Tuesday, November 29, 2011

an allegory of mascara



Here's the thing about the Mary Kay people: When it comes to their makeup, they have boundary issues. It's a truth supported in no small part by the fact that they drive non-ironic pink cars. When my mom was a PR executive at the corporate office in Dallas, she'd tell outrageous-sounding tales of the mass hysteria that would follow the announcement of a product's discontinuation.

According to my mom, droves of menopausal women would call and write to her, promising to boycott the company, stage protests, and set things on fire. She swears to have received more than one thinly-veiled suicide threat. I always pictured Kathy Bates' character in Fried Green Tomatoes as the scorned customer in these scenarios. Then it happened to me.

Is there an aesthetic situation more tragic than clumpy eyelashes? Clump happens because most mascaras applicators have as much sturdiness as a ball of peach fuzz. Maybelline's Lash Stylist comb, though, was like a jagged razor blade laced with barbed wire. That's why it was so wonderful.

Lash Stylist was my six-dollar holy grail mascara for five years. Its power was firmly rooted in one four-letter word: Comb. The comb gave birth to eyelash offspring. No Eyelash Left Behind.

When I learned it was being discontinued, I began to buy two and three tubes at a time. Spring turned into summer and one day she was gone, her usual spot occupied by something called "Lash Stiletto".

One more time in slow motion please: Lash Stiletto.

In my mind, this abomination was the brainchild of a Maybelline ad exec who, while facing a midlife crisis, decided they'd inject new life into the brand by attempting to target an overlooked demographic: Prostitutes.

They need mascara too.

Although they vetoed Oh Brothel Where Art Thou? and Lashes With Low Self Esteem, the Maybelline people decided that loose morals were in again. This decision took away my favorite mascara, but taught me a profound lesson about myself: I am the Mary Kay people.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

new little project

I've received a battalion of e-mails over the years from people who thought they were talking to someone else. I saved them all. The result is e-mails from strangers. This is your invitation to join in on the voyeurism.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

self-critiques of my new orleans photographs assuming i'm 40



What is going on here? It appears to be a wedding of some sort, but your ratios are all wrong. Also, someone should tell the bride and groom that it isn't raining even a little bit. It's 90 in the shade and you are marinating in your own sweat.

So Maury took your phone and then addressed your dad by your married last name. Hardy har har! This falls under the "funny at the time and even then only to you for two minutes" category. Yet you took exactly 12 photos of the non-event, 11 of them with flash. In a nice restaurant with tuxedo-clad waiters and white table cloths. Take an etiquette class and then get a less-sad looking phone.

Clearly you didn't actually take this photo since you're all...  in it and stuff. But Self. Your fleshy arms are all smashed up in such a fashion that they look behemoth even next to the prominent mid-section of Darius the Pat O'Brien's bouncer. This too is the kind of stuff you'll learn in etiquette class.

Here's the problem: While lovely, it's the only (discernible) photo of the bachelorette you took all weekend. Bad, bad bridesmaid.





STOP.

A strange male in denim cutoffs about to ride a mechanical bull + Hewitt and a Taco Bell cup in the background? Really captures the spirit of New Orleans. Hashtag sarcasm.


So you went into creepy mode, all hiding and squatting and otherwise contorting your body to get the perfect candid shot. You will not be able to get away with this much longer without getting arrested for indecent exposure. Also, consider taking a photography class. <3

I'll be honest, I enjoyed this one. Love acts!? Literal LOL.

Look, Claire and Maury walking on a random street, totes captivating!

Claire is uncomfortable because it is not normal to have one's close-up photo taken, even by a friend, while one is eating a popsicle. Once again, you learn this in etiquette school.

Here, you both knocked over a display book thus causing a domino effect landslide of early 20th century literature AND tripped over a cat's litter box. You, 28-year-old self,  failed.


It's your artistic effort that counts. I guess.

