Monday, January 31, 2005
recuperate from lack of sleep... these are some of the
typical sights I see while in the field. The shrine I
included is not typical; this was shot when we
stopped very briefly to see the cave shrine built
to protect drivers along the dangerous stretch
of two-lane highway. I didn't notice the sun
streaming behind the mountain when I shot it.
The "gift" left at a halfway house for children. Five days old, she was abandoned by her mother at the hospital right after birth.
Family I met who was scavenging for their evening dinner. Dad in background was laid off in Dec., "friends" stole his severance check so he's forced to dig in the dump. Still, he says, "I trust that God will never abandon me and will find me another job." The stuffed animal the little boy is holding is his treasure he found in the trash.
Friday, January 28, 2005
There was a little girl waiting outside, hovering, really in the doorway, looking inside as the children under 6 were getting their daily glasses of milk. She looked so sad. Her face was burnt and she stood there, just waiting. This was the milk we are providing Fr. P., but still, he can only feed so many. And we asked her, her name was Yamileth, why she waited. She told us, "I'm hungry and I'm hoping to get some milk." She was 9, and too old for the program. But if the priest fed her, the other older children would find out and he'd have to feed everyone and he just doesn't have enough. He has to feed the most vulnerable, the very young, who sometimes get ignored in their large families and don't get fed. Jesus, those kids they were feeding, that was IT for them... they don't eat anything else. Nada. That was their meal. A lousy glass of milk we're supplying and some raisin bran a Canadian organization donated.
We got Yamileth a glass of milk. Her smile was as if we'd handed her a diamond necklace.
I can't imagine being Fr. Pat, having to make these tough decisions, wanting to feed them all and he can't. More than half of Honduras' population is under 15. And he told me 80 percent of the people are living in poverty. There is no middle class. Just the very wealthy and the very poor.
So i'm doing some tough thinking of my own. Tough decisions.
Maybe it's time for me to quit writing. I don't know... am I really cut out for the world of romance? Do I want to keep continuing the struggle of trying to get books published? The frustration, the pressure? Does it really matter anyway? I mean, if I quit, no one's going to miss my books. And this work I do. 11 years of traveling in the Third World, seeing tears and pain and poverty and sharing laughter as well, but I'm so weary right now and depressed... and all the work I do, does it really do any good? For all the people I help feed, another goes hungry and another. And some die. Have I really done any good in 11 years of working as a writer to raise money to help the poor?
Maybe it's time for a real soul-searching change. Take a long break. Become a pool cleaner or a bag lady at Publix. Paper or plastic? I'm too damn depressed right now to think about it. Maybe tomorrow. I'll be Scarlett O'Hara. I won't think about that today. I'll think about it tomorrow.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Okay, so we went to another garbage dump today and this was was a little rougher and the guys there were young, doped up glue sniffers who looked tough and just because four of them shouted at us and jumped on the car as we're leaving, pounding on the roof and screaming obsenities at us in Spanish... it doesn't mean I had a bad day.
Today was actually an adventurous day.
We toured around with a great priest who joked with us and has some wonderful projects to help the poor. He promised me he will try to learn English next time and I will learn Spanish so we can talk. He's training young people to take over his projects and run them, all young people from the various communities he works in. The man is a dynamo. We also toured with a great female Episcopal priest who took us to Rincon de Dolores, "The Place of Suffering." I asked why they call it that and got a wise ass answer. In spanish and english.
We suffered as we walked up and down hills for more than 25 minutes looking for a rundown house the woman priest wanted us to see. It was a beautiful day though, hiking through this thick pine forest. The Honduran government has a wonderful policy to prevent deforestation. They give away 2-3 acres of land to the comuneros, (the commoners) who in return, patrol about 5-6 acres of forest, looking for brush fires during the dry season, and anyone who might cut down a tree. We found the house, and the woman was home. She told us she'd rather sleep on the ground outside than inside. She cooks inside and it was smoky and dark and stifling.
Came back to the hotel and took a hot shower to wash off the little red bugs that suck blood and burrow under your skin. I think there aren't any on me. Can't be as bad as the time last year in the DR when red bull ants invaded my suitcase when we were staying at this nun's house. I had to shake out all my clothing. I don't really like having ants in my pants.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Then they brought in a five day old baby. A little girl, just abandoned at the hospital by her mother. Today is Woman´s Day in Honduras and the caretaker cried out, "It´s a gift because of Woman´s Day." They love the children there and take excellent care of them.
Then we visited El Garbage Dumpo. Met a man and his children who were digging through the trash for food for tonight. They showed us their haul, fruit others had thrown away and expired porridge mix. The father had a very good job at the factory but was laid off in December. They gave him a fat severance check. On his way to the bank, his friends set him up and stole all the money. So now he is reduced to digging through the trash for food. But he has this optimistic, deeply faithful attitude that life will improve and God will provide Amazing. I am always amazed by the depth of the faith I find in the most desperate of cases.
This was one of the busiest garbage dumps I have seen. People and children everywhere. As soon as the garbage trucks pulled up and dumped their load, they swarmed all over it like bees, digging through it. Some children found a huge bag of potato chips and launched into them, munching like mad. Seeing children eating garbage, it does something to your guts. As many times as I have seen it, it never fails to tear me in half. So there was my day. A dead baby this morning and ending up with kids eating rotting garbage. Sigh...
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Went into the hot tub. 58 degrees out and dropping to 36 tonight. Yes, I'm a wimp. I live in Florida. Once I lived in the wilds of NJ and braved the ice and snow. Now I shiver below 69. But hey, I tolerate the heat.
Going through old files and found a story I had written about Jabari's son and Ramses' daughter falling in love. Posted the first chapter on my web site on the "What's New" section http://www.bonnievanak.com/new.htm. I don't know if I'll ever get this book published, but I do love these characters. Tarik, caught between two worlds; his mother's independent western ways of thought and his struggle to be a strong leader, like his father, the sheikh. Fatima; who's just plain outspoken, and wants to be a warrior. Because she knows she can do it. Just because she's a woman, why should she be held back? I love Fatima's character. Go Fatima, go. Break the rules and prove them wrong. Oh yeah.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Well not literally my backyard. Palm Beach, just a long stone’s throw away from my back yard. The reception will be held at Mar-a-Lago, his modest Florida home. Said festivities will take place in the very modest $42 million Versailles ballroom, replete with 17 crystal chandeliers, 24-k gold leaf moldings and a marble floor just tres perfect for dancing. Melania Knauss’s dress (will she hyphen to Knauss-Trump?) is wearing, sshhhhhhh!! It’s a secret. But all the world knows her gown is a $100,000+ strapless Dior, that was featured on the cover of Vogue, and took 550 hours to embroider and has acres of white satin and a train that’s longer than Amtrak.
Guests will include Billy Joel, Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood and David Letterman. The town council of Palm Beach nixed The Donald’s request for fireworks shot off in his 5+ acre backyard. Oh pooh! Well, rain on my parade, why don’t you, town council?
I checked my mailbox this week to see if my wedding invite was delayed. Alas, it wasn’t. The sad truth is, I’m not invited.
Ironically, about 20 years ago, I would have given ANYTHING for a glimpse at The Donald.. I used to work in Palm Beach as a reporter for a society newspaper.
I’d prowl Worth Avenue, notebook in hand, peering at the rows of Bentley’s and Rolls, and black-tinted limos in vain hope for just a peek at that man. I attended the theater, recitals, lectures and even black tie society balls. It was my first reporting job and I was caught up in the glitz and fairytale like opulence that is Palm Beach in The Season. Our offices were guarded by a chic receptionist with blood red dragon nails who used to hiss at the hordes of old biddies who would stampede our office to eagerly grab the latest edition to see if their photo was featured. Then they would buy oodles of copies to have something to crow over during meals with the girls at Ta-boo or Café L’Europe or Testa’s.
The invites to all the society balls would stream into our offices like winter snow. I’d walk outside our offices and see Rolls Royces or Bentley’s parked there, like smug, superior thoroughbreds next to my aging, faded Nissan.
I remember my first Palm Beach gala. I was petrified of not doing a good job. The society editor advised me thus, “Dahling, just grab the guest list, make a note of who’s there, jot down some notes on how beautiful it all is and have a good time.” Easy enough. I sat at my assigned table and guzzled champagne that cost more than my monthly salary and got tipsy. I entertained my dinner companions by making sly remarks about a well-endowed young lady dripping in emeralds who was accompanied by a much much much older man. They hooted while she sat, batting her long eyelashes, at her man.
The best times though, were sitting and yaking with the cops. Cops always have great stories. Palm Beach cops have wonderful stories. Like the call they received to rescue this older gentleman found dangling from a second story balcony. Naked. Attached to said balcony by a pair of handcuffs.
But all during my crazy tenure at the newspaper, I never once saw my dream man, The Donald. I never made it inside Mar-a-Lago, though my editor did. She returned looking dreamy and distant, like someone who’d been transported to a fairyland or was cranked up on acid.
I’d drive by Mar-a-Largo and stare for the five seconds it took to pass it on the bend, and crane my neck to see if The Donald might be out sunbathing on the lawn or ordering his minions about.
And time passed and I went on to a real reporting job and I forgot all about The Donald. Palm Beach became a distant memory.
And now my haunts aren’t Worth Avenue and the cute little cafes or the immense, glittering ballrooms of The Breakers. They’re slums and shantytowns and garbage dumps.
Next week I’m in Honduras, touring a garbage dump. I’ll be writing stories of the families who live there in cardboard and plastic homes, and dig through the rotting trash for food and things to sell to stave off hunger.
Chances are I’ll never see The Donald in person. Our paths will never cross.
I think I can live with that. Besides, that hair…
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Hmm. The imagination reels with possibilities. Imagine a NY fashionista guide to trekking across the desert.
“The well dressed Bedouin is attired in long, flowing Dior robes of ecru which billow smoothly over a pair of eggshell 400-thread count Egyptian cotton trousers by Diesel. This tres chic ensemble is smartly accessorized with a Hermes leather belt and Kenneth Cole open toed leather sandals. He adds a dash of Dolce and Gabbana’s new line of colognes for the Bedu on the go; Au de Dromedary, for that authentic touch of desert scent. Dressed for success, this natty ensemble will suit even the fussiest of desert raiders.”
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Cinnamon Struts (nice and spicy)
Foodles McBride (Scottish ring to it)
Johnson Ogle (no explanation needed)
Johnson Little (dare me!)
Rosie Cheeks (Hmmm)
Sue D. Nims (ha!)
Velda Dark (gothic)
D. Flower (trite)
Monica Fox (nah)
Monica Lewinsky (I think this one is taken)
A friend commented recently about best-selling authors who write crap. “How does this crap get published?” she wondered. “I mean, ten thousand monkeys pumped up on crack could write better.”
I told her ten thousand monkeys on crack didn’t need to write better if they were tagged with a best-selling name. Some authors could fill out a form and insert words, like the old Mad Libs we once did, and it would get published and sell a gadzillion copies. Invent your own book! Like this: (Choose one of each in the following sentence):
“He (stroked) (caressed) (tickled) (squeezed) her (plump) (rounded) (pear shaped) (breast) (butt) (nose) as she cried out while (writhing) (undulating) (calculating her income tax). But his overpowering (masculinity) (sensuality) (body odor), which had caused hundreds of women to (faint) (surrender) (resolve to join a convent) stirred deep (desire) (passion) (flatulence) within her. All she wanted to do was (jump his bones) (lick him like fat-free chocolate) (watch old Bonanza reruns) as he massaged her with (scented oil) (hot lotion) (WD-40).
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Listless tonight because DH had another emergency call in the middle of the night, this time for a friend whose electrical panel was sizzling. Maybe tonight no calls? Can I take the phone off the hook? Can we move to a place where there are no phones?
Some guy started a blog called All Things Dunkin Donuts. Donut/celebrity trivia, news from the donut frontlines, etc. Does it because he wanted to share his love of DD with people. Whoa boy… ok, so some people really do need a life. Maybe I’ll start a new blog about the consumer products in my life. Call it All Things Hoover. About the joy of things that suck.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Did two loads of laundry, and sat down to write ten pages. Stared at screen. Nothing. Blank. Edited instead. Then I told myself if I wrote ten pages, I'd get a reward. I started at a point that interested me and wrote and wrote. Finally! Ten pages. Rewarded myself with a nice, long bike ride then climbed into the hot tub. Mmmmmm. Next Monday I'm in Honduras. No hot tubs, no bike riding, just work work work.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
A gay bomb? OMG, I can see it now, the guys from QUEER EYE doing covert missions, dropping into enemy territory, criticizing the camouflage (Oh horror! They have pleats!), bemoaning their "nose bush" no-no's. What would such a bomb contain? Photos of Judy Garland? What yahoo dreamed up such an asinine idea? Did they think that you drop a gay bomb and suddenly the enemy gets amorous and they all attack each other in a wild sexual orgy? This is where my tax dollars are going? Sheesh…
Why don’t they just invent a non-lethal bomb that spurs cooking among the enemy? Instead of training in weapons and warfare, they will be unable to resist the impulse to rush to the kitchen and whip up a delicate concoction that would make Martha Stewart, imprisoned or not, weep? Imagine the world with men in kitchens instead of the battlefield. Wars of haute cuisine. The Epicure Bomb. “MY cilantro lime chicken is better than YOUR prosciutto-stuