the scenery before us. I thought of the countless unclaimed tickets for the coat check of regret — forgotten in the folds of some worn-out wallet, torn asunder in washing machines, stuck inside that inconceivably tight side jeans pocket that you can’t even get one finger into.

I rehearsed the lines under my breath:

“I thought you should know that for about a year now, I’ve wanted to kiss you.”

Short. Sweet. Direct.

Okay. Now out loud.

But before I could open my mouth, Eric interrupted,

“I think we’re lost.”

It was like how you don’t feel pain until someone points out that you’re bleeding. The second he said the word “lost,” I started to sense the temperature drop and the night set in. Now, the redwood canopy kept the slightest sliver of starlight at bay.

At first, we used the glow of Eric’s iPhone to guide us — covering as much distance as we could in each, 6-second power window before it shut off again. But eventually, the battery died and we were left in NEAR total darkness. I say “near” because I could still see the 2-by-2-inch luminescent decals on the back of Eric’s New Balance kicks as he stumbled in front of me.

They were my beacons, bouncing like fireflies on a trampoline.

Up, down. Up, down. Follow the New Balance decals. Don’t think about Blair Witch. Don’t think about piercing screams from douchebag Grizzly Man documentary.

Up, down. Up, down. My thighs felt like sandbags. My tongue felt like sawdust. I would’ve set a church on fire for a smoothie.

Up, down. Up, down.

I wanted to curl up inside one of those giant sequoia trunks and go to sleep. I wanted to dream of heaven, where all the unsolved cliffhangers of life were resolved like what the Fuck WAS ‘Lost’ about AND How many licks DOES it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?

I wanted to say,

“Save yourself!”

“But leave Joe Pesci with me.”

And then I saw it. Up ahead. Lights. Little white squares of light flickering in the distance.

“Eric! Cars! “

Up, down, up, down. The New Balance decals bounced furiously as Eric broke out into a run, with me in hot pursuit. We came out onto the road, just below the entrance to Pine Mountain. We darted to Eric’s truck, sitting totally alone in the parking lot.

He turned on the engine. The clock radio flickered 3:17 am. We had been walking non-stop for 12 straight hours. No food. No water. My brain buzzed. I closed my eyes and the last thing I remember saying before passing out was,

“I can’t feel my leg hands”

Because we didn’t die that night.

And this isn’t heaven.

And we’re not granted all the answers to all the cliffhangers.

(Audio podcast of my Jan. 16 reading will be available at

Happy Gnew Year All Ye Gnerds!

As Gary Gnu would say: “Happy Gnew Year all ye Gnerds.”

Make no mistake — we Hominid’s have a lot to be proud of. 2012 was like some Remo Williams obstacle course forcing us to leap from and balance on one wobbly doom-beam after another:

A moon-sized asteroid hurtling toward earth, Iran’s nuclear threat, the Mayan apocalypse, the fiscal cliff, homicidal maniacs on shooting sprees, Honey Boo Boo, and most ruthless of all, Pizza Hut’s proposed pizza-scented perfume.

AND then, Master Chiun sheepishly turns off the lights and makes us do it all again, from the beginning:

But here we are. Stronger than ever because we survived, standing at the cusp of a brand new year ready and able to kick ass and take names. And, while I used to think New Year’s resolutions were a cheap marketing ploy invented by the health club industry —

I’ve come to see a grocery list of life goals to attain over the next 360 or so days as good, plain mental housekeeping.

So, without further adoodley do — here are my resolutions for 2013:

– Get Carl Kasell to the do the home voice message on my answering machine.

– Meet the Click & Clack Brothers

– See any or all of the following animals LIVE in their natural setting:

grizzly bear, mountain lion, elephant, sugar glider, Tasmanian devil, giant land sloth, barrel owl, humpback whale, wild boar, gecko, glow worm, gray wolf, and wooly mammoth, the last one requiring…

woolymammoth– Build a time machine

– Live in the present

– Eat more leafy greens

– Learn to play the hurdy gurdy, ukulele, air guitar, spoons, and or kazoo

– Sharpen my survival skills; read: increase my survival skills from NIL to at least 1. This may include, but is not limited to:

building a fire out of 2 sticks, charming a snake, jarring my own jam, pickling my own yam, learning to read a NON-digital wristwatch.

– Believe in the positive, except when it involves the results to a pregnancy, breathalyzer, and/or STD-test

– Consume fewer things that are wrapped inside other things that are then deep fried

– Stop looking up the extended weather forecast on my smart phone while driving

– Have more patience

– Download “Patience” on iTunes

– Take pleasure in the little things: flea circuses, sea monkeys, hotel shampoo, airplane mini-bottles.

– Stop watching “Dexter” before bed

dexter– Dance more; this does not include pretending to sweep, mop, vacuum, wash the windows, and/or walk on a treadmill while on the dance floor. I’m talking learning the Pasodoble here.

– Stop being scared of the following:

soft pretzels, toe shoes, Costco, Siri, removable shirt collars, ear wax candles, potpourri, AND the untapped, underlying animal madness buried deep within all human beings.

– Stop buying items with any or all of the following attributes:

Has squirrel, robot, dinosaur, Voltron, or MacGyver stencils; is a tea towel, is a tote bag, is crocheted, macraméd, shrink-y-dinked, or etch-a-sketched; is made out of legos, paint chips, colored duct tape, coconut shells, or old soda cans.

– Join my local Quaker chapter for the monthly “Artist Way” meetings

– Become a working member of the local co-op

– Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.

– Get up on stage to perform in front of a LIVE audience; this does not include standing on my bed with a hairbrush microphone and reading aloud to my cat, however constructive his feedback may be.

poppyaudience– Give up the ghost on a “My So Called Life” reunion OR of ever finding out what Bill Murray whispered in Scarlett Johansson’s ear at the end of “Lost in Translation”

– Become a mystery shopper to satisfy spy fantasies

Befriend more people with beach chateaus

Befriend more people with country chalets

Befriend more people with any French-sounding second homes

Befriend more people with second homes in France

– Stop Googling at the dinner table

– Be more adventurous: Going to bed without putting my retainer in is not the equivalent of girls gone wild.

– Start my anti-foodie magazine called “LARD.” It takes the “petite” OUT OF Bon Appetite. First issue columns to include:

Feedbag fashion, buffet etiquette, and Why Buddha is Always Smiling: Because He’s A Tubby Tub

– Memorize all the words to “We Didn’t Start the Fire”

– Get more serious about working out. Eating a Cliff bar and sitting in my gym’s sauna does NOT qualify as an anaerobic exercise.

– Stop measuring my life against the monthly Anthropologie catalog. In the real world, it wouldn’t be feasible to place your wrought-iron bed at the base of the sea shore ANYWAY. Can you say rust erosion OR rogue wave?

That about does it for now. Wish me luck!

Return to Sender, Again

There is no one on this planet who can say what I want to say with more heart and chutzpah than the pint-sized country chanteuse Brenda Lee:

I AM sorry, soooo very, genuinely sorry for dropping the blog ball with zero — NAY negative zero to the basquillionth power — tact and grace.

I am pond scum.

I am the dillweed douchetard who walks away at the last minute in the falling exercise of those trust-building classes.

trustfallIf I was to attempt to make an excuse, which I wouldn’t dare insult you with, but let’s just say — for arguments sake — that the “Another Earth” me version quantum leaped down here to this planet with a defense:

SHE would probably try and play the holiday card.

SHE would explain that this time of year is the ultimate creative succubus. “The horror! The horror!” of the holidays SHE would affect, saying how Heart of Darkness need not take place on a ravaged steamer choking down the cannibalistic Congo River. It need only occur in the Christmas music looping, cluster-fucked shopping malls on Black Friday.

(Why’s it gotta be “Black” Friday?)

SHE would spell it out, plain & simple. Every year, between Nov 1 and Jan 2, she walks through the chestnuts-roasting-on-an-open FIRE of 5 Holy Daze Stages:

  • Consumerism: Reason and restraint go Buy-Buy. Standing outside her own body, she watches in horror as she karate chops a soccer mom in the shoulder over a pair of retro Croc mules as if they were the last drop anti-serum in a viral outbreak.
  • Consumption: Serving size: 2 SLEEVES (also known as “1 box”) of Trader Joe’s Choco-Vanilla O’s.
  • Family communion: Self-explanatory, which leads to
  • Childhood regression: Mouth guard so as not to swallow tongue during fits
  • Total Catatonic Shock: think, Awakenings, pre-awakening.

Really (and I’m not being biased at all here) SHE does make some really good points.

So, if you can find it in your heart to forgive ME, then let’s not waste another nanosecond. Sit back, relax, slip into something a little more comfortable, and join me for another Mailbag Monday:


Dear Nerdy Romantic,

I’m just going to throw out a few numbers here:

14: Months I’ve been a subscriber to

23: Guys I ended up having amazing, online “relations” with. Meaning: long, intense, deeply personal emails exchanged by both parties.

0: Of those same guys — after arranging to meet — I was actually attracted to.

For the love of all that is holy, why does this keep happening? How can intense email chemistry fall completely flat in person?


Another Mr. ‘Write’ goes wrong

Oh and Girl. The virtual sound of your suffering makes me want to jump through the computer screen Twilight Zone (the movie) style — minus the demonic cartoon and girl with no mouth — and give you a giant bear hug.

twilightzonecartoonHear me when I say: You Are NOT Alone. This very situation has befallen me and yours so many times I finally gave it a name —

Ani-MAIL Magnetism (an’ i mal / mag’ne tiz’em)

n. the experience of having acute cyber fireworks with your online dating match; but no actual “fire” whatsoever upon meeting.

It always starts off the same. Shy yet hopeful, I would walk onto that cyber stage and take my place in the Electronic Slide line dance:

You can’t see it, it’s electronic.

You gotta feel it, it’s electronic

Boogie woogie woogie woo.

Two grapevine winks and a quick email message turnaround later AND boom! I’m sucked into this second life alter-reality. I’m wearing a diaper at my computer desk and sucking down Power Bar Gel Blasts so as not to break the steady stream of instant messaging.

Seriously, in one case, I hadn’t been that excited to check my “mailbox” on the hour every hour since I was 7 years old and entered a sweepstakes contest for a walk-on role on The Great Space Coaster to meet Baxter the rainbow clown.

baxterclownThen the highly anticipated meet cute came: 7 pm at our mutually favorite restaurant, being that we agreed on virtually everything. We pull into the parking lot at the same time. Shut engines off. Makeup mirror checks. Get out. (I made sure to wear flats so as to optimize leaping-into-his-wide-open-arms-potential)

But instead, when we finally do make contact, it’s the most awkward, miss lips kiss nose, pull-away-too-fast side hug shamble.

As for the rest of the evening — every attempt at conversation takes off like a summertime moth… straight into one of those high-powered electric bug zappers:


Which brings us to the “Why does this keep happening” portion of our program. I’ll show you my theories if you show me yours:

1. The Rom-com Fallacy:

youvegotmailFact: In the real world, you do not find 2 beautiful, charismatic, engaging, and mentally sound people home alone, lying in bed on a Friday night unless they’ve just had wisdom teeth surgery.

NOR are those people captured in a split-screen shot with GIRL on one side, balancing a pint of Rum Raisin Soy Dream in her lap as she types to GUY, on the other side, balancing a pint of Cherry Garcia in his lap typing back.

2. The Cyrano Effect:

Let’s face it. Communicating online is akin to having a built-in Cyrano De Bergerac. Wikipedia, IMDb, — they all feed you the wittiest, funniest, and on point lines so that REALLY, you wind up search engining your way into being the perfect soul mate.

Case in personal point: When one guy sent me this beautifully worded description of the greatest moment of his life — SEEING Tony Hawk do a helipop on a half-pipe — my very first thought was —

“How the heck can Stephen Hawking get on a skateboard?”

But something told me to Google T. Hawk first before writing back. So, I was able to save face just long enough to meet in person AND find out he considers Four Loco to be a perfectly legitimate energy drink.

3. Time + imagination = disaster.

Online dating is a lot like online shopping. Let’s say you order a dress. Every day that passes in between, you go back and zoom in on that dress. You fantasize about what shoes and jewelry you’re going to wear with it; you picture yourself in it, hair up, hair down, to the side. You track its order, double check its status, and count down the hours until you can finally debut it.

And then, 7-10 business days later, it arrives. You tear open the box, pull it out, and throw it on ONLY to discover it makes you look like a walking potato sack.

Time is a dangerous thing. It allows you to form this image of a person, pieced together from their online profile pics AND a well-crafted email voice. You thought you would be meeting a silver-haired fox/tall drink of water —

Only to come face to face with Larry King in a Sippy Cup.

My advice: Cut the email exchange down to the bare essentials. Name, phone number, place & time you want to meet in person. Go DIRECTLY to the store. Put on the dress. And find out right away if it fits.

Do You Wanna Come Over and See My Leech Jar?

Hello ladies and germs AND Happy, Happy Thanksgiving — or, as I like to call this particular fete —

“What Do We Do with the Dinosaur Egg-Shaped, 40-pound Tofurky Loaf?” Holiday.

Past solutions have included:

Sailboat anchor, anvil, truck-parked-on-hill wheel-stopper, wrecking ball, kettle-bell, canon ball, foxhole barricade, seed bomb, highway median, flood dike, hot-air balloon weight, and shot put:

And now, as the post-gorging coma sets in, let us move onto our sorely missed, regularly scheduled program Mailbag Monday.

Honestly, I would love nothing better than to believe we as humans are MORE than excrement flinging bovines mindlessly following the sound of the same braided bull whip… BUT … I can NOT deny a few universal truths; i.e. as the weather gets colder, the days get shorter, and the nights get darker — the need for a warm body to fill the other side of the bed consequences be damned gets Biblical.

And, judging from my bursting-at-the-cyber-seams, overflowing INBOX, one thing is absafruity clear:

Seasonal Affucktive Disorder (SAD) has already started to spread among the single population north of the Equator.

  • Therapy lamp: Check.
  • Melatonin capsules: Check.
  • Indiscriminate, bar-lowering hook-up with first-interested-party: Check and Check Please!

(The one upshot: Bedbugs generally don’t survive in cold weather)

So, I’m just going to close my eyes and pick a letter from the middle of the stack. Ready, aim, fire:

Dear Nerdy Romantic,

I recently started seeing this guy and all was going gangbusters until around date 5 when he invited me over to his place for a nice, home-cooked dinner. For all outer appearances, this guy seemed as sweet and unassuming as apple pie. He’s a freaking high school Algebra teacher!

When I showed up at his place, I was genuinely taken with the baby blue exterior, wrap-around front porch, and folky yard art. But then he opened the door and it was a death of a thousand Christmas’s. It was like the set of MTV’s Jackass. No lie: He had a slip-n-slide in the kitchen that he kept wet via the sink’s spray nozzle. And while I never actually sat on it, I’m pretty sure his living room couch was inflatable.

Needless to say, 5 minutes into the “tour,” I faked a migraine, went home, and haven’t returned his phone calls. Is it wrong for me to judge a guy by how he lives?


House/Heart Broken


Dear House/Heart Broken. Wow, does this ever make me nostalgic for the good ole days, like in 9th grade when Chris Glass invited me over to listen to his new Gin Blossoms CD. Now, things are so much more complicated. “Hey Jealousy” and a sleeve of Nutter Butter’s isn’t going to get ’em to third base anymore. Am I right!?

Fortunately I’ve learned from my own experiences in this very matter AND in the end, my final decision always comes down to the “3 S’s” of domestic deal break-or-make-rship. (This section will be on your final exam):

1. Stylistic:

This has to do with aesthetic differences. You’re French Country. He’s Frat-house Chic. Your walls are a mix of sunny yellows and soft greens. His walls are covered in black-light posters and flickering, neon Miller Time signs. You have an entire set of LeCreuset cookware and a subscription to Epicurean. He has a George Foreman grill and an award-winning “Special Wing Sauce.”

By no means is this cause to hit the relationship kill switch. You just met the guy for Chimney sake. You’re not moving in together. And even if it does come down to that at some point, think about it: If he’s the kind of guy who uses a camping hammock as a bed, he’s probably not going to dig his heels in when it comes paint-chip-picking-time.

2. Structural:

This has to do with the actual living “conditions.” We’re talking foundation, integrity of floorboards and rebar, sanitation.

  • Is there a condemned “this building is deemed unsafe for human occupancy” sign nailed to the front door?
  • On a scale of 1 to ‘Hoarders’ — is the inside of the house filled with old, untuned pianos and hundreds of electronic fish wall mounts?
  • Use your olfactory sense as well: Does the place smell like moth balls, formaldehyde, or the sulfuric stench of dying dreams?

labrynth3. Statement:

This has to do with signature “statement” pieces. Here, a guy’s living space isn’t just “a place to crash.” It’s a visual extension of his identity. His input alone is behind the interior design, the furniture, art, and accessories. Therefore, this is the most useful “S” for determining whether you and he are actually compatible.

Allow me to interject with a few personal anecdotes:

The best (and worst) example was this guy I dated for about 4 months. For 3 months and 29 days of that relationship, I would describe said guy as hilarious, charming, social, chivalrous, polite and above all NORMAL.  I’m talking wore New Balance athletic shoes with boot cut jeans NORMAL.  The only faint whiff of whackadoo that I ever picked up on was the fact that we always hung out at my place.

At first, it didn’t bother me. My apartment was more convenient to everything (namely, the “Hot Now” sign at Krispy Kreme). But then I started to think he was hiding something: a wife, a meth lab, an exotic tiger. So, on month 3 day 29, i suggested we grab some take-out and watch a movie at his place.

A wife, a meth lab, an exotic tiger — I would have taken any of those things over the truth…

7:03 pm: I knock on a huge, metal door in an old cotton mill-turned loft apartment complex. His is the basement studio right next to the train tracks.

7:04: He opens the door. I walk in. The concrete floor has been painted a dark Merlot red. And on that floor sits a 7-foot long, black satin couch and matching pair of old, wooden electric chairs.

7: 07: Feeling in pit of my stomach starts to sink faster than a mob victim fitted with Tofurky shoes and tossed into the Hudson.

“Where is your restroom,” I manage to squeak out.

“Down the hall, first door on the right,” he answers.

7:08-7:15: While sitting in bathtub, I run through a few rapid-fire, anti-anxiety exercises. “So what,” I reason, “He has an eclectic design sense. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s a super nice guy with a steady job and no drug dependencies.”

I come back out with a renewed can-do attitude. Then, I see a light coming from the room directly across the hall. I go inside. 2, museum style glass display cases take up the bulk of the space. I walk over. Inside are neatly organized rows of antique medical equipment, each item with its own type-set label: (font: Gothic)

Spring lancet. Civil War circular amputation saw. Suppositories. 18th century OB forceps. Chloroform bottles. Cal…

7:19: I hear footsteps and then his voice, “My favorite one of all is the medieval, blood-letting leech jar.”

7:19 1/4th second: Voice inside my head: “Please do not ask me to put the lotion in the basket. Please do not ask me to put the lotion in the basket.”

Outside voice: “You know what? I totally forgot I had plans with my sister tonight. I am so sorry but I have to bail.”

7:19 1/3rd to 1/2 second: Slowly, calmly, cooly walk out of his apartment and back to my car.

Next day: I call him and have him meet me in a very PUBLIC place to break it off.

In hindsight, I definitely think my imagination got the best of me that night. I don’t doubt for a second that that guy IS a genuinely nice, harmless, and healthy person. But the fact remains: His home was a statement, loud and clear. No more or less so than the guy with the bunk beds (COOL!)… With a life-size storm trooper “sleeping” in the bottom bunk (NOT COOL!!).

Or — the guy with the Confederate flag nailed over his headboard

Or — the guy with the 6 plasma television screens all programmed to different sports channels.

These choices are deliberate, defining. They are fundamental to the person’s very being. And if your first instinct upon seeing them is to lock yourself in the bathroom and carve a shiv out of bar of hand soap — it’s probably not a good overall match.


Ding, Dong the Ding Dong is Dead

Dearest Nerdudes and Nerdamsels,

First and foremost: I want to express my gratitude for the outpouring of concern over the inexcusably-long delay of ‘Mailbag Monday.’ Frankly, I haven’t seen a show of support on this scale since the “Donna Martin Graduates” demonstration care/of Beverly Hills 90210 (the one and only original).

I had no idea how amuck your poor neglected imaginations would run in my absence. So please accept my deepest apologies and allow me to allay your fears — OVERALL — and to these few individuals specifically:

  • To Todd B. in Tasmania: I was NOT snatched by a pack of dingos while night-blogging by a “bubbling riverbed.”
  • To Horace in New Mexico:  I, to the best of my knowledge, was NOT abducted by aliens; although there is the curious matter of that lost time and a sudden sensitivity to infrared light.
  • To Bibii in Montreal: I was NOT kidnapped by the Colombian, National Liberation Army (aka E.L.N.) after publishing my previous Medellin-related posts. Though I would be lying if I said this wasn’t the plotline of one of my secret fantasies, only instead of the E.L.N., it’s the E.L.O. that tosses me into their VW campervan and forces me to be their one and only female backup singer:

I repeat: No foul play or funny business is at work here. The terribly humdrum truth is:

My laptop was taken into the IT department at my office for a much-needed tune up AND I was without access to my word.DOC files. (Rest assured, all data has now been backed up onto a brain in a jar of formaldehyde).

BUT, as George Burns is my witness, ‘Mailbag Monday’ will be back to its sort-of regularly scheduled time slot starting next week.


