Monday, June 29, 2015

Do you remember?

I wish I could hold on to it. Yet I know 20 years from now this past weekend will come only in flashes. Do you remember the bright pink lining of my flower dress, the sweeping view from the rooftop party, the euphoric rainbow parade? Do you remember the unicorn trotting alongside the bare breasted girl, that picnic on the grass overlooking the ocean, my mango sticky rice popsicle? Do you remember that deal you made with the boy who is now 26?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Is Donald Trump Ignorant?

I’m sure that by now you’ve heard what Donald Trump said about Mexico and Mexicans:
“[Mexico] are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and their rapists.”

He claimed he would build a “great, great wall” on the Mexican-American border, and accused Mexico of “sending not the right people” to the US.

A great great wall. Sending not the right people.

Naturally when I heard all this, I disregarded it. No one takes Donald Trump seriously.

A few of my friends told me that Trump running for president would make the elections “more entertaining”. That by turning the other way I was tragically “missing out”.

His comments were called “racist tinged”. (What? They were “racist immersed”.)

As I’m sure you’ve deduced, I have gone from “uninterested” to increasingly uncomfortable with the absurd notions he is leaving behind. 

Donald Trump is a rich man living in New York. The city he owns skyscrapers in runs in large part thanks to invisible, undocumented people from Mexico. Chances are really high that the toilets he has used have been cleaned by Mexican workers.

Did you know that Mexicans who come into the United States are known for their work ethic? They start work earlier, work harder, stay later and ask for more. They leave everything they know – their country and family and everything familiar to them, including their language and religion – to risk their lives in an effort to support themselves and the people that they love.   
Don’t call it “The American Dream”. Mexican workers take the jobs no one else would take. (Example: the regular use of strong, toxic chemical cleaners to scrub blood and feces off walls in meat packaging plants). They live in fear of being deported and separated from their families. They work multiple jobs and still can’t make ends meet.

The last thing they need is for someone with a presidential campaign platform to turn them into criminals in our eyes.

Have you heard what Anthony Bourdain, the American Chef and television personality has to say about Mexican workers? “If you’re looking for a line cook who’s professional in his work habits, responsible with your food, dependable, a guy with a sense of humor, reasonably good character, and a repertoire of French and Italian standards, and who can drill out 250 meals without going mental or cutting corners too egregiously, chances are you’ll go to Carlos, your grill man. And ask him for a recommendation. Carlos will have a cousin or a brother for you.”

“The bald fact is that the entire restaurant industry in America would close down overnight, would never recover, if current immigration laws were enforced quickly and thoroughly across the board.”

Which reminds me of the satirical movie A Day without a Mexican, in which the entire state of California grinds to a halt without the labor of Mexican workers. In real life, other regions (such as Arizona) have found themselves in situations comparable to this when immigrant workers are “relocated”.

In the meantime, Donald Trump will continue to take for granted the shiny, clean windows of his golden towers. The fruit and vegetables gracing his table. The views of immaculately maintained golf courses.

I read people called Donald Trump “ignorant”, which makes me want to paraphrase Morgan Freeman. Please don’t call Donald Trump “ignorant”. It’s not that he doesn’t know. It’s that he’s an asshole.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


Me: I'm always the one running, hiding, being pursued.
Boyfriend: Is this a dream again?
Me: Yes.
Boyfriend: got it.
Me: Except lately I'm the perpetrator. I have recurring dreams that I commit murder. It's so disturbing I looked it up. I read it can mean I'm processing a loss, making a drastic change or feeling overwhelmed.
Boyfriend: Do you recognize who you kill?
Me: No.
Boyfriend: Excellent.
Boyfriend. Cutting to the chase.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Scotch and the fight between good and evil

