When To Share One’s Underwear

My sister and I used to look alike.  Back when all Asians looked alike and dinosaurs roamed Earth.  That was in the early 90s, and George Senior was the reigning president. But now, with the spread of diversity and enough Asians telling non-Asians, “No, we don’t all look alike” my sister and I look, well, only somewhat alike.  In summary, we are virtually identical from the forehead, up.

Once a year, my sister and I take that somewhat likeness show on the road.  We call this our “Sista Sista Trip!”  Oftentimes, a location is determined using a precise algorithm which involves: number of coffee shops per square inch, dog population in relation to human population and absence of chain link fences.  It is an exact science that involves no scientists, whatsoever.

In preparation for this trip, my sister will undoubtedly remember to forget her underwear and toothbrush.  Upon arrival, she will unpack her luggage that’s been filled with every magazine that LaGuardia’s Hudson News, in Terminal B, has to offer.  Then she will announce that she’s forgotten those pesky little fabric pieces for one’s “down under” and that stick instrument that aids in cavity prevention.  If her Tumi had a life story, it would be titled When One Packs Nothing At All.  And thus begins, the one-sided sharing of underwear and toothbrush.

Our last sisters’ trip was to Austin, Texas.  This wonderful southern city is the home of many barbecue pits.  It also serves as the final resting place of thousands more pigs and cows. There’s a special sacrificial offering that the locals like to perform, during the hot summer months.  We believe that this is to appease the angry sun gods, while seeking favor from the rain gods.  A fire pit is built, usually in some sort of black altar fashioned out of metal. The locals refer to this as a ‘grill’.  Marinated flanks of meat are tossed into the fire, after being massaged with seasoning.  We have been told that this is solely to add flavor. Note to self: pagan gods love flavor.

Austin holds a special place in our frigidly cold hearts.  It was home to both of us, for many years, and we absolutely loved it.  Back in the olden days, South Congress was where people would go to score drugs and have their shoes stolen, right from under them.  Or trade in their shoes for some drugs.  You walked home barefoot, either way.  It was a neighborhood of shoeless people, back in its heyday.  Now, non-druggy people go there to people-watch other non-druggy people people-watch.  And they all wear shoes.  Oh, how the times have changed.

It’s rather nice to take a trip with your sibling; I highly recommend it.  It resembles a romantic vacation, but you aren’t expected to put out at the end of the night.  Or in the morning.  Or ever.  With a sibling, one can share the same bed, skip hand-in-hand and tell the hostess that you’d like a “table for two” in the coziest corner they have to offer.  When you’re finally seated at a 6-top, by the bathroom, with a panoramic view of the bussers’ station; you’ll have the rest of the night to compliment one another over your shared (and obviously, superior) genes.  It’s great.

Here are a few photos (with accompanying commentary) I took, from our 2014 Sista Sista Trip! to Austin, Texas.


Hotel San Jose on South Congress. My favorite hotel, next to the Ace Hotel in Portland. They both offer typewriter rentals, just in case you forget to bring your own and have to travel back in time to retrieve it.


Austin’s Tourism Committee must’ve paid off Al Roker and/or The Weather Channel. The temperature they cited was high 80s. It felt more like 106 degrees with a side of sunstroke.


Quote of the trip: “We’ll be back!” and The Petition Signature Gatherer tells us “That’s what my daddy said, and he ain’t ever come back.”


Is it creepy to take pictures outside of people’s windows? I sure hope so



My sister, on her way to borrow my toothbrush.


Beds feel better when someone else makes them.


The hotel leaves you cryptic poems in your room. I interpreted this one as “You should eat more chicken”.


Bottled rainwater. Next up, prepackaged snow.


Drinking coffee and thinking about how the Aztec pattern, on my hotel robe, brings out the brown in my eyes.



TOMS makes coffee now. From shoes to coffee. They really do know their way into the hipster heart. One might assume that they’ll give you half a cup of coffee and the other half to a kid in a coffee-poor society. But no, they give you a full serving of roasted goodness.


Austin is like Pinterest, but in city-form.


Trying on shoes made by kids in Guatemala. Not the sweatshop kind. The “Make us one pair, and we’ll let you make yourself your own pair to wear (even though you’d rather have a Nike)” type shop.




Skirts & Stairs.

Pennybacker Bridge.

Pennybacker Bridge.



Texas sunset during our drive to the hotel. My sister drove the car like the rental that it is. Windows rolled down and music up, like high schoolers on a Friday night.



Museum that used to be an artist’s home. And every artist’s home needs a moat, a turret and a few grave sites underneath the oak grove.


Trying to order something from a vintage Sears catalog. Maybe some hardtack and a tin of blackstrap molasses. Oh, and a typewriter. Just in case the one at Hotel San Jose doesn’t work properly.


My sister showing me the proper way to sit, like a lady.


Bangles, all day.


Acting our age. Obviously.


Having a romantic dinner with my sister at a farm/restaurant-ish. The kind of place where you can pet your chicken before you eat it.


One word comes to mind and that is ‘Windex.’


Airstream/Funhouse mirror.


Some people use lights to decorate their garden. Others use it to grow their pot farm in the attic.


Chandelier on a tree. Where it belongs.


Our bartender in the airstream, serving up free (FREE!) Deep Eddy booze. Somebody definitely secured his golden ticket into heaven.


Austin summarized in one photo: plaid, red cooler, deer head and airstream bar.


A lesson in font or a farm stand menu. Depends on your perspective.


Mood lighting over the sink, for when you want to sensually wash your hands. It’s fantastic.


Looking into the farmhouse, from outside. It’s exactly how I envisioned a gentrified farmhouse to look like. Low on produce, high on gently weathered decor.


Herb picking by the glow of her iPhone. Just like the days of yore.


Going up the stairs of Mount Bonnell. My sister ran up the stairs; I just shimmied myself up the rail, as evidenced by my position in this photo.


Rose petals strewn on the limestone path. I hope she said yes or else that would’ve been an awkward walk back down the stairs.


Some men get t-shirts, as a souvenir, for when their woman returns back home from a trip. John gets tomatoes and fresh tortillas.


Tomatoes on a window sill, hoping to end up on top of a grilled pizza with some basil and fresh milk mozzarella made in someone’s urban bathtub. Because ending your tomato life in a pasta dish is so last year.


Tomatoes, side by side. Just hanging out.


Chairs everywhere.


Geraldine the Rainey Street Guinea Fowl. She was the neighborhood’s famous feral fowl, until her hit and run death awhile back. Fowl play is suspected.


My sister, in East Austin, taking pictures with a giant flying piece of toast. We couldn’t find anyone to take a photo of the both of us. The only person around was a man, who was too busy stealing someone’s stereo, to lend us a hand.



I Flu American Airlines

I don’t often think about dying.  But when I do, it’s usually at the gym or during holiday travel.  The first time I thought that death was closer to me than a Starbucks drive-thru was during my initial spin class.  This membership-paid torture session was run by a woman who clearly subsisted on a cocktail diet of caffeine, mixed with other people’s sweat and tears.  And to top it off, she had Britney Spears on loop.  I can’t be certain though.  I suspect she also threw in some Christina, for variety.  Until this day, I can’t bear to listen to a song by Kevin Federline’s ex without experiencing phantom posterior aching.  It is awful.

But on that day, I foolishly chose a bike in the front row, thinking I’d look more like the next Tour de France winner if I rode in front of the pack.  But I ended up looking more like a rodeo clown falling off of a unicycle than a doped up cyclist.  Ever wonder if time stands still?  The answer is “Yes, during spin class”.   I’m sure there’s a group of physicists already making their way to the nearest spin class, as I type.

After an hour of mentally writing my will while spinning, it occurred to me that whoever invented the stationary bike might also enjoy poking their eyeballs with sharp rusted objects.  It was like self-torture, but stationary.  Afterward, fellow spin victims asked me, “How was your first spin class?” to which I responded, “I don’t know how to describe it, but for some reason the term ‘actively dying’ comes to mind”.

And then, every year after Christmas, I contract the flu.  I’m not quite sure which strain I spent the first two weeks of January dying… I mean, recovering from.  But I’m sure it’s the one that sounds like a chemical compound used to fuel large objects shot into outer space.  This was all after waiting half a day at the doctor’s office, to be weighed, poked at with vaccination needles and told to come back the following year.  All so that I can spend another half day reading through the office’s dog-eared selection of Parenting, Motherhood, and Good Housekeeping magazines.

My flu experience started on December 28th of 2013.  I was to take an American Airlines flight from the center of the universe (Texas) to Seattle (2,100 miles northwest from the center of the universe).  We arrived two hours early, because somehow I knew that we’d have to stand in the longest short line, to ever be in existence.  We were traveling with our dog and forced to stand in a check-in counter line along with other pet owners, minors traveling without their parent and old people who refuse to believe in self check-in kiosks, smartphones or neighborhood kids “on my goddamn lawn!”  There were three miserable travelers in front of us.  And three employees were behind the counter, trying their best to act like as if they were on vacation, somewhere in the south of someplace.  It was a 50-minute wait for us to get to the counter.

