a white girl’s experiences with the police

I spent the entirety of the 1990s bartending for a living. The nature of the job–plus the active social life of someone in her 20s–meant I was often driving home at 3 or 4 in the morning. Most of my interactions with the police happened during that period, often late at night. And I realize my experiences were very much shaped by who I am. White. Middle class. Female. A “non-threat.”

Anecdote A (I’m a jerk):
There was a problem with a taillight on my car. I kept replacing the bulb, but the light kept shorting out. I was heading home after a night out and didn’t know my light was out again. I was pulled over. Not by HPD–I think it was a constable.

It was late. After the bars closed. He came up to my window and said, “Did you know your taillight is out?” to which I replied, “Yes. I leave it like that so I can meet cute cops in the middle of the night.” (editor’s note: This was totally out of character, and I still have no idea why I said that.)

He laughed, we shot the shit for a while and I mentioned where I worked. A locals hangout that was on his patrol route. When I reached for my glovebox to grab a business card, I didn’t get shot or yelled at or treated with suspicion. Instead, he took the card and began stopping by to check on me when he was on the night shift, either idling in front of the bar or coming inside for a Coke.

Anecdote B (the cop is a jerk):
Putting gas in my car after a shift. It was probably 3:30 in the morning. I saw a cruiser sweep through the gas station but didn’t really pay attention to it. I left, the cop followed me. I drove carefully, not too fast/too slow, but I still got pulled over.

I knew I’d done nothing wrong. I was tired but not drunk. “Why did you pull me over?” I asked as I handed him my license. He stood there staring at my license and asking questions. What was I doing? Where had I been? Did I have a boyfriend? (Uh oh) I realized this aggressive man with a gun–and my license in his hand–was maybe going to be a problem. I sat there and talked to that asshole for 45 minutes because I was afraid to be confrontational. When we realized we knew some of the same people, he ended the conversation and I went home. I didn’t get gas after work anymore.

Now this is the difference between youth and middle age. I would handle that second situation very differently now that I’m full grown. And I think I would have handled it differently then if it had been the 10th or 50th time I’d gotten pulled over for no reason on my way home from work. I would have grown less and less accommodating, eventually reaching the point where I’d want to hop out of the car at the first sign of blue and red lights and say, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT? Just leave me alone.” And I probably would have gotten a pat on the head in response.

I get to live my life as a non-threat. To have the opportunity to charm my way out of a ticket. To be in a dicey situation with a cop and still go home, unscathed. To be inappropriate, and not pay the price for it.

yes, that's a little bottle of scotch

My white male friends have different stories. And my brown and black friends have really different stories. Dave Chappelle has different stories (here he talks about how cops treat his white friend Chip. Spoiler alert: differently than they treat Dave).

The truth is, some of us have more to fear than others. And that’s a big problem.

marketer, heal thyself

A PR firm in Austin got its ass handed to it over the weekend when people beyond their inner circle of hospitality industry clients heard about their name: Strange Fruit PR.

If you don’t know the significance of that name, here’s some history. In 1937, teacher Abel Meeropol (a white Jewish man) wrote a poem after seeing a horrifying image of two black men lynched in Indiana. After it was published, he set it to music to create a protest song (Strange Fruit).

A couple of years later, Billie Holiday added the song to her performances. The record sold a million copies and was her biggest seller. Nina Simone recorded the song in 1965, and Kanye West sampled her version in his latest album. So though it was born in the late 1930s, the song still has a life and among the many, many people who’ve heard at least one of the versions. And the people who hear those two words together automatically connect it to a horrifying image.

The PR company–a couple of young white women (so unusual for PR!)–thought no one would be thinking about a song that was recorded in 1939. They figured they could create their own definition for the term. Turn it from a powerful protest of murderous racism into a fun and exciting way to talk about hors d’oeuvres and skinny margaritas. They now know that they were mistaken, but it’s amazing it took a Twitter shitstorm for them to figure it out. I mean, the song’s history had been pointed out to them in the past. And they work in public relations! Come on.

I hope their new name, Hitler Nibbles, works out for them.

