Dear George,

Last night we had another one of our “encounters”. A close encounter of the third kind, as far as I’m concerned. See what you were doing to me seemed more like preparation for deliverance to the mothership than any normal animal/terrestrial-being behavior.

Let me interject with a theory: All nighttime abductions/experiments attributed to aliens are in fact performed by cats.

Now like I’ve explained before, all your kneeding, hair-combing, sitting-on-my-chest behavior is highly unappreciated. But let’s address one singular move of yours that incites a special terror in my befuddled, half-asleep mind: when you purr fervently with your wet nose pressed behind my ear. This action of yours frightens me all the way back to 7th-grade science to retrieve the vocabulary needed to describe my fear: pinna.

Used in a sentence: Oh God, one chomp of George’s jaws and I’ll lose my pinna.

This fear is particularly unsettling as I hear how excited you are becoming with your purring and imagine all the other times such excitement has lead to “loving” cat bites.

Let us recall the Cat-Vampire incident of two nights ago.

photo copy So let me conclude with,

CEASE AND DESIST.

Or I shall have to report you to the  FBI and get Mulder and Scully on your ass.

Much love,

Ali

I’m not one of those people that says guys and girls can never be friends, but I do think that every once in a while there arises a moment of uncomfortable one-sided romance. At these times, my natural reaction is a genius ploy of blind panic and an attempt to correct this imbalance by being twice the amount of “normal friend” to their abnormal. In theory this means it all evens out. In practice it means I act completely absurd. How unusual…

 

Case Study #One:

The situation–

Saying goodbye, but for some reason he won’t leave and instead gazes deeply into my eyes.

My response–

Upon assessing the linger and entering my initial stage of panic, I punched him in the shoulder. (I’ve seen this done in movies to a very desirable hey-ole-buddy-ole-pal effect.) Following this up with a slightly off-timed and manically cheerful, “Well, see you around!” I then backed away slowly, avoiding eye contact.

Conclusion–

Resembling to the advice I’ve been given for encounters with wild animals, this tactic seemed fairly successful. The arm punch was weird though.

 

Case Study #Two:

The situation–

Saying goodbye (hm this seems to be a dangerous time). Hug is strangely cheek-squeezy. Ie. I’ve never had my cheeks pressed so hard to someone else’s cheeks in my life. (This makes me suspicious.) Then pulling back, he cups his hands around my face and says, “Look at you. You are so beautiful.”

My response–

Feeling awkward, I scramble to prove that this is something normal friends do. Reasoning that if I can do it to him without being romantic, it will reverse-logic prove that we are totally chillin in an equally friend-like relationship, I take his face in my hands and say, “Look at you, you are so beautiful.”

Conclusion–

This did not help the awkwardness of the situation.

 

Final results of the study:

Upon reflection, quickly extracting oneself from the situation seems to be the best technique. Out-weirding the weird did not go over so well.

 

Does anybody has further case studies or escape tactics to report? Science for the good of friendships everywhere…

I’ve come across two strange public bathroom inventions. “What?” you think, “Like a new soap dispenser?” No, not quite…

Exhibit A) The toll bathroom.

I felt quite incensed that I had to pay 25 cents to use the bathroom at this SF movie theatre. It’s a cruel gimmick to charge people to pee.

IMG_4259    IMG_4257Exhibit B) The child restraining/coerced voyeur seat.

I mean really this is actually probably a pretty smart invention. I can imagine the harried mother with the toddler that is always trying to escape, or the baby in a stroller she doesn’t want to let out of her sight, that needs this device. I just wonder if the bathroom designer was enlightened enough to put the same seat in the men’s bathroom as well?

a smart inventionNow enjoy this poem I wrote several years ago after a traumatizing experience in an airport bathroom. You’ll relate.

Oh dear God, what happened here?

I’ve walked into a bathroom stall

where something sketchy clearly did befall.

 

Wasn’t it a nice-looking woman that just emerged?

Like a witness after the fact,

in a daze, my memory I must wrack.

 

I’ve been taken by surprise, just a bit hysterical-

trying to imagine what possible situation

could have culminated in my current tribulation.

 

She must have been crouching at some height…

To find just what I’d need a spatter analysis.

Not by me, I’ve been seized by a sudden paralysis.