Remember your "I Aspire to Become a Tory Burch Shoe Photographer" phase? Awkward.

Idée lumineuse!

No, no, no self! We do not take photos of strangers unless they are very famous. I hope you feel sufficiently ashamed.

Redemption Jambalaya.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

fredericksburg {a memoir}

This one time*, my three best soul sistas from high school and I took a highly anticipated trip to the Texas Hill Country.
*: last week

drawn, of course, completely to scale.

As the front seat passenger, I assumed the weighty responsibility of dee-jaying the six hour drive. A 3-1 vote determined that only music from our high school years would be allowed. Highlight: Wide Open Spaces by the Dixie Chicks. I belted out the album in its entirety, remembering the the days of no responsibility when the Dixie Chicks were apolitical and still made music. Lowlight: Little Black Backpack.

We found this homemade gem buried deep within Lindsey's CD case:

made by not just Amy -- made by "Amy!"
Back in the day, Amy had a both a CD burner and access to Napster before anyone else. Luckily, she's always delighted in doing nice things for her friends. Drop a not-very-subtle hint that you liked the new Britney song and the next morning, voila! She'd hand you a personalized CD before 1st period... with a seascape on the cover!

But I digress. We got to Fredericksburg and to our cottage. It looked like this:


We ate dinner at Hondo's on Main Street. It looked like this:


So far as I can tell, queso is more or less non-existent in California. A of all, this state is ass-backwards; B of all, to compensate we wolfed down a bowl per meal. Except once when we plowed through two.

We went to Luckenbach, Texas.


Not too much going on on a Thursday night, but then again:

The population is 3. Or is it?
A bartender named Moon Dawg informed us that this is incorrect and that the population is now 1. We also met a female security guard named Carmen and an over-served 60-something man, presumably a regular, named Joohhhhtttthhhhrrrt.

I highly recommend Fredericksburg Trade Days for a low-key antiquing experience and because of this:


and this:


and this:
and this:


We also went wine tasting at Becker Vineyards. Henri from France was our sommelier.


When he's not pouring wine, Henri is a cowboy. He really, really liked Amy. "Amy, I am so glad I have met you," he said. His son goes to the University of Oklahoma, which is where Amy went to school. A photo op was born.




 We took photos of random things.



We went to Buc's. Karaoke happened.




Then it was time to go home. :(

*Special thanks to Lindsey for letting me share some of her photos (she took the ones that are good) and for the photography lessons while we were in Fredericksburg! She's the bomb dot gov.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

nice rack

Nordstrom Rack is one hot mess of a place. It's crowded, chaotic, and people step on you. The checkout line wraps around the entire length of the store even on weekday afternoons. The fluorescent lighting in the dressing make me want to jump from something tall.

Nordstrom Rack and I have a relationship of extremes. Sometimes I leave high on pheromones and endorphins and whichever other hormones are released during retail triumph. When I'm lucky. More often, I reach the verge of a meltdown (I don't do crowds) and decide that if I don't escape rightthissecond I will faint or die or possibly both. I curse the day Mr. Rack was born because he's responsible for these lines and this lighting scheme and doesn't he realize that for some of us a sticker that says 35, 45, anything-5, percent off triggers bad flashbacks of third grade math?

One day not long ago (OK, last night), all the frustration and agoraphobia and bad feelings that characterized our relationship for so long just vanished and a chorus of angels and bluebirds flew in (somehow) and began to serenade me. Suddenly I remembered why our relationship was worth fighting for.

side A

side B

Monday, March 21, 2011

context clues: they count

Today, I stop for gas. As I marinate in the pure amount of life being sucked from our unborn children's college funds by way of $4.09/gallon, a large and beefy but smiley man approaches. He asks if I'm in the Navy.

Though the true answer is nothing if not black and white, the hamster wheel residing in my brain begins to spin its please-I-beg-you-to-let-me-overcomplicate-this-question's wheels.

My mouth takes the shape of a donut hole. Mr. Beefy is obviously a spy -- or maybe a psychic. But probably a spy. I say I'm not in the Navy but my husband is, because when dealing with spies it's best to tell the truth.

"Is he an officer?" asks the beefy man.

Me: "Yeah?"

"I noticed the blue decal," he says, gesturing to the Navy registration sticker on my windshield. Blue? Hamster wheel spins faster.

I'd never noticed the blue component of my decal before; in fact, I usually forget that my car sports anything official whatsoever except this one time I tried to meet the ship after infinity months at sea and had to sneak on base due to said sticker's expiration.

I wonder if having a current Navy sticker with blue on it speaks a secret language or means awesome superpower things I don't even know about?

He tells me he's retired Marines. Hamster wheel resumes spinning but in opposite direction. I react as though this is the most fortuitous encounter of my life, blatantly disregarding that 100,000 other military personnel live here. Shoot obligatory how-much-longer-does-he-have-left breeze. Ret. Col. Beefy asks: "Is he out right now?"

"Out? Uhh, no, we drove separately and I needed gas. He's on his way home!"

Fail.

Monday, March 14, 2011

ralphs

There's this Ralphs in Mission Valley that I visit infrequently. It's not in our neighborhood and the lines are ridiculous, so I only go when I'm in the area and desperate. I can go months between visits, but nearly every time I've shopped there, I've seen the same homeless guy sitting at the same chair at the clearance table. For the past two and a half years.

There he was at his usual table last week, only this time was different because he was eating a microwave dinner. I'd never seen him eating, just staring. I imagined him having to ask a Ralphs employee to microwave it for him, because frozen dinners do not heat themselves, and it made me sad. Sadder than if he'd been eating a sandwich. I wondered if his mom was still alive or if he had children somewhere.

I'd withdrawn cash that afternoon because Girl Scouts were selling cookies outside and Girl Scouts don't take Visa. I wanted to give him a five dollar bill, or another frozen dinner or a couple of boxes of Samoas, but he was just eating in peace, would it be insulting to assume he was after charity? I couldn't decide, so I left.

When you take the strife of this one homeless guy in San Diego times what Japan's going through right now, the world is just too much.

Monday, March 7, 2011

the dog people: a rough portrait

Soon after I wrote this, I realized that I'm not really *that* dog person, at least not yet. I came to this realization because I discovered a new breed of human. It's a breed I've always known existed but never observed up close until now.

Humans of this breed come in every gender, age and socioeconomic group and, as a whole, falsely convey a demeanor almost Swiss in its neutrality. But do not be fooled. These people are not neutral, and they definitely aren't Swiss. These are the Dog People.

Locations heavily populated by the Dog People include:
  • Petco
  • the veterinarian's office waiting room
  • Nate's Point at Balboa Park1
  • any given sidewalk
To qualify as a member of the Dog People, one must A) be a stranger and B) run a surplus of two characteristics: being opinionated and having a compulsion to state the obvious, typically manifesting as a combination of both. Like:

"Wow, look at those paws... she's going to be big... [dramatic pause] -- Really big!"

Prepare your responses to the Large Paws Observation well in advance; you will hear it three times per 20-minute walk. You'll need to tailor your response to each Dog Person depending on the emotion underlying each observation. Start with the four basics: enthusiasm, fascination, pity, disgust.

You can always count on the Dog People to share their overflowing opinions with you no matter how indelicate. In fact, the more indelicate, the better!

Such opinions range from how:

  • fat
  • cute
  • underfed
  • well-behaved
  • clearly untrained
  • old-looking
  • weird
  • questionably parented
...your dog is.


Another characteristic invariably displayed by the Dog Person is strength of conviction. For example, the Dog Person may assure you without question that your 12-week-old puppy will grow to 85 pounds and in reality isn't even the type of dog you think she is. That's right, you've been deceived! Luckily, the Dog People have been sent from the Dog Breed Accuracy People to inform you she's definitely a Terrier2.