 

I’ve always wanted a dinosaur

Not a real one because it would probably eat Stella. Just a super cool, kind of scary, fairly large replica for the yard. Though this skeleton version is pretty neat (and only $100,000), I prefer the kind with everything.

these

(for sale on the Design Toscano website)

Dino on left: What the–dammit! Who left this here?
Dino on right: What are you talking about Mildred?
Left: This huge wad of gum. I’ll never get this–and now it’s between my toes. Great. I can’t even reach my toes.
Right: You don’t have to be so dramatic. Rub an ice cube on it.
Left: Is that what you’re going to do?
Right: I don’t–ahhh, motherfucker. If I see those little Evans midgets, they ass is mine.

A lawnosaurus isn’t really in the budget, but if it were we would count ourselves lucky we don’t live in Carmel. A couple planted a 12-foot tall dino in their front yard and ended up having to remove it due to neighbor complaints and hardcore city regulations. Boo.

There was a house in the Heights in the ’70s that had a couple/few dinosaurs in the yard. I’d see them on bike rides with my parents, and I loved them. My dim recollection is that they were more cartoonish than scary–I see a purple brontosaurus in my memory. But that could be childhood embellishment. Anyway, that’s when the seed was planted, and I haven’t shaken the idea since.

I wish I had a picture of those dinosaurs.

 

jive turkeys

Tomorrow will be our first major holiday away from family. We debated how to mark the day. Drive to San Francisco and eat at our favorite pizza place? Go to a local restaurant and eat their sad Thanksgiving spread? Or make a bunch of food and eat leftovers for the rest of the week?

We opted for number three. We’re doing the whole deal. Hors d’oeuvres, baked ham, three sides and dessert, all washed down with James’ magical sangria. Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. I think Gandhi said that.

I had to pick up a couple of last-minute things for our meal at the grocery store this morning, something I wouldn’t have attempted in Houston. A regular Saturday at HEB is busy. The few days before Thanksgiving are insanity. People ram you with their carts, jostle for the last can of cranberry jelly and generally make you weep for the sad state of humanity (then again, what doesn’t these days). Not the same deal here. We may have to drive two hours to see live music or go to the airport, but, dammit, there’s no line at the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.

We’re coming home for a quick visit in December, so we put up our Christmas decorations early. Pro tip: if your house is adobe, the addition of colored Christmas lights *may* make it look like a Mexican restaurant. Which I’m totally fine with.

here's our Christmas tree

here’s our Christmas tree, prominently featuring the Christmas pickle

The small format of our tree this year meant we could only put out a few ornaments. You’ll notice the Christmas pickle made the cut. I didn’t hear about this murky tradition until maybe a decade ago. I don’t think I have to tell you why I’m a fan. Tradition or not, it’s a fucking pickle! On your Christmas tree!

We also brought out the dogs’ stockings (this is what people who have no children do), the dancing Santa that sings and farts and a few other cherished items. Hey, you celebrate your way, I’ll celebrate mine.

And however you celebrate tomorrow, have a good one.

El Carmelo Cemetery

There are lots of ghost stories about the Monterey Peninsula, which is made up of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Carmel-by-the-Sea. Whether it’s the eerie feeling that comes in with the dense nighttime fog, the oddly shaped Monterey cypress trees that reach out to you from the sea or the many old shipwrecks at the bottom of Monterey Bay, it’s easy to find a creepy tale and an unabashed believer.

One evening when checking out at Trader Joe’s, the girl ringing us up mentioned her other job at a restaurant with a reputation for being haunted. I asked if she’d seen any ghosts there, and, while she hadn’t seen anything at the restaurant, she had experienced all sorts of things at Trader Joe’s. Most notably items flying off shelves at night when they were closing up. Whether those activities could be blamed on a pranky coworker or not, it was interesting to hear a stranger talk so openly about ghosts. And she’s not the only local I’ve run into with a story to tell. Ghosts and ghostly activity are just considered part of life around here.

There’s a cemetery not far from the path I walk on along the ocean. It’s called El Carmelo, and it’s been here since the late 1800s. I’ve heard stories about the cemetery–of course, since ghosts and cemeteries are like PB&J–so I decided to take a detour to check it out. It’s a peaceful place with a constant breeze off the Pacific. And there’s a lot of activity alright. But not ghosts. At least, not so far.

