Adrian Monk, fictional San Francisco detective with severe OCD, had my deepest sympathies while I was in Baja. Oh, I loved being there, but the public toilet facilities in Mexico – at least in that part – lack things like cleanliness and toilet paper.

I often found myself wishing for wipes, before entering rooms. Not that the bathrooms at LAX were much better, but in La Paz, the local custom is to put used toilet paper, not in the toilet for flushing, but in the wastebasket.

Even in Dorian’s, which isn’t a cheap store (I mean, you walk in and there’s a Clinique counter – it’s a traditional department store), the bathrooms were scary. They probably did have toilet paper (unused) when they opened, but at three it was clear that no one bothered to check their status.

They have a guy at each Caja (cashier’s desk) whose whole job is stapling bags, but no one to empty the overflowing mass of used bathroom tissue or put fresh rolls in the dispensers.

And then there was the scary bathroom at the car park. “Esta limpa?” my mother asked. “Is it clean?” The guy at the desk nodded yes. “Hay papel?” He handed her a roll of toilet paper.

We opened the door to find a disgusting urinal, and off in a cement closet with no floor and no light, a toilet that was only clean if you compared it to, oh, say, the ruins of Pompeii.

Or maybe those were cleaner.

I’m not easily squicked, really, but after that bathroom (which we both refused to use) I totally sided with Mr. Monk.


Beach Magic

Beach Magic has made me the only person ever (I am certain) to come home from vacation having LOST weight, despite eating chocolate and coconut shrimp and all sorts of luxurious, delicious, bad-for-you foods.

We won’t even talk about the cream of green chili soup.

Seriously, ten days in Mexico was somewhat akin to a six week course of hydroxycut – I am not tan, because it was cold (for Mexico – low 70’s), but I am toned, energetic, and anxious to get up and do things.

Like fly a kite.
Or run through a field.

Things I don’t really take the time to do.

But my parents gave Christopher this brilliant 3-cube box kite for Christmas and we never had a chance to fly it. So now we have to, especially since we carried it home.

It’s beach magic.

The Problem

…with living in a foreign country is that things that should be easy, like getting term life insurance quotes, become more difficult.

On Wednesday, my parents’ home insurance agent called to ask them to renew, and told them their policy had lapsed ten days before, even though he’d promised not to let that happen. I got to experience my parents’ side of the issue, hearing them complain about how the binder was wrong, and having another, more reputable agent agree with my mother, “You may have payed a premium…but you weren’t covered.”

And yet, despite this…their life seems so relaxed and peaceful.

Problems seem to lend flavor.

Resting States

Sitting in LAX last night, sipping a mocha frapp between planes, and taking a moment to catch my breath, I read a blog comment from my mother, and an email from her as well. I miss her already. The bond between mothers and daughters is an interesting one, rather like an elastic band. You stretch it thin, then let it snap back to its resting state, but you are always tethered, even when the connection is so thin you think it might break.

My mother and I have been through every stage: hero worship, worst enemy, best friend, close confidante, distant acquaintance, but always there is that connection. Where my mother is, is home, even if I didn’t grow up there. She has the knack of taking two pieces of fabric, pinning them to a wall and making a blank space into something warm and comfortable. We both have short tempers, and we sometimes don’t communicate well, but neither do we tend to hold grudges, and we eventually snap back into our own resting state of shared references and long memories, and similar, but not identical tastes and opinions. She shaped my perception of the world, of course, as do all parents, but she gave me the freedom to mold the window I look through to my own liking.

With my stepfather, it’s different. We don’t have that blood bond. We don’t have that instant connection. We had to forge our relationship in fire and ice, and it didn’t come easily. He wasn’t accustomed to children who fight back, who fight at ALL, and I didn’t trust him to stay. Our resting state is at a different vibration than that of my relationship with my mother. With Ira, it’s witty banter and affectionate teasing, and an evolution of language. He challenges me. I like to be challenged. It’s good.

They say that women marry their fathers. On the surface, my sweet geeky husband who looks like Steven Spielberg right now because his beard is trimmed short, and he has color on his cheeks, and has been wearing a baseball cap all week, is nothing like my stepfather. But then there are ways in which they are eerily alike: neither can complete a task without getting lost in minutia. My mother and I draw the world in broad strokes full of color and light, the men in our lives use finely-honed pencils and are detail oriented, not at all impressionistic. Both are inclined to curl up in corners with books or blankets rather than be outwardly social, but are delightful companions when in the mood.

I am writing from bed. My own bed. My normal weekend morning resting state: one husband, curled up with his face turned away from the light seeping in from the gaps between the blinds, two dogs, exhausted from their early morning welcoming of their people, many pillows, one laptop, total contentment.

I am rested.
I am home.
I have found my resting state.
For now.


Here’s how I spent my day:

Up at four – couldn’t sleep. Tried to sleep. Didn’t work.
Gave up on sleep at five. Packed. Showered. Woke Fuzzy. Had coffee and a bagel with mom and Ira.

Arrived at La Paz airport @ 12:30 for 2:30 flight.
We were in line behind a blonde woman with many bottles of tequila (and not even the good stuff) in her suitcase which was overweight. She was refusing to pay the $2 per kilo (it would have been about $10) overage. Instead, she held up the line by removing books and such from that bag (and adding them to her carry on) which required the officials to keep weighing the pile of removed stuff until it equaled the overage.

Then waited while Mexican TSAs searched every bag. We were polite, therefore our bags were not searched terribly deeply.

Went to waiting area. Sat for about an hour. Twenty minutes before flight was called, found out we had two hour delay. Checked with gate agent, who was a) very handsome in that Old World Mexican kind of way, and charming, and called me My Lady, and b) very patient. Informed that we’d likely have more than enough time to clear immigration, clear customs, and go back through security at LAX.

Waited more.

Got to LAX @ 5:30 PM local time. Cleared immigration. Cleared customs without bag search. (Answered “no” to “do you have any food or alcohol. Decided tiny wheel of brie, tiny bottle of Damiana, gummi worms and Mexican oreos do not count as food. Or alcohol. Never mind that Damiana is widely used as an aphrodisiac and is derived from an herb that is one of the ingredients in viagra.)

Walked bags from terminal 5 (international arrivals) to terminal 4 (American Airlines – domestic). Handed bags to very tall TSA. Walked through security. TSA there liked our kite.

Discovered, en route through security, that plane from LAX to DFW was also delayed. Relieved.

Used restroom. Had Starbucks. Waited for plane.

Waited for plane some more.

Finally boarded 7:35 pm flight to DFW at 8:15.

Scheduled landing time: 12:35 AM. Actual landing time: 12:55 AM. Not bad, really.

Waited for luggage.
Waited for bus to car.
Drove home.
Stopped for food and gas.

Greeted dogs.


I think I’m ready to crash now.

Miss mom.
But glad to be home with cute furry animals.