Monday, June 30, 2008

Panty Ripper Quote of the Day

There is a drink in Belize called the Panty Ripper. It is amazing, potent, always in great supply. Our sailing trip ended with the first mate hilariously making us some instead of driving the boat properly. He says we have to say it "PANTIE RIPPAH". That is all. Well also, this...

Two in the morning we awake on the deserted island to find that one of us is not in the tent. No, one of us is not in the tent at all.

I take a walk around the water; there are no floating bodies. There is also no electricity. I tear my foot on some rocks and then decide if she's dead, well, there's nothing that I can do. And then, the following morning:

Figure appears hangdoggedly walking in the distance towards us...

Me, shouting: Walk of shame!

REDACTED: Yeah, yeah, I slept on the boat.

Me: Uh huh. So...who was it?

REDACTED, laughing: Oh Captain, my Captain!

Me, laughing: Well?

REDACTED: Well...what?

Me (clearing throat): I think we deserve to know how big his mast is.

Panty Ripper indeed. Also for the rest of the sailing trip I was allowed to call the captain "Papasito".

Monday, June 23, 2008

Toss Off

Me and the ex-steady, we invented this little game, our first time on waverunners. He's long gone. But I kept custody of the game.

So back on the waverunner, or the golf cart, or whatever it is I end up driving, I'm too fast, too close to flying.

It's her first time, I've smooth-talked this virgin into it, I'm slick and oily with sparkling little promises. We'll go slow, it's okay, I know you haven't done this before.

I'll be gentle sugar. I promise.

Yeah, right.

She's strapped in with nowhere to go. I swallow an evil laugh. Now I've got you my pretty.

We on the runner and we are a blur. Man oh man, I want to push my luck. I want to gun it, ignore her half terrified/half delighted screams. I want to play Toss-Off.

Where you're at the wheel of the jetski and the squealing person behind you holds on for dear life and you drive into the blue and then you cut it to the right, jerk it around, try to do a 180 and try to throw the person riding with you clear into the air. I brace myself for it. The perfect throw. Possibly worth the next five and a half weeks of silence from my traveling partner. Possibly worth her never speaking to me again after that. Renouncing our friendship.

Maybe, all worth it for that one moment in the sun, a perfect flip off and into the waves. Legs kicking, shouting, sputtering, rubbing salt from red eyes, though without harm, landing somewhat happily, if they narrowly avoid the shallow reef. Right, the reef. Damnit I can nearly brush it with my hands. And the sailboats dotting the ocean like kites would a sky. And her hands digging into the straps.


I can't do it to her, oh how I want to, make her fly into the air, make us both crash into the waves. But I can't do it. Sure she'd hate me for it, but it's not that. She's hate the ocean for it, the trip for it, might never get on one of those things again. That's the greater loss right there. It's too beautiful and important to be in the water. I can't be responsible for someone being scared of the sea.

So, I broach the topic from a different angle.

Won't she at least throw me?

I'll let you know how it turns out...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Me and The Salty Old Locals...

...drink some vanilla rum after chicken and rice and the backpacker across from me who has my name but spells it differently, my doppleganger if I were a hairy hippie who was overly generous with her blackberry wine and was an undergrad from Maryland, laughs with her head thrown back.

We talk about this and that, something about Korea, the sea, what could be done with a high school education...they want to sing karaoke, they sigh that they aren't twenty years younger and we shrug politely. Yes sir, if only. If only the novel I'm reading weren't 900 pages about mental illness. If only there weren't low-flying pelicans trying to steal our johnny cakes.

Waves of cheering fall over from across the river. Kids are graduating and everyone wants to celebrate. Except us. We're not wandering ten yards from our hostel door.

You can't walk two blocks to the swing bridge in Belize City in the dark, that's what we've been told, shady characters slinging rocks and so forth, but in the daytime I've got on Angry Face and the dusty, the young and shirtless, barbecuing at seven in the morning and licking their lips at first, shrink away from me, perhaps because I haven't showered in days, perhaps because I meet any "Hello Girl, Do You Want To Dance?" with a scowl, I learned something in New York and if that something is how to repell people, unsavory or not, right or wrong, well I got that down, got that in my pocket, won't shine to them, won't let them come to me, snip the straps on my bag, no not once, I've got some salty old dudes on my side and Angry Face and I can run faster than I look...

Now we're back in the sun and in the water where we belong, we're Sea Monkeys like that, there is a lobster festival and we are not tired, no not at all, maybe because we haven't yet had to run once.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


My brother used to call lobsters "slobsters", back when he was too young and too cute to correct. I look in the mirror today for the first time in two.

Slobster. That´s what I am after the Yucatan sun.

There is a very dirty, mangy kitten that keeps trying to jump into my hammock, a voodoo lady in charge of our valuables, Tiki torches and the snakes that curl around them, a local who sprays me with Windex to fend off the bug bites, the clearest blue sea and the crumbling stone above it all. Birds are the brightest yellow. The night is the darkest I´ve seen.

There are watchers. There are waiters.

My traveling companion is scared to death of lizards. I am the bodyguard, the force field, I will scare them off with my slobster claws. Snap them in half.

There is no electricity, nets on hanging beds, crashing waves, sandy feet, tired eyes, and the burn of our bikes. There is nothing to do and still our minds are full. We are about to unplug, and then it´s time to move on.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Today I am laying on a trampoline, looking at the cloud cover, waxing on life and drinking a Corona, talking of horseback riding, scuba diving, the ruins we will try not to, the bus ride without chickens, the dinner with, the sparkling blue of the lit pool, thatched roofs, double beds, triple hammocks, the way she fixed my camera in one swift motion and when I dropped it immediately after, the night, the crickets and everything after.

This is day one of forty five and it is navy and it is magic.

Mondays are good when they are not Mondays at all. I chased a toad and he jumped down a hole, a bug jumped me but I chased into a cabana, and tomorrow, I don´t know what will come, just that it will be.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Big Shoes to Fill

Unflappable Australian grandfather, known to all in the family as “The Digger”, perpetually in shorts, smoking, drinking, mustache, and famous for yelling, “What the hell is going on in here?” when in fact, nothing at all, in the name of hell or otherwise, is going on here.

Grandpa: What in the hell are you going to Central America for?

Me: Uh. It’s the only place where the dollar still means something?

Grandpa: Well, don’t get the fever. I had Malaria and Dengue, and Dengue is far worse.

Me: You had Dengue? What? When?

Grandpa: It must have been, oh, 1942.

Grandpa, you’re flipping awesome. Was this when you were a tween and enlisted in the Australian army and got shot in the leg?

If I ever sell this book of mine, the next one will be dedicated to you, all travel stories like when I broke into that amusement park, drove a tractor and swung a machete on a banana farm in Australia, thought I’d die at sea in the Dominican Republic, saw those neon toilets in Japan, got spat at by an old woman in Italy, and nearly crashed a golf cart on the highway in Uruguay. And whatever else may come from the next six weeks…

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Novel Excerpt

I promised myself I would have a rough first draft to hand off before I got on the plane. And I'll do it if it kills me:

Here we go...some paragraphs that I like right now from the first chapter:

1) The UN director’s speech was merely expensive white noise. Possibly, it was more to the parents. But not to the gin-soaked graduates; their cheap gowns clinging to their overpriced underclothes. They were roasting in the sun, they were blinking sweat from their lids, they were flipping back and forth through the program and complaining about the band’s arrangement, their trouble securing last-minute reservations at the town’s only two decent restaurants and bragging about last-minute trysts. A. felt Kyle’s head roll onto her shoulder for the thirteenth time, and shook him off with a violent jerk.

2) Growing up didn’t mean you saw the infallibility of your elders, A. had seen that long ago (that would be the second time her mother assaulted the gardener for destroying her prized Calla lillies, clawing at him with Campari-stained fingers in what broken Spanish she had deigned to learn, “No es beuno! No es bueno!”). It meant you came to terms with the fundamental and inescapable truth that you would forever be forced to love people you simply did not like. And if you had met them at a party, these family members, as real people, having to view and judge them as other real people in the world did, you might listen perfunctorily while downing wine, and steal glances for third-party rescue, and when it came, be very thankful.

3) Sloppy, thunderous applause eminated from wet hands. Someone groaned as the guy next to him pushed him awake. A. looked beyond the podium at the green carpet underneath a lane of towering spires. Aftermath. Trees swayed, kids swayed. They began to stand, shaking under the weight of themselves on legs that had fallen asleep. A. did not look to the rows upon rows of the football stadium. She did not want to see her mother in that ridiculous white hat with the enormous magenta flower, made specially for this day, making her way, deliberately to her, camera in hand, calling her baby, calling her anything. She did not want to see her cry, choked up with false pride, dabbing at her salt-licked cheeks with a scalloped-edged handkerchief. Kyle snored and Jodi squealed, but A. did not emit a sound. She was hyperaware of how grotesque this ceremony was, how obnoxious she had been about it every step of the way, how gratuitous they had all become in the image of their parents and caregivers, just because they could. And how everyone she knew was almost rewarded for it, commemorated, with the best of everything, parents handing over the world, even if they had next to nothing, they gave it all anyway. How funny that this—and their egregious spending habits, not entirely exclusive to this problem—this, was how the last of the Baby Boomers had changed the world. Funny. Not laugh aloud funny. More of a huh, half-smirk, funny how that guy died, funny, I don’t remember him. Funny, as in how no one seemed to notice it but her.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quote of the Day

Boy: I feel like all my emotions about everything were just more pronounced and greater when I was between 13 and 18.

Girl: They were, but you were full of hormones. Now you're just dead inside.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


I have one more weekend in town, so I will spend it in a dress at Coney Island, getting a terrible sunburn, wading in freezing water, playing Skeeball, winning matching bracelets with my interview subject, techno bumper cars, then riding the Cyclone, which is terrifying, because if you were to put your arm out, it would be torn off, and the ride would not stop, and the cars feel like they are about to fly through the rickety wooden slats.

I will spend it dropping chicken fingers on the boardwalk, avoiding glass on the pier, falling asleep on the ride home and seeing the Cool Kids for the second and maybe last time, and getting a drink spilled on me by a belligerent concertgoer. I will play in a hydrant and put my hands in a pond-smelling fountain in Tribeca and try to make people smell them and walk and think it is the hottest I have ever felt and finally go to that place near my apartment which is very romantic but often empty and have the best turkey burger I ever have in my entire life by candlelight.

Then I will spend the next day trying to write, barely leaving my apartment, only to buy Pepsi, and I will distract myself from finishing my book by trolling websites and posting on this blog. Kicking the blanket off and turning the air on, looking outside and wishing for rain. I will get on the phone and try to talk to everyone I know because I will miss them when I am gone.

I will not make a list of things to buy for the trip, plan my last night out, pack, move, or anything else...and I will not feel bad about it because I am responsible like that.

I am full of great ideas today...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Some side effects include...


-night terrors

-changes in personality

*This is on the bottle for my Malaria pills. So, here's a little experiment. Let's not tell my roommates. Then, at three AM when I am baking a pillow in the oven and bring it into one of their rooms, covered in shampoo and whisper "Dinner's ready" at the foot of their bed, the laugh will be on all of us!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Night Habits

Things only people who have seen me in my underwear know.*

I like the room freezing cold. Air-blasting, fetal-position-inducing, take-all-the-blanket-fighting, freezing cold. And lots of quilts on the bed. It reminds me of my artic 19th century childhood home in which you seriously had to decide whether a trip to the bathroom in January was worth the likely possibility that, upon touching your toe to the old pine boards, your veins would turn to ice and you’d shatter into a million pieces. Compounded by my father, whose vehement insistence of responsible consumerism I imagine will surely, upon his deathbed, possess him to reach out a hand, pull me close and whisper, “I pass my legacy to you. Promise me you will not let your mother turn the thermostat past 61 degrees in the winter. Promise me this! Oil is too expensive! God damnit!”

I sleep in dresses. Dresses that I wear nowhere else but in bed. Hey, I’d walk around work in a penoir if I could (that’s a dressing robe which is explicitly meant for combing your hair in).

I write to blasting music. Like techno. Or obscene rap. It is really weird.

My friends that are boys in the neighborhood sometimes come say hi at night when I’m writing. And my doorman thinks because of this, I am running a low-class one-woman prostitution ring in a headband and yoga pants.

I dance to no music in the kitchen. And do a lot of jumping.

I wake up early sometimes and am mad about it. I want to sleep longer but sometimes am too anxious or on deadline to.

I get a little crazy right before sleep. Like all riled up and giggly, like if you threw a tennis ball at a dog and jangled your keys and shouted, “Wanna go to the park? Huh? Wanna go to the park!” riled up and giggly.

There is a green wooden armadillo hanging upside down on the ceiling in my room and a million sketches.

I don’t know how to be lonely any more.

Sometimes I wait for people to get home and it makes me happy to see them. Yes, again like a dog.

I could spend the day in bed if I have a really good book.

I have a lot of wacky ideas and half the time I actually do them. This led to me applying to grad school in Hawaii, backpacking through Australia, writing a book, and saying very inappropriate things to upper management with the thought that I’ll be liberally excused because I am a “creative”. Note: “creative” is just a euphemism for “quirkily unprofessional” at best and “not quite all there” at worst.

I am always thirsty but I hardly ever drink anything.

There is someone in my phone listed as "Not Sure."

I think being interesting is a gift and one day I hope to have it. For now I’m okay with being interested.

I think I feel alive and amazed more than is the norm. Like the wind will blow someone’s hair into a pattern and I’ll stop or I will think about the domestication of animals and think, whoa, who was the first person to see a horse and be like, you know what, I’m gonna jump on that thing’s back, what the hell. Let alone a camel! Or that if an alien landed on this planet and saw an elephant, it would freak the hell out and fly away…

* That includes my roommates, mom and best friend, and anyone else who has seen me sleep or woken me up.


Have party that the doorman shuts down and I myself leave early because of my insistence that someone put “quinine” in my drink. Check.

Go ahead and volunteer to go to Aspen in the days before I fly out of the country because I apparently, love wine and stress and hate sleep. Check.

Plan on going to Lollapalooza the day after I get back from Costa Rica. Because I apparently love planes and music festivals and hate my own bed. Check.

Get a subletter and get a new roommate in 10 hours or less. And while we’re at it, hey, why not move into another room in the apartment. Then spend all day looking at photos to organize instead of cleaning up change and errant lipglosses. Check.

Yet to come…

Finish the novel—a first draft at least.

Pack, more shots, more packing, Malaria pills.

Avoid looking at bank statements.

Bask in the last hot water for weeks. Then stand in front of an air conditioner for hours and trying to hold on to the feeling.

See my friends. Quit all my jobs. Or quit my friends and see my jobs. I can’t remember which.

Spend some quality time with the rents. Buy little ipod. Buy a new camera.

What am I forgetting?