El Carmelo Cemetery

El Carmelo Cemetery, founded 1891

though my first visit occurred on a bright, beautiful day, the cemetery was cast in shadows and hard to photograph with my phone's camera

though my first visit occurred on a bright, beautiful day, my phone’s camera had a tough time with shadows

I saw the first deer out of the corner of my eye, sensing there was something alive on a plot to my left - soon I noticed half a dozen deer nearby, either grazing or lazing on top of someone's grave

I saw the first deer out of the corner of my eye, sensing there was something alive on a plot to my left – soon I noticed half a dozen nearby, either grazing or lazing on top of someone’s grave like this brave fellow who looks like he’s part of the cemetery, not an interloper like I am

the next time I visited El Carmelo, the fog was thick

the next time I visited El Carmelo, the fog was thick (this is looking back toward PG as I made my way south to Asilomar Beach)

it was hard to see the water  - looked like the world just faded into a gray mist

closer to Asilomar and the cemetery, it was hard to see the water – looked like the world just faded into a gray mist

dense fog + cemetery = atmosphere (my phone's camera did what it could, but you can't see how thick this stuff was - it felt like a light rain)

dense fog + cemetery = atmosphere (my phone’s camera did what it could, but you can’t see how thick this stuff was – it felt like a constant light rain)

all cemeteries should have so many trees - they add a sense of protection

all cemeteries should have so many trees – they add a nice sense of protection

the deer are fearless - they checked me out for a bit and then ignored me - at one point, two of them walked toward me and came within a few feet

the deer are fearless – they checked me out for a bit and then ignored me

as;dlkfj

this one walked within a few feet of me, then ambled over to this spot to take a load off

Punkin

Punkin

uh, thanks?

uh, thanks?

bahai

Baha’i

daughter

Daughter (the person buried between this stone and the next had his full name and military info)

grandma

Grandma (guessing she was also a mother, daughter and person with a name)

couldn't make out what this used to say - maybe it was an image? it looked like the outline of an animal

couldn’t make out what this used to say – maybe it was an image?

punkin

Tiny

as I stood there on that first visit feeling the ocean breeze and listening to the white noise it brought, I thought about how remarkably peaceful and at ease I was in that space - then I looked down and saw I was next to some Jacksons

as I stood there on that first visit feeling the ocean breeze and listening to the white noise it brought, I thought about how remarkably peaceful and at ease I was in that space – then I looked down and saw I was next to some Jacksons (and, yes, that was kind of creepy)

senses

SOUND: It’s early and I’m sitting at my desk,  listening to the garbage truck empty our three trash cans. One for yard waste, one for household garbage and one for recyclables. It’s easy to tell when he gets to our recyclables. The clanging of empty wine bottles is enough to wake the neighborhood. Luckily, they’re already up because other people’s cans sound similarly populated.

SIGHT: I just started reading Big Sur (Jack Kerouac). It’s about his trip to Lawrence Ferlinghetti‘s cabin in the woods (near Bixby Bridge). He’s trying to deal with the letdown of life, post On the Road. His mental state comes through clearly in his description of Big Sur. It sounds like a frightening, cold and overwhelming place. And though I feel differently about it, I still recognize it. The reason I mention the book is this passage made me chuckle:

I’m absolutely alone for weeks on end (because later in August when the sun conquered the fog suddenly I was amazed to hear laughing and scratching all up and down the valley which has been mine only mine, and when I tried to go to the beach to squat and write there were whole families having outings, some of them younger people who’d simply parked their cars up on the high bridge bluff and climbed down) (some of them in fact gangs of yelling hoodlums).

I feel you, Jack. I feel you.

TASTE: When I went to Boston, I ate something called a Butta Burger. Oh, did I mention James and I are eating meat again? Mostly just on the weekends (and mostly just burgers). Like riding a bike. Anyway, the burger came from a place called Tasty Burger, and it was right next to my hotel. The Butta Burger is a bun that’s been toasted on the grill (and buttered) gently holding a meat patty topped with caramelized onions (and a gilding-the-lily pat of butter). Too rich to finish, but it was a damn tasty burger.

