Insights on business -- and life.
Waking Up in the Land of Glitter
Reprinted by permission by
Grand Central Publishing. Copyright, 2010
by Kathy Cano-Murillo (April 5, 2010)
Hello, Arizona! Crafty Chloe Chavez here—braving the heat in
front of La Pachanga Eatery with your weather update! It’s already
ninety-eight degrees on this otherwise lovely Phoenix August
morning, and it is time to break out the ice cubes, because we’ll
hit one hundred and ten by this afternoon! Coming up after the break
-- why was this beloved local business a target of vicious vandals?”
“Um, you can’t go on live TV with blood on your
arm; our viewers are eating breakfast,” the cameraman said, nodding
at Star’s elbow as he hoisted his equipment up on his shoulder.
“Crap!” Star whispered before she licked her
finger and scrubbed off the stain. “I wish it was blood,”
she mumbled, while standing in the parking lot of her parents’
“Ah, don’t be so nervous. You’ll do fine,” he
“I’m far from fine this morning, but I’ll deal.
And for the record, it’s not blood, just a smidge of spray paint.”
“Spray paint?” he repeated, his attention
“Hey!” Star chirped. “Speaking of blood, by any
chance, do you knit?”
Star set aside the current troubles on her
mind to enthusiasti-cally explain the blood-to-knitting transition.
“See, I’ve been working on this high-impact art project—the Victims
of Violence blanket. It is dedicated to those who have been wrongly
hurt all across the world. I want to get as many people as possible
to help create a ginormous knitted blanket to represent our uni-fied
offerings of comfort and warmth. I feel that if we all just came
together in the name of peace and love-- ”
“I don’t knit,” he deadpanned, cutting off her
passionate plea. “You’re live in less than three minutes.”
Star shoved her arm into her limited-edition
Tokidoki messenger bag that was slung across her chest and fished
for her cherry lipstick. “It’s totally cool if you don’t know how,”
she said as she retrieved it. She whisked the color across her
mouth, and then wiped the sweat from her neck with her other hand.
“It’s not about technique or even knitting itself. It’s about the
intention. Each stitch is original and represents that person’s
energy. That’s what makes it art . Art that matters .
Not silly crafts that Crafty Chloe does. The Victims of Violence
Blanket project could change the world.”
“We’re outside, sweating like pigs in a sauna,
and you’re talking about knitting? At least it’s for a good cause.
“Actually . . . I haven’t started. I don’t
know how to knit either. I’m more of a visionary type.” She raised a
fist, shrugged, and grinned. “But I have hope! All I need is to find
the right person to partner with, and I’m on my way!”
Star mentally congratulated herself for being
so perky and positive, despite her current off-color condition,
which consisted of a guilt-ridden hangover and eighty-seven minutes
of half sleep. Who was she kidding? Every time someone cornered her,
she changed the subject to an endearing topic. It served as her
cutesy defense mechanism.
The cameraman didn’t find her cute. He
appeared as if he wished he had taken the evening shift, where they
cover stories like trials, riots, murders, and football games -- or
any combination thereof.
“Live in one minute. Can you harness that
hair?” he barked. “Chavez is territorial about her screen time, and
your head’ll take up more than half the shot.”
“Sure. Hey, has anyone ever told you that you
look like that actor Ving Rhames?”
He ignored her.
Rude! Star thought. That was a
compliment. Ving Rhames rocked. Hello, Pulp Fiction? Even if
this man knew how to knit, she didn’t want his grumpy vibes woven
into her blanket. She grabbed a stray lock that hung over her face
and used it to tie back her curly mane, which hadn’t been tamed
since the day before.
Meanwhile, a concerned crowd gathered in the
parking lot to witness the damage to the property. Star looked at
them and bowed her head. “Oh God, this is really, truly happening.”
Suddenly the magnitude of last night’s crime sank into her gut and,
even worse, her conscience. She bit her lip, looked to the sky, and
chanted a power prayer seconds before she would lie to thousands of
TV viewers across Arizona.