The first time I tasted Scotch I was teething. My Dad used it to soothe my gums. 
When I was seven he taught me how to say “le mots impossible n'existe pas” because he wanted his kid to quote Napoleon. When I was ten he explained that infidelity was a requirement for the procurement of the species and that, as such, monogamy was an absurd social construct. 
He did not teach me how to ride a bicycle, drive a car or throw a ball. He never remembered my birthday and asked me the same questions over and over because he didn’t pay attention enough to retain very much of what I told him.
When I called to say Luca and I were splitting up he blurted “Call him and ask him to forgive you”.
There wasn’t anyone like my Dad. He made me feel safe and I grew up convinced that between good and evil good would always win.
Happy Father’s Day wherever you are. I remember you.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


A woman gets on the bus and sits next to me. Her curly hair comes down to her waist. She has purple fingernails and big rings. I compliment her on her vintage coat and she gives me a look: bewildered, then sour. She turns away and opens her book. "How to win friends and influence people."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Clear and beautiful

The world is clear and beautiful today, its edges sharp, its colors bright. The sky is so close I feel I can touch it.

How can there not be a musical dedicated to new prescription glasses?

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Roosevelt encourages us “to know the great enthusiasms, the great devotions” to “spend ourselves in a worthy cause”. “Something is always born of excess” said Anais Nin. “Great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions”. “Do not go gentle into that good night” warns Dylan Thomas. “Rage, rage against the dying of the light”.

My favorite parts of life – irrational optimism, falling in love, feeling captivated, elated, inspired – are unbalancing. Balance is not all it’s reputed to be.  

Monday, June 15, 2015

Lose/lose situation

"Does this make me look fat?" creates a lose/lose situation (even if the reply is a lightening quick "NO!") 
I now walk over to Boyfriend and look at him solemnly. "Just tell me the truth. Is my ass too perky in this?" 
I get a gigantic eye roll and we laugh. It sure beats walking out of the house with a negative word hanging between us.

Eat alone

Confessions of a closet introvert: I usually have lunch alone, despite the "never have lunch alone" maxim.
Quiet is scarce. I cherish stepping out of work, picking a café and focusing on the food before me instead of my noisy brain. 
The guaranteed rush of gratitude - for how beautiful everything looks on my plate and the precious hour of peace - confirms that never having lunch alone works for some people, but it doesn't work for me.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Quintessential San Francisco

I was a tad late for work because I was walking down the sidewalk to catch my bus and a guy outside a bar was cutting ice with a chainsaw and I stopped to ogle the precise rows he was making and was lightly sprayed with slush that mostly fell into my boots and my socks got wet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Be happy

"Do what you love!" is not an idealistic platitude. It's tied to competence, productivity, even relevance.
When you love doing something, you want to do it a lot. You are (almost accidentally) perpetually practicing, improving, exploring, learning, expanding. 
There is no way to remain competitive against someone who loves what you slog through.


The most frequent question I get when asked for advice is related to travel. My answer: Go. You will take you everywhere you go, despite of which the trip will open your eyes, jostle your perspective, revive you. It will quiet the clamoring noise that is your life to make room for things to get sorted out. It will change you. You will be better for it. 
Why are you still reading this? Go.


When I was little I was certain I'd die young because I could not fathom ever being 40. Now every time I come across something unfathomable I remind myself that I'm still alive. Proof that anything can happen.

Friday, June 5, 2015


My dear friend/ex-husband Luca calls to remind me we have a document to sign. We meet at the notary and provide ID. The notary scribbles, then stops, pen in mid-air.
"Zapata" he says.
"Yes" I reply.
"Excuse me" he explains "but I just had a vision right out of a movie. A village in distress and you riding in on horseback, saving the day".
"That's no movie" Luca replies. "That's a documentary".

Thank you Papá. You left me here without you but armed me with a talisman implicit in the name of a revolutionary hero.

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Boyfriend and I hung out with a six year old friend last weekend. There was a carefully orchestrated plan involving 3D cookie dinosaurs, but that was not the highlight. 

The most shrieks of joy resulted from the two of them dashing downstairs to the garbage room and hollering at me on the third floor so I would, on command, release the trash bag down the chute.

