Lola Bites Back: And Other Inspirational Tidbits

Location: Bissingen an der Teck, Baden Wuerttemberg, Germany

Laughing all the way...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Whether it's the Pet Shop Boys or a fine Swiss Gruyere, I love cheese

I could have and should have made myself useful this weekend by shopping for groceries and cleaning hairballs out of the bathroom, but instead I hung out at a place called the "Lucky Bar," watching the world cup and learning to drink beer. I discovered that I am much more motivated to actually drink beer when 1) they cost $5.50 apiece, and 2) they are combined with gorgeous, sweaty men built like horses running around in circles on a futbol field. Today I had two in a row, and when I stumbled out into the daylight after the Netherlands lost to Portugal 1-0, I felt a real sense of accomplishment, not to mention a nice buzz.

Now it’s four AM and I can’t stop wondering why futbol isn’t more popular among my countrymen. I mean, what’s NOT to love about those gorgeous, sweaty men built like horses running around in circles on a futbol field? I tried American football in the past, to no avail (an ex-BF once presented me with season tickets for the SD Chargers. To be nice, I actually tried to figure out how it all worked. I gave up by the third game, and suffered through the rest by popping pain pills, which actually worked quite well).

But futbol really does have it all: international rivalry, intense emotions, bitter controversy, beautiful players, and simple, easy-to-understand rules for play. Is it really such a deal breaker that the US doesn’t have the number one team?

After the game ended, I accepted an invitation from a friend to have wine and cheese (who can turn down wine and cheese?) in Capitol Hill, whereupon I ended up drinking another two (three?) glasses of red wine. Everything was just dandy, or so I thought, until about an hour ago when it came time to pay the piper. I've been lying in bed wide awake for the last hour, trying to remember why I thought it was a good idea to drink so much. I’ve decided to blame the cheese.

You see, whether it's the Pet Shop Boys or a fine Swiss Gruyere, I love cheese. And it just so happens that cheese goes quite well with red wine. And it just so happens that in America, more is better. Unfortunately in this case, I think maybe more is not better.

Brain dead and signing out,


Friday, June 23, 2006

How best to celebrate the birth of our wayward nation? A trip to Montreal!

As one of my favorite thinkers once wrote, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Well I’ve made enough mistakes in my short little life: missing the next Jazzfest won’t be one of them!

In honor of the occasion, I have attempted to tap the psyche within with the following, stream-of-conciousness Haiku, beginning with an ode to our telephone; Que disfruten!

the telephone rings
shrill, reverberating still
where is the valium?

impatient, sweaty
a hurled latte, a scream
one less fish to fry

more guns, arrogance
another brick in the wall
violent denoument

I see them at night
huddling in the bushes
capitol police

rejected again
American refugees
who will love them now?

shiny red toenails
glimmering in the sunlight
some thrills never die


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Eyes may speak volumes or they may be dark to the world, but they never lie.

Faith is a word I have generally shied away from. It’s loaded with connotation, mostly religious. As a pee-wee, mum taught me that the Christian church was hypocritical. Her interpretation ultimately boiled down to a rejection of the idea that non-Christians are somehow relegated to an afterlife in hell. This principle of exclusion strikes me as completely unnecessary, so while I have no problem with religion or religious people, I am not one myself.

Then one day last year, after I brashly decided to relocate myself inside Our Nation’s Fine Capital City, my dad said something to me that caught me completely off-guard. My dad, a church-going regular, told me he was amazed by my faith. And I was amazed by his comment.

Me? Faith? It never occurred to me to call it that. But what else makes me think I can just quit my job, pack a suitcase, and fly across the country? Why did I believe that I would find a good job? Dad was right. I have complete faith. Not in God, per se, but in the rightness of the universe. En el fondo, I know everything will work out okay, no matter what. That’s not just a heartwarming cliché. It’s actually true.

And it’s what I love about exploring an unknown country. It’s the fundamental uncertainty of it all. You simply can't know what will happen, whom you will meet, where you will end up, or what you might learn. Every day is an opportunity for new adventure, and without real faith, you will not survive.

It's one thing to have faith in the western world, a place we were raised in, where we know how the system works. It's familiar. It's comfortable. It’s ours.

But as a lone backpacker in the eastern world, faith needs to be more visceral: you jump into the middle of chaos and tell yourself it's going to be okay. And then it is okay. And then you get hairy, your skin turns dark and you develop a special scent that is all you. Then, after a few more months, the look in your eyes begins to change. (This is probably the most startling result of extended backpacking. It is most notable years after the fact, when you've once again become accustomed to the cynical abundance of the west. You’ll happen upon some old picture from a past adventure and stop dead in your tracks. "Is that me?" Then, with a mixture of awe and regret, you realize that the person in the picture is gone. It’s all in the eyes.)

So I just want to say thank you to my dad. He has helped me to see that I am far more than I even realized, because I have the ultimate strength inside: I have faith in the universe, faith in myself, and faith in the value of all experiences, bad or good.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

District Livin'

Today’s Forecast: Clouds, Rain and Heat. Who knew the weather could be so singularly unpleasant? Not me.