The place I stayed in Boston is a renovated HoJo from the ’50s (it’s now The Verb). While I’m not big on themes (theirs is rock-n-roll), I thought this place was pretty cute. And it offered the occasional unique experience. Like, when I was bent over in the bathroom drying my hair, this is what was looking at my backside. (It’s the sliding door to the bathroom.) Also fun whilst sitting on the loo.

who knew hair drying could be so exciting?

you like the way I dry my hair, ladies?

TOUCH: I flew JetBlue to/from Boston. First time on that airline, and I liked it. You can choose your seat when you book your flight (and I was able to move to a better seat when I checked in), and their planes have the most legroom in coach. I didn’t feel like I was stuffed into my seat, which was good since the flight was around six hours. This was my first trip as a Californian, and it made me realize how conveniently located Houston is for travel.

My only complaint: We hit what felt like a speed bump an hour or two out of San Francisco, and it would have been nice to hear that calm pilot’s voice say, “We just fucked up a flock of birds or some shit, no worries.” Instead…silence. Which kind of freaked me out, so I would have appreciated a little more communication from the cockpit. Oh, and this young guy kept hitting on me the whole way back from Boston and no one seemed to care. In fact, they were egging him on.

come on, man, I have a boyfriend

come on, man, I have a boyfriend

SMELL: The Pacific smells a little fishy lately. And there’s been some foam on the water. And I don’t know what it all means, which makes me realize I have a lot to learn about where I live. And that makes me happy.

Big Sur Saturday

asdfsd

we got up early and drove a couple of hours south to Limekiln State Park – it’s fewer than 60 miles from our house but takes a while to get there because Highway 1 is so curvy – the roads and parks were blessedly empty of people, so we thought maybe tourist season is over and Big Sur is back to quiet mode – ends up, we were just ahead of the crowd – if anything, there were more people crammed into turn-outs than ever on the drive home – gah, why can’t these people go back where they came from and leave Big Sur to us locals? (ahem)

adfdsf

though I collect pictures of the memorial benches we see on our hikes, it’s nice to run across some tree hugger bullshit too

asdfdsa

morning woods

asdfads

when we were here last November, the water was barely a trickle – in the midst of a historic drought, it’s nice to see so much H2O flowing

here's the image that's on my phone

the first time we visited this park, the guy in the ranger booth said to be sure to walk down to the beach to see the old troll – he didn’t provide more information than that, but he didn’t need to as we saw what he was talking about as soon as we got close – the face of the old troll stood out starkly in the rocks on the edge of the ocean

no troll

when we got to the beach today, the troll was gone – it was one of those situations where you think maybe you dreamed the whole thing – thankfully, though there’s no cell service in Big Sur, you can still access your photos and confirm your sanity

so here's a shot of the troll "before" on my screen and the very flat "after" - when we left we asked the ranger when his face fell off - it was February 1, 2014 - bet it made a helluva splash

all that remains are the chin and bottom lip – we asked the ranger when his face fell off – it was February 1, 2014 – bet it made a helluva splash

adsfsda

after Limekiln, we headed another few miles south to Sand Dollar Beach – last time we were there it was cold and rainy – today was beautiful, and the beach was packed – those dark spots on the water are surfers

asdfasd

waves

asdfsd

surfing seems so fun, in theory

asdfsdaf

a boy and his matching dog

asdfds

the man in blue fled across the beach and the wordslinger followed

the play

(I would have written about this experience sooner, but I came home from Boston to a sick dog, Dali, who is hopefully on the mend now.)

It’s hard to describe the emotions you feel when you see a production of your work, especially if you’ve never seen it staged before. It’s an ass-puckering combination of fear, excitement, fuck yeah!, potential humiliation, existential angst and gurgling intestines. Or maybe that’s just me.

Other than the Science Fiction Theatre Company people, no one knew I was in the audience until after the show. So I was able to eavesdrop. It was no surprise to learn that some folks found the abundance of semen in the play (yeah, that’s right) to be a bit disgusting. Good. My favorite thing other than the laughter was seeing people bend over and clutch their heads in embarrassment/horror about what was happening on stage. If they didn’t care about the story, they wouldn’t have been reacting. At least, that’s what I’m going with.