The last part is the most important part. Know what you're getting into at the dog park. The dog park is the pinnacle of existence for the Dog People. Chances are you will feel out of place and judged; chances are both feelings are correct3. The seasoned Dog Person, sensing your newness, will sit back and revel in your relative lack of control because his or her dog is older, comes when called, and probably doesn't chase its tail in circles like a brain-damaged mouse.

Like dog, like owner, I guess.

1 Especially at Nate's Point at Balboa Park.
2 Apparently Labradoodles look like Terriers?
3 Especially at Nate's Point at Balboa Park.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

overbooked

Almost every time I go up to pay at Barnes and Noble, the cashier initiates a conversation based on the book I'm buying. We're talking in the 90s percentage-wise and I go to Barnes and Noble a lot. Not a big deal for someone buying, oh, Harry Potter and the Nocturnal Kitten or Intermediate Disc Golf, or any book with a semi-generic title. I imagine that these checkout conversations sound like this:

"So you're a Harry Potter fan too, huh? Let me tell you, my son/grandmother/clergy person/parole officer loooooooooves J.K. Rowling!"

"Playing some disc golf, are we? I've always wondered, is disc golf the same thing as frisbee golf?"

But then you have the semi-underground book buying population, the people who, like me, tend to buy books with titles that while not necessarily embarrassing (oh, but some are), are less frequently seen by store employees. Yesterday I bought this book called Southern California's Best Ghost Towns. To test my theory, I flipped it face down before handing it to the saleslady.

She turned it over immediately. "OOooooohhh, this looks GREEEAA-aaat," she said, stretching each word into fourteen syllables. "Where did you fiiiiiii-iiind this!? I've gotta orrrrrr-der it!" She spoke with the wide-eyed zeal of a 13-year-old with backstage passes to Justin Bieber.

Let's assume the checkout chit chat rule isn't restricted to transactions of the garden variety. What's the conversation like when the book is Get Pregnant By Tomorrow?

(Male) Cashier: [sizes up female customer; has mental images] So, got any plans tonight?
 
Much like the poor soul in the front of the line at Target holding tampons only, there's also the risk of the price check scenario, when the cashier shouts to his manager standing two football fields away to ask whether How to Tell if You Have Multiple Personality Disorder is 20 percent off this week.

Yesterday on my way out, I noticed that the older man in line behind me was buying a copy of The Sociopath Next Door. I wondered if the sociopath in question was him or someone else.

Then I noticed his other purchase.

Amazon, people. Amazon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

an open letter to san diego's climate

Dear San Diego's Climate,

Seriously?

I know last week shouldn't have come as a surprise. You've always far exceeded expectations in your role as meteorology's most aloof rebel, too cool to care that all the other regional climates in America hate you. While hip and nonconformist, your views -- i.e. reluctance to embrace fundamental weather concepts like precipitation, the occasional sub-65 degree temperature, and the fact that the Earth revolves around the sun and is therefore subject to seasons -- your views need an intervention.

Because last week was embarassing.

San Diego's Climate, remember that one time last week when most of the United States was incapacitated by the most apocalyptic winter storm since Dinosaurs B.C.? No? That's right, you were too busy hanging ten at Windansea to watch the news. Maybe, then, while zipping around in your Prius you heard something on the radio about those hundreds of stranded motorists in Chicago who had to abandon their cars on Lakeshore Drive? What's that? You only ride your bike now? You energy-hoarding granola you.

Last week was not just embarrassing. It was lonely.

San Diego's Climate, there are plenty of scenarios I imagine are lonelier than living in Southern California last week, like P.O.W. camp, the Aboriginal Walkabout, solo flights to Mars, this.