Washington DC keeps plugging along. The news cycle is constantly churning. I’m more aware of it than I would like to be, but I won’t complain. I’m more than halfway done with Washington and can now look at it with an independent eye. A few observations off the top of my head about living in Our Nation’s Fine Capital City:


Access Access Access!!! If you can think it up, it’s probably headquartered here.

International mix of people creates “anything can happen” type of backdrop.

Watching national scandals explode from the front row is Just Dee-lightful!

You can randomly see finely dressed older folks in the city. Many will be in their seventies and dressed to the nines! Seeing them inspires me to be a bit more civilized (if only for a moment or two).

Big Relief: newly established and growing Latino population means I won’t ever have to work for The Man.

Rock Creek Park is like an olive branch in the storm, and we live right next to it.

Two words: Immigration Marches!


Is an attractive destination for calculated and greedy people who want to feel powerful. (This is also known as anti-humanity.)

I never had the experience before, but one year in DC and I’ve got it down. It goes like this: Black=Poor=Powerless. White=Rich=Powerful.

DC has no federal political representation: This is a lot more annoying than I would have thought.

Criminally Impotent Law Enforcement Division. (btw, do you know if they ever figured out who stole the Police Chief's Crown Victoria?)

The District has one continuous theme song. It goes “Neee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee nee….”

Cool people don’t stay here. Actually, nobody with the ability to leave stays here.

Two words that strike fear into the hearts of district residents? DC Government.

Special kind of weather (Sticky fog + dirt + heat + rain = full special).

Can you say “High Crime Rate” and “High Unsolved Crime Rate” ten times fast?

Maybe your city has some unusual pros or cons you’d like to share. For now, I’ll just leave you all with a great story out yesterday featuring our favorite congressman. Filner gives those mealy-mouthed DC wonks a refreshing dose of straight talk. Highlight quote:

"You guys f——- it up," Filner declared. "Stop covering your a— and figure it out."

Go Bob!

Hasta luego,

Lola Maria del Districto

Friday, June 09, 2006

Amongst the False Applause and the Deafening Cheers, I'm San Diego's Number One Fan

Okay, so the whole
Mexico legalization thing didn't pan out. Fox's abrupt reversal the next day literally took the wind out of my sails. I needed a break. It was a blow to my exuberant optimism. Lesson learned: don't underestimate the power of the United States to impose its will and win.

Since then, Vince and I enjoyed a whirlwind 5-day tour of sunny SoCal, including the Imperial,
San Diego, and Orange Counties. For anyone who knows me well, I have been filled with contempt for Sunny SoCal and its mindless, superficial population for much of my adult life. But this time everything was different. In what will inevitably be a series of posts, I will explain the 180 on Sunny San Diego by describing the highlights of the trip;

For Vince, it was a day spent in the Imperial Valley desert engaged in traditional desert rituals with his man-friends, including, in order of preference: drinking beer, shooting guns, and swimming in the canal. By the way, that's the
All American Canal (I didn't make that up).

For me, being back in
San Diego was a real treat. I basked in the sun and soaked up the mellow energy of the people. I thoroughly enjoyed cruising around solo in our rented Monte Carlo, checking out my old stomping grounds with sunglasses on and the radio cranked up, casually drifting in and out of traffic lanes.

It's been more than a year since I drove anything. In DC, A ride in the truck with Vince is a special occasion. (And sometimes, when the ride is a long one, it’s a nightmare.) But after one day of cruising around, I was back in my element. And all the same old crappy radio stations were still there, playing exactly the same songs. 98.7, 105.3, 91.1, 103.7, 94.9, 96.5 - a sometimes painful "soft and contemporary" and a perennial fav of the mama - all of them owned by the same corp. They sounded exactly like I remembered them, but this time I didn't bitch and complain. I savored it all.

It was the same for the weather. For any of you who might have forgotten, DC is built on a swamp, so you might imagine my thrill of appreciation for the incredible
San Diego climate. Turns out, all those people I mocked and ridiculed for so long were right; San Diego does have incredible weather. And I took every opportunity to soak it up. (Warning for non-San Diegans: Contrary to urban legend, San Diego is not always sunny. I repeat, San Diego is not always sunny. There had actually been many solid weeks of overcast skies before we arrived, so we were lucky to have one absolutely beautiful sunny day. And I knew it. Damn that was good.)

Cycling through the radio stations (are radio advertisements in SD particularly ridiculous, or was it just me?), I happened upon the jazz station. I was instantly reminded of George, my stepfather of 20 (?) years, who recently passed away. His presence has never left me, but in San Diego his energy was particularly strong. He was a man of few words, a rare constant in my formative years, who left me a lot to think about. I learned more about him at his wake than I did living with the man for so many important years. To this day, when I feel weighted down by life’s challenges, he is the one who comforts me most. For this I feel quite blessed.

I must admit, I have nothing legitimate to complain about, except of course the current state of politics, which I’ll save for all the local talking heads. Life is by no means easy, but it is getting so much better.

For now I will head down to join our WORLD CUP Opening Ceremonies Celebration – everyone is atwitter with excitement! - We're closing for a half day so we can stuff ourselves with all kinds of food and watch the festivities unfold. I think I’m picking Mexico, Turkey, and Argentina for the office pool.

Ciao mes amies,