At some point between the time it took for me to tell the ticket counter guy that “You are an asshole, I am not checking in my wedding dress”, and the time it took for us to land, I contracted the flu.  My wedding dress was in a cardboard box that he was eyeing with gold dollar signs.  It fulfilled American Airlines’ check-in bag requirements but not the mental requirements of a man clearly descended from the inventor of the spin bike.   I won but not for long.

It may not have been the fault of the ticket counter guy (aka Satan’s Little Helper).  It may have been the fact that I was on a four-hour long flight that was being pumped with the recycled air of over a hundred fellow passengers, sharing tiny droplets of sweat, tears and disease.  Either way, I woke up the next morning with a sore throat and an intense need to assign blame.  The first face to come to mind was Satan’s Little Helper.

You know how you learned all about drugs in Health class?  “This is your brain on drugs”?  “This is your brain on alcohol”?  Well, here’s a Gchat snippet of what I’ll label as “This is your brain on the flu”.

Monday, December 30, 2013 12:58 PM


I need to go to church. Nyquil isn’t working. 12:58 PM

Only the D-O-double G can save me now. 12:59 PM


Oh honey.  You know Snoop Dogg changed his name.  It’s Snoop Lion now.12:59 PM


Either way, our lovely dog is already sleeping in my spot on the bed. She knows that the end is near for me. 12:59 PM


Do you want to go to the doctor? 12:59 PM


No, they’ll just laugh at my symptoms and charge me co-pay. 1:00 PM


They’re trained not to laugh. 1:00 PM

That’s what they spend most of their time studying. 1:01 PM

And you don’t have co-pay. 1:01 PM


My eyeballs are burning.  They feel like two free-range eggs frying on the hood of a black car…in Phoenix, Arizona…during a summer drought.  I take that back.  On Mercury.  My two organic eggs are frying on the hood of a Nissan Altima on Mercury. 1:01 PM

And my back feels like little blue people are rubbing tiny little emery boards all over it, out of spite. 1:01 PM


Sounds like the flu. 1:01 PM


I don’t know if a doctor will say it’s the flu after hearing about free-range eggs and Nissans.  They’ll think I’m hosting some sort of Smurf-themed carwash/brunch. 1:02 PM

It’s ok.  If you find me at home, dead from the flu, just make sure not to move me until the paramedics get here. You don’t want to tamper with the scene of the crime. 1:03 PM

I’ve prepared a special pill jar for you.  You know, just in case you decide to join me on the other side of the lucky rainbow. It’s not expected, but it sure might be nice to have some company. 1:04 PM


I’ll try to leave early and pick up some flu medication. Any requests?1:04 PM


Is Bartell’s selling morphine, nowadays? I’ll have two of those and maybe a York peppermint patty. 1:05 PM

Kidding about the York peppermint patty. 1:05 PM

Um, honey?  You still there? 1:32 PM

And that is the brain with the flu.


Waiting at the airport. Some people buy the flight+hotel+rental car package. We signed up for the flight+flu deal.


How sick people entertain themselves: knit cold weather accessories for the dog. Sleeping cap with attached ear flaps, made by my fiancé. Sad face made by Mo (the dog).

When Childless People Babysit

Once in awhile, when my friend Myrtle (this is her not-real-name name) has decidedly had far too much to drink, she comes up with a plan for me to watch her children.  There are three of them.  One, three and five.  I don’t have any mini humans of my own, so for me, moments like these are much more exciting than they should ever be.  Or so I’ve been told. In response to Myrtle’s plan I tell her, “YES!  I’m hiding all of my pills right now. But hey, are you sure though?  I mean, the only thing I know about childcare, I’ve learned from observing rabid rhesus monkeys”.  She takes a few seconds to think this over and goes, “You know, that’s perfect!  I’ll drop em off at three!”.

Occasionally watching Myrtle’s three children isn’t really babysitting.  It’s more like entertaining miniature mental patients.  One minute, they’re laughing at your funny faces and the next?  They’re screaming bloody murder, because they don’t like the way you’ve eyeballed their Honey Nut Cheerios for the past two hours.  Children are unpredictable. They are crafty.  They climb bookcases like primates in the jungle.  They are everything I strive to be in life.  I was super excited.  It’s not everyday that you get to entertain three children without the aid of alcohol.  Here are some observations I’ve made during my recent stint in the Rent-Three-Kids-Overnight forum.

Stickers are like the drug of choice for children.  Kids will do almost anything for a piece of pre-cut, sticky backed paper.  Spring for the good stuff though.  Just like magpies, children can’t resist the sparkle of glitter and foil.  Remember, half price stickers mean half ass work.  Kids brush their teeth for a Winnie The Pooh glitter sticker.  They poop without flushing for clearance bin smiley face stickers.


After spending hours trying to baby proof my home, I finally gave up and handed out helmets to each child once they entered the doors.