In the meantime, I can no longer turn the other butt cheek as the holier-than-thou, Bon Appetit-reading, culinary (high) art world maligns the HOSTESS name even as its dead, cream-filled body isn’t even cold yet. Here we have the following, defiling headlines from this week’s blogosphere:

  • “Good Riddance, Hostess… All You Did Is Make People Fat”
  • “Hostess is Closing and We’re All Better Off”
  • “Hooray!!! Hostess Brands Closing For Good”

I get it.  Partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil is as offensive to the gourmand palate as a “Your Mama” joke is to a roomful of orphans. BUT I’m sorry. If you’re an average human (i.e. NOT home-schooled), over the age of 25 — you can NOT seriously tell me you’ve NEVER eaten a Ding Dong or a Ho-Ho in your whole entire life?

Think. Think really hard, back to a time of childhood innocence before Twinkies were traded on the playground like cigarettes on the prison black market.

Or maybe there was that post college, cross-country road trip. The one where you let your hair down and broke those strict rules against eating anything made with the same ingredients as sheetrock and hand soap.

Come on. Look me in the virtual eyes and say you know nothing about a certain post-breakup binge, pulling into a 24-hour 711 and grabbing a handful of Sno-Balls, only to sit in the gas-station parking lot scarfing down those fluffy, coconut flaked pastry pillows — singing through sobs and marshmallow gobs to Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You.”

Even if you swear to George Burns that your lips have never touched a Hostess product, don’t think you get off scot-free.  I hate — no, let me rephrase that… I derive great pleasure from bursting your epicurean bubble when I say:

Luke, who the fructose do you think the father of your fancy foodie cupcake is?

One guess: It rhymes with Yostess…

Look on the clock people, because it’s time to get schooled, Kotter style ————-

The cupcake lineage of today can be traced back to 1796, where the first-ever recorded cupcake recipe is listed in the “American Cookery” cookbook. There, it was introduced as a “small cake to be baked in small [earthenware] cups.”

The original cupcake’s merit was based on simplicity and sustenance. A “1234” cake, it was also called, to denote the 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour, and 4 eggs used to make it.

This was a pastry for the plodder, the Puritan, and the very UN-sensitive palate. It was a glorified biscuit. It’s sole purpose caloric intake. And for 151 years, it stayed that way.

Then, in 1947, marketing guru D.R. “Doc” Rice strutted onto the snack food stage like Patrick Swayze in the final scene of “Dirty Dancing.” He yanked bland “Baby” cupcake out of the corner and brought the whole frill-deprived audience to its feet in one simple act:

“Doc” added the iconic 7-looped-de-loop white-icing swirl to the top of the then unadorned Hostess cupcake.

And so the culinary art of cupcake embellishment was born, and the simple “1234” yellow pastry of yore began its complex evolution into the… wait for it…

Fondant-sculpted, chocolate-lava-spewing, curlicue spiral frosted, glazed, garnished, sprinkled, powdered, peppered, ganache-dipped, crème-, cayenne-, nougat-, jam-filled, herbal tea infused,  every flavor known to mankind, alt-wedding dessert, foodie delicacy staple of today.

So, next time you pick up that organic, whole-wheat flour “fairy” cake, peel back that recycled paper-wrapper, and anticipate that first bite doing to your taste buds what Aretha Franklin does to a C-sharp vocal note — remember — you have Hostess to thank for it.

Mailbag Monday returns November 20th’ish.

What IS Hand?!! Which Hand NOT Panic?!! (Part Dos)

Welcome to the second installment of 20 Ways I Was Lost & Found in Translation in Medellin.

Here, I recount the events for which I come to learn several choice new catchphrases — some are part of actual Medellin slang, while others are broken bi-linguistic fragments made up on the spot by yours truly:

7. Day 4: “WASHED” Business

My prayers answered. I see a BOOKSTORE. I go inside and ask the man behind the counter for a Medellin street map. He shrugs his shoulders and points to the one, single shelf with anything actually stacked on it. There I find the following:

  • A row of Spanish, Cathy Comic Day Calendars — from the year 2005 (“Muerte a Carbs!”).
  • A few Gabriel Garcia Marquez classics
  • AND what I loosely translate to be a “How-To-Guide” on welding a plane fuselage out of steel pipes.

This is a “washed” business; i.e. a fake storefront used for money laundering.

8. Night 4: “TOASTED”

On this night, I inhaled! We all inhaled. And then, we sat around listening to “Portishead” and tried to put together Camilla’s brand-new jigsaw puzzle — which so happened to be of a giant steam train in outer space. Seriously!! 99% of the pieces were the exact same shade of BLACK.