 

No, I’m not equipped to handle this scene!

And I know it might seem quite lowly,

but I think I’ll just back away slowly.

 

I’ve had some brilliant partners in crime, but by far the best has been my high school best friend, Alexandra. First of all, we had the same name and a sweet rhyme to go along with it. Nothing could stop us, we executed pink sparkly ninja attacks and baccalaureate dinners alike with the flare and style belonging to no one else. However, on this night we met our match. And our match was a mountain lion.

Alex and I are adventurous spirits, and we got it in our mind that on this fine Friday night we wanted to go on a night hike. However, we wanted some company for general rapist defense, and we had an idea of where to get it. We knew from our friend Big Dog that he and a bunch of the bros were hanging out at a house having some sort of boy sports get together. Sounded stupid. We weren’t particularly friends with these bros, in fact there were several of them that I called by names I’d made up (Heyyy Kremlin), because I couldn’t remember their Indian names. But we had had some amiable encounters on the quad, plus her sorta boyfriend was in that crowd, and we were definitely friends with Big Dog. So we, being very confident girls, decided to round them up for our night hike.

Through some texting sleuthery we found out where they were and drove to the house. Because I had a sense of propriety about my ambushes, I opted to climb over the fence and surprise them from the backyard, while Alex more demurely waited out front. They were not very surprised by my sneaky snake tactics, however. More like, “Wtf are you doing here? Whatever. (Derderder I’m a boy.)”

Once I let my accomplice in through the front, we evaluated the situation from inside the boy lair (predecessor to the man cave). Fifteen bros, big TV playing sports, nerf guns, and pizza. This could be difficult.

Nonetheless, we are wily coyotes. You think the wife’s domination over her husband starts when they’re married? No, we women have been training at this art from a very young age. With some coaxing, cajoling, and manliness-shaming, we gradually got all fifteen boys to agree to a night hike. They expressed some fears about encountering a mountain lion, but we assured them they were just being lil pussies. We herded them out of the house and headed out in a six car caravan into the night. Alex and I felt quite accomplished.

Now our caravan was some clumsy, and driving through the hills we got a bit lost. Eventually we pulled into a dead end street where there was an empty lot, and for some reason, this was where we decided to start our hike. Alex and I crawled out of the car, ready to go, but through the general milling and unloading of all these boys, we spotted something strange. All the boys were going into their trunks and getting out… baseball bats and tennis rackets? Puzzled, I shouted across at one of them, “what the hell is that for?”

This question was answered by several outcries of “No mountain lion’s gonna eat me!”, “Ima fight them,”etc. etc., and ‘manly’ grunting noises slash general chest beating activities. Alex and I looked to each other and then gleefully laughed at them. “You guys are babies,” we informed them. “No mountain lion is going to attack a group of seventeen people.” But we let them have their rattles. Off we went into the darkness, hiking past the realtor’s sign into the hills, while the boys brandished their tennis rackets at the night.

Now I was hiking at the very front, because apparently I was the very bravest. Alex was a bit hung back with her sorta boyfriend, and the rest of the lot spread between us. Fairly soon we came to a fork in our… path is not the word for it, because we were certainly off-roading it, but well it was a fork in our path of least resistance. We could go up a hill to the left, or down a hill to the right. Pausing here, one of the boys asked me which way we should go. I jogged off to the left to see what lay beyond the top of the hill. Well, looking down from the top of the hill I saw eyes looking up right back at me. Lots of eyes. Eyes glowing quietly in the light of the moon, eyes belonging to a pack of coyotes. I imagined this wouldn’t go over so well with our expedition.

“Mm looks like nothing much, we’d best go the other way,” I quickly called back and scrambled down to intercept any other potential scouts. “Yep, to the right is better.”

They followed without question. To the right we tromped along happily for a fair while. But gradually the ground softened and then gave way to thick mud. It was darker here too. We were edging in among the trees, and ahead was the blackest yet. I wasn’t carrying a flashlight, but I still headed the pack. I stopped and felt a bit on edge. “Will you come up here and point your flashlight at the ground for me?” I asked one of the boys. I heard him picking his way through the mud behind me. I stared ahead, trying to make out anything with my eyes. The boys behind got closer. I took a tentative step, then one more. The light lit my feet, then

ROOOAAAARRRRRRRRRR

Holy shit. I turned around quick as lightning and sprinted through the mud, through the mass of boys behind me, leaving them in my dust (or mud spatters, more likely), though they were hardly far behind me. The roar rang in our ears and the our feet beat the ground like our hearts beat against our chests. We ran like a stampede, all seventeen of us, to get the fuck out of there. It was thoughtless, mindless, running. Out, out, out. Back, back, back. Nothing pursued us but our breathless gasps of the cold night air, and we finally slowed down to regroup.

I wasn’t crazy. “Did you all hear that?” we each asked each other. Most of us agreed it was a roar, one bro thought it might have been a horse.

I’ve never heard anything like it. A deep, ferocious, rumble like thunder, growling shout of a predator, warning. One we certain as fuck heeded. The night hike was over. The boys swung their bats and rackets, fending off our memories of the roar as we excitedly made it the rest of the way to our cars. I, personally, was unhappily preoccupied with contemplating whether any of them would have actually been able to fight the mountain lion if it had attacked me. Back to the comforting den of pizza and light, not mountain lions and darkness, we went. Alex and I were forced to make proper repentance, taking back all we had made fun of their fear of mountain lions and weapons of defense.

The next Monday I took a lot of shit at school for that night hike. Still, what an epic adventure. We didn’t have much desire for night hikes after that, but it was for sure the source of many amusing illustrations passed in class between me and Alex, depicting us and our motley crew facing down the mountain lion.

Ah, youth;)

Because it’s what all the cool kids do when they’re left alone on a Friday night. At 9pm.strip club1Jumbo’s Clown Room is really more burlesque exotic dancing. They strip, but it’s only down to their underwear. I write about it in http://alilake.com/stefons-guide-to-la/ . But the next night there were repercussions. Well, honesty is the best policy. Even if you have to confess while hiding your head under a couch pillow. True friends accept you for who you are and also want to go to strip clubs. Plus they give you ones to throw on the stage.

strip2

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Driving from Texas to New Mexico, we nearly ran out of gas in the desert. Our trip went a little like this: I took the first leg of driving while Rachael slept. I was zooming through the hills of Texas, going faster than I think is wise to admit to, when Rachael eventually woke up and offered to switch. As we were just passing some gas stations, I said we could stop at the next one. Then EIGHTY miles passed. I was burning through gas quickly, zipping along. In two-lane highways they say left lane is only for passing, but as far as I saw it, I was passing everyone, so I was perfectly content in my own personal race course. But as the hills turned to desert, and our fuel gauge crept lower, my appreciation for the sparse beauty of the land, interrupted only by dirt roads leading nowhere and oil pumps dipping up and down like those insatiable bird toys, turned to anxiety. The middle of nowhere was no longer a hyperbole. We couldn’t get internet on our phones to search for gas. Dots that showed up on our maps as towns revealed themselves to be one broken down farmhouse in the distance. For an hour we drove on this way, my eyes nervously scanning from our ever-decreasing gas bars, to my speedometer, which I now held at a restrained pace, to the previously despised right lane, where I tried to stay in the slip stream of the truck in front of me. Visions of us walking down the side of the road, trying to hitchhike, became more vivid. I had no appetite for food, there would be time enough to picnic when we were stranded on the side of the road. We nervously laughed at our jokes that at least it wasn’t too hot outside, and that we seemed to have a good tail-wind. Finally, with no end in sight, we came to a rest-stop. We pulled over, hoping there would be a map, or someone to tell us how much farther we had left. We were down to our last bar in the fuel gauge, gas-light on. No map, but some Oklahoma-platers told us that we were only 14 miles out from gas. We could make that!

Sweet, sweet salvation.

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And some comedic relief: their convenience store held this priceless post-card.

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With that lesson learned (I never ever ever let my tank far below half now), we made it the rest of the way to Carlsbad, NM, home of the Carlsbad Caverns. After checking into another Super 8 (dear God there is more on that later), we rewarded ourselves for not perishing in the desert by splitting a garden burger, onion rings, and a vanilla milkshake. Carlsbad has an unnervingly high concentration of Chinese Buffets with horrendous reviews by both Yelp and our motel receptionist, so we just went to this oddly themed, highly fried, and thankfully edible diner: Happy’s. Smiley faces and Disney cartoon figurines lined the walls, but the comfort food did make us, well, happy.

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After that we took a nap, and what I am about to relate will only horrify and disturb you 1/100th of the amount it did Rachael and I. Rachael found bed bugs. Multiple large, disgusting, orange, tick-looking, bed bugs. AHHHHH. It was so so so so… bleh uggabugga shiver shake revolting. I can’t even put up a picture here. I never want to see those things again. NEVER STAY IN A SUPER 8. I can only imagine the horror that one would feel if you realized you have crabs. I mean seeing those things in my bed I was about to burn the hotel down and and everything I was wearing. If I found such a thing in my nether regions? You’d have to sedate me and throw a flea bomb into my undies, then purchase a mind wiper out of the movie Men in Black and use it on me. I’d still probably need counseling after that. The intense kind, like out of a Clockwork Orange.

Anyway, I digress.

Clearly, we were out of there on the double and moved into a motel across the road. Probably not far enough, but we took it, after some intense initial bed inspections. I had wanted to go see the bat flight as all the bats exit the Carlsbad Cavern at night, but I was exhausted after all our near-death experiences. Still, Rachael dragged my ass out, and away we drove. About 20 minutes from that one-road town, up in the hills, we arrived in time to look out over the beautiful plains as the sun started to lower in the sky. The golden grass stretched as far as the eye could see. It’s odd; along this trip things I used to only say as er, sayings, I came to use to describe literal events in my life.

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A ranger was giving a talk about the bats, so we wound our way down to the cavern’s mouth.

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From here on out we weren’t allowed to take pictures because it could disturb the bats, but I found some on the internet that accurately portray what it was like. A good number of people sat in this amphitheatre to listen to a ranger speak. We learned about the different species of bats in the cave, their habits, hearing ability, diet, and a fatal disease effecting them: white-nose syndrome. While it was still light out, cave swallows flew counter clockwise in and out of the cave. The bats would take this same counter-clockwise path, but it wasn’t known why.

bat-flight-amphitheater-carlsbad-caverns-national-park

[youtube=http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RS4uvjC5ky4&feature=youtu.be]

My favorite part of the talk was when the ranger told the story of the formerly classified Project X-Ray. In WWII the government invested in developing “bat bombs”. They took a bunch of bats from Carlsbad Caverns and attached them with a small timed incendiary bomb. The idea was that because Japan used so much bamboo, paper and other highly flammable material in construction, the government could release the bats who would go roost in the eaves of these buildings and then cause multiple explosions, causing fires and chaos with fewer lives lost. As our ranger said, “That plan worked out really well. They exploded our Air Force Base down the road.” Yep, the bats got loose and roosted under the air base’s fuel tank, burning it down. Kooky.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat_bomb

As soon as it started to get dark, the bats swarmed out of the cave in a rush. It was one solitary bat to lead the way, and then within seconds it was thousands. You could hear their wings beating the air as they flew over us, silhouetted against the the dimming sunset.  They flew out in seemingly endless hoards.

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We sat in silence, watching for a good long while. As it showed no sign of letting up, and we were starting to get cold, Rachael and I finally hiked back to our car.

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Watching the bat flight was unexpectedly impressive. I was tired, but as soon as we got to the caverns the view, the night air, the ranger’s talk, and finally the bats, made the entire trip worthwhile. I was so glad Rachael had forced me to throw off my exhaustion and drive out there. Our woes from the day were completely forgotten by the time we left. If you go visit the caverns to go caving, don’t miss this equal, but lesser appreciated, attraction.

http://www.nps.gov/cave/planyourvisit/bat_flight_program.htm

I get myself into the worst situations.

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You know what happened after that? S texted L back that he hadn’t even seen me. Yes- I would have gotten away with this accidental stalking, if I hadn’t made L tell S about it. This seemed like a good point to just go ahead and exile myself from life. But instead I carried on and for some reason we are all still friends. Actually upon reflection, I must have some very strong redeeming qualities if my friends put up with all this insanity and still like having me around. Anyway, the lesson learned from this episode of ali ridiculous embarrassment- wear shoes and bring the dog.

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