If a child can speak, they can spell.  This probably isn’t true outside of my own head.  But I figured the girls were pounding away at my typewriter already, so I might as well have them type out Thank You letters.  They usually started off with “dhaiu8re” and ended with “jdhfaiuh8888!23”.  It’s okay. People will just think I was drunk when typing out those Thank You notes.  Even better.


Children seem to eat two things: whatever you’re not serving and sliced bread.  I made the mistake of giving them Macrina Bakery’s olivetta bread.  They poked at the green stuff and asked what it was.  “Those are olives.  They taste much better in drinks but this isn’t too shabby either”, I informed them.  They asked if I had plain sliced bread.  I told them, “No. Adults can’t buy those until they have kids.  For now, us childless couples have to make do with artisan bread”.  I made a compromise and we had cake pops and oranges for lunch instead.  Served with a flight of milk for them.  Cow’s, almond and soy milks.


I’ve never believed in slipcovers until I saw three chocolate covered children make a beeline for my Thackeray sofa.  I decided that this would be a good time to introduce them to the “water park”.  Two minutes later, all three kids are standing in my bathroom telling me, “Um, this isn’t a water park”.  I turned on the bathtub faucet and said, “Yes, it is.  You park yourself in this tub, right here, and I turn on the water.  Water park.  And say, you know what will make your bubble bath even bubblier?  If you scrub the bathtub first.  Hold on, let me grab you my favorite toy, Mr. Scrub Brush”.


If you ever have to watch children, invest in a spinning globe.  Children seem to be fascinated with the spinnability of a ball on an axis.  They asked me where the South Pole was.  I, in turn, asked them why.  They told me that’s where toys are made.  I said, “Oh, you want to know where toys are made?  Here, let me find China for you”.


“Can we watch cartoons?” was a common question.  My common answer was, “Only if you can figure out how to turn it on, because I sure can’t.  Here are the remotes to the T.V., playstation, DVR and that other black box in back there.  If you can figure it out, then you can watch it.  If not, then there’s a view of ships rolling into Elliot Bay out the window”. They ended up watching the ships roll in for a few hours and telling each other that Bainbridge Island, in the distance, was Korea.


Kids don’t want to play with their own toys.  They want to play with yours.  And when you don’t have any toys, you have to come up with a quick solution.  So, I gathered a bunch of rocks and told them this was the newest toy invented by Mattel called the Pocket Rock Its. So new, that they haven’t even released any commercials yet.  These rocks kept them entertained for two hours.  I have no idea how.  But I’m not one to question luck when it makes a guest appearance.


Finally, send them off with a little gift to show them, “You’re not half bad when you’re not crying and thank you for not pooping in my houseplants”.


4AM Letter To My Neighbor

In honor of it being Super Bowl weekend, I thought it might be useful to share a few tidbits on how to deal with loud partying neighbors using Emily Post’s book Etiqette as a guideline.


I have loud neighbors.  Party until 4AM type neighbors. You would think that paying a certain amount in housing would weed out that ilk of people, but no.  So I thought, “What would Emily Post do?”.  Probably write a friendly letter of advice to the neighbor is what I’m guessing, but it’s pretty hard to guess what a dead woman would do.  Try it.  See?  Told you it’s hard.  Unless you’re Mante Te’o, that is.  So here is my letter:

Dear Neighbor,

With your permission, I (along with the rest of your neighbors), would like to start a collection fund to raise enough money for you to be able to afford to go out to a bar of your choice and hoot and holler to your heart’s content until the sun comes up.  But if you do insist on throwing parties within your own home, might I suggest a few tips on How To Host A Successful Party?

  1. After college, parties should end at midnight.  When you are still up and partying at 2am after the age of 25, your neighbors have no choice but to come to the conclusion that you have a very sad sex life.
  2. Under no circumstance is it okay for anyone south of the Canadian border to play Nickelback, back to back to godawful back.
  3. If your music is so loud that the neighbors’ walls vibrate, you are deaf.  Please Google Helen Keller and your nearest insurance covered otologist.
  4. The female to male ratio at any given party should be 1:1.  Ten guys and a girl is not a party.  It is ten guys and a girl.
  5. Those girls on the street you fools were hollering at to “Come on up!” at 3:56am are not “girls”, they are hookers.
  6. Please provide your guests with lighters.  There is nothing more annoying than waking up at 2:10am, 3:12am and 4:01am to a man screaming, “Does ANYONE have a lighter?”.
  7. “Have you ever questioned your job?’ is not an appropriate party conversation topic.  Please pass this information to others.
Thank you for your time.
P.S.  See you at the neighborhood BBQ on Saturday!