The first night I was there a physicist came up to talk to me, and the night before that an astrophysicist who discovered something related to Uranus (no joke) saw the show. In addition to a couple of theatre blogs, a local science fiction writer reviewed the production too. So there was interest from those communities, and they must have gotten headaches from my shitty science. I did do some research when writing about dark matter for the first part of the play but took huge liberties with it later on. Which I can do because this isn’t my thesis.

Actually, maybe it kind of is.

Let’s talk about the cast. Holy shit, they threw themselves into this ridiculous play. I can’t imagine a more game group of people. There are lots of awkward/inappropriate/gross lines, and each was delivered with no shame. Right on.

I can tell that Cait Robinson, the director, ran a tight ship because the show was pitch perfect all the way through. Set changes were flawless, tech was right on time and not a line was dropped or altered. Though I was tense when the lights went down, just a few minutes into the show I relaxed. They had this bitch on cruise control. After a while, I quit thinking the lines along with them and just watched the story unfold. There was a lot to see. I wish I lived closer to this theatre company so I could see all their work.

(image by Kyle Perler)

Matthew Zahnzinger as NURSE and Kathy-Ann Hart as ASTRID (image by Kyle Perler)

Hoping to get a few more pictures so you can see a little bit of the show and the rest of the cast. I took a picture of curtain call with my cellphone (bad theatre behavior), but good (theatre) manners keep me from posting it.

Boston

GETTING HERE
I barely made my flight. The drive from our house to the San Francisco airport with no traffic should take about an hour and 45 minutes. It took three hours with traffic. Then I had to dick around on the bus from long-term parking for a good 20 minutes before arriving at the terminal. Fast walked just one click under jogging to reach my gate (which was not only the last one in the terminal, I actually had to go down a floor to reach it) (that was weird).

Once seated and seat-belted in, I offered my neighbor a piece of gum. She couldn’t have been more rude as she said no. Then the b proceeded to cough the whole way here, and I’m worried she might have the ebola. Almost asked her if she’d recently come from Liberia but thought it a smarter tactic to dramatically turn my head every time she started coughing. I’m sure she appreciated that. Maybe next time she’ll take the fucking piece of gum.

BOSTON
This is my first trip to Boston, and the city is just as lovely as I expected it to be. Beautiful old buildings, lots of trees just beginning to change colors and plenty of stuff to check out. Way more than I could get to in a weeklong trip, much less one that’s only two full days.

In a weird case of immediately adapting to the time zone, I got up at 7 this morning (4AM California time) and headed out shortly after. Within a few minutes of leaving the hotel on foot, a lady in an SUV pulled up and asked for directions. Guess I blend in with the neighborhood. Not wanting to break the illusion, I gave her directions. She’s halfway to Canada by now. (Okay, okay, I didn’t really give her directions.)

There were a few places I wanted to hit today, and I managed to do them all, walking a total of 9.5 miles (yes, I used an app to measure my distance–figured if the gubment is keeping track, I might as well too). Love checking out a city on foot. For instance, I saw a well-dressed man who did NOT look like he was talking on a phone of any sort. Just as we passed each other, he said, “Let’s get the drugs ready.” I overheard a number of conversations (some between two people who were physically there, but many more were people on phones), and only every once in a while did I hear that stereotypical Boston accent. Guess it’s like how people expect all Texans to talk with a twang, when in reality most people sound like they’re from TV.

LET’S GET TO THE PICTURES
First up, Granary Burying Ground. I might have been inclined to try to eavesdrop on one of the people leading the tour groups through the cemetery, but they were all dressed like pilgrims or some shit. No thanks.

A number of notable people are buried here. I wanted to check it out for that reason, sure, but mostly I wanted to see what a cemetery that dates back to the mid-1600s looks like. You know, because I’ve spent most of my life in Houston where everything is new all the time.

P1010050

most of the stones are too old to read

P1010064

I’ll bet Frank had more going for him than just the one thing

P1010075

I sent James and my brother pictures of tombstones that featured their birthdays as the deceased’s date of death – then I realized that was kind of morbid and quit looking for familiar dates

James found info on this epitaph, if you want to read what it says.