But when your Texas friends are sending you rapid fire photos of the three-foot deep sheet of ice enveloping their driveway and Chicago friends tell you via Skype (while seated in front of a fireplace, what are those?) that they're on their third consecutive day of canceled work and CNN is all "the most catastrophic megastorm the Northern Hemisphere has ever seen!!!!!!!" and meanwhile, MEANWHILE, you're sitting around in flip flops worried that if you leave your dog in the car while you get the mail that she'll overheat, and the only reason you know it's February is because your mom reminds you that your birthday's coming up and you're bubbling over in anticipation of the "cold front" the weather guy says is on its way, because yes ladies and gents, it could get down to 60...

That's isolation.

wish you were here!

(Too) Warmly,

Rachel

Monday, January 31, 2011

i am that dog person

You'd swear that I've just given birth to my firstborn, because this is how I imagine brand new parents behaving, talking and thinking. But, I assure you we did not have a baby. We had a dog.

And our dog has a name. We were having problems deciding what to call her. We I treated this dilemma like we were in charge of naming a messiah baby or future king of England or someone who will eventually walk on two limbs and speak and read and not eat styrofoam. So indecisive were we that several days after we brought her home, she still had her birth name, Ariel. (Her brothers' and sisters' names? Cinderella, Snow White, Captain Hook, Jasmine, and Aladdin. Cute. No thanks.)

We took her to the vet on day three. As I stood holding her at the front desk, a lady with two guide dogs encroached upon her not unlike the Close Talker from Seinfeld. She fawned over her as though she was the second coming, cooing and oohing and ahhh-ing in a reverberating falsetto. For five minutes. And another five minutes. And then she proceeded to literally make out with my eight-week-old puppy.

Once the bulk of their make out session was over, she asked me what her name was. The receptionist asked the same question a few days earlier as I made the appointment and I crumbled under pressure, sputtering the first name that came to mind, Tess. So I told the admirer that her name was Tess.

"She's not a Tess, she's a Sunny!" the woman said with resolute firmness. She was really on to something.

So Sunny she became.

Sunny's mom is not entirely sure that she is a dog and not a human. She often feels racked with guilt when leaving her, and lets her sit on her lap while she's driving even though this is unsafe and possibly illegal in California. Sunny's mom texts photos to everyone in her phone book each time her brilliant alpha puppy does something awesome, like sleeping, eating, or making it to the Potty Patch. At night when Sunny's asleep in her crate, Sunny's mom makes unnecessary shuffling noises hoping she'll stir and therefore "need to go outside" again. Later, she has dreams about her.

Sunny's mom asks her complex questions like "Why are you so obsessed with that?" and is surprised when Sunny doesn't answer, which is usually.


 

I heart my Sunny.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

naming a puppy is more complicated than i remember and other observations

does she look like a Caroline to you?
hi! my name is _________!

Some people fit into their names so perfectly that any other name would have certainly produced a different person. One of these people is Amy, BFF since middle school. Amy was supposed to be named Caroline. Her parents decided this long before she was born. But then they met her and realized that she wasn't a Caroline, she was an Amy.

Amy is the Amiest Amy I know. I love the name Caroline, but it doesn't suit Amy.Would "Caroline" have Amy's same robust fits of laughter that make the walls vibrate? Would "Caroline" react to shattering a wine glass by falling out of her chair in such a fit, landing on shards of the broken glass in the process? Most importantly, would "Caroline" not get up right away? No, no, and no. But Amy would. :)

Our 7-week-old Labradoodle needs a name. We refer to her as "Unnamed Dog" for now, but not to her face because she has to stay with her labramom until later this week. We've narrowed the slate down to between two and 14 names depending the time of day. I have placed exorbitant weight on this decision in order to ensure the most complicated and drawn-out process possible.

My philosophy of dog names is similar to my philosophy of human names, which is that people usually become their name. My childhood dog came to us as "Clancy." Clancy is a 78-year-old man who drinks straight up scotch and wears a velvet smoking jacket. What Clancy is not is a five-pound girl puppy. So she became Maggie and we all lived together happily ever after until 2004.