“Toasted” is Medellin’s word for what I call “Perma-Fried Fred” — the guy in college who took too much acid and now goes around wearing tinfoil hats and talking to the little green men in crosswalk signs.

9. Night 5: “What the FARC is happening to me?”

This was the closest I actually came to being taken hostage in Medellin. Camilla’s art gallery hosted a private film screening of the newest movie by a highly recognized indie-director. Seconds before pressing play, the director told us we’d be watching the 2-hour, “rough cut” version…

… IN Portuguese

WITHOUT subtitles!

Luck be this lady — the man sat directly behind me in perfect eyesight of my every twitch, butt adjustment, and head nod SO that I could feel his wilting ego bore into the back of my brain like a Ceti Eel.

10. Day 5: “HAT TRICK”

As I’m walking through the center of Plaza Botero, a piece of paper drops right below my feet. I bend down to pick it up and see it is a lottery ticket. A man with a bouquet of cane-hats appears suddenly at my side and says something like —

“See! It is your destiny that you should buy one of my hats!”

Looks like the street vendors in Medellin know a little something about ‘SEREN-DUPE-ITY

11. Day 5: “Aguanta Menos Hipsters” translation: “I am in favor of LESS Hipsters”

On a concrete wall papered with the “WISHES” of the Medellin people, I spot this sticker.

Turns out, the desire for LESS irony-loving jackbags is universal!

12. Day 6: “Slit my throat now,” ha, ha.

  • In the states, we say “Shoot me now!” and make a gesture of a hand-gun pointed at our head to indicate boredom.
  • In Medellin, people simply take their index finger to one side of their neck and slowly draw it all the way over to the other side. Somehow, their gesture has a lot more bang for its buck.

13. Day 7: “La policia se guepardos, protegar a la poblacion, que son conejitos.”

One of the officers in Parque de Berrio explains to me:

“La policia se guepardos, protegar a la poblacion, que son conejitos.”

Loosely translated, this means: “The police in Colombia are cheetahs, who guard the people, who are like bunnies.”

I couldn’t help think: In nature, don’t cheetahs tear the heads off of cute little bunnies and disembowel them for dinner? But hey, who am I to mess with their metaphors, especially when I fall into the bunny category.

14. Day 8: “SPE-DRUNKING.”

Me in my bamboo bungalow in the Rio Claro nature preserve.Spelunking + A bottle of Malbec = Spe-Drunking

15. Day 8: “Que es Mano?! Cual Mano, No Panic!” Translation: “What is Hand? Which Hand No Panic?!!

Ah yes, how can I forget? The title’s very origin! So Camilla, Fer and I decide to do the Rio Claro Canopy tour. And — as I’m being fitted for my first-ever zip-lining holster, the guide quickly runs through the necessary safety precautions — in SPANISH!

“En ingles, por favor,” I ask with increasing agitation.

“No problemo,” Fer assures me. “It’s super safe. Just make sure you put the glove on the right hand or else it will surely be severed.”

“Right as in derecho? Or right as in right?!!”  I gulp out seconds before feeling a push onto the cable.

And then, the ear-piercing shrills of “Que es Mano? Cual Mano, No Panic!” decreasing in volume as I slide-and-twirl further and further away on the steel wire 20-feet above a raging river.

16. Day 9: “Hacienda Napoles”

There is no shortage of insane Pablo Escobar stories. The man was, apart from being a ruthless drug lord, a complete whackadoo. Hacienda Napoles was his private, 8-square-mile estate turned Island of Dr. Moreau. He had exotic animals flown in from all over the world to coexist in contrived harmony: Hippopotamus with Bengal tigers with giraffes with goats with, yes — dinosaurs.

On the drive to visit Napoles, Fer hit me with this especially ghastly Escobar story:

When she was just a little girl, Escobar asked his daughter what she wanted for her birthday. She answered: A unicorn. So, without flinching, Escobar ordered his staff to deliver on the girl’s request. Fearing for their life, they had an ivory horn sewn onto the forehead of a horse, which stood upright just long enough to satisfy the girl BEFORE keeling over.

17. Day 9: “What Do I Have To Do To Make You Fall In Love With Me?”

Answer: Take me to Queareparaenamorarte, one of the restaurants featured in the Colombia episode of Anthony Bordain’s “No Reservations.”

On my last day in Medellin, Camilla and I drove up the twisted foothills to Rionegro where this very restaurant is tucked. After a 2-hour lunch, all I can say is:

The food there tastes like what it must feel like to cheat death.