P1010106

some of Ben Franklin’s peeps are buried here (though he is not)

P1010113

this was the only Jackson I saw – guess we’re more of a southerly thang

P1010111

morbid much?

P1010094

winner of the best first name

P1010097

lean on me, when you’re not strong, and I’ll be oddly moist, which will freak Crystal out

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urban legend that this is “Mother” Goose’s grave – not a true fact, but I snapped a shot just the same (and realized as I was taking this that I was standing on top of her grave) (rude)

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mmmm…beer…

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victims of the Boston Massacre (these stones are only slightly more legible in person)

Saw a lot of other cool stuff. Here are a couple more pics.

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dig it

P1010150

I don’t know who this Brooks character is, but he seems a little full of himself

Okay, so I need to dry my hair, grab a cab and go see The Singularity. Will report more later.

The Pukening

Or, the time I went on a four-hour whale watching trip and puked into the Pacific.

The signs were there that things might not go well.

"Don't mind me, just dropping off some souls."

“Don’t mind me, just dropping off some souls.”

our ride

Sea Wolf II, pride of Amity Island and also our ride

caCAW, motherfucker!

caCAW, motherfucker!

a;lkj

The fog and the sea seemed part of each other. It was like walking on the bottom of the sea. As if I had drowned long ago. As if I was the ghost belonging to the fog, and the fog was the ghost of the sea. It felt damned peaceful to be nothing more than a ghost within a ghost.* Eugene O’Neill, LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT (* until the puking started – Crystal Jackson, THE PUKENING)

P1000533

beginning of JAWS

rough seas, that way

rough seas, that way

Seals and Crofts

Seals and Crofts

it was right about here when I realized my decision NOT to take Dramamine was, in fact, the wrong move

it was right about here when I realized my decision NOT to take Dramamine was, in fact, the wrong move

but, you know, DOLPHINS, so I kept my lips clamped shut and eyes on the prize

but, you know, DOLPHINS, so I tried to will the bad feeling away

at least the sun came out so we could go home with a souvenir sunburn (I brought sunblock, but it was in my bag and my hands

at least the sun came out so we could go home with a souvenir sunburn (I brought sunblock, but because my hands were firmly locked on the deck’s railing–except for the occasional picture–I couldn’t retrieve it)

whale tail

whale tail – this would have been more exciting had I not recently returned my breakfast to the sea from whence it came (assuming Trader Joe’s Kouigns Amann are fresh caught)

whale tail - zoomed in

my only consolation is that an estimated 25% of the passengers on Sea Wolf II also gave a gift to the ocean – most of us multiple times – we’d made a pact to keep it together, but then one chick let ‘er rip and that was all she wrote – it was like a disaster film, though my two traveling companions were untouched

my hump, my hump

my hump, my hump

asdf

wow, this is so amaz–and I just puked on my braid

asdfds

if some topless chick with a fish tail came up to the boat at the worst of my journey and offered to take me to her undersea city, I wouldn’t have asked about the wifi connection or whether they have Tex-Mex – anything to get off this lurching, rocking boat (which, by the way, one of the crew said experienced rougher waters than usual)

he knew, and he was disappointed

he knew what I did, and he was disappointed

at the end of the trip, my glorious consolation prize

at the end of the trip, my glorious, orderly consolation prize (look closely)

A final note: I’m absolutely going to go whale watching again–properly medicated. But if you come with me, just don’t stand too close.

today is Sunday, August 24

And it’s a beautiful day on Amity Island. Here are some quick snaps I took on my walk today.

photo 1

Asilomar State Marine Reserve

photo 1

when I stopped to pull my phone out to take this, the sea gull thought I was about to give it some food – sucker

photo-2

I mean, come on

photo 3

yes, one person wrote “kill a man”

good luck, people

good luck, person who wants to ride a cheetah

photo 1 copy 2

there are a lot of beautiful old churches in PG

photo 4 copy

this one has a peace pole in the yard

photo 2 copy

and then there’s Maude

photo 1 copy

I’m guessing the owners of this property have a lot of cats

 

 

raising funds for The Singularity

Rehearsals for my play The Singularity are in full swing in Boston. I sat in on a rehearsal via Skype, and I’m very excited about the talented artists who’ve come together to bring this story to life. Check ‘em out.

