Monthly Archives: March 2013

I Married A Mexican

Los Recien Casados - Newlyweds

Los Recien Casados – Newlyweds

I married a Mexican, a born there, crossed the border in the back of a car, learned English here, speaks with an accent, and had thirty thousand dollars in stack of cash hidden in his studio apartment when I met him Mexican.

I married a Mexican, a Mexican who will eat tofu and TVP,  who will dance with me at parties and who cries while watching TV.

I married a Mexican who doesn’t do dishes, clean up around the house, or even cook very often. I fight with him about it sometimes, but most of the time I don’t bother. Instead, I just put on an apron and get to it. But my Mexican would never hire another Mexican to prune the roses, to cut a few and give them to our son to give to me to put in a vase on the dining room table, and my Mexican would never hire another Mexican to mow the lawn, or water his fruit trees, or re-pot the cactus plants, or care for his son while his mother is out of town at a conference, or working late, or writing.  He gives me space, lets me put the dogs on the bed, holds my hand under the covers, has never done a drug unless prescribed, doesn’t drink, but never complains when I do or that he’s always the designated driver, or that I’ve decided I only want one kid.

I never planned to marry, planned not to. But I married the Mexican after being together only three months. I was twenty-eight, he thirty-three. I thought I could love him, probably did already, but I was afraid even more afraid of finding out I did love him after INS sent him back to Mexico for up to ten years which is what they were threatening to do if we didn’t marry before April. The laws were changing, and I was changing too – había cambiado.

Ever changing now, together. 

The Spitboy Rule: Part I

Spitboy: US Tour 1992 Right before playing in a barn somewhere in Michigan, I think.

Spitboy: US Tour 1992
Right before playing in a barn somewhere in Michigan, I think.

Spitboy had a rule. No boyfriends on tour. It was a good rule, but it turns out there were ways around it.

We didn’t take anyone with us on our first tour, boyfriends or otherwise. That may have been a mistake, but we wanted to prove that we could do it all: write our own songs, play our own instruments, and drive the van, navigate the interstates with a map, unload our own equipment, and change our own tires (and in only a matter of minutes). Paula, our bass player, even fixed the van when it broke down. She spent hours and hours with her head in the engine in Missoula, Montana, oil on her face and up to the tattoo on her freckled shoulder. I sat in the van (the engines could only be accessed from inside the van) with her handing her tools for as long as I could stand it, not quite sure what she was so grumpy about, not realizing at first that she felt the way I did whenever we finished a set and young women would come to tell us how much we meant to them, and I was stuck tearing down my drums and getting them out of the way of the next band, while the others basked in the praise.

I think it was Paula’s dad who taught her to work on cars when she expressed an interest, and her know-how made it possible for us to get across the US and back without spending what money we made on shows and merchandise on van repairs more than twice. We did have to get the blue van repaired in Wyoming. For some reason, we always broke down in Wyoming; Wyoming was Spitboy’s Bermuda Triangle.

Touring all on our own with no roadies, without anyone who wasn’t in the band to help drive that first time around was hard, but it was important for us to know that we could. We were one of the only all female punk bands playing straight forward hardcore, no jangly chords, reverb, or feminine harmonies for us, just the driving sounds of chunky bar chords, thumping bass lines, rapid fire drum beats, and Adrienne’s warbly growl. And being women who spent a lot of time together even when we weren’t touring, our menstrual cycles had synced up. It got to where we’d each start our period within a day a day or so of the other. We got to a show in Minot North Dakota just before the first band was about to take the stage, which made the show’s promoter really nervous, but with three of us on our periods at the same time, we had to stop every twenty or thirty minutes at a different dirty roadside gas station bathroom on our already long drive from Chicago or wherever we were coming from. We apologized to the nervous promoter and told him the truth — three out of the four of us were on our period and we had to stop a lot. He didn’t need to hear anymore, “That’s okay,” he said, waving his hand in the air boyishly. He’d probably never heard that excuse from a band before. Having someone who else to worry about driving on these days might have made things easier. I know I wasn’t a steady or efficient driver while suffering from a bad case of cramps.

The long late night drives to a city too far to make it to without leaving right after the show the night before — those were the worse without a roadie. Having one more person to share driving shifts would have just been a smart and safe thing to do. Instead, one of us would drive, another would try to stay awake and navigate, while two of us slept in our sleeping bags on the futon on the loft built behind the middle row of seats for that purpose. I had the ability to wake up after four or so terrible hours of sleep, stumble into whatever gas station we had stopped  at,  buy a cup of the worst coffee in America and some water, take a no-doze, and get back in the van and drive. Once back on the interstate, I’d listen to whatever CD’s I wanted to, sing along quietly, and keep my eyes peeled for weird construction cones, potholes, wild animals, and cops. The driving part never bothered me much; it was the fatigue the next morning. Trying to get back to sleep after driving four or so hours straight and trying to get back to sleep once the sun was up and the rest of the band one-by-one with it.