Why I'm trying out CrossFit

I hobbled into the restaurant to meet my friend for dinner.

"What happened to you?" She asked. "Are you hurt?"
"I've been doing CrossFit" I replied. "I'm fine. Just really sore".
"CrossFit?" she looks horrified. “Why?"

I am trying out CrossFit because people around me look at an impossible workout (say, 5 kettlebell swings, 10 handstand push ups and a 400 meter run repeated five times) and say "Yes. Yes, I can do that". They say yes even if they can't, and then look at the trainer to determine how they can get there from here.

There is no such thing as "you can't get there from here". You can get anywhere from anywhere. I want to be reminded of this as often as possible.

I believe that people who nod and begin right away to work towards something slightly deranged have an attitude that is (thankfully) contagious, and believe too that said attitude will splash onto every part of my life if I let it. I want more "yes, I can do that" in a world that often seems so difficult. “Slightly deranged” seems to me like the only way to survive.

I am trying out CrossFit because it's good to hang onto being a beginner. I feel incredibly awkward that I don't know what a kettleball is or how to use one. (well, I do now.) I didn't know what double-unders were (and now I can do one. One!) 

Being a beginner is uncomfortable and humbling, and makes me feel like I need to more frequently not know, and have to ask, and decide to try. I need to feel lost and figure out how to feel found so that I get better at feeling found. I can't learn how to find myself if I am always avoiding getting lost. 

I can't guarantee I will never again feel small but I can learn the steps to get from small to adequate as quickly as possible and do them over and over again to make things easier for future me who’s guaranteed to feel lost and small quite often. (Bonus: if I stick with this, she’ll be stronger too.)

Being a beginner builds up other important things, such as empathy and compassion. It will grant me the patience and presence of mind to extend a hand the next time I encounter someone trying really hard to figure out things that seem obvious and easy to me.

I'm trying out CrossFit because a lot of what’s up on the whiteboard under “WOD” (workout of the day) is stuff I don’t particularly like. I recently learned that I derive pleasure from doing things I like, but even more pleasure from doing something I didn't think I'd enjoy and just letting myself be bad at it. As a recovering overachiever it’s so liberating to disassociate my actions from any form of even remote proficiency.

Besides, if stuck to what I do well my activities would be pretty limited, and I'd never discover anything new. I'd rather be sore.

I believe in the power of practice. I learned this in yoga but CrossFit has been a good reminder of it applying to everything. I'm not good at something or bad at something (and neither are you). There are things I've done a lot of and things I've never tried.

I want to try a wider range of things because I bet you I can get at least moderately good at extremely unlikely things. My single double-under will one day be two and one day maybe before 2016 I will post in some public forum a supremely annoying humble brag of me doing a handstand pushup. 

Finally, CrossFit reminds me I have limits. I have never (and will never) throw up after a workout. If I did, it would be a result of my own ego being a fool.  I'll try super hard to do 20 reps of that in under a minute but if I feel like my heart might beat out of my chest I will stop so I can lean against something and pant. Because contrary to what I’ve heard, CrossFit is not going to push me beyond what’s healthy. Only I can do that.

Monday, June 1, 2015


If I started a book and didn’t like it, I would finish it anyway in the name of discipline. Now I believe that the power of discipline deserves to be put to better use. Don’t stick with things if they don’t elate you. Remind me.


It was my niece who first reminded me how necessary it is to color. I then read an article about a woman who created a coloring book for grown ups that immediately sold over a million copies. I ordered one and waited months for its arrival. It's here, and it's a beauty.

Now for a cup of chai, a huge box of felt tip pens and a handful of foggy Sundays.


When I was little all I wanted was to be big so I wouldn't have to ask for anything. I was hyper-conscious that even small things required permission, transport and money. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think "I can do that! I'm a grown up! I have a credit card! I have a car!" 
Being an adult is magnificent.