20 July 2009

Hemingway Days

Hemingway Days begin tomorrow. What this really means is that a lot white bearded old men will take over the island, some short stories will be "performed" on various stages, some fishing contests will occupy the day light hours, and way too much alcohol will be quaffed.

Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau

Conchs don't like to let the party end... the weekend after Hemingway Days, there is a best bar competition. This is what happens during the off-season here. Of course, we are going to participate in at least some of the related festivities. I'll post pictures next week.

17 July 2009

10 Best Places to Have Sex Outdoors

10. In the forest. Be careful here, there may be ants waiting to bite your ass.

9. On the beach, at night, under a moonlit sky (and for bonus points, in the surf). So romantic, but there is a lot of sand; so, either you will have to deal with it getting in your ass crack if you go full-out romantic in the surf, or bring a blanket.

8. On the edge of a cliff. The views are amazing, but don’t roll.

There’s a lot of sand? No shit, it’s a beach. This is the type of drivel most magazines are publishing today: 10 best lists with no content or substance at all.

When did we become a culture that consumes 10 bests lists rather than actual content? People blame Twitter for the short attention spans of readers. I think it goes deeper than that, and has been increasing for far longer than Twitter has been around. I am definitely guilty of using Twitter and Facebook to keep in touch rather than e-mailing or calling people. I do, however, expect and want more intelligent content in the magazine I just paid nearly $5 for.

12 July 2009

Why I might never leave...

Doesn't this make you want to sit, people watch, and sip a cold lemonade?

KW color - even when it is not blooming season

silly drinks and the ability to get everywhere on foot or bicycle

the cemetery - peaceful, colorful

typical daily scenes

This time, last year

New England tour - VT, NH, MA, ME

Stonington, Maine

Somewhere in Maine, after eating some lobsters

View from Garin & Jenn's balcony

Brad & Garin at the VT Brewer's Festival - lots of good beer, that I didn't get to drink since I was the DD (of course)

09 July 2009

Strong Language

I recently read Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. Aside from making me want to eat calf’s liver with mustard shallot sauce (my vegetarian days have long been forgotten), and inspiring a lot of research into where the local natural foods store gets its meat, it had the effect of making me drop my current no-foul-language streak.

Periodically I feel the need to clean-up my language. I worry about who, if anyone, I might be offending. Although, let’s be honest here, my definition of lack of foul language is very different from some people’s. Hell and damn never make it out of my vocabulary during these clean-language streaks (and I would never say “heck”). I also still feel the need to drop an f-bomb here and there, so I asterisks them (if facebook can make “friend” into a verb, I can make asterisk into one too, right?). And, I am ashamed to admit, I’ve even said “f-ing” once or twice. If you’re going to use it, then use it, damn-it, don’t be a pussy about it. For some reason I think asterisking is more acceptable than saying “f-ing,” or (ehh) “fricking” (or any other horrible variation).

I learned as a kid that it was OK to curse as long as it was in Romanian. This “lesson” was only mentioned once, most likely in passing, and definitely not as a means to teach us some good manner. To me, though, it translated into “It’s OK to curse,” and it was one lesson that stuck (even though, I am sure, it was not meant to). Oddly enough, it didn’t seem to stick with my brother, at least not that I know of. It’s just me. I like to think that I inherited my tendency to curse like a sailor. Like, somehow, it’s out of my control. But, given that I can work with people for well over a year, and surprise them with an expletive (“Wow, I’ve never heard you curse, Anda!” - clearly someone who doesn’t know me well), I can control it.

This current streak of clean language started a few weeks after St. Patrick’s day weekend last year (quite a sustained effort, no?). That weekend I may have had one too many car bombs, and, well, no need to go into that. It’s enough to say that I was not on a clean-language streak that night. A couple of weeks later, I was listening to someone talk at a party after she had had more than one too many drinks. “Is that what I sound like when I curse,” I wondered. Several people assured me that, no, I am not as grating as the lady in question (a good portion of it had to do with her personality). Even so, just the thought of potentially being that grating inspired several very clean-language months and a more sustained effort since then. The truth is that sometimes profane language does offend some people, while others just think it’s obscene (silliness!).

Anyway, Julie Powell is so unapologetic about her language, that I wondered: “Why all the fuss?” Who really cares? I don’t want to offend people, not at all; but a few words here and there should not be an issue for anyone. I am still careful around new people, or people I know I might offend (the ones that use the words “heck,” “gosh,” and “darn”). Otherwise, fuck it (as seen on the lone bumper sticker on a beat-to-shit VW camper van).