18. Day 9-10: “Cosmo”

The cutest Siamese cat SOUTH of the Equator

19. Day 10: Country Home”

This does NOT indicate a quaint little cottage in the woods where you pound your dirty clothes on washboards and churn your own butter. This is Chez Botero, Camilla’s family’s gorgeous ranch SLASH future personal writer’s retreat:

20. Day 10: “Solamente mi saber mortal”

If, perchance, you really want to see the inside of the Anti-Narcoticos office at the Medellin airport, all you have to do is give the following answer to the customs agent when he asks you if you have any “SHARP” items to declare:

“Solamente mi saber mortal.”

(What I thought meant: “Only my deadly wit.”)

(Really meant: “Only my lethally sharp saber.”)

Turns out, the biggest thing that got lost in translation on my trip was my own sense of humor.


What IS Hand?!! Which Hand NOT Panic?!! (Part Uno)

In the spine-tingling words of Jack Nicholson c/o the SHINING —

“I was gone. But now I’m baaaaack!”

And man alive! When this cat goes away, the mice really know how to play — Little Mousey Computer Solitaire! Turns out, instead of the usual, sordid details of desperate on-line dating dilemmas, the sweeping topic of cyber-convo flooding my inbox upon my return was — well — none other than little ole me. Specifically —

Subject Line: “How the fuck was your trip to Medellin?”

Well my lovelies, I’ll tell you how the F.A.R.C.* it was. (*The first of many puns to come!)

Just hours into my very first day, somewhere on a footpath to the Sky-Cable metro, I stumbled upon this huge question-mark sign.

This, in the world of English Lit majors, is what’s known as “FORESHADOWING.” As it turns out, 2 years of college-level Spanish classes and shower-singing to Jonathan Richman’s “Te Vas a Emocionar” does NOT a bilingual me make. And because Medellin’s tourist industry is still in its rubbing-two-sticks-together stage, the only words I ever saw written in English were of a HOOTERS billboard in El Poblado.

So, it all came down to this. 10 Days and 20 ways I was Lost (and found) in Translation in Medellin:

1. Day 1: The flight over. How is it possible for a low-budget airline to offer a $500 round-trip ticket to South America, nearly half the cost of other carriers — you ask?

Well, as I quickly learned:  It’s because their airplanes are fueled by wheel-running hamsters and burning coal fire.

Also, they don’t have to pay their flight attendants. Instead, they volunteer their services in exchange for daily captive audiences to practice their stand-up comedy routines on. My male stewardess had us all — especially the crash-fearing passengers such as myself — in stitches with this little ditty:

“Here on ___ airlines, nothing is FREE. Not the in-flight snacks, the blankets, or even the bathrooms. Remember those oxygen masks I showed you earlier that are supposed to fall down from the ceiling in case of an emergency. They actually require a credit card. Should we start to nose-dive, and  I look down the aisle and see your face turning blue and puffing up like a blow-fish — that means your credit card was denied.”

Seriously: What’s funnier than a joke about free-falling 20,000 miles out of the sky, all the while gasping for what few and final breaths you actually have left — MOMENTS before take-off?

2. Day 1-10: I say most everything is smaller in Colombia. Camilla’s boyfriend Fernando (Fer) disagrees. “Things aren’t smaller,” he counters. “They’re actual size.”

Not pictured:

  • The traditional Colombian horse, which I secretly call a “PONY.”
  • The traditional Colombian cup of coffee, which I secretly call a “thimble.”

3. Day 1-10: Some things ARE bigger in Colombia:

Not pictured: blue herons, full moons, and the machine guns held by police officers guarding the city in-roads.

4.Day 1-10: In Atlanta, my friends go around addressing each other with such dulcet pet names as “Brotato Chip” and “Babe.”

In Medellin, friends and family alike call each other “Mi Amor.”

5. Day 2: When I first told Camilla’s social circle the name of my blog, one of the women asked, DIRTY Romantic?”  To which I replied,

“What? NOooo… wait… hmmm… Actually…”

(Domain name change pending……..)

6. Day 3: Fieldwork. Brunch with Camilla’s female friends to test existing theory that —

Single, well-educated women in Medellin do not fritter away their free time obsessing over guys like we do; but rather, soak up the hours in dark cafes, smoking clove cigarettes and drinking fire water, immersed in heated discussions over political reformation and radical social revisions.

Conclusion: Single, well-educated women in Medellin fritter away their free time obsessing over guys like we do.


(Note: Mailbag Monday will be rescheduled for the end of the week)