To name a dog Fifi or Toodles or Fluffy is to pave a path to diamond-crusted leashes, dog salons called "Paw-parazzi," and rapidly decreasing street cred. To name a dog Butch or Skid Row or Grizzly is to sentence yourself to 12-14 years of evil glares from parents as they usher their horrified offspring away from you and your spike-collared beast. And to name a dog Fred or Maude is to guarantee a dog who sleeps 22 hours a day and eats ground sausage out of the trash.

Also frowned upon is giving your dog the same name as a relative (living or deceased), a friend, a friend's child, a past pet, an ex, or an acquaintance from your past or present who left an impression on you that's anything less than perfect. You can also rule out names similar to one you might one day consider giving an  actual human child. For example, is your dog's name Polly? Sorry, no daughters named Molly.

But all is OK, because I feel an epiphany coming on any minute now. Meanwhile, who cares because do you see this face?
Make up your minds, people.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

i see in your palms a long life of douchery

Bad, bad lines!
Talking on the phone is a surefire way of preventing strangers from reading your palms. Right? Amateur psychics don't just walk up to people at the mall and tell them to hang up so they can talk about your bad aura. That's just silly!

I was sitting on a bench because I don't do things like "walk and check my bank account balance at the same time without walking into oncoming traffic" very well. A guy who looked like Mark Zuckerberg approached me and said to hang up right now because he needed help. Looking back, my first and biggest mistake was compliance.

Mark Zuckerberg said he was desperate to find a gift for a girl and needed advice. "Gift card," I said. "To where?" asked Mark. "Sephora." Or anywhere, I thought, as long it means you are no longer violating my personal space.

My terse response did not sit well with Mark Zuckerberg.You see, he told me, it's really important. "I'll be honest... it's for my sister," he said, as though this disclosure should come as some kind of game changer. I said I was sorry but I couldn't help him anymore.

Then Mark Zuckerberg said:

"You look like... [hesitates]... I don't want to say someone who doesn't get out much, just like someone who doesn't get out as often as you'd like."


Fake Mark Zuckerberg, seconds ago standing too close to me, was now sitting too close to me. "Your body language is really negative right now. Look at your legs." I envisioned his idea of appropriate body language. Jazz hands? He grabbed my left wrist so that my palm faced upward. "Oooooh... Not good. See that line? That's bad news." 

The reality that I, Rachel Leah, was getting my palm read on a public bench by Mark Zuckerberg's body double began to settle over me. 

Fake Mark Zuckerberg then that judging by the Rubio's cup I was holding, I had already eaten dinner (?) and would I care to accompany him to Haagen Dazs right over there?

"No, I would not. In fact, I am hard pressed to think of anything I would less rather do than the scenario you just described."

Just kidding, I didn't say that because then Fake Mark Zuckerberg asked if I had a boyfriend. That I said yes did not faze him; on the contrary. Like his less clairvoyant doppelgänger, Fake Mark Zuckerberg is always up for a challenge. "Just get some ice cream with me."

Exit Rachel.

"Come on, just for a few minutes?"

I was far away by then. Fake Mark was shouting.

"Not even a handshake?"



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

sequins

By no means was it a "resolution" of any kind, but I accidentally lost four pounds in four days by not eating Chick-fil-A. If I keep this up I may vaporize by Presidents Day. But why would I want to do that?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

how to take one-half of a road trip

Wake up at 6:02 A.M. Shower. Forecast the next 13-to-15 hours in head. Note in forecast prominent role played by Allsups, truck stop restrooms and beef jerky. Question logic of decision to shower.

Locate frou-frou Christmas gift yoga pants. Decide to dress for comfort. (Keep frou-frou yoga pants on for the next 48 hours.) Run around in frantic stupor fetching and re-fetching items you forgot to pack last night.