03 July 2009

Do as the Conchs do!

We've spent July 4th together for the past 11 years. Some years we were with family or friends, some we spent moving (several years, actually - we have a stupid, stupid habit of moving in the middle of heat waves. Once, we spent a very hot night in a Walmart parking lot in the UHaul cab because all of the hotels within 200 miles were full of 4th of July travelers). Some, I can't even remember.

Our first 4th of July together (definitely one of the most memorable) was in Rome, with my roommate and B’s friend. We were good tourists during the day - meaning we didn’t see any attractions, and, instead, spent the day walking around, sitting at caf├ęs drinking coffee and smoking. Do as the Romans do, right?

That night was a different story. It started with us trying to crash a wedding (we wandered in by accident - and crashing it didn’t work out in our jeans, cargo pants, tank tops, and Tevas), then catching the last train from the last station back into town after walking a couple of miles to get there, and ended with us running down a freeway in the dark.

After getting back into the city from our failed wedding crashing attempt (how we even got out there is another story), we were looking for a club by following a map B’s friend had picked up from McDonald’s (he had a thing for their fish sandwiches that summer). The map was the worst navigational tool I have ever tried to use; it even did a bad job of showing us where all the McDonald’s in the city were. We can’t remember the thought process (of all four of us!) that led us down a freeway late at night - and we were all sober! It must have been a good idea if all four of us, sober, thought it was?

My roommate refused to go further after we had just run down a tunnel trying to time oncoming traffic (no sidewalk) only to get to the other side to climb up a bushy hill (still not knowing exactly where we were going and what was on the other side of the hill). This wasn’t a freeway in our US sense of the word, but a 4 lane each way road, which might be common in Phoenix, but is a freeway in Rome. And Romans drive a bit more kamikaze like than Phoenicians do. “That’s it,” she said after hearing some rustling in the bushes ahead, “I’m not going up there.” Even the guys lost the courage to keep going. So, we turned around, ran through the tunnel again, and made our way back to the hotel. No club, no 4th of July toasts with cheap (as in inexpensive) Italian wine.

Tomorrow we are planning to hang out, eat burgers and strawberry rhubarb pie w/ vanilla ice cream (all homemade), drink good beer with new friends, and see fireworks over the Atlantic. I don’t anticipate any shenanigans, but, it is Key West. There are at least 6 4th of July events (that I know about) on this 2x7 mile island. And we all know how much I appreciate a reason to celebrate, any reason. So, when in Key West...

01 July 2009

Snowshoes in paradise??

I don’t know how many times our plans have changed since we left Phoenix last April. A year-long trip around the world was temporarily extended to two years, and then truncated to several months with the idea that B would switch offices and we’d move, which turned into B going to beer school, into moving to Vermont, into moving to the Virgin Islands, into… Key West, with many, many other iterations in between.

We probably look like a couple of fickle kids: our plans change each time we announce a new one. But, for those of you that know B well, you can probably picture all of the hours of (often) excruciating discussion (and spreadsheets) that go into changing and making a new plan. How will this work? What will we do to make money? Are questions that always lead to: Why do we want to do this? What do we really want out of life? Etc. I think we can fill 160 GB with all of the spreadsheets he’s created to help us figure out what the logistics of the next plan will be - it’s sort of like my compulsive list making, only more…

I can follow our plan shifts in books (on log homes and sailing the Caribbean) and extra stuff we’re carrying around (which we packed up this weekend to move into a second apartment in Old Town). While I don’t have my Chacos here (because I couldn’t find them in the storage unit in Phx - which is another story altogether), I do have my snow shoes. We also have thick Vermont-cold sweaters, and enough brewing equipment to almost fill the back of the Jeep. We clearly didn’t plan for the plan to change this much.

But, plans change and it’s good. We’re constantly reinventing our paths, and we’ve both learned to be more resilient in the last year, and to really think about what we want when making any plans. Part of making all of this travel and change work is always thinking about the absolute worst that could happen and coming up with a plan to deal with that. At least, that's what works for me. There’s always a solution for every horrible thing that could happen, we just have to think about all the bad things first.

So, we’re in Key West, kayaking, taking sailing lessons, enjoying island life, and making plans. I want to be able to work from anywhere in the world, which means starting an on-line business of some kind and freelancing. How the plans change from there, and what I do to achieve that, is simply logistics.
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