Notes · · Tucson

Dancing Backwards and in High Feels

Good and bad things happened this year. I won't take credit for more than a couple of them because the only things I actually set out to accomplish were to:

  • Stop being a such a dick to call center reps.
  • Become proficient in using Node JS for front-end web development work.

Neither one of those things is easy or impossible. What's more, for most of the people in my life, the first is the only one I can really ask you to do. When you do, you will feel so much better. I promise.

Here's a long-winded breakdown of everything else.


  • All I want for Christmas is no more tamale memes. The tamales are fine though. I want the tamales.
  • I attend my niece's Christmas pageant in Hermosillo. My god, they are serious about costumes.
  • We spend Christmas with Hiram and his Family in Hermosillo in their new sub-division home.


  • When we first met, Hiram had never tasted sour cream as it is sold in the United States (and is a staple in Gringo interpretations of Mexican food). Now he seems to prefer it.
  • I enjoy meeting Alejandro Cartagena at the Center for Creative Photography, where he gives a presenation about home ownership in Mexico: Building Narratives Around the Dream of Homeownership, Suburbs and A Sense of Place. Also, he has copies of his book, Carpoolers.
  • Days before the election, I'm not as confident about Trump not winning as most of my friends are. My extended family, most of whom are Latter Day Saint or conservative Christians, but who nonetheless usually express support and enthusiasm about my marriage and my immigrant husband, have been ominously quiet about a candidate rallying frightened and angry people with more fear and anger.
  • The election is an awful disappointment. Most everyone I know is sick to their stomach. Some literally.
  • My friend Nathan sums up my feelings that night when he writes:

As I go to bed, I'm shocked at the realization that so many of my fellow Americans (and likely friends and family) support racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and actually turn a blind eye to actual corruption in order to hate a woman for innuendo. Sorry guys, but if you voted for Trump, I hate you a bit right now. I weep for my country. I weep for those that aren't privileged enough to make it through the next four years. The rest of us have to deal with an Executive, Legislative and likely Judiciary branch that will redefine our constitution to ensure that hatred will be a cornerstone of our country's values.

  • After a week of feeling miserable and not knowing what to say to people about what I'm feeling, I run into a friend I haven't seen in years. He greets me with, "How are you?" When I answer, "I'm not giving up," it's comforting when he get it and nods.
  • This year I am thankful for friends who get it and are not silent.
  • Thanksgiving in Rocky Point. Hiram is there for work. I need to use my vacation time, so I tag along, doing my own thing for a week, and when I'm not, staring at the sea through a hotel window.


  • Hiram and I housesit for Ken. It is pleasant to be surrounded by his good taste, to wake up with his cat, and to use his washer and dryer.
  • We have been reading aloud John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley.
  • My mother appears to me in a dream scolding me for not keeping our place in Rocky Point, where dentistry is available at a discount. 
  • Linus, who I nannied for when he was a baby, turns 18. Do not be sad when your childhood friends start turning into old people; instead, be happy you are still around when your child friends start turning into young people.


  • The neighbors' pomegranate tree has born fruit and it's hanging over their wall. It's all I can do not to snatch a couple.
  • A window washer I often see around downtown falls from his unicyle at University and Euclid and demonstrates what it truly means to land on one's feet.
  • New housing, mostly apartments, are going up all over downtown Tucson. What a difference from the barrio of my twenties. How long before Midtown Liquors has an olive bar?
  • We go to the Himmel branch of the public library and get Hiram a library card. While we're there, I discover you can check out seeds to plant a garden. The deal is, after your harvest you return some seeds. God, I love the library system here.
  • Herzog's Heart of Glass is weird and beautiful.
  • We attend my Nephew's graduation from the Motorcycle Mechanic Institute in Phoenix. Driving back to Tucson afterward, Hiram comments "There was a lot of testosterone in that room."
  • We visit Biosphere 2 for the first time as tourists. I had been there years ago when my friend Charlotte was part of the second group of Biospherians, and another time for work, but never as someone taking the tour.


  • Nights and weekends over the summer we go to a cafe with frosty air-conditioning, strong coffee and pastries from Nadine's and work on our websites.
  • For Christmas last year, Hiram gave me photographer Dan Winters' beautiful book, Road to Seeing. The layout and writing encouraged me to do something different with my website. To make it more friendly to written work as well as accomodating the different incarnations my blog has taken over the years.
  • We celebrate our second wedding anniversary at Feast. When Kevin the sommelier helps us choose from three grenaches, he convincingly describes the vineyards each comes from as if we are riding bikes from one to the other. He describes the countryside, the plants and smells in the air, the sunlight. After each, we get back on our bikes and pedal to the next. By the time we pick a bottle, we feel as if we have taken a vacation.
  • We visit Puerto Peñasco where it is muggy as all get out. The humidity makes Hiram's hair a delightful mess. His summer curls give me life.
  • We spend a long weekend in Bisbee. I did not know Bisbee is cooler than Tucson in the middle of Summer. Please don't tell anyone. I want it to be our secret.


  • Aggressive cream pie samples sounds like clickbait but really it's one of the best reasons to shop at Fry's supermarket this summer.
  • We have been enjoying the online movie streaming service MUBI all summer, but we sign up for a free month of Netflix streaming so we can watch the new Pee Wee Herman movie. Once we have seen that, we watch as many episodes of Malcolm in The Middle we can before the offer expires.
  • I have a crown replaced.
  • Bill Cunningham passes away.
  • Magda, the cruiser style bicycle I have had since 2003, and which has served both me and Hiram for many Sunday afternoon rides, is stolen. Thank you for your service, Magda.

    Hiram & Magda

  • We watch Carlos Reygadas' film, Battle in Heaven. It's not an easy movie to watch but you should. Also, it's a sad milestone for us as we have enjoyed discovering his films so much this year. Now that we've seen them all, what will we do until he makes more? We'll probably watch Silent Light and Post Tenebras Lux a few more times.
  • Hiram continues to spoil me by making fresh tortillas at breakfast.


  • If Sauce ever discontinues its two-for-one summer sampler, we will probably starve to death.
  • Hiram says he feels very American when he schedules appointments during his lunch hour. "I can go to the bank during my lunch hour. I try to schedule my dentist appointments during my lunch hour. I often run errands on my lunch hour." And so on. This makes me smile.
  • Bridgitte Thum's music mix on KXCI is the best. It is bittersweet, happy and sad all at once. She played National Lampoon’s Deteriorata, which I had forgotten all about.
  • I have nightmares about the Orlando shooter and walking through a landscape filled with rattlesnakes.
  • We planned to see the toy trains show with Homer. When that was a bust, he gives us a private tour of the Tucson Presidio where he has been involved as a docent and the President of the Presidio's Trust.


  • We're economizing this year and decide to not take a vacation that involves airfare. Hiram has business to take care of in Hermosillo, so I suggest when that's out of the way we go to Guaymas for a few days.
  • I wonder what has happened to the passenger rail stations of Mexico's past. We visit what's left of the stations in Guaymas, Empalme, and Benjamin Hill. We try to visit the Hermosillo and Nogales stations, but are turned away.
  • We climb Tetakawi.
  • We try to visit the Librería Bohemia Amado Nervo in Guaymas. There's a big black bow on the door and a court order. Neither one of those things is ever good, I think.
  • We spend a lot of our free time at a cafe with air conditioning.

    Librería Bohemia Amado Nervo


  • I always tell myself I won't eat the tortilla chips at El Minuto, but I always do.
  • The last few years I have been commuting between Rocky Point and Tucson. This means that I haven't spent many weekends in Tucson. Now Hiram has moved to Tucson and we can make plans to do weekend things here. Like a wine tasting at Feast. Getting in isn't as easy as I thought it would be, but at the last minute we get seats. We learn all about Spanish reds with a group of older folks from Green Valley who drive into town a couple times a month for "Wine School."
  • An internet radio mix includes a version of America's Tin Man. I remember hearing it on the radio a lot when I was kid about the time my parents were divorcing. The version the DJ was playing was performed by what sounded like a recording of a grade school chorus and band assembly. It took me back and perhaps because of the children's voices, I was a bit emotional thinking about what my brothers must have been feeling during that time.
  • Hiram insists on pairing the socks when we do laundry. I am not complaining.
  • In a dream, Hiram threatens to buy three Jack in the Box tacos. But even in dream math, I know those tacos must be bought in pairs.
  • One Saturday, Ken takes us on a tour of some of the specialty food markets around Tucson close to his heart.
    Ken w/pitaya
  • Driving through the small Sonoran town of Imuris I see a woman giving a man a haircut in the front yard of a farmhouse. It is the most beautiful photograph I did not take all year.
  • We visit the Un Mundo sin Fronteras exhibit at MUSAS in Hermosillo. It includes our friend Francois' images of objects left behind by desert crossers. The exhibit is beautiful and heartbreaking.


  • Now I am old enough to remember when frozen yogurt and yogurt both tasted like yogurt.
  • Mornings this month I lay in bed enjoying the spring air. I have been recalling documentaries, experimental music, radio theatre programs I'd hear on NPR and Pacifica, and college radio stations when I was a teenager in the eighties and the escape they offered from my insular Mormon life at the time.
  • We attend Homer's annual non-denominational egg decorating event. It is the first time Hiram has dyed eggs.
  • I'm amused that previous staples of college age poverty, things like recycled wood furnishings and single servings of brewed coffee, are contemporary specialties. Of course the $4 pour-overs appear to use actual filters instead of paper towels, but it’s probably just a matter of time.
  • We take the Basic Bicycle maintenance class with Carlyn at BICAS.
  • I have had a cough for weeks now. I see my doctor. He says it's allergies. "Every year you come to see me with the same cough you and everyone else has this time of year. You have allergies." He gives me a steroid shot.
  • Hiram goes to Ensenada for a meeting. I promise him banana bread when he returns, though I think he'd probably settle for me clipping my toenails.


  • My father passes away. I loved him and I don't doubt he loved me. He was a great story teller and a charming man and he worked hard all of his life. We lost touch about ten years ago after he disappeared into his most recent marriage, as he tended to do. It was his fifth. Each time he married again there was more distance between us when my alliances didn't shift from him and my mother to him and his new wife and family. I wish it hadn't always been so all-or-nothing.
  • For years I have thought café automático was Spanish for instant coffee. It turns out at some point Hiram and his mom called it that when they were joking with each other and I overheard without understanding and started calling it that, thinking I had learned a new regionalism. “We didnt want to correct you.”
    I have been asking confused Mexican waitresses for automatic coffee for years now.
  • We pack up the casita in Rocky Point and move our things there to Tucson.
  • How does the old expression go? I can do anything you can do, bitter. Dancing backwards and in high feels.


  • The morning I learn David Bowie has died, I cry while making the bed, thinking life is so short.
  • Hiram and I spend as many nights as we can eating soup on the patio at the Blue Marlin Smoke House.
  • With Hiram now a permanent resident in the US, we give our month's notice for the casita in Rocky Point and start figuring out what to keep and not. There are a lot of redundancies. Who needs an iron?
Richard & Hiram, post tacos

Photo: Jeff Davis