"Leave." Encounter unforeseen dilemma while backing U-Haul truck out of relatively compact driveway. Actually leave nine minutes later. Announce what a long day it's been before reaching end of alley.

Drive all of seven minutes. Stop to purchase two honey butter chicken biscuits from Whataburger. Discuss with driver whether or not Whataburger is better than Chick-Fil-A. Mentally will someone, anyone, to open a Whataburger in San Diego.

Stare out window. Resist temptation to take out Texas Monthly until Abilene. Remind self that you are still three hours from Abilene. Take out Texas Monthly.

Read issue cover-to-cover before Weatherford. Stare out window. Wonder how long it would take to ride a tandem bike from Dallas to San Diego. See on Facebook that childhood friend converted to Buddhism. Google Buddhism on iPhone. Read about Buddhism for the next 45 minutes.

Compulsively change radio stations every five miles. Make mental note to renew Sirius subscription. In anticipation of driving through Abilene, learn everything there is to know about Abilene on Wikimobile. Conclude that "all there is to know" isn't very much. Tell driver that Abilene's population is a bit higher than you thought. Wonder when you were last in Abilene. Realize you were there last March. Stare out window. Miss Abilene.

Drive through Buffalo Gap. Note that there are a lot of pictures of bison in Buffalo Gap. Decide that this should in no way come as a surprise.

Buffalo Gap, TX
Pass road sign that says, "Colorado City: 6." Immediately associate Colorado City with polygamist cult scandal from several years back. Loudly proclaim that there must be a cult compound nearby. Envision exciting real-life "Big Love" detour. Google Colorado City. Discover polygamist cult scandal actually took place in Colorado City, Arizona. Sink into seat in defeatist fashion.

Stop for gas at Skinny's Convenience Store in Colorado City. Decide owner is probably skinny.

Enter first stall in womens restroom of Skinny's. See ladies wallet lying on tin disposal. Inspect wallet using makeshift toilet paper glove. Find credit cards and a driver's license and a Nordstrom gift card and other items people do not typically leave behind in a gas station bathroom on purpose. Internally debate the proper etiquette to follow finding an abandoned wallet in the bathroom of a West Texas gas station. Confirm with cashier that no one is missing a wallet. Tell self you would not want your wallet left at Skinny's. Leave Skinny's with a Red Bull, a wallet that isn't yours, and plenty of ambivalent feelings.

Declare new mission in life to locate and contact rightful owner of wallet. Spend next 45 minutes stalking this person on your iPhone. Find out she's a 4th grade teacher in Plano and the mother of twins, a boy and a girl. Question how humans survived before the internet. Leave message on owner's school voice mail detailing plans to FedEx wallet to address on driver's license. Realize teachers are on vacation for another two weeks. Hang up feeling more creepy than helpful.

Hit Big Spring. Leave Big Spring. Enter chunk of Texas so remote you won't pick up an AM radio signal until El Paso. Count oil wells. Pound Red Bull.

See this:
West Texas


And this:
Even Wester Texas
And this:


And this:
Just kidding.

Wonder if survival until Las Cruces, NM, your stopping point for the night, is possible without food. Calculate how many hours since you and driver last ate (save for a few bites of beef jerky six hours ago.) Conclude 12. Drive drive drive. Note that it's getting dark. Very, very dark. Remark to driver how easy it would be to hide yours or anyone's bodies so that they would never be found. Decide preemptively that your New Year's resolution is to make fewer morbid statements.

Drive more. Research Ciudad Juarez drug wars going on a few miles away. Cease research once you realize reading articles about anarchy and mass slayings doesn't lend itself to making non-morbid statements. Reach El Paso. Leave El Paso. Enter New Mexico 14 hours after you left Dallas. Find out you are less than one hour from Las Cruces. Become flooded with renewed determination and hope.

Arrive at Las Cruces hotel 15 hours after you left Dallas. Eat guacamole. Drink margaritas. Sleep better than you have in months. Repeat the next morning.