The no-boyfriends-on-tour rule went out the van window on our European tour in 1993. We had no choice but to bring a lot of people, a whole entourage. First off, we had to hire drivers because none of us had driver’s licenses to drive over seas, and since Paula was now dating the best, most well-renown roadies in the punk scene, Pete the Roadie, we had to bring him too. And we brought Jon Hiltz,Born Against drummer, who Karin had always had a shine for, to help sell merchandise.  While logical to break no-boyfriends-on-tour rule for the European tour, the rule itself made even more sense. With Paula off with Pete, and Karin snogging with Jon in the dark on long drive, things felt a little less unified — men did change things — some had a person that was just her own and others didn’t. I didn’t. And Adrienne didn’t either.

Listen To Your Mother!


After six drafts of a brand new piece about playing music with my son, and one audition, I made the cast of San Francisco’s Listen To Your Mother, “a national series of readings by local writers in celebration of Mother’s Day.” The rehearsals and the big reading on May 12, Mother’s Day is a great opportunity for me to make community with Bay Area writers I’ve not met and to read to big audience. I am super excited to rehearse and for the big day, which brings me to this — you should come!

Here’s a link to Brown Bag where you can buy tickets:

Here’s a video of my friend Margaret Elysia Garcia who encouraged me to submit to LTYM — she was on the SF cast last year, and she’s heading up a cast of her own in Plumas County this year!

An Ode To Writing Communities

For almost the past year, I have been attending Saturday Night Special at Nick’s Bar in Berkeley, a featured reader and open-mic event curated and hosted by Tomas Moniz and Hollie Hardy. Every month Tomas and Hollie assign a word/theme to reader/writers of the open-mic portion to use in their pieces. In past months, I have been working hard to promote my book Pretty Bold For A Mexican Girl, so I have usually found a piece or an excerpt from the book that fits the word or theme of the night, and that’s always felt a bit like cheating. For this February’s Saturday Night Special, I wrote a piece specially written for the event, using the word assigned for the month: safeword.  

While I’ve taught creative writing myself, I learned first-hand in Ariel Gore’s online Wayward Writer’s workshop how writing exercises, or writing on an assigned word, can tease out memories or concepts you’ve never written about before, but still when the word was assigned at the January reading, I thought I wouldn’t participate because I just didn’t know what I would write about.  I’m glad I let my bestie, Karin Spirn, author The Divine Sharpness in The Heart of God, encourage me to write something, gave me the idea of what to write about in fact. Karin’s encouragement (and who am I kidding, I’m a writer, I really always want to read) gave me the chance to really experience how using the word of the month in a piece specially written for the event really does create community among the readers who cheer and clap and whistle when they hear the word or an especially creative interpretation of the assignment.

Here’s what I wrote:

I don’t know about safe words, but I do know about triggers.    Image

Triggers like Renaissance Fair and The Grateful Dead. Thinking about either or hearing the wan sounds of singer Bob Weir, who my mom and her friends listened to while smoking pot and not paying attention to us can bring on an anxiety attack.

I was pretty naive about city guys when I moved to San Francisco from that hicktown Tuolumne at seventeen, and I almost right away started dating a skinny sort of Billy Idol look alike. That is to say he had spiky, blond hair and his name was Billy too. Put that guy in Tuolumne and he looked cool; he looked edgy, but in San Francisco in the late 80’s he was just another guy who lived off Haight Street, at the end of my block in fact, which is how we met. I let him work his city slicker charm on me and mistook my discomfort for awe of how cool he was.

And when he asked if I wanted to go to the Renaissance Fair in Novato, where ever in the fuck that was, with his friend and his girlfriend I said sure I’d go, even if it sounded pretty lame. By the time we went to meet his friend so they could plan their outfits, a few days before the fair, Billy had told me that he had recently worked as an escort for super rich fat or  rich old women who couldn’t get laid without paying for sex. He had gone to their houses in neighborhoods like Pacific Heights and did what they asked him to do. He was matter of fact about it, so I didn’t judge him because it had nothing to do with me and I thought it was sort of a nice thing to do even though he did it for the money. Only there were other things about him I couldn’t figure out, things that didn’t seem quite right but I thought didn’t matter because we were just hanging out.

After we went to his friends house and after  watching them try on frilly white shirts and speak in fake English accents, Billy told me that his friend wanted to swap. “Swap what?” I asked. “Girls,” he said. “Just for one night,” Billy said when I didn’t say anything back. “He thinks you’re hot.” His friend was good looking too, dark skin and big eyes, better looking than Billy even, but I didn’t even know him. I didn’t know Billy either.

But I went to the Renaissance fair anyway, taking the long drive with them to Novato, feeling lonely and stupid for wearing my regular clothes when they were all dressed up, but knowing that I’d feel even more stupid if wore those clothes and spoke in a fake English accent. I guess I was trying to make friends, but I hadn’t moved all the way from that tiny hick town to spend the day, not even one, going back in time, pretending I was in an English village, and with a bunch of anglophiles.

Now,  I cringe at any mention of a Renaissance fair because it reminds me of how naive I was then. Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t have access to the wisdom of this yelp reviewer: “People who come and expect the entertainment to be handed to them, while not dressing the part, are in for a real disappointment.  The whole reason for going to the Faire is to dress up.  That’s when the real fun begins.”