Science Fiction Theatre Company launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the production. If you have a few bucks to throw their way, that would be super helpful and very appreciated. So far, the $6,000 campaign goal is 30% funded, and there are 12 days left to give.

One of the perks that comes with supporting the show (as long as you give at least $8) is you get your very own, one-paragraph science fiction adventure–starring you! I’m writing the stories for the donors I know, and the folks at SFTC are handling the rest.

Here are a few of the stories I’ve written so far. I never said sic-fi was my strong suit.

You’re hiking through dense woods. You can hear a stream somewhere close by, can even smell the water, but you can’t seem to locate it. Which is a drag because you have all your fishing gear with you. (You always have all your fishing gear with you.) You arrive at a clearing to find it’s not a stream you hear—it’s a lime green 1957 Citroën H Van. It’s just sitting there—shiny and comfortably idling like it rolled right off the factory floor—in a small clearing in the middle of a big woods. When you peer through the driver’s side window, you see a dashboard with no steering wheel, no place to insert a key, no gas gauge or speedometer or turn signal. Just a dial with a bunch of years on it. All the years, in fact, including a bunch that are ahead of you. The door is unlocked. You slide into the seat. The dial lights up, encouraging you to pick a year. You do. And you’re off. (for Tohner)

You’re driving back from the beach when it happens. In fact, your hair is still damp from your nighttime swim. You don’t bother to towel off the nuclear waste because it brings out your pink highlights. (Plus, those environmental sissies are always complaining about things being “bad” for the earth when most of the time they’re “not that bad.”) The juice cleanse convention in town is causing everyone to cram into the parking lot of the only place with a bathroom open this late (it’s a Dairy Queen), and there’s traffic ahead. You try to downshift to second, but your legs aren’t doing what your brain is telling them to. They feel like they’re stuck in a vat of cement. Your car is momentarily illuminated by a passing street light, and you see the blue-green scales where your legs used to be. You steer your quickly slowing car to the side of the road, tear off your shirt and bra and flop onto the hard ground. With a few strong flips and twists, you gracefully arc into the ocean to join the other mermaids. (for Julai)

It’s bedtime. You kiss your fingertips and touch them to the Lionel Richie poster above your bed, grab a well-worn copy of Wait Till Helen Comes and settle in for the night. You only make it a few pages before sleep overcomes you. You’re awakened by the sound of your name softly spoken by the man standing at the foot of your bed. He’s dressed like a butler, only without a shirt. 
“Good morning, Ms. Leah,” he says. 
“Good morning, Rocky,” you say. “Assemble the men in the courtyard. I have a long list of things for them to do today.” 
“Yes, Ms. Leah, right away. You’re the boss. Of all men. In the world.”
“That’s right, Rocky, I am.”
“Thanks for fixing everything, Ms. Leah.”
“You’re welcome, Rocky. Now march those tight buns out of here and get to work.”  (for Leah)

 

sometimes it’s nice not being on the inside

This blog has frequently hosted my ramblings about Houston, both positive and negative. The negative usually focused on the things I felt Houston was losing to the ever-present push of “progress.” Tear down the Astrodome and install a monument that “celebrates the Astrodome.” Tear down a burger joint that’s been hopping for 50 years, pave the whole thing and make it a parking lot. Tear down my grandparents’ 3/2 and replace it with a 4,800 square foot faux Tuscan with a fucking elevator (true story). Tear it down, tear it all down, and let’s get us some luxury-living condos on this b.

History–and Houston–marches on. So do we all.

In a way, it’s been an emotional relief to live in a place where I have no history. I can’t be sad about what Pacific Grove’s lost because I  don’t realize it’s gone. And physical change, if it comes, comes slowly here.

That constancy isn’t an accident.

I recently joined a Facebook group for Pagrovians (you know, like Houston = Houstonians). Where I’ve found the locals to be nice, almost to a fault, in person, the people in this group are a little more razor sharp. And often angry. About things that seem to my outsider’s eyes to be insignificant. A recently controversy was about a restaurant taking up two parking spaces to install a parklet. That battle raged for weeks, and I had to bite my virtual tongue to keep from making a snarky comment.

