May 30th 2:02pm - Kissed by a Street Performer

Years ago my family and I traveled to Canada. I was thirteen and this trip was as exciting to me as my first sports bra, which I had received a few months earlier from my mom as a Welcome to Womanhood. At the time I was unaware that my breasts would perpetually remain the same size and that first sports bra would fit me today, ten years later. At the time I was rhapsodic for a sports bra like Barbie for her first car in 1962. 
Cantering through Victoria, Canada, we saw slews of street performers. Plasterman, Silver Lady, and musical performers peppered the streets as prominently as Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. We secured spray-painted pictures from a street artist. We listened to a man who propagated sounds reminiscent of a cross between Bugs Bunny and a hippopotamus. We coalesced with a crowd around a performer. Busker resembled a thirty-year-old homeless man who had acquired a box of magic toys in an alley. His receding hairline boasted dilapidated hair, his shoes and jeans flaunted fissures through which his knees and toes glimpsed. Around his neck he donned a clown's oversized red and yellow striped tie with matching suspenders around his shoulders. He wore no shirt. He revolved batons, dramatized juggling, and danced with a style before not witnessed by my thirteen-year-old eyes. It teemed with thrusting. He displayed batons to his congregation and requested a volunteer from the audience. Having elected a man my dad's age, Busker handed him a baton. Without an appeal to his audience for assistance, he strode through the crowd, grasped my hand, and extracted me from the clusters. I was as comfortable as I was during my first gynecologist appointment. I still maintain that there is something demoralizing about being fingered by a metal contraption by the name of Vaginal Specula. 

"Oh, no no no!" I exclaimed, attempting to escape. Busker, who should have been entitled Magician, abated my efforts and forcefully dragged me to the center of the cultivating circle where he deposited a baton in my hands. 
"Do not drop this!" he ordered, his voice radiating like Merlin and a smile decorating his face like a baboon on drugs.
He must have somehow sensed my opposition of the situation. My face may have been an indication, as it was exuding like a volcano. I stood, my arm outstretched, complete with baton. Busker set it aflame. Volunteer and I, positioned on either side of him, held burning flame. The flaming batons were juggled, twirled and twisted. One almost lit my hair on fire. Another went astray, attacking a section of the masses. They seemed under the impression Busker was doing this on purpose and it was part of the entertainment factor. I thought that if I died from head trauma by a blunt object, at least I could say I'd had my first sports bra and been out of the country. The lit baton sporadically reappeared in my hand, and I held it out to him like a dutiful cult worshipper. I never questioned. 
At length, he extinguished the batons in a water pail and shook Volunteer's hand as a thank-you. He strutted to me, grasped either side of my face with his calloused, fire-streaked hands, and dragged my face to his, his cracked lips meeting mine. My eyes open in shock and dismay, I leaned back. Busker threw one arm around my back and leaned forward, stretching me into a dip. Had I been a few decades older, my back may not have recovered. He straightened, smiled, and threw his hands up in the air as if applauding God. I sprinted into the surrounding people and pushed through my family, away from Busker. While I attempted to recover my dignity by throwing my hands over my eyes and exhaling gagging noises, my family demonstrated their loving support by laughing like they had just witnessed the best entry on America's Funniest Home Videos. 

May 29th 9:01am - Wisdom of Me

I have gained less wisdom in my twenty-three years of life than Simba does in the eighty-seven minute movie Lion King. Below, observe my findings.

* Men do not comprehend hints. If you desire a DVD for your birthday, tell him. Directly. Mentioning four times a day, "I love the movie so much and I wish I had it. My birthday is next week," does not equate telling him. "I want Forgetting Sarah Marshall for my birthday next week. It's on June 7th," does comprise telling him.

* Commencing the evening by consuming a bottle of wine = solid pre-game.
Following bottle with beer and countless Jager shots = ensured black-out. No exceptions.

* Sex toys are superb. They provide diversity.

* If you inhale more than seven shots before you leave the initial house/apartment, consider departing with the phone. If you take it with you, there's a 98% chance you will lose it at the bar/club. Blaming your sober friend for the phone's inevitable loss will be as effective as me in a class after consuming a large amount of food. I fall asleep. 

* If God endowed a man with a shrinky dink, it will forever remain a shrinky dink. Jack's magic beans exist with beanstalks. They do not prevail with penises.

* If a man pisses the bed with you in it, chances are he'll be a repeat offender. Be careful. Be careful like Bambi.

May 28th 5:05pm - Nuclear Physicist?

I'm excavating the possibility of joining the military with the doting dedication my cat demonstrates to me when he awakens me at four-thirty in the morning by sitting on my head. I habitually slumber with my mouth open. Waking with cat hair in my mouth is not my idea of an enamored amiable arousal. I prefer massages.
My devotion to researching the military process parallels that of Lindsay Lohan towards her college education. However, I am looking in to it. I entered the San Francisco recruiting office to inquire for information: opportunities, benefits, and the like.
I peeked one foot inside the Navy recruiting office with the hesitation I feel towards any sort of mathematical equation.
"Hey, welcome! Let me know if you have any questions!" a wandering-eyed Asian projected in my direction as if through a megaphone.
"Oh, I was just wondering if I could talk to someone about potentially joining..." I hesitantly replied as I stepped my other foot inside and the door shut behind me like a judge slamming his gavel on the podium in verdict.
The four Navy recruiters present propped towards me, eyes duplicating my own when observing a plateful of food shortly to be devoured. They asked a series of questions concerning my drug habits, dependants, tattoos, and my height/weight stats. They presented no questions apropos of alcohol.
It was my turn to interrogate. "What kinds of opportunities do you have for a college grad who doesn't want to sit in a cubicle any more?" I asked.
Their eyes illuminated like they were viewing the pope.
"Oh, you're going to have to take an online practice test first," they told me.
The online practice test was on the lone computer in a closet. Twenty-five minutes later I yawned and exited the closet's isolation, waving towards the computer and trying to regain consciousness. Tests, car rides, meetings, classes, essays, conversations... all tenderly trip me in to a coma. Senior year in high school I won
Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Class. The following year, my brother continued the family claim to the title with the dignity of a diplomat. The year my little sister graduated, they discontinued the category. We like to believe she would have won.

Regardless of my semi-conscious self and my math skills as proficient as a sheep's, I scored a ninety-four of one hundred.
"Have you considered becoming a nuclear physicist?" was the first question from those sunny recruiter's eyes.
"What? Me?" I asked, rotating in my seat, trying to locate the impending nuclear physicist with what I considered a job as desireable as eating baboon liver. Upon ascertaining he was speaking to me, I informed him of my inept abilities.
"I don't do math. I don't know how to do simple multiplication and division. I barely know how to add."
"But your score was so high! With a score like that, you could do anything you wanted in the Navy! Our nuclear physicist program is incredible..."
After my continued assurance that I don't do math or science, Recruiter addressed other options, like cryptology. I familiarized him with my foreign language incompetence.
"What do you want to do in the Navy?" he asked me.
"Something that doesn't deal with any sort of math, science, or foreign languages. I don't know how to do those," I replied and enlightened him that I didn't want to sit in a desk and wanted something physical.
"Well, if you were a male, I'd suggest Navy SEALS," Recruiter said. "But as you're not... I think my best suggestion would be nuclear physicist."

May 26th 8:21pm - You Know a Girl Likes You When...

The following are comprised from a few of my male friends... with one of my own included.
Evidenced by below: once a female likes someone, they're as persistent with the affection emotion as Michael Jackson is with surgical masks. 

You Know a Girl Likes You When...
* The first time you hang out, she tells you she's been talking to her ex-boyfriend. But now that you and she are spending time together, she thinks she'll stop talking to the ex.
Your response: "Let's take a shot!" 
The second time you rendezvous, she spends the night. Though you aren't belligerently intoxicated, you piss yourself. With her in the bed. The next morning, she leaves to go shower and change clothes, but then returns so she can go out to lunch with you. 

* You and she have hooked up for over a year without having sex. You have sex with her best friend. She finds out and is upset. The next time she sees you she's as inebriated as Will Ferrell/Frank the Tank in Old School. Despite you sleeping with her best friend, she wants to hook up with you again because she had forgotten how hot you were.

* You call her "Mom" when you're in bed together. She laughs about it.

* She observes you fondling another girl's breasts. She doesn't accept the excuse, "But I just wanted to feel fake boobs!" She does accept the excuse, "But she's a lesbian!" 

* She buys you a lap dance with a naked stripper. 

* She continues to sleep with you when three of the five times you've had sex, you've been blacked-out and had to inquire the next morning if you actually slept together. 

* You piss and puke in the bed. The following morning, she still has sex with you... on the same bed.

May 25th 11:24pm - Horseshoes

Today my mom, sister, and I ravaged my aunt and uncle's house like teeny boppers to Zac Efron.
We repeatedly arrive laden with food and require my uncle BBQ for us. We currently purchase the same amount of food for seven people as we did in prior years for twenty. It's about as logical as the hairstyle half hot-pink dreads/half fro.
My mom, a friend of mine, and I resolved to play horseshoes after wandering through the garden, gorging on cheese dip, and lounging by the pool was deemed too physically active. We opted for the game of stand-and-swing-one-arm. 
My uncle's friend's Jeep sat behind the horseshoe pit I was positioned at. My mom warned him to move his car on the chance that she might miss the pit completely and hit the car. He laughed at her and said that's the beauty of his Jeep. Even a horseshoe flung that far wouldn't dent his baby. 
"Oh fine, don't move it. But I will hit it. And it's not going to be my fault, because I warned you!" she exclaimed with maniacal laughter.
Her first toss, my mom's horseshoe went heavenward, and then descended, rolled, and came to a halt halfway between the two pits, about as close to the Jeep as I was to the pool a quarter acre away. 
After some technical coaching from my friend, my throws resembled a rocket launch. I came closer to making contact with the Jeep behind me than my mom did. Two landed so far off the horseshoe pitch that they almost collided with my uncle's truck. We hadn't foreseen the truck's location as a potential problem, it was that far removed from the game. I settled myself next to my horseshoe pit. Judging by the horseshoes final halts around the yard, the pit was the safest place to stand.
"Kara, you're going to get hit!" my mom yelled, "Stand behind the barricade!" 
The barricade was a result of past incidents. My uncle had erected a wooden blockade some feet behind the steel stakes. For protection. As I vociferated, "I'll be fine. You worry too much!" I recalled years before when my dad drunkenly drove our van directly into the wooden gate at the end of my aunt and uncle's driveway. The gate is now metal. Judging by the dents in the horseshoe barricade, I couldn't help wondering if it should be upgraded as well. 

Four minutes later, after I had landed one horseshoe on the pitch and the other in the flowers, I observed my mom throw. Her first piloted in a tree. Her second struck the ground seven feet from me, but then shot to my shin, attacking like a roly-poly on crack. It crunched into my shin with the force of metal with momentum. Instead of the little-girl-shriek I longed to detonate, I clenched my teeth and moved quietly behind the blockade, my fingernails digging in to my palms. My mom uttered the shriek I coveted and screeched, "Oh my God! Honey, are you okay? I'm so sorry! Do you need ice? I told you you'd get hit!" 
I assured her of my continued competence. We finished the game when my friend, who was playing on a team by himself against my mom and myself, achieved his third point. Three was our previously determined winning number. I think normally people play to twenty-one. 
We descended to the house's back porch where my mom again inquired how my shin was.
"I'm going to have a bruise on my shin. People are going to ask what happened. I'll have to tell them my mom threw metal at me," I replied.
"Kara, I'm so sorry I hit you with the horseshoe! Are you really going to bruise? I'm so sorry! I feel awful," she lamented and pulled me in to a hug. Then she sneezed directly on the arm I had wrapped around her back. It was such close proximity that her nose connected with my forearm. 

May 24th 7:11pm - Cell Phones and Generational Gappage

In speaking with one of my parent's friends the other day, I conceived just how disadvantaged their generation is. They were raised in a time when microwaves and color television were the equivalent of iPods, and computers and the Internet were no closer to being accessible to the public than Hannibal Lector. It was a good time, when parents allowed their children to romp outside, three pairs of shoes sufficed for all (one sandal, one Converse, and one dress shoe), nobody knew the dangers of lead-based paint, and the concepts of AIDS and STDs hadn't caught on yet. However, today their technological knowledge rivals that of Fred Flintstone, and while my generation generally adapts to new technology, embracing its offerings, our parents and grandparents futilely struggle, as one would should they attempt to cut a steak with a butter knife. Below find the conversation I had with a fifty-year-old of two high-school teenage daughters and one elementary school nine-year-old:

50: "So I went to my phone company last week. I walked in, said I didn't want anything but a phone that could make calls and text. Apparently those don't exist anymore." 
Me: "Ya, the most basic includes camera and video-camera capabilities, Bluetooth, speakerphone, voice dialing, music, some variation of a media center, and generally a navigator and a slew of other functions you can access for as little as ninety-nine cents, but generally averaging three dollars and ninety-nine cents." 
50: "You sound like a foreign or alien correspondent coming to confuse my brain waves. The only reason I even know how to text is because apparently that's all my children respond to. They won't answer my calls, but three point two nanoseconds after I send them a text message, they'll respond." 
Me: "That's just because it's so much easier. They might be in the middle of a movie, or a game, or conversation. Texting is really convenient." 
50: "It's more likely that they're shooting up some form of illegal substance and just don't want to talk to their ravaged recreant father." 
Me: "I'm sure the worst they're doing is having sex and smoking weed." 
50: "The problem is, it takes me seventeen minutes to type a message. My fingers are too large for the microscopic buttons. Then there's this thing where it changes my words. I try to write, 'Where are you?' and what sends is 'Ygfh bsd wnv?' Even though I can tell by their perfectly composed text messages that they're drunk, they have the nerve to ask me if I'm drunk. This is after I've called both of them twelve times and had to finally resort to text messaging my own daughters. I'm lucky if they respond at all. And I pay for those phones! For Christmas last year my eight-year-old daughter only requested an iPhone. As if I'm giving that child a phone before she's twenty-five!" 
Me: "Ya, my parents held out until I was sixteen before giving me a phone. Which essentially meant that I was stranded every other day after school because I had no phone to call one of my parents to remind them of their daughter's existence and that I needed a ride. I had to walk home most of the time. I almost got hit by cars three times. My mom forgot to pick me up one time when it was rumored a child molester/prowler was in the area. I made her feel guilty for that one for weeks. And she still forgot to pick me up from school!" 
50: "Tough lives we both lead, huh?" 

May 22nd 2:54am - Cleaning Ladies

Growing up, my household boasted cleaning ladies. At one time there was a cleaning man. We harassed him like we would harass our own parents. For example, our kindergarden/preschool selves to him: "Are you a woman? You must be a cleaning lady. Only cleaning ladies clean houses." This probably upset him as much as when we were in Thailand last year and a five-year-old tow-headed girl and her little brother asked my female friend, "Are you a boy?" Her response, "No. Are you a boy?" to which the little girl replied, "You look like a boy." My friend told her, "You look like a boy," walked to me and inquired if she did resemble a male. Regardless of her knee-length camouflage pants, wife beater, hair pulled back, and no make-up, I assured her she looked like a female. The little girl later sent her brother to ask my friend if she was a boy. She answered, "No, I'm not a boy! Are you a girl?" He accused her of looking like a boy, she accused him of looking like a girl. My friend and I appraised each other, and I could detect duplicate desires to bitch-slap the tiny adorable blonde boy. And girl. Like the cleaning man left his sanitation position with my family, we left the Thai store, my friend making a face at the young ones as we exited. 

As a result of cleaning ladies, my sole knowledge of maintaining a household with a Mr. Clean aroma was making my bed, running the dishwasher/ washing machine, cleaning dishes, and flushing the toilet. Until I entered college. Four years expired before I cleaned a toilet. But I scrubbed floors with the intensity of Michael Phelps. Growing up, the cleaning ladies got blamed for throwing away my stuffed animals, misplacing my $14 ring, and hiding my favorite sweatshirt. Years passed before I accepted that those were my fault. However, in high school I was bewildered to return from school to find my toothbrush brush-down in my hairbrush's bristles multiple times. Week 2 I hid them separately in bathroom drawers only to discover the same outcome. Week 3 I even wrote a note in my expert Espanol: "No ponga cepillo de dientes en el cepillo. Por favor. Mantenga aparte." Week 4 I hid my toothbrush in my closet. 

Last week I returned home to ascertain my favorite pillow absconded. After a comprehensive house-search, it was still as absent as Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta in Grease 2. My sister located it five days later. It was on my brother's bed in the same pillowcase as another pillow. This week, my friend's phone charger has disappeared like Casper the Ghost. I told him I was sorry, couldn't find it, but was almost certain the cleaning ladies were responsible for mislaying it. His response, "Maybe they hid it, like your pillow. I don't really understand their humor and am not sure I would enjoy staying in their country of origin." Me: "What are you taking about? They're from Mexico. We've been there!"

May 21st 11:58pm - Text Messages

Text messages I receive from friends and text conversations I partake in can be as amusing as The 40-Year-Old Virgin "You know how I know you're gay?" scene. I feel like our lives should be recorded.

* "He tells me I passed out in the street under a car. I'm asking for trouble like a cat in a dryer." 

* "One of my five-year-old students just told me, 'If you get with a lot of girls and run from the cops, you a real punk.'" 

* Me: "I woke up this morning with a beer glass in my purse. I have vague recollections of your friend putting it there." 
SP: "By any chance are you missing dice from your house? After breakfast he found 12 dice in his pocket." 

* SP: "Your mom is a dangerous person to be drunk around. I feel like she knows more about my life than me." 

* "My mom woke me up this morning at 8am because I had a phone call. I had a boy in my bed. Neither of us remember what happened last night." 
"He probably suffered from LDS if it's any consolation."
"What's LDS?"
"Limp Dick Syndrome." 

* "I wonder what's going to happen to us tonight?!"
"The sad thing is, we'll never know." 

* SP: "I decided to wash my jeans that have weathered through the last few bloody adventures only to find that the wash caused the inside stains to show up on the outside. I look like I slaughter cows." 

* "Just read an article that said garlic used to be used as birth control! Possibly why I'm infertile. I'm obsessed with garlic and eat it every day. The world makes sense." 

* "One of my five-year-old students now refuses to respond to his name. His new name is Chris Brown." 

* "What am I supposed to wear to go in to a military office? I feel like I should be in a uniform."
"The military prefer their women to talk to them nude or semi-nude, tall stilettos with money hanging out of their underwear... or just jeans and a tee-shirt. Whatever's easier." 

* "I woke up this morning with a guy in my bed that looks like Carrot Top, my phone missing, my leg scraped up, and my car parked on the curb with a ticket on it." 
"Oh no. Carrot Top is not attractive. Where did you find him?"
"I feel like we met at the circus. But it could have been the sidewalk."  

May 20th 11:12pm - What's Wrong with Your Nipples?

My breasts resemble perceptible mosquito bites. They are not capable of bras. Bra size AA exists. It is smaller than A. If bra size A were a llama, size AA would be a llama head. My breasts do not fit in AA. At their most mountainous as an overweight third grader they were on par with those of an overweight man's. Since then, I have grown taller and thinner, and my boobs shrank from the size of 350-lb. man-tits to 200-lb. man-titties. My mom has offered multiple times to financially fund breast implants. 
Countless times she's said, "Kara, go put on a padded bra with that dress!" or "Kara, that shirt really needs a padded bra," only to my response, "Mom, I'm already wearing one! You can't tell?" 
She views breast implants as investing in my self-esteem.
Instead of bras I don tape. As nipples that resemble weapons aren't socially acceptable, I strap my spunky nips down. This tape has incarnated itself in Duct tape, Masking tape, and most recently, Scotch tape. A prior fling some years ago was baffled the first time he reached up my shirt to fondle my breasts only to find them restricted by Duct tape and smaller than his own. An ex-boyfriend was riveted by removing the tape himself, occasionally attempting with his teeth. 
A few days ago I had enshrouded my pokies in Scotch tape and was in my underwear filing through the clothes on my floor for a shirt when a friend entered my room. She surveyed me on hands and knees as casually as if I were watching Friends and drinking a glass of wine, and inquired, "What's wrong with your nipples?"
I looked down. As Scotch tape is transparent, my pink buds appeared inverted, the natural obtrusion flush with my breast skin. They exhibited as I imagine alien breasts would show. 
I looked up from my hands-and-knees position, "Oh, it's my nipple tape."
Sans facial alteration, she said, "Ok. You almost ready?" 
My friends accept one another like the Brady Bunch. 

May 19th 4:23pm - B2B

The first annual 7.46 mile Bay to Breakers foot-race was in 1912 after San Francisco's 1906 earthquake. Its purpose was to lift the city's spirits. 
Now Bay to Breakers has evolved into a drunken Halloween parade in the middle of May where everyone consumes spirits. It is fantastic. My freshman year of college I was driving at ten in the morning and was startled to witness blockaded streets and hordes of people stumbling down them costumed as pregnant nuns, super-heroes, penises, or bodies covered solely in paint. I had to check my coherency to ensure I wasn't daydreaming. That was when I was young and as naive as Bambi. 
By sophomore year I knew precisely what comprised Bay to Breakers and that my life required I partake. In the past few years my friends and I have lost each other, consumed beer bongs on the street, dragged along kegs in grocery carts like they are strollers carrying our children, played Flip Cup on the sidewalk, blacked out, passed out, wrestled, been caught urinating on the grass in Golden Gate Park... one of my friends accidentally urinated on a stranger. Another got in a fist-fight with her boyfriend. I forced someone I didn't know to buy me a hot dog while his girlfriend looked on. My two roommates slathered themselves in red paint and designed a white Nike swoosh across their chests and the words "Just Do It" across their ass cheeks. One girl's ass cheek read "Ju" with the other "st." The other girl had "Do" on one cheek and "It" on the other. Videos are on YouTube somewhere... Another year I was locked out of my friend's apartment and had been persevering over my pee for twenty-five minutes. My alcohol-affected self dictated I relieve myself immediately. My bladder didn't discriminate. It's decision-making skills rivaled that of Michael Jackson and any location was acceptable. The driveway became the destination. A male who lived above my friend exited his apartment to observe a waterfall discharging from my vagina and cascading down his driveway. Niagara Falls of urination. 
Every year, my friends and I ultimately struggle back to whomever's apartment happens to be most convenient and we sleep/pass out. Last year, my brother, sister, and two childhood friends capsized into comas on the couch of a friend they hadn't met prior to that morning. I located them two hours later. This year I was in Southern Cal for my brother's college graduation and birthday. 
One of my friends updated me throughout the day. While I self-medicated away my sorrows with alcohol at not being able to engage in B2B, he was awoken by his cousin at 6am when she placed a tray of Jello shots in his mouth. By 7am he was so drunk he forgot about everyone. He adorned himself in a black Speedo and black cowboy hat for the parade that has become B2B. At some time during the day he went to a Giant's game without his ID. It became the second time his handgun safety certificate was accepted as proof of ID to purchase beer. At some point he passed out in the street under a car (and was later informed of this action by his friend). He regained consciousness the following morning in the driver's seat of his friend's car. They chose the car over his cousin's house. The car was parked in front of the house. 

I received this message from him the following day:
"The funniest part of B2B was when a friend and I decided to urinate on a parked van. We tag teamed that shit, as he took the rear tire and I opted for the side door. It surprised the hell out of me when people inside started banging on the window right in front of my face. All I could do was laugh, and as I turned to my friend pointing and laughing I think I peed on him too. Not sure though, very drunk (and this was on our way to B2B)." 

May 18th - More to Love

My cousin describes herself as an actress. 
While we were at dinner the night before my brother's college graduation she received a phone call from a reality TV show she applied to entitled More to Love.
The day my brother graduated she withdrew from the ceremony to go to a hotel where the show producers interviewed finalists. She arrived at 3pm. And was released at 11:30pm. During these eight and a half hours she was quarantined in a hotel room without food. Among other paperwork she had to fill out a six-hundred question personality test. Some of the questions: Do you like flowers? Do you garden? Do you like to garden? How important are flowers to you? These questions revealed as much about her personality as it would should a cartoon character complete the exam.
At 11pm her blood was taken and she hadn't consumed food in over eight hours. 
"Are you trying to starve me into being smaller?" she questioned.
We found out later the show is like The Bachelor. But the women are size twelve and over... literally More to Love. 

May 17th 12:35pm - Rental Car Conundrum

My mom shops for groceries like Lindsay Lohan shops for clothes. Today we bought for my brother's twenty-second birthday party. She injected nine 16-packs of hot dogs in the grocery cart. I removed five. She inserted seven packs of ground beef in our cart like they were as necessary to life as beer. I removed three. I never alcohol-disputed her. I added to the cart. 
Hundreds of dollars, hearing, "I'm the mommy! Stop telling me what to do!" and lightheaded-laughing later, we cart-careened to the rental car and unloaded, bulldozing groceries in to the back-seats and trunk like they were bowling balls. 
My mom settled in the driver's seat and turned the key in the ignition. A car alarm simultaneously detonated like a car horn blizzard. 
"Is that our car?" she asked, appearing as puzzled as I was when I saw Katie Couric's interview of Sarah Palin (CBS News - October 1, 2008). 
My mom gaped the car door open. The alarm emanated from our car. She shut the door and turned the car off to eradicate the alarm. She was as embarrassed as I was when I peed my pants after a Junior High cross-country race and then had to pose in a photo that comprised the top runners. The photo was enlarged, framed, and positioned in a restaurant by my school that many students frequented. 

"Mom, you must have hit the panic button on the key when you were starting the car," I said. 
When she exerted to start the ignition again, the key locked. She couldn't remove the key. She could turn it but the car wouldn't start. My mom sighed, pronounced, "Oh, fine, you drive!" and flounced out of the car with the pomp of a circus performer.
I locked and unlocked the doors while my mom looked for the non-existent Car Manual. I persistently turned the key while she called the rental car agency for assistance. The office had closed ten minutes prior to our call. I sat and stared dumbly at the dashboard while my mom called AAA. 
While waiting for AAA to arrive my stomach sprung rumblings reminiscent of an earthquake. It was almost 6:30pm and we hadn't eaten since noon. I mentally surveyed the food arsenal we had acquired and settled on Cheetos. I evicted myself from the car and retrieved the monster bag from the trunk, as excited by the prospect of crunchy cheese curls as I was by the concept of a handle of Jagermeister. 
The AAA truck bawled up and a man resembling Bigfoot alighted. His endeavors to start the car duplicated my previous attempts. My mom and I stood outside the car talking.
"I'm going to open a beer if he doesn't get this going in three minutes," I declared. My mom laughed. 
Two minutes and thirty-nine seconds later (I was timing), the engine rumbled to life. Bigfoot exited our rental car with a smile adorning his face. 

The car had been in reverse. Thus, why we couldn't get it to turn on.

Mom exclaimed to Bigfoot, "You're a genius!" while throwing her arms in the air like a circus performer.
Me: "We are not." 

May 16th 3:35pm - Graduation Time

My graduation from USF last year was as eventful as a Chevy Chase Vacation movie. 
Yesterday my brother's USC college graduation was as perfect as LeBron James's arms. 
My graduation ceremony was at 9am. The school ordered us to arrive at 8am. I awoke at 7:40am when a friend pulverized my room door. I groaned like a woman in labor and sat up. I noticed my then-boyfriend curled in the fetal position on my floor as I labored to recall the previous evening's activities. My cognizance ceased at the second bar. I later learned we visited four. The blaring music from the kitchen resembled dynamite to my fuddled ears and I scampered to the shower and scuttled downstairs to retrieve my gown from the dry cleaners. We left the apartment at 8:20am and it wasn't until we reported to campus that I realized my grad cap was AWOL. I MacGyvered one from a table and melted with the grad masses in line pondering if I should sit near people I didn't know so when I threw up in the middle of the ceremony nobody I knew would notice. 
My brother roused himself at 9:15am, catapulted water on his hair, dressed in his grad gown, and appeared on campus to witness Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's speech. 
During my ceremony I oscillated between consciousness/nauseousness and comatose. My brother, lucid, felt good and slightly tipsy. I felt like a member of the Donnor Party.
A van of my relatives drove north to San Francisco from Long Beach for my 9am ceremony. Five of my cousins, my aunt, and uncle departed LB at 3am. My aunt experienced migraines. She threw up four and a half hours of the drive. The van parked seven blocks from the campus. My aunt ejected herself from the Abominable Automobile thinking she could make it to the ceremony. She sprung to the nearest tree like Marion Jones, threw up, and returned to the car. She lay in the car for the duration of the ceremony.
My immediate family flew in to Southern California the day before my brother's ceremony. The farthest anyone (including aunts, uncles, grandma, cousins) had to travel the day of was forty minutes. Everyone emerged early.
As my body was under the impression that I was dying, so too were my graduation speakers. Three of three discussed cancer and death. Nobody mentioned our accomplishments or hope for the future. They commented on our mortality in monotone drones. My family exited my graduation depressed. 
My brother's speakers were fantastic. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (the Governator) was as amusing as Larry the Cable Guy's Letter to My Penis. He opened with congratulating the graduates, which comprised twenty-three hundred females, twenty-two hundred males, and five undecided. 
He revealed his three secrets for success: 
1: Come to America
2: Work your ass off
3: Marry a Kennedy
Schwarzenegger spoke of how anything is possible. As a pre-teen in a small town in Austria, he posted pictures of oiled, muscular men on his wall. His mother called the family doctor, thinking something was wrong with her son. 
His mother-in-law, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was integral in actualizing the Special Olympics. He declared, "Everybody thought if you put the retards in a pool, they will drown. Well, they didn't. And today the Special Olympics is one of the most important events for the mentally disabled in the world." 
My family and I exited my brother's graduation laughing and elated. 
After my ceremony we relocated to a restaurant overlooking the beach called Cliff
House. Helicopters and fire engines awaited us. We learned that someone was stuck on the cliffs below the restaurant, thus the brigade. When we were seated, there were placards at each seat stating: "Happy Graduation Rachel," and the menu options. Forty-nine minutes later our waiter delivered new ones saying "Happy Graduation Kara." My uncle never received his meal. 
After my brother's ceremony we walked a few blocks to a Mexican restaurant. There were no complications.
After my graduation lunch we appeared at the grad party in Golden Gate Park that six of my friends and I had organized for a shared family/friend celebration. Halfway through billows of smoke surfaced in the sky. An unintentional fire had been started in another part of the park. Again, ambulance and fire engine sirens accosted our ears like Paris Hilton barrages retail stores.
My cousin's family hosted a grad party for her and my brother. There were no complications. 

My brother's grad themes: hope and achievement
My graduation themes: disaster and death

May 13th 4:42pm - Inappropriate Jokes

Inappropriate jokes resemble men's thongs. They're as funny as Dave Chappelle and as appropriate as the show Gossip Girl is for eight-year-olds.

* Sex is not the answer. Sex is the question. The answer is yes.

* The Obamas: another black family living in government housing.

* The blonde got pregnant and took a maternity test to make sure it was hers.

* Sarah Palin was offered $1 million to ose for Playboy. Michelle Obama was offered $1 million to pose for National Geographic.

* Why do Mexicans drive low-riders? To pick strawberries.

* I only know two speeds. 1: when cops are around. 2: as fast as I can go. 

* What did one tampon say to another?
Nothing, they're both stuck up bitches.

May 12th 11:52am - Text Talk

I love my friends like I love Christmas. The most diminutive devices excite them, such as Taco Tuesdays, Darth Vaders (an alcoholic drink as potent as O.J. Simpson), and government combat shotgun requirements.

Text Conversation:

Drunken Patriot: "Only two shotguns passed the government's requirements for a combat shotgun. Both models were Mossberg. One of them was mine. I feel like a proud parent."
Me: "Oh dear God."
Drunken Patriot: "That's a great idea. I should write God with a letter thanking Him for blessing me with such an amazing object : )
Drunken Patriot: "Bobby G's response: 'Congrats! Now I see what being a gun owner is all about. It's the little moments that count.'"
Continued Conversation Between Drunken Patriot and Bobby G:
Drunken Patriot: "I like buying it anything it needs because it makes me happy whenever we spend time together."
Bobby G: "You clean it, play with it, live with it and show it affection. I just got my first rifle and I just hope that I can be half the parent you are. I really look up to you man."
Drunken Patriot: "Don't worry, I'm sure you'll do great. We should have our little ones play sometime."
Bobby G: "Ya, I think they'd get along well. They're both black Americans with white dads and no moms. They already have so much in common."

May 11th 11:56pm - Unemployment

My friends are under the impression that because I'm unemployed I have the work ethic of a three-toed sloth and lounge around in trees all day munching on cecropia twigs. This, coupled with my consummate generosity, leads my friends to coax me into things like writing final semester papers and fabricating marketing campaigns. It is simply not true that I do nothing. I continually inform them that I do things. Like read, eat, write, drink, and play Solitaire. When I had an 8am-4:30pm career job, my friends still thought I did nothing. Yesterday my uncle accused me of working three hours of an eight hour workday. I informed him as firmly as Matthew McConaughey's abs that he was mistaken. I averaged five hours of the eight. Seven to eight hours if I had projects. I didn't divulge that I had projects one day in every five.

Today, for example. I evacuated the house because a potential buyer was coming over. The agent called. I had to go to the bank and decided to ride my bike. This may have been motivated by the fact that I sold my car, thus a bicycle or my legs are my only potential methods of transportation. I choose to believe I settled on the bike because I desired exercise.
As I haven't aggressively worked out in three months and haven't participated in any form of competitive organized sport for a year and a half, I probably should have reconsidered biking. This thought intruded my mind as I rode over a neighborhood speed-bump and felt like I was in Hurricane Katrina. This thought again presented itself when the neighborhood gate opened without my hesitation. I have always had to manually press a button for it to open. Only large objects, like tanks and cars, persuade it through motion detectors. I wondered how much weight I had gained to force it to open with the rapidity of an Irish jig. The treacherous ride on Summerfield's sidewalk made it apparent why bike lanes monopolize the city's streets. I should have retreated to my house haven when an off-duty officer rolled down his window at a red light and informed me it was law to wear a helmet. My reply, "Hi officer! I would, but finding a helmet in the garage is about as easy as solving math problems with exponents, variables, and fractions. I used a calculator to play Monopoly with my mom on Mother's Day." He let me go. He may have thought I was deranged.
I should have recompensed when I encroached a hill with the thought, "It's all about momentum. You just need momentum," and after twelve pedal rotations the bike rolled backward. I deduced the momentum tactic is a theory based on Lance Armstrong's abilities and needs to be amended.
I should have reassessed my biking resolution when the tire collided with a rock and I plunged to the side, gravitating to the ground with a reaction time rivaling that of eighty-three-year-old Helen Keller.

May 9th 3:27pm - Conversation Cataclysm

I pseudo-job-search like Lindsay Lohan. I don't exert much effort.
I decreed I don't want an eight-hour-a-day office position. My body desires more activity abundance than staring at a cubicle wall for eight hours as lethargic as a koala on opiates. This requirement eradicates every position I know how to procure like the Black Plague. Unemployment demands I apply to ten openings every two weeks. I apply to office posts with the detailed, "Attached please find my resume. Thank you."
My phone rang with a number I postulated was my friend's boyfriend. I answered with, "Yo yo yo. What's up?" to a perplexed voice identifying herself as someone with some company and asking to speak to Kara.
"Uh, sure, hold on a moment, please," I bleated, removed the phone from my head, and held, one hand over the phone's face.
"Who is it?" a friend inquired.
I familiarized her with the situation over the next three minutes before realizing Woman was still waiting.
"Here, let me talk," my friend demanded.
I hesitated, surmised why not, and handed it to her.
"Hello, this is Kara," Friend said.
"Ya, I apologize for not getting to the phone earlier. My mentally disabled brother answered."
My swat at the side of her head didn't dissuade her from continuing.
"Ya, he's younger. Younger retarded brother. So what's up?"
"Oh, sweet. Ya, not really looking for a job right now. I just applied because the government makes me."
"Uh huh... my resume was impressive? I must have lied on a lot of that stuff then."
"Na, I don't have any references. I'm telling you, even if you offered me the job, I wouldn't take it. I'm happy not working right now. I collect unemployment and travel."
"Ya, sorry, but good luck with everything."
"You jackass! What if they call Unemployment and tell them?" I asked, smacking at her head again.
"Well, you'll just have to actually look for a job."

May 8th 12pm - House for Sale

Putting a house on the market is about as enjoyable as listening to a seventeen-hour lecture on the chemical formula of Tourmaline. Take in to consideration that I sink in to a syncope even when people discuss thought-provoking things, like Mango Salsa recipes and Bonobo Monkey mating rituals. 
My parent's house is on the market and while I am gratified to assist the two that are responsible for my birth, my finances until I graduated college, and my life, helping with the house is as pleasant as watching my cousin perform a two-hour solo interpretive dance with a scarf in my aunt and uncle's kitchen. 
I was home for fourteen hours before I was attacked with volleys of orders. The toilet seats have to be down, the windows and doors open, beds made, carpet vacuumed, windows and glass tables Windexed, stovetop spotless, lights on, garbage evicted, and everything as impeccable as Scarlett Johansson's hair. Underwear cannot repose in any corners, birth control cannot be on the bathroom counter, and everyone has to evacuate before anyone arrives to view the house. 
These would have been admissible had Real Estate agents been coerced in to calling and scheduling an appointment before appearing at the house. Contacting in advance is suggested and requested. Agents with clients still materialize unannounced as frequent as STD's on Alex Rodriguez. 
I gallivanted au naturel through my bathroom door to my bedroom. As I've been residing in hostels with shared rooms and bathrooms, I felt as liberal being nude in my room as Sienna Miller does in public. I am no nude exhibitionist, but do believe the world would be a more unconstrained and humble place if nakedness were socially acceptable. I foraged through a drawer, my mind as vacant as that of a glue-sniffing chipmunk, when voices rushed my room. A talking face entered my eyesight. I had as much a solution as I would have for applying the definite integral in relation to function in the cryptic mathematical world. I wordlessly belly-flopped on the carpet. The agent, who was ahead of her clients, announced, "Oh, someone's in here. We'll come back to this room." 
I frantically ascended to the closet, dressed myself with as much coordination as Bjork's swan ensemble, descended the stairs and exited the house. I wondered where I would go and how I would get there, as I sold my car a few months ago. 
I sat on the cul-de-sac's sidewalk in a bright yellow shirt, orange soccer shorts, and no bra or shoes.

May 7th 2:10pm - Boy George and Aqua

I returned to my childhood home haggard and hypnotic. I floundered in, burdened by my Nike soccer backpack, the only baggage I had from my journey. The airlines still hadn't located my luggage. Of everything I disembarked with, I only had my laptop and passport. Two items I was as grateful for as I was for indoor plumbing.
The house had a sole new acquisition: a fish.

While I was sojourning through South America my sister had appeared at my mom's office. My mom has had a fish named Boy George for years. As he is not a human child, that he has "Boy" in his name makes as much sense as naming my firstborn son "Piglet."
My sister observed Boy George immobilized against the side of the fishbowl by the one plant in the tank. This was as peculiar as the time I returned from France to be told that my sister paid to get her hair braided in cornrows, bought a doo rag, and was at a Mormon Camp in Utah. We are not Mormon. 

My sister liberated Boy George and he floated, as alive as Bambi's mother.
"Mom, your fish is dead."
"Oh, honey, don't tell me that," she replied. "I love Boy George." 
My mom thrust tears from her eyes as if they were Anthrax spores. My sister sensed that she was upset, so she visited a store and purchased another fish. 
She reentered the office with the fish and presented it to my mom like it was a signed original copy of Goodnight Moon. 
"He's beautiful, I love him!" my mom vociferated with a hug.
They swung to switch the fish, and saw Boy George swimming around as mobile as the family cat that blitzkriegs my feet every time I walk by. He's under the impression that my toes are mice. I do have some remarkably repugnant feet, but don't feel he is justified in thinking they resemble mice. 

Boy George retained residence in the office while the new family fish (entitled Aqua) advanced home. My mom moved offices a few days later. Boy George's life evidently disagreed with the move. He died. My sister again informed my mom of his regrettable mortality.
Her reply: "Don't tell me that! I love Boy George." 

May 6th 9:32pm - Back to SF

I have traveled to some crazed cities. But Amsterdam, Prague, Buenos Aires, L.A., Berlin, Vientiane, London, Barcelona, Bangkok... none of them have the magnitude of maniacs that San Francisco has. More schizos adorn San Francisco's streets than plastic surgery on Lisa Rinna. 
My first day back in SF I diverged downtown. 
I crossed Market Street when a man with Charles Manson's eyes and Santa Claus's hair approached me. I made eye contact. I know better than this. Sane people interpret eye contact as happenstance. Lunatics elucidate eye contact as an invitation to converse for the following twenty-nine minutes, to sit in the passenger seat of your car, or, to a friend of mine last December, to swindle the hat off his head and declare it as their own. Santa advanced to me and announced that he had graduated from Law School. "Congratulations," I replied. I know better than this. However, I had just ignored a "Hello," from another wayward soul. Upon my blatant disregard for conversation, he had trailed me screaming, "At least respond. My dog pays more attention to me then you do. Bitch." Then he spat at me. 
I commented to Santa without slowing my stroll. He stepped next to me and persisted at my pace. 
"Do you have a quarter? Can I have a quarter?" he asked as I navigated through the torrents of oncoming pedestrians advancing like Cubans coming to America. I answered that I unfortunately didn't have a quarter. 
"I graduated from Hastings School of Law. You wouldn't think that I would be asking for a quarter, would you?" 
"Nope." He wore jeans and a white t-shirt. Aside from his eyes he appeared lucid. However, I knew from experience that appearing sapient signified as much as Hitler pronouncing he did nothing wrong. A few years ago a young girl with the face of a Cabbage Patch doll had asked me for money. I said, "Sure!" with as much elation as Bostonians felt when the Red Sox cracked the curse after eighty-six years. I had a chunk of change in my purse the size of a watermelon and would delight in departing with it. I dispensed a handful. Cabbage Patch looked at me like I had just offered her Monopoly money covered in vomit. She screeched that she would only accept the quarters and that the other money was crap. She pocketed those she wanted, hurled the remainder on the sidewalk, shrieked, "Whore!" and trotted away. 

"Did you go to school? Where'd you go to college?"
I knew better than to respond. But the remembrance of being called a whore and the most recent "bitch" galvanized my reluctant reply. 
"USF wouldn't let me in to their law school," Santa asserted with the indignation of an attorney accused of lying in a court of law. "You know why?" he continued.
I inferred it was too late to ignore him, but I attempted anyway. "You know why??" he yelped, stepping in front of me. I tried to tread around him, but his 6'3" legs barred my efforts. 
"Why?" I appeased him so I could persevere walking. 
"USF wouldn't let me in to their law school because I know Jews," he educated me.
This was about as plausible as Jesus must have sounded when he strolled the streets claiming he was the Son of God. 
"The school wouldn't care. But how would they even know that you know Jews?" 
"They know I know Jews because they followed me. They follow me," he whispered with a frenzied head-swivel.  
At this time I observed a Carl's Jr. to my right. 
"Well, it was lovely to meet you, I'm going to get food," I declared and stepped away.
"What? I'm an important person! My name's Melvin," he screamed as I walked to Carl's Jr.'s door.
A man held open the door for me and his friend as Melvin howled. 
"Nice to meet you Melvin," the man addressed to Santa. "Did you meet Melvin? His name's Melvin," he addressed to his friend. His friend rolled his eyes to the heavens.
I walked through the Carl's Jr. door to Melvin bellowing again, "I'm a very important person!"
I was home.

May 5th 8:29pm - South American Learnings

What I've Learned:
* Small children in South America are more ubiquitous than stray dogs and cats in Greece.
* Pisco has the same effect as any other alcohol. If you drink too much, you will be hung over.
* Peruvian and American cab drivers have similar unappreciative responses to passengers throwing up out of their taxi windows.
* Mas economico buses are not suggested for overnight use.
* It is possible to eat French Fries (papas fritas) unintentionally with every meal. Peru allegedly has over 4,000 varieties of potatoes.
* Uncircumcised penises resemble aardvarks. 
* Aussie/English frequent insult: Dickhead. This is used affectionately as well as to offend. As a female, I was faintly bemused. For females, the term is meant more in endearment. 
* I am much more appreciative of simple life aspects... like warm water while showering. And toilet paper in bathrooms.
* Dreadlocks smell. Like Frankenstein's hair.
* If you arrive in an airport and everyone is masked, it's probable that you will encounter issues when trying to fly somewhere the following day.

May 3rd 10:23pm - California Quest, Day 2 Installment 2

I arrived in Miami grateful to be in the United States. Miami was no California, but at least I was in my own country. Where people spoke English. I had never been to Miami before, but departed the plane with Will Smith's "Welcome to Miami, bienvenido a Miami," replaying in my head accompanied by apparitions of bathing-suit-clad adolescents with Mai-tai's and Sex on the Beach in hand. I promptly perceived that everyone here spoke Spanish. I may as well have still been in South America. I visualized arriving in San Francisco in seven hours. San Francisco, the city of homosexuals, Asians, and fog. My city. A smile spanned my face as I envisioned the maniacal drivers. My driving abilities are tantamount to the rest of the city's drivers. After seven years of driving with six tickets, two hit pedestrians, and three accidents, I feel unequivocally at home among SF's motorists.

The flight from Lima landed at 6:10pm. My connecting flight to San Francisco was at 7:15pm. I considered this consummate timing, as I had been in an airport the entire previous day and would have limited time here. I proceeded with my fellow passengers to the baggage claim. Eighteen minutes later luggage ceased ejecting. My backpacker's bag was absent. Cognizant of the clock, I approached an airline employee and annotated the situation.
"Your bag has to be here," he informed me.
"I would like it to be, but it's not."
"No, it has to be here somewhere."
"Ok, but it's not."
At my repetition he snatched my baggage tag from my hand and examined the numbers, cross-referencing them with those of the excess bags in front of him. Two feet from the baggage, I easily discerned that none of them were mine, and told him so. He ignored me.
"It is here somewhere," he told me, still perusing numbers.
"Ok, that's nice, but I'm looking at what you're looking at, and none of those are mine. I watched every bag and never saw mine. It's probably in L.A. That's one of the flights I was supposed to take yesterday."
Mao Zedong notified me that I must be mistaken and it was here somewhere. Twenty-three minutes later my luggage was declared lost. I proceeded to check-in to my next flight where I was told that I was too late to board the plane and would have to wait until tomorrow for a flight to SF. My San Francisco fantasies fled faster than Michael Phelps' 100m butterfly. I was ushered like a mentally disabled sea lion to another line to reschedule my flight.
I felt lost in this situation because the two aspects I am most proficient in - eating and drinking - were about as useful as George Bush's public speaking abilities. I stood in line vacillating between laughing and crying. I rarely cry and this paroxysm was perplexing because I was laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation but crying at the overwhelming hopelessness that was attacking me like the swine flu. To assuage this nonsensical reaction, I placed my iPod earphones in my ears and stood, shaking, my fingers covering my face. I hoped if anyone observed me they would think whatever I was listening to was emotionally provocative. Like Harry Potter. That's when I felt something between my legs.
I glimpsed down to distinguish a two-year-old's dark chocolate pig-tailed head smiling up at me. I contemplated whether her hair was actually the color of dark chocolate or whether I was delirious and exceedingly craved chocolate as something that would provide sanity. I dissolved in laughter, removed my feet from either side of her head, and played a game with the child. She lay on her back in the American Airlines line, legs in the air. I shook her legs alternately, one of her feet to one of my hands. This was as sporadic as me quitting Spanish on a whim two years ago and signing up for bartending class. I had no idea what this game was but Pigtail giggled and I was content to be shaking a small child's legs.
When I subsequently spoke to a service rep I was as serene as the time I got handcuffed outside my own house.
"Hi. Ok, I have a problem because I missed my flight to SFO because the airline lost my luggage. I have been trying to get home for two days but the flu has not allowed me to. My purse got stolen in Peru so I have no money and no access to money. I have no money to eat and I am very hungry. I don't even have money to call my mom to tell her not to come to the airport. And my sister's getting married tomorrow and I need to get home. I'm the maid of honor. Even though right now I have no money and no clothes, not even a toothbrush, because of the lost luggage, I just need to get home. For the wedding. And I need to eat. Preferably soon."
My sister is nineteen without an impending marriage. I am not usually one to lie and didn't know where this development derived from. I shrugged at myself but concluded a little motivation didn't hurt as I had originally intended to arrive in San Fran the morning before and for some unknown reason was currently on the opposite side of the country.
She looked at me like I had suggested she inject pig excrement in to her eye. I smiled and contemplated crying to augment the significance of the situation. My face must have reflected this because she slid her cell phone to me across the counter. 
"Ok. Since you have no money I won't charge you for the flight alteration. Call your mom and tell her your flight was changed. What time is the wedding?" 
"Well, everything starts at 10am," I said, thinking that was a reasonable time to fly in. For the second time in three minutes she looked at me like I belonged in the California Institute for Mental Health. I recalled weddings are generally in the late afternoon/early evening. 
"Everything meaning I have to get my hair and nails done and begin preparing my sister for the biggest day of her life," I followed up with as convincingly as the time I told my teacher my brother had peed on my homework.
"Ok, call your mom, I'll see what I can do," she said.
I proceeded to call my mom and somehow integrate the imminent wedding. My mom's response: "What? What wedding? Did I forget about a family wedding again?" 
I recollected the time in college I had arbitrarily asked my mom how Aunt Addie was doing, as I hadn't seen her in three years. "Honey, she died last year. You went to her funeral," was my mom's response. I was relatively certain I would have remembered had I attended her funeral. I called my brother, also in college, and asked him if he knew Aunt Addie had passed away. His reply: "Aunt Addie died?"

After obtaining a ticket for the following day, being shuttled to Miami's Marriott, cherishing a steak dinner, and drowning in another white bed, I discerned that though I wasn't home, I was as pleased as the time I secured first place in a coloring contest and received a box of crayons as a prize.

May 2nd 11:58pm - California Quest, Day 2 Installment 1

I barreled around in creamy down. I was as astonished about the uncustomary fluff as I was the first time I actually ran the mile. In 4th grade I had been a corpulent child and my most accelerated gait was a slow walk. And that was ambitious. In 5th grade the class had to compose goals for the year. One of mine was to complete the mile in 11 minutes or less. The first run I was surprisingly physically capable of jogging and terminated the four laps in 8 minutes and 50 seconds. Over the previous year my limbs had extended like Jessica Simpson's lips and our family had procured a devil dog. Every time the dog escaped (at least once a day), my mom requested that I chase after her. Chasing the dog, supplemented by growing a few inches, I lost as much weight as Kirstie Alley and felt fantastic. That was the year I adapted from Fat Goalie to Field Runner.
It took me minutes to discern that I was not truly in a cloud, but a luscious bed. I bound from bed blithe that I would be in San Francisco in fifteen hours. 
The Sheraton, supposed to provide a shuttle to the airport, refused to do so unless ten people or more required a ride. My scheme to arrive at the airport at 9am for an 11am flight was annihilated like Hiroshima. We waited an hour and fifteen minutes for the appropriate numbers. I entered the airport at 10:20am.
First blockade: departure tax. I had paid the day before and received the sticker. However, the sticker had become invalid because I had already used it. As the system was electronic I had to go back downstairs, reactivate the sticker, and then return. Time elapsed: twelve minutes. 
Second barricade: security. I confidently clumped through security, praising the airlines for having checked me in at 1am and already obtaining my bags. The security officer demanded I stand aside for some minutes. They removed the bottle of wine in the sealed bag I had purchased from the Duty Free Shop the day prior. 
"You can't take this in. It's liquid." 
"But I bought it yesterday in the Duty Free Shop when I was stuck in the airport for eighteen hours. It's a gift for my mom. It's sealed in the bag the Shop put it in. It's not my fault South America doesn't want me to leave and canceled my flights twice. I need that wine for my mom!" 
After speaking to seven different people in fifteen minutes it was concluded that I had to continue to my fight without the wine. My love gift for my mom was lost, and I was as disappointed as I imagined I would be if I were a penguin - a bird that can't fly. Time elapsed: fourteen minutes. My flight departed in ten minutes. 
Third obstacle: customs. I inserted myself in the shortest line: behind two twenty-something males. In retrospect, this was as astute as George W. Bush asserting, "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family" (Greater Nashua, N.H., January 27, 2000). The first approached the desk and then attempted to locate his passport. I stood, rigid, passport in hand, staring at the wall clock, willing it to move slower. Finally he perceived it in his back pocket. Don Juan was next. He had his passport, but not the entrance/exit paper required to leave the country. I exhaled loudly and tapped my foot, hoping this would be code to the customs worker to ask him to step aside while she registered me. This didn't happen. I shot Don Juan a glance as welcoming as Hitler to the Jews and ducked under the lane divider. My backpack caught and impelled my weight backward. I clattered to the carpet as gracefully as Gerald Ford, the line dividers plummeting with me. The hollow metal stands and thin retractable flexible dividers entangled me. I emitted a grumble redolent of a cow's and propelled myself to my feet. I wordlessly strode directly to the front of another line. Time elapsed: six minutes. My inaugural airport run ensued.

May 1st 11:53pm - California Quest, Day 1

The morning of my flight home from South America I awoke as elated as Tom Cruise during his couch caper on Oprah. I jounced around the room like a hyperactive monkey on crack, gathering my life and positioning everything in the backpacker's bag. I clenched a cab without even bargaining for the ride. Since my wallet had been stolen I only had the remainder of the money that had been wired to me. This equated forty soles ($13.33), supplemented by $40US for Peru's departure tax. Fifteen soles to the taxi left me with twenty-five for a bottle of water and some food at the airport. The departure tax was $30US, so I would have $10 to exterminate during my twelve hour layover in Mexico City. I deemed my money planning as perfect as Jennifer Aniston's hair. 
I pranced in to the airport at 9am to find swarms of people packed around ticket counters like male dogs around a female in heat. I approached an employee in a surgical mask, said I was flying to Mexico City and asked what counter to go to. He replied that every flight to and from Mexico was canceled because of the flu outbreak. I needed to catch a cab to Miraflores, a fifty soles ride, go to the office tomorrow - it was closed today, Friday - and see if I could get a ticket re-issued to Mexico, hopefully for sometime within the next week. I looked at him as if he had just offered me a donkey as a future sex partner. I explained to him the impossibility and that I didn't even want to go to Mexico, I needed to get to San Francisco. He said that as it was the morning, the airlines hadn't yet adjudicated what to do for people like me, and to wait two hours and then speak to anyone behind a desk. 
"Should I talk to anyone specific?"
"No," he replied, "Just any one of those people," with a gesticulation toward a line of people behind kiosks. I called my mom, told her I had no flight and not to go to the airport, and then ate a sandwich at Starbucks. 
Two hours later I sidled in line behind forty-seven people (I counted) - the shortest line I could locate, and waited. Three hours and sixteen minutes of people-watching and iPod listening later, I got to communicate with an airline worker. I explained the situation. She motioned across the room and told me to go stand in another line. 
"Are you joking?" I asked, sounding as macabre as Hannibal Lecter. "I just stood in this line for over three hours." She apologized, pointed to the wall, and motioned for the next disgruntled person. 
"Goddamnit!" I screamed, swinging my luggage on to my shoulder and stalking off, nearly battering a baby who looked like it was taking its first steps.
I positioned myself in line against the wall. Fifty-three minutes later the woman attendant pointed to the end of the line next to us and told me I needed to wait there. I cried. 
Another hour revealed me explaining to the airline employee that I didn't care where in California I flew to, they could leave me in L.A. if they wanted, I just needed to get to California. She handed me tickets for a flight to L.A. departing Lima at 1am, with a connecting flight to SFO. I hugged her. 
I called my mom and apprised her of my new arrival time (11am). Overwhelming feelings of love for my mom as strong as the first time I tried shrooms overcame me. With the last of my money I bought her a bottle of Chilean wine in the Duty Free Shop as a love expression, and sat down to wait.
At 12:20am I advanced to my gate. My flight was canceled. A man escorted me back through customs and security to the line I had been in fifteen hours earlier. An attendant issued me a ticket to Miami and told me that I would have to fly to Miami and catch a connecting flight an hour later to San Francisco. I felt as gleeful as an innocent Guantanamo Bay prisoner. The airlines subdued me with a Sheraton Hotel stay, complete with dinner and breakfast. I hadn't eaten in eight hours (because I spent money on wine instead of food) and was exhilarated that I would get dinner. To appease my consternation at flying to Miami, the employee handed me $20US. 
I penetrated the hotel with an awe rivaling that of Pocahontas when she entered Whitehall Palace. I had been residing in hostels for $3-$12 a night and had forgotten amenities such as provided towels and toilet paper.  
I checked in and requested the promised dinner voucher, my stomach feeling as satisfied as Aron Ralston, the hiker who amputated his own arm. I was informed that the kitchen ceased serving dinner at 2am. It was 2:10am. No amount of pleading for the kitchen to issue me food, the snack bar to open, or the non-existent vending machines to materialize accomplished anything. I went to bed with a cavernous stomach, but gratified to be in a white bed as sizable as Pamela Anderson's breasts.