Sunday, May 30, 2021

House Nostalgia

Tracy's FB memories sent her this six-year-old post from when she first checked out my new house...the day before I flew to Burbank to work for the next several years. 

It took a couple of us 8-10 months to get the house ready for its new family. My house is generally a pretty cheerful house, and conveniently the area it's in suddenly turned into the hippest part of town.

Who knew? Not I. All I knew was I wanted a house this time, not a condo, and this one was cheap on Craigslist.

Battery Level

I found the limit to my backyard game cam batteries. My camera took photos from January 9th to April 5th and then it was like "we're done here."

I bet all kinds of exciting things happened from April 6th to May 29th.

Saturday, May 29, 2021


I flew out of Burbank today for the first time in more than a year. The last time I'd flown into Burbank, I'd been horrified by how crowded the planes were at a time when there just wasn't much science established about COVID transmission. Now I'm vaccinated, and know plane air is filtered anyway, so I didn't mind my flight being sold out. I loved how easy it was to get a Lyft from my place to the post office to the airport—all in less than 20 minutes. 

Alas, there are no direct flights from Burbank to Newark, so I had to choose between changing planes in San Francisco or Denver. Which—always choose Denver if you can since it doesn't get fogged in all the time. 

My connecting flight out of Denver was running late so I used a lounge pass and hung out charging my electronics while remembering that time I came to Denver for a con and weirdly, my editor pal Joey Cavalieri happened to be there at that same time on a vacation, plus I ran into Larry Hama in the airport—he'd been at a GI Joe convention while I'd been at a comic convention.

No surprises this time. Just me, a power outlet to charge my phone, and all the individually packaged icky snacks I could possibly imagine.

I was looking forward to getting home after midnight--there was a book waiting for me to check through and sign off on for the printer!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Over the Hill - the Pandemic Edition

I'm vaccinated, all Pfizered up. I spent a week in Baja and earlier in the year, five weeks in Hawaii, and I haven't been shy about flying across the today it was time to get back on the horse. 

Er, Los Angeles metro.

I hadn't been on the metro here since March of 2020. I haven't walked along Hollywood Boulevard or caught the 222 bus at Hollywood and Vine in that time as well. You all know I'm dedicated to public transportation. Why else would I not own a car in Los Angeles County? Time to walk the walk. Ride the ride.

I took the #155 bus to Universal for the metro Red Line, also called the B line now. I'll probably still call it the Red Line forever, the way old-timers in New York call the subway lines IRT or BMT. (You didn't think that was just a sandwich, did you?) 

The train was filthy. Almost all the passengers were men, with a couple of raggedy sleeping men on each car. I wondered briefly if this might not be my best idea ever, but the doors closed and we were off to Hollywood.

I disembarked at Hollywood and Western, walking alone through the station. A colorful sign at the top of the escalator advertised a bi-weekly farmers market. I crossed Hollywood Boulevard, expertly dodging a ranting man at a bus stop.

I trekked up the block to Thai Town, had some pad thai at a tiny outdoors table. I was relieved the little carry-out I like had made it through the pandemic. Unfortunately, my favorite Thai massage place was closed. There's no way to know for now if it's closed forever. I only found one open, and there were no appointments for the next two hours. No Thai massage for Marie today!

I walked all the way to Vermont and Sunset, sidestepping tents and another furious ranter, this time a woman. I thought I'd head up to the Observatory, which is closed but it was a nice day for a view. The Observatory bus isn't running though—not like there are tourists to cart up and down the hill—so instead, I jumped on a bus to Echo Park to go to Matrushka, the women's clothing store where I buy silly animal shirts.

I picked up a few shirts, then caught a bus to DTLA. One of the passengers, clearly imbalanced, kept yelling at the driver—"When are we getting to Broadway?" At one point the driver pulled over, told the man to put on his mask, and refused to drive until the man stopped yelling. He did stop. For a few minutes, anyway. Then he kicked up a fuss again. "When are we getting to Broadway?"

Downtown was pretty bleak. Grand Central Market was partially open, as was the Spring Street Arcade, but many stores were boarded up or out of business. Plenty of people were walking along Hill, Broadway, and Spring, but not the gentrifiers. Where had all the wealthy hipsters gone, I wondered. Maybe they'd gotten out of town the way many New Yorkers had decamped to the Hudson Valley. Or maybe they were just going from their homes to their cars, or ordering in due to the pandemic.

Sunday, May 16, 2021


My trip home yesterday started out kind of typical, but ended on an unexpected high note. I dragged my luggage down to the rental car I'd picked up the night before, secured it in the trunk, took out the trash from the San Jose del Cabo AirBnB, took one last look around, then departed. I put the key back in the key locker and scrambled the code, messaged the owner that I was out, and then I…drove my car two blocks to a different parking space. Because I was worried someone might have seen me put my luggage in the trunk. 

Ha. Absurd, I know.

I was driving a VW Jetta from Alamo, but I had desperately wanted a Nissan March. They don’t exist in the US, so I had my eye on them since I’d spotted on my first day in Mexico. Alas, Alamo had no Nissan March for me. The March looks kind of like a Nissan Juke. 

I stopped for brunch at my second-favorite bakery, then headed out to the hotel zone, an area I hadn’t explored. It’s what it sounds like—a bunch of hotels along the coast. I stopped in some stores, but my favorite part was when I parked in a parking structure, then tried to pay for my parking on the way out. The parking machine got really angry with me and beeped loudly. A nice Mexican lady came to help me, and she couldn’t make it work either. Finally she looked at my parking receipt and noticed I hadn’t been there more than an hour. “Gratis,” she said, shoving the receipt back at me.


I drove to a park at the end of the road, stopped at the ATM for some pesos (I like to have some spares in my Burbank stash so I don’t have to worry about getting money right when I cross into Mexico), and finally, headed north to the airport to drop off my Jetta and check in.

The airport did all kinds of annoying airport things, fairly typical of an airport. I emptied my water bottle, went through security, looked for a snack but the options were Sbarro, Subway, and Carl’s Jr, so that was icky.

The flight back was two hours, and I used my Global Entry for the first time, and now I’m never going back to the queue. I waltzed right through.

I picked up my luggage and walked outside to an overcast day. I’ve been catching Lyfts to and from the airport during the pandemic instead of my usual Flyaway bus, and while it was a stretch to imagine the Flyaway is dangerous given I’d just assumed my vaccination status would protect me on two planes, four buses, and on the streets of Mexico for a week, I reasoned that my bag was kinda heavy and I didn’t really want to navigate public transit. So I wheeled my bag over to the ride-share lot next to Terminal 1.

I signed up for a Lyft via my mobile, and then I noticed I had a text alert.

“I think I just saw you walk past Terminal 1,” texted Fletcher, a friend of mine who used to work at DC. “I’m waiting on Eddy to pick me up.” Eddy is another friend of ours who used to work at DC.

I checked my Lyft status. No driver had accepted yet. I canceled the ride, walked back to Terminal 1, and that is how I ended up eating noodles on Sawtelle last night with Fletch and Eddy.

A good time was had by all.

My plates made it home 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Be Warned

The secretaria of salud does not mess around here.


I'm all packed and ready to leave the AirBnB I've been in here in the historic part of San Jose del Cabo. I took a crowded bus to the airport last night and rented a car for one day so I'll put my luggage in the trunk and do some last-minute sightseeing before heading over to my 3:45 flight.

There's a quirky nostalgic pining that happens on departures. Can't I live in a world of novelty forever? No. No, of course not. In time, this peripatetic life becomes laborious rather than exciting. (If you don't believe me, you haven't been reading those MariesWorldTour entries I've posted in the past.) But I feel that pining right now. Why must I return to Burbank?

My weekdays there are identical to here. I go to meetings on my laptop. But in the evenings here, I've made an effort to try a different restaurant every night. I haven't given a single thought to the impact of a steady diet of complex molé sauces and tortillas, or to the costs on each menu. I've walked every morning and every night, peering into shadows and making a reflexive list in my head of every neighborhood taco stand and food truck. (In case you think the walking offsets the eating, it doesn't really work like that, but walking IS good for you.)

I walk around sometimes in Burbank, but I've seen those corners so many times. I zone out and don't even look anymore. And I let the daily emergencies of my job get the better of me there, delaying my evening walks until suddenly it's too late to go out. I'll make an effort the next few weeks in Burbank before I migrate east for what might well be my last opportunity to WFH in this strange and wonderful and horrible way we've all been living the last 14 months.

Time for me to check out and go searching for adventure along the coast near San Jose del Cabo. Tomorrow, I can search for novelty on the shelves of Vons, or in Bob Hope Park.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Last Night in San Jose del Cabo

Thursday. I worked all day, but at lunchtime, I ran over to the bakery across the cobblestoned street. The young woman who runs it explained to me she'd opened the store three months ago. 

"I was worried about opening during these uncertain times. But then my dad told me all times are uncertain. So far it's been great." 

After work, I went outside my building to the Thursday Art Walk. Every Thursday, businesses in the old town section of San Jose del Cabo stay open late. Tourists from all the resorts descend on the town to look at art. 

Predictably, it was cool until a critical mass of drunkenness was reached, and then I got bored, picked up dinner at a BBQ truck, and headed back to the AirBnB.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Estuary

I took a walk over to the San Jose del Cabo estuary tonight. 

Today, this marshland oasis is an important habitat for birds, but once upon a time, it was the only reliable source of water in this part of the world. 

The Spanish galleon carrying treasures from the Philippines used to come here for the water, but then the pirates decided that was a pretty good idea, so they came here too. 

Things got complicated.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Hotel to Apartment

Yesterday was supposed to be a tricky day in San Jose del Cabo. Hotel check-out time was 11 a.m. and the AirBnB check-in time was 3 p.m. I’m trying to work as normal during my journeys, the point being one can be equally effective regardless of location, so long as one has a wifi connection and a company laptop. The goal is to never have to do this: “I’ll be offline for X hours in the middle of the workday due to poor planning, oh and did I mention I’m in Mexico, sorry.”

In other words, I want to do nothing to impede my future extreme-work-from-home ambitions.

The hotel didn’t have late check-out but was happy to let me work by the pool, and the AirBnB owner promised to text me as soon as the apartment was ready.

In the end, everything went smoothly. The apartment was ready by 11:30, so after a short time working by the pool, I left my luggage in the hotel storage room until a break in my meeting schedule, and walked up the hill to the AirBnB.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Sunday, May 09, 2021

Sunday Morning Touristing

This morning, I went to the new coffee shop next door to my hotel right when it opened, got some breakfast, then trekked up to the main highway to the bus stop. I'd gone on a walking tour last night where the guide had advised me to get to the marina at Cabo San Lucas as early as I could in the morning.

10:05 isn't really early, and I'd just missed one of the "clear boat" tours, which was what I was aiming for. I went to the boat office and tried to sign up for the 11 a.m. departure, but it was sold out.

"The noon trip has room," explained a guy covered in a sandwich board.

"Come on, too hot," I said. "Mas calor." He agreed. "I'll see if I can find one leaving sooner, but if not, I'll be back," I told him.

I walked into the marina and immediately saw a water taxi driver leading two women onto a boat.

"Are you leaving now?"

He nodded. "Twenty dollars, come along."

I did, and we left immediately, stopping first for gas, then heading out to see the sights.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Extreme Work-from-Home

My Pfizers were fully baked as of yesterday, and I ran out of coffee in Burbank.

So I took a Lyft to LAX this morning to a packed terminal, caught a nearly sold out plane to Los Cabos, then found a local bus to San Jose del Cabo, where I walked a kilometer to find my hotel (which given the circumstances of lower tourism rates was masquerading as an AirBnB, but I figured it out).

And now I've visited a flea market and eaten in an open-air restaurant (Mexican food, not surprisingly, but expensive for enchiladas since this is a tourist area). Then I went looking for the ATM that doesn't charge me, and passed a shopkeeper who noted my T-shirt. "Is that a jackalope?" "Yeah." "Are you from Wyoming?" "No, I have a pet jackalope back in Los Angeles."

Found the ATM, stopped by the hippest coffee shop in town which wasn't visible from the road. I had an iced oat latte with a paper straw, because while I seem forthright, I might be ridiculous. Then went to the town marketplace, the OXXO mart, to inquire at Enterprise rental car, and finally went for a swim at the AirBnB which is actually El Encanto Inn.

I have a walking tour at 7, and tomorrow I'll catch a bus to Cabo San Lucas to get a water taxi out to see the arch.

I'm pushing the limits over the next week--I guess I'll find out if my vaccinations did the job.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

From Austin to Europe to Austin

Jan-March, 1986. Austin, TX. 

I was an intern at the Austin Chronicle. Writers used to come in and use the other computer in the office where I’d be typing in info for the annual music poll. Or sometimes playing the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game. But I digress.

Ed Ward was one of those writers. There were others, but I talked to Ed more than them because as the EIC or maybe the publisher had said when I’d walked in and asked if the Chronicle took college interns: “Ed Ward went to Antioch, like you. You should talk to him.” I did. He was funny. He was opinionated–kind of a prerequisite for someone who did a lot of music coverage.

Years later, I’d hear Ed on Fresh Air. He’d sign off with “This is Ed Ward, in Berlin.”

And when I went to Berlin for a month, I thought maybe I’d write to him, but I didn’t actually do it until a few years later. Ed has left this mortal coil, but along the way he went from New York to Austin to Berlin to Montpellier and back to Austin. I am sure there are many other parts of his story. Ohio, obviously. He was at Antioch 20 years or so before I was.