Monthly Archives: March 2011

if you want to invade mexico city. ..

mexico city is a low lying valley, a crater really, surrounded by mountains. it holds smog and pollution and i felt the heaviness in my chest from the moment i left the airport. i sucked on my inhaler like dennis hopper in blue velvet and considered that if aliens from mars wanted to take over, the city was pretty much indefensible. and if the dudes from mars prefer carbon emissions to oxygen, it’s a natural. . . .

at the hotel, after a morning walk of well over three hours, reggie and i had a drink while we waited for yoshi. we had both heard that in mexico, everyone’s a little relaxed about time. while we waited, reggie explained that the whole time we had been walking around, he had been very aware of who was looking at us, who was a potential problem. he said i should be doing the same thing. and never look at something for more than three seconds. count to three. look at something else. count to three.

then yoshi arrived. it was awkward and funny and reggie got the whole thing:

yoshi is an actor who has worked primarily in performing plays for schools. he is working as a director of “life is a dream” (la vida es suena) first published by pedro caldron de la barca in the early seventeenth century. yoshi hopes to have the play touring by april. he is a fan of science fiction and most particularly of my grandfather fritz leiber. he found me on facebook because of being fritz’s fan. it was our first time meeting in person although we have corresponded for several years. yoshi had worked in the area of town where we were and he wanted to take us in the opposite direction from where we had been in the morning. we passed a protest march but yoshi’s explanation of what their beef was confused me. So we just figured it was a shout out to the madison, wisconsin protesters who, by the way, i hope to see next monday thanks to my facebook friend cory!

we also had a meal at a very famous café:

so us revolutionaries had a meal together. reggie ordered a margarita and it was hideous, which was a decisive factor in what happened later. . . .

after lunch we wandered around the park across from the palace of the arts. there were hundreds of booths and vendors. homemade ice cream in flavors like rose, burnt milk, cactus. handmade jewelry (alas, no rosaries). embroidered smocks. we saw a lesbian rights parade. we saw kids crunking in a gazebo. a police officer came into the gazebo and i wondered if i was going to end up in a mexican jail with these kids–but he had brought bottles of water for the kids.

reggie bought roasted corn mixed with chilis, chopped onions, mayonaise–all in a styrofoam cup.

i said in the previous post that i thought there were three mexicos. the night before, i had glimpsed the very wealthy mexico–blessed with jewels and fine clothing. in the morning, i was lucky enough to have reggie with me to watch over me–so i could see the mexico that was the most poor, the mexico that rises early to scrape out a living. but this mexico in the park was the families out walking and enjoying themselves–the vibe was one of celebration and the people were more comfortable with themselves. they had nice clothes and i suspect some money in their pockets. but my feet hurt and my inhaler had been getting a workout. as the sun started to dip behind the mountains, it was time to let this cinderella and her blister inducing slippers go home. i asked this dude for a ride to the hotel. he said no.

but it was a fun day with yoshi maeshiro, facebook friend number #79! but, alas, we discovered that we both had tried to track down enrique celis, my other facebook friend in mexico city. he was yoshi’s acting teacher and had once facebook friended me in order to invite me to a play he was directing. enrique is now officially invited to chicago for the f2fb new years resolution, but yoshi has an invitation whenever he wants!

Viva Ciudad de Mexico!!!

mexico city is quite dangerous, what with kidnapping and murders by drug entrepreneurs and the police. reggie was told ixnay, that u.s. army personnel were most definitely not to go to mexico city and especially not to escort fifty year old matrons to international travel. I am glad he didn’t tell me that until the last night. how he changed the mind of his commanding officer is his own business but I believe that my breathtaking stupidity and the possibility of my causing grave embarrassment to the government was a factor.

reggie sent me a text the morning of the flight to houston, where we were scheduled to meet. No jewelry, no nice clothes, no heels, and could I visit a tanning salon? i was cool with everything but the last one. I get claustrophobic in those booths. we made the trip from houston to ciudad de mexico with no trouble at all. well, except for figuring out how to get out of the airport.