Here’s a picture of the parklet.

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I recognize I’m new here and don’t have a sense of place yet. And I also recognize the unwavering efforts of people like this are why PG has very few buildings less than 50 (or even 100) years old. They’re why stately old homes on the main drag have been turned into restaurants or B-and-Bs instead of torn down and replaced with something shiny. They’re why there aren’t tacky souvenir shops littering the coastline. In fact, you can walk along the coast from one end of town to the other without having your way hindered by a building, parking lot or fence. And not because people haven’t wanted to build all kinds of shit here. Because they haven’t been allowed to. That’s the thing about a small town. The vocal minority can wield power. Unlike in a city. When Walmart’s coming, best get out of the way.

Except San Francisco. You can’t do shit in San Francisco.

Maybe I’ll join their efforts some day. For now, I’m happy to leave those battles to them while I enjoy the view and luxuriate in the kind of stuff that makes it into the local crime log (as reported in the Carmel Pine Cone).

Man reported opening his wife’s Forest Avenue business and finding a handwritten note tucked in the doorway. He stated that a subject known as “Joe” has repeatedly left handwritten notes at the place of business. He said “Joe” stopped writing notes for approximately eight months but recently started again. The handwritten note is not addressed to anyone in particular and does not threaten or harass. The letter was addressed from “Joe” stating he was going to make dinner, spaghetti and meatballs. Officer advised the man to let “Joe” know his letters are not welcome and to to stop writing notes.

 

1st Dallas One-Minute Play Festival

OMPF

A quick post to let you know about a cool play festival happening at my favorite theater in Dallas, Kitchen Dog Theater, tonight through Monday. It’s the 1st Dallas One-Minute Play Festival, presented by Kitchen Dog and the national One-Minute Play Festival.

Almost 30 playwrights (including me) were commissioned to write two 1-minute plays. That was both easier and harder than it sounds. Our instruction was to write about what’s happening right now–in Texas, the US or the world. The idea is to capture the zeitgeist, one minute at a time.

I’m excited to watch the live-stream of the festival tonight on HowlRound to see how the show comes together. If you think you might like to check it out, here’s more information about the festival, and here’s the link to watch the show tonight (Saturday, August 16) Sunday (August 17) at 8PM Central.

the little car show

This is Monterey Car Week, something I hadn’t heard of until a few days ago. There are car auctions, rallies, races, film and arts festivals, fancy dinners and events all over Monterey, PG and Carmel. Most have d’ in the name, as in Concours d’LeMons Monterey, Crash d’Concours, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, etc. (the d’ = $$$). A free event, the Little Car Show, was held in downtown PG. We strolled over to check it out. It gave me the chance to test out my new camera and also visit my dream car for the past 30 years (Karmann Ghia).

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we crested the hill and saw all these people milling around downtown – from a distance it looked like the zombie apocalypse (but that’s what I say about any large gathering of people) (I both fear and welcome the eventual/inevitable zombie apocalypse)

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Peel Trident (“the terrestrial flying saucer”)

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Peel Trident, pod open

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BMW Isetta

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Datsun – for sale $9,900

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Austin Healy Sprite (looks so happy)

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1959 Morris Mini

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loved this little green machine (notice the tree reflection)

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this was one of my favorite cars – it reminded my of my favorite Crayola color when I was a kid (periwinkle) (I think part of the reason I liked the color is because the name is so great) (it sounds both cheerful and maybe a little nasty)

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Alpha Romeo Spider

this dude has it under control

this dude has it all under control

fff

I love living near the water and seeing mountains in the background

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Ferrari, driven by retired sheriff

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Citroen van

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nice little camper – the two seats up front looked like lawn chairs that had been somewhat secured to the floorboard

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someday, my sweet little KG, someday

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I could totally afford one of these at 1973 prices

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four little dogs (at the little car show) being walked by the same person – what could go wrong?

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one of George’s Birds (George and his birds are on Fisherman’s Wharf every weekend posing for pictures with tourists)

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what’s up, bitch?

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this Pinto lives a few blocks from downtown – if I owned it, I totally would have taken it to the Little Car Show