Star kept her knees in locked position as she
stood in front of La Pachanga, Phoenix’s most-famed Mexican
restaurant, adored by art enthusiasts, culture hounds, visiting
celebrities, and wealthy folks in Hummers looking for a dash of
Chloe’s chubby red-haired assistant powdered
the reporter’s satiny cheeks. She then whipped out a toothbrush,
spritzed it with hairspray, and used it to smooth the cone-shaped
crown of the reporter’s stick-straight frosty blond hair. She then
gave her shoulder-length tresses a heavy coat of spray.
The Arizona sun was beyond hard-core. Star had
lived in Phoenix all her life and still couldn’t adjust to the
summer temperatures, which included driver’s arm sunburn and the
melting of sentimental mementos -- most recently a memory stick with
all her favorite French pop songs. She inspected Crafty Chloe’s
flawless appearance and wondered how, even without the touch-up, she
could look so fresh in a long-sleeved suit standing in direct
sunlight. There wasn’t a drop of sweat on her, whereas Star could
feel her own T-shirt damp on her back. Then again, Crafty Chloe
wasn’t the one in the karmic hot seat.
Chloe stepped next to Star and gave her a
courtesy smile, trailed by a horrified sneer at her hair. Star
bypassed the visual insult and gulped back tears of shame as Chloe
began the interview.
“It’s a sad day for Phoenix’s art community,”
Chloe stated, somber, as if she were covering war in the Middle
East. “In the darkness of the night, vandals ruined the
award-winning mosaic mural here at La Pachanga Eatery—with, of all
things, spray-painted happy faces. Local artist Theo Duarte garnered
national attention when he created an ornate replica of the Sonoran
desert. Using only pebbles and river rocks from Arizona locations,
the neighborhood-funded project that took more than a year to
complete was heartlessly defaced in one night.”
Star’s head throbbed, cottonmouth set in, and
she became dizzy. She focused on a tan chihuahua across the street,
joyously lapping water from a lawn sprinkler. She wished she could
be that dog right now.
“I have with me Star Esteban, daughter of La
Pachanga’s owners,” Chloe announced to the viewers of Wake Up
Arizona. “You look absolutely devastated, Star. What does your
family make of this atrocity?” Chloe scrunched her brows together as
all dedicated reporters do. She shoved the cordless handheld mic to
Estrella “Star” Esteban considered herself a
worldly girl. But this morning, no goddess, saint, healer, shaman,
or even Nana Esteban in heaven could repair the anarchy she had
ignited last night. Star cleared her throat, knowing her
disappointed parents watched from home. Even worse, Theo had just
walked up and stood a few feet away, his art-repair caddy in tow.
Several patrons patted him on the back to show their sympathy. He
shook their hands and graciously thanked them. Theo must have sensed
Star’s pain because he offered her a smile and two thumbs-up for
support. Poor guy had no idea about the knife sticking out of his
Like a pirate on the edge of a plank, Star
prepared for the death plunge. She gripped the bottom of her
glittered el Corazón shirt, inhaled, and went for it.
“No, Chloe. Unfortunately we have no idea who
would have committed such a cruel act. It’s such a horrible shame,”
Star replied with so much false confidence, she almost believed her
own lie. “But we are a loving family, and we’ll get through it.
Regardless, our award-winning menudo is still just one dollar a bowl
Chloe paused and tilted her head, confused,
then went on.
“As you can see, the crime hasn’t even sunk in
yet to this emotionally exhausted girl,” Chloe said, yanking the
microphone away. She appeared irritated by the spontaneous sales
plug, though she attempted to cover it with her fake local-
“Star, there must be a surveillance tape that
shows the perpetrators in action. On behalf of the artist of the
mural, the community, and La Pachanga Eatery, of course, you will
“And Art Space,” Star blurted. “It’s La
Pachanga Eatery and Art Space. You always leave off the Art
Space. Aside from the restaurant, we’re a nationally respected
“Point taken, Star. About the mural, you will
“Well, my father is a firm believer in second
chances. It was probably just a silly prank by some kids. At least
it was just happy faces and not anything vulgar. Right?” she asked.
Star shrugged innocently, then clapped her hands in front of her
chest. “Well! I better go check on that menudo! Thank you, Chloe!”
Star took one giant step backward out of the frame, bent down, and
blew out a burst of stress.
Chloe pursed her glossy lips and wrapped the
“If anyone has any information about the Happy
Face Tagger, please call our station’s hotline. And speaking of
hot—don’t forget to come see me this weekend at the twenty-fifth
annual Home and Garden Show! I’ll show you how to turn your
flowerpots from frumpy to fabulicious! This is Crafty Chloe Chavez,
reporting to you from La Pachanga Eatery for KPDM-Channel 11 News.
Amy, back to you!”
Chloe held her supersized grin until the
camera light went off—then she slapped the mic in the cameraman’s
hand and ripped out her earpiece. She smoothed her taupe linen suit
and approached Star with a glare wicked enough to rival any animated
“Everything okay?” Star asked, batting her
eyes, even though one of them twitched uncontrollably from nerves.
Why, she didn’t know. This was just the silly TV craft lady who took
herself way too seriously.
“Something’s not right,” Chloe accused. “Is
this some kind of sick publicity stunt?”
“No! Not at all! How could you even think
that?” Star shot back, offended at such a rude claim.
She had never been a fan of Crafty Chloe. She
loved channel 11, but changed the TV every time her face came on.
Her beat was supposedly the local art scene, yet Chloe had never
once covered any of La Pachanga’s exhibits. Chloe always discounted
the “Art Space” part of La Pachanga’s name, just proven on live TV.
As PR director of La Pachanga, Star had sent Crafty Chloe numerous
press releases for events and shows, none of them featured. But
right now, Star represented her parents’ business and she would do
her best to be professional.
“I’m sorry if I flubbed the interview, I—I—I
couldn’t think straight. I promise to fill you in if we hear
Chloe took a step closer and lowered her voice.
“Look, Miss Esteban, how do I present this without sounding
disrespectful . . . I find it odd that one of our city’s most well
known public landmarks has been defaced—it happens to be on your
parents’ property—and you’re pushing the Sunday menudo special. All
we need is to air that surveillance tape so viewers can help
identify the culprits. Case solved, right?”
Star clasped her hands behind her back and
rocked back and forth on her shabby Converse sneakers. “It’s not
that cut-and-dry . . .”
As always, Theo stepped in to defend Star. He
set down his caddy and extended his gentle, broad hand to shake
Chloe’s tense, thin one. “Ms. Chavez, hey. I’m Theo Duarte. It’s no
big deal. I can remove the paint with turpentine.”
Chloe recoiled her hand. Even Theo couldn’t
soften the crusty exterior of her personality. “That doesn’t erase
what happened. I’ll just wait for the police report,” she said.
Star couldn’t be polite any longer. This
glorified content deliverer made it impossible to be polite.
“What do you care anyway, Crafty Chloe?”
she snarked. “Isn’t there, like, a pastel centerpiece crisis
somewhere that needs tending to?”
Just then, the cameraman walked up to Chloe,
whispered in her ear, and motioned to his elbow. They both looked
Star up and down.
As if Nana Esteban found a way to intervene,
Star’s iPhone rang from inside her bag, which she had set by her
feet. Thank God! A reason to ditch this scene. She flashed Theo an
uncomfortable “Thank you” grin, Chloe a sarcastic “Later” one,
reached for her cell, and turned to walk away.
“Hey, Star,” Chloe called out. “I have one more
Star stopped and looked back. “Yah?”
“Is that blood on your arm, or perhaps --
Star froze, and then replied, “Speaking of
blood—by any chance, do you knit?”
Moments after sneaking away from the circus in
front of La Pachanga, Star slipped around to the side of the
restaurant’s compound to answer her best friend Ofie’s call—or
rather, to field the barrage of questions about her crafty idol.
“Sweet mother of Martha!” Ofie shrieked. “You
met the Crafty Chloe face-to-face! She showed how to decorate
a water bottle the other day. Did she have it on her? Did she talk
about crafts? Is she as pretty in person as she is on TV?”
Star peeked around the corner to ensure Chloe
or Theo didn’t follow. “Crafty Chloe is pretty, all right, pretty
brutal. She totally harassed me, as if I were the one who spray
painted Theo’s mural!”
“But, Star, you did spray paint it.”
Star dropped her bag to the ground and
collapsed against the hot concrete wall. “Ugh. Was it that obvious?”
“You couldn’t lie to save your favorite cat-eye
sunglasses. Don’t worry. Most people won’t catch on like me. It’s
because I know you so well. Oooh, I have an idea to get you off the
hook! Why don’t you hit another mural tonight? It’ll throw everyone
off the trail of La Pachanga! There’s a brand-new one on the I-10
freeway. It’s dark, you can do it as a drive-by, but use a
waterbased paint so it’ll come off easy. I have a 40 percent-off
coupon we can use to buy some!”
Star giggled at the thought, even though she
knew Ofie was serious. “That’s okay, I have my hands full as it is.”
“Did you at least get her autograph for me?”
Ofie asked. “Lord knows I need a pick-me-up. I think the scrapbook
group I just joined is already trying to dump me, and this morning,
I had a mishap with the glitter spray and ruined Larry’s new suit.
Wait. Enough about me, your crisis is much bigger.”
“I doubt Chloe is kind enough to give
autographs unless it’s to endorse a check. Screw the scrapbookers,
and try masking tape on the suit. I never should have left the house
last night,” Star stated as she started to pace back and forth
between the side of the building and the thick wall of oleanders.
“Correction. You never should have left with
Maria Juana,” Ofie lectured. “Every time you get in trouble, she’s
there. I thought you swore her off after the cockatoo switcheroo
snafu last summer?”
“She’s my cousin, Ofie. She joined that Roller
Derby team. Remember? I told you. Las Bandidas del Fuego. Last night
was her first bout and she invited me. I promised my dad I’d try to
get along with her. We’re the only two kids left in the Esteban
bloodline. I meant well.”
“Wait,” Ofie countered. “If you went to the
bout, what happened to the big dinner with Theo? Oh my gosh! The
wedding proposal! Did you get engaged?”
Star covered her face with her hand and muffled
her mouth. “I bailed.”
Ofie sucked in a gallon of air. “No! So you not
only trashed his mural, but you ditched him too? Ay, pobrecito, Theo
. . .”
Star’s eye caught another paint smudge on her
arm, this one green. She rubbed her elbow against her
sequin-accented gypsy skirt to remove it. When it didn’t come off,
she grunted at the guilty residue.
“Ofie, it gets hella worse,” Star said into her
phone. “The lead jammer from Las Bandidas set me up with this
irresistible rocker dude from Ireland. He had gobs of tats, and his
accent was so Hollywood. He turned me on to this drink that is
supposed to make you see little green fairies. You know I’m not the
saucy type, so it just about killed me. I don’t remember much else
except making out with him in the back of Maria Juana’s tacky
convertible . . . He tasted like mint. I guess afterward I went and
spray painted the mural, which I only know about because my parents
made me watch the surveillance tape this morning. And then they made
me come down here to do that segment on Wake Up Arizona .
What was I supposed to do? Tell the truth? I’d never make it home
alive! Now I have Crafty Chloe on my ass and Theo to contend with.”
"You know better than to mix cocktails and your
Star rubbed her head in disbelief, and knew
Ofie was doing the same. “You know, I bet Maria Juana set me up. I
have no idea. I know I screw up, like, every other day, but this is
the worst. How am I going to explain this to Theo? I don’t know what
he’ll be more freaked at: that I’m the one who spray painted his
mural, my new tattoo, or the hickey on my neck.”
“Tattoo?” Ofie asked.
Just as Star spun around to make double sure
Chloe wasn’t eavesdropping, she bumped into a buff chest.
And the hardened expression on his face
confirmed he heard the confession in its entirety.
“Ofie, uh . . . Theo’s right here. I gotta jam.
Bye, love you, peace out,” Star whispered, turning off her phone and
slowly slipping it into her purse.
She opened her hands and raised them to the
sides of her face, as if it would help her say the right words.
“Theo, from every ounce of my heart and soul, I am so sorry—I can
totally, totally, totally explain this—”
“No need,” he replied. “I’m through with you.”
(Note: Waking Up in the Land of Glitter
is available at Amazon.com and other outlets. Visit Grand Central
www.hbgusa.com.To learn more about Kathy, visit