mexico city is built on the inside of a crater, surrounded by mountains. It holds within the bowl all the smog and pollution imaginable, as well as the hopes and aspirations of twenty million mexicans. I saw the first of three types of mexicans when we arrived at the hotel melieta. women were dressed in evening gowns and wrapped themselves in furs though it couldn’t have been more than sixty degrees. men wore tuxedos or dark black suits. i thought “mexico is a pretty wealthy country” and felt pretty silly in my black running suit from target. then reggie told me we were at the wrong hotel. a short taxi cab ride and we were at our hotel. reggie fell asleep immediately. i stared at the moon and could just make out the mountains in the distance.
i woke up and i thought it was ten o’clock. after all, that’s what the clock on the building across the street said. so i forced reggie to get up. he told me the first rule: that since my passport stuck out of my fanny pack just a little, i was to let him carry my passport.
we went to a second mexico city. In this mexico city, blue tarp tents lined the streets. families cooked tortillas, sausages, waffles, chickens. mothers with toddlers on their laps sold candy and cigarettes. old men sold sunglasses, cellphone covers, bootleg cd’s (I nearly bought the entire last season of Glee) . I saw an old man laying out a blanket and offering for sale a pair of red shoes with the heels ground down and a selection of car parts. boys in nascar-like jumpsuits sold newspapers to the cars stopped at the intersections—pink for excelsior paper, green for the guardian. women washed windows of stopped cars. the police were everywhere. the smell of urine, feces, overcooked meet and sweat–sometimes the smell of food was good and sometimes i thought i would throw up. reggie told me the second rule: i was not allowed to point at something, i was not allowed to look at something or someone for more than three seconds unless I was wearing my sunglasses. there were not many people who would outright say “can you spare some change?” but everybody had a business.
we stopped to have breakfast at macdonald’s. because reggie said I wasn’t going to eat out of a truck until we were ready to leave because he didn’t want to be around when there were consequences. in the ladies’ room, the toilet paper dispenser was held together with scotch tape. I broke it apart without meaning to. i went to wash my hands and i took apart the faucet. i decided the safest thing to do was sit down to ask reggie about his strategies. . .

we found a beautiful church dedicated to the carmelite nuns. i wanted to find a rosary to wear on my neck, it was the one thing I hoped to find in mexico city but i spent so much time marveling at people, at buildings, at strange things that i didn’t have time to shop. but i did have time to ask the blessing of st. teresita of the nina jesus.

and then it was time to meet yoshi maeshiro and enrique celis, the whole point of this operation . . . .

packing for the fraidy cat traveler–hello mexico city and yoshi maeshiro!!!!!!

i’m going to mexico city to see facebook friends yoshi maeshiro and enrique celis. i am scared out of my wits because it’s the first time i have been in a country where the dominant language is not english and also because the state department says ixnay to spring break in mexico and what else is this but a fifty year old woman’s spring break? also, if i get offered the job of police chief of mexico city, i will have to decline.

a person who doesn’t like to leave the house isn’t generally a good packer. but i am. when stephen and i separated, we agreed that we didn’t want our sons joseph and eastman to be put through the “go to mom’s house, go to dad’s house” custody schedule. so stephen took an apartment and he stayed there some of the time and some of the time, he came back to the house and i would switch over to the apartment. instead of my kids packing their stuff i was doing the packing. and i learned a lot of tricks.

1. zip lock bags for everything
2. wear your clothes in the shower and wash them every night you’re away
3. baby wipes for everything–make up removal, shining your shoes, that spot where your fork slipped stuff onto the front of your dress. . . .
4. black clothes match everything

my facebook friend loraine yolles is an artist. she took some time to come over to help me pack. but also to tell me this trip is going to be okay. . . .

i’m scared of flying, socializing, snakes, thunderstorms, crowds, heights, rejection, darkness, spiders, big box stores, dentists. . . . should i go on? but i have my lucky talismans, including william clark, my fiance, as well as rosaries and a lucky flight plan from a successful airplane trip.

i have to get on the plane. ¡parada siguiente, Ciudad de México!

f2fb friend #77 might have to kill me!

ton kambich is a tough guy, served in world war 2 and jumped out of planes into dangerous places. later, he let his softy side flourish. he and his wife carolyn opened a montessori school in northfield just outside of winnetka (not to say winnetka is a dangerous place). the couple was instrumental in the opening of the victoria montessori school in entebbe, uganda.

so i had to ask him about my trip to mexico city. about which i have been stressing. and about skydiving which is what captain reggie wants to do later in the month.

i don’t know. i’d love to have a rumor that i’m part of the c.i.a.

i pack and leave tomorrow. viva ciudad de mexico!!!! and from there, to facebook friends in houston. then memphis. then home. . . for a day and a half and then cleveland, ohio. i’m getting some wear on these treads.

tony says it’s fine about if the two releases don’t work. the third thing you do is clutch yourself in a particular manner and kiss your ass goodbye. please don’t tell me this is how the adventure will end!

thank you to facebook friend azusa watanabe


but a message also that expresses that many of us outside of japan are concerned and are thinking and worrying about the nation:


if you feel the same it’s okay to post a comment in any language. i believe we all want and hope for the same things. . .

thank you azusa for correcting and helping my grammar!!!

stu fast, steve quick, kate moulton. . . why YOU could end up with an alias

steve quick was one of my first friends ever in winnetka. he worked at the front desk of the winnetka community house, signing up kids for karate, ballet, summer camp. we hung out while my kids took classes. we worked at the haunted house together–both of us, given the proper costume, can reduce a stone cold nine year old suburban child to tears with just a glance. steve and i even worked on the antiques and modernism shows that provided funds for the community house–both of us, given the proper costume, can reduce a stone cold dealer in french chinoiserie prints to tears with just a lift of an eyebrow.

steve is a survivor. of a tough childhood. wrenching marriage. and a bout with cancer.

steve quick — 1
cancer — 0

but a survivor of these circumstances sometimes needs to adventure and needs a soul mate. kate moulton is just such a gal. she is a survivor of three bypass surgeries in her young years. she occasionally is troubled by artial fibulation. which is to say that she has battled a rough spot.

the two of them struck out west to colorado a few years ago. for steve, it was a big change because he had worked behind the desk at the community house for eighteen years. for kate, who had been in wilmette illinois all her life, it was a leap of faith. the two of them have done well for themselves. times are tough–steve sometimes picks up day laboring jobs. kate works as a bartender. but they have found their eden, in fort collins, colorado. i am so so so happy for them. . . .


there’s stu fast. well, what happened is this: steve quit his job at the community house and wanted to access his facebook account. but the account was from an email address tied to the community house. therefore, facebook wouldn’t recognize him so he has had to change his identity to stu fast.

when he would sign for fedex and ups packages at the community house he would sometimes use the alias stu fast, as a take on steve quick. now that nickname comes in handy. but let him explain. . .

face to facebook friend gilbert gottfried

my new years resolution as of december 31 was to meet every facebook friend i had and that’s a considerable new years resolution. obviously not as difficult as losing five pounds (my usual resolution). but still. it’s day 74 of the year and last night i posted about tim crawford (73).

i’ve learned a lot about friendship and loyalty. i have on speed dial exactly who i’d call at two o’clock in the morning from the winnetka police department. i know who i’d party with if i won the lottery and who would be willing to party with me if i didn’t. but i don’t think i have a friend quite like gilbert gottfried.

gilbert is a comedian. never known for any sensitivity. known mostly for his braying voice, whether as the parrot named iago in disney’s aladdin or the duck in aflac supplemental insurance commercials. when he first opened a facebook account, he sent out friendship requests. i’m not sure why i got one, but i did and i happily accepted. but when i went to new york, i had nearly a dozen friends to meet. everyone was so helpful, from richard “mop” furniss (friend #53) who took me on a tour of the museum of sex to william clark (#60) who proposed. #58 john r. douglas took me to the morgan museum where i saw an actual shakespeare first folio. vince p. (#57) invited me to a party with real celebrities.

but gilbert never responded to my messages, emails, nothing. and then there’s this:

he tweeted some jokes like “the japanese are so advanced. they don’t go down to the beach. the beach comes to them” and “i just split up with my girlfriend. but like the japanese say, there’ll be another one floating by any minute” he has since been fired by aflac which gets a considerable share of its revenue from the japanese market and he’s dutifully issued the “i’m sorry if anybody was offended by what i said” apology which places the responsibility to say “oh, no, it’s okay, i’m just too sensitive” on everyone else. he’ll recover. he’ll have his defenders. he’ll do some charitable venture that will make up for it all. he will be, as charlie sheen says, winning.

i don’t take defriending lightly. it might be just facebook. but the real question for me isn’t whether he can make a bad joke or not. it’s whether he’s a friend. and he’s not. there is no part of him that is friend to me. there is no part of him i want to be friends with. so with deep regret, i must defriend him.

therefore, goodbye f2fb friend number zero mr. gottfried. i wish you all the commercial, professional and personal success in the world. just not on my facebook page.

in other news, i have new friends from israel–my story was featured on an israeli magazine site. also, tomorrow i am being interviewed for america in the morning by tom delach! but the most wonderful news is that i will spend some time with the artist loraine yolles (f2fb #74)