Sunday, August 5, 2012

I ♥ Mexicans

I barely tasted July. With a new gig, and a shoebox that doesn't discourage visitors. The maraschino (meaning bad) cherry on top was chopping off my hair. My head has never been so deliciously light and cool (as Jo/June Allyson from Little Woman would say), my shower drain so relieved, my toss and turn nights that much easier. But I did have to figure out how to make myself not look like a porcupine every morning. Then I embraced it and decided porcupines are okay.

(What other mammals can I channel to make covering up zits, tweezing, flossing, shaving and self-imposed mani-pedis obsolete...)

Besides, who cares what I look like in HD when I still stare at a computer all day and survive heady workloads with a diet of deliciously greasy and crack-infused SoCal burritos...Maybe grooming needs to take it down a notch.

So I've always wanted to be at the epicenter of a news story. Not for pulling a Felicity (although it is pretty liberating), but for something like surviving a tsunami atop the Coronado Bridge, even being the one to catch KStew with someone who's not RPatz.

But of course come 4th of July, both Cary and I were out of town when the San Diego bay fireworks were accidentally set off all at once. I pretend I was there, perched on a lawn chair several blocks from home. I pretend it was some kind of crazed Brick Tamland character scurrying around barges via row boats, lighting all the fuses and giggling hysterically. But in reality, it was just a computer error, a glitch.

Check out this startling, colorful, smokey end to the world, seconds of something rare to behold that we totally missed.

Laos actually, but you get the point
If only it had happened in Tijuana, where fireworks like this are legal. ----->

But then karma stops being a bitch on the bay. Cary, Code Dude and I bike, boat and walk to the convention center, where Comicon is taking place. We have tix for the next day but can't resist patrolling the Gaslamp for nerds and stars alike. And whaddya know, we disembark the ferry, guiding our bikes along the dock, and a big chunk of the cast of True Blood strolls off a yacht and falls into line with us poor people meandering up the ramp to the Embarcadero.

At the site of Eric Northman, a woman in a maxi dress becomes scattered and abandons her baby, saying to a friend in rushed seriousness: "Watch the baby." The friend chuckles and stares in amazement as her friend takes off. I smile then wonder why I'm not doing the same thing to my bike, letting it hit the ground in exchange for some photo opp I'll Instagram to make myself look better next to one of those that makes us wonder if the Greeks had it right. Is it pride that stops me? Yep.

But that dissolves when we're pedaling down the boardwalk, and I see two characters from Teen Wolf. "Hey!" I exclaim. (Cary rolls his eyes while I watch this show sometimes, so I think maybe he might be interested - he does laugh at one character's jokes. Oh Stiles.) "Care, they're from Teen Wolf!" I realize I've said this too loudly, and the Teen Wolf hottie and ginger are probably now rolling their eyes at me. Oh the irony.

Comicon 2012
We watch nerds fight in the park. LARPing. Live action role-playing. Cody has to tell me twice. We watch a charismatic, olive-skinned Pikacho get people to jump-rope over his fake penis. There are more Finns than anything, and I vow to watch Adventuretime soon. We watch nerdy guys in masks have fun with abandon. We watch nerdy girls in capes be more confident than they are anywhere else in the world.

Before we leave, as we wait for the ferry, Code runs down the walkway to quickly see who's playing at the tented concert south of the convention center. And it's Kevin Bacon and his brother in the Bacon Brothers rock band! For a moment, he was one degree from Kevin Bacon.

Though I'm struck by stars, I'm more often melted by the people I love, work with, meet, and read about. One of the best things about doing freelance part-time now and hitting the workforce downtown, is I get coworkers back.

I'm particularly fond of Ernesto, a Mexican who commutes, wait for it...across the border. He's always friendly, always offering me a carrot stick or jalapeño chip, a coffee from across the street or something from the 7-Eleven up the block. He laughs easily. We walk over together to get coffee sometimes. He works hard, commutes far, and supports his wife and two little girls. Our conversations are hilarious and halted by Spanglish.

"Do you want to become a citizen?" I ask one day. (I'm hoping he does, since he's the kind of citizen a country would want.)

"Uhhh, no. We're okay," he says cheerfully in his thick, lilting accent. His wife and father-in-law run a store on the American side of the border, selling popular items from Mexico for Mexican-Americans who miss them, or perhaps Americans that fall in love with them. He carpools with his oldest girl, dropping her off at her U.S. school before finishing his commute to Little Italy on his work visa, his FastTrak-like border pass in tow.

As we wish each other well weekends on Friday and to drive safe, he mentions he has to get his water tank repaired on the way home.

"That thing," he says, "where the water comes out..." He makes an on/off motion. "'s not working."

"Oh, you get those?" I ask, inquiring about his drinking water tank. "So you need a new stand or something? Doesn't just getting a new jug fix that problem?"

"Um. Huh?"

"Oh, I thought you were talking about one of those purified, drinking water tanks."

"Oh!" He laughs. "No. The uh...toilet tank." Oh! I raise my eyebrows, nod and smile. "But I've seen those sometimes," he continues. "We don't have them in Mexico really. You have them?"

"Yeahhh... Really? You don't have those? People seem to love their purified water. I think it's in their heads though; I think it's just the cold temperature that does it."

"Well I've seen one." Huh? "It used to be used for the town." Uh oh. "But it's not running anymore." Does he mean a water tower? I let it go, and we wrap up on what I think is the same page. But I don't mind this daily confusion for some reason. It only makes me more in awe of anyone who can communicate at all using a second language.

Rob, if you're still reading and not too swamped in jet fuel, this is for you.

While I've been slaving (okay, okay, it's only been a couple weeks of craziness for Aly and a couple years of craziness for Cary), my husband has been watching Olympiads rise to fame and fall from grace in ways we can't tear our eyes from or avoid tearing up over. Because now he's 'NATOPS* qualified in model.' This is the military's way of saying he's practically memorized his Seahawk instruction manual - which is the size of a witch's spellbook - and that he's out of the woods for this last sprint of training before joining the fleet late this winter.

It's a big feat. Now on to tactics. Landing on ships, performing vert-rep (vertical replenishment), jettisoning listening devices, shooting missels and torpedos into the San Diego skyline. You know. It's now a downward slope to Tokyo. Or not. [Insert hysterical laughter here.]

But congrats to you, Lieutenant JG Lawson. Where's a firework malfunction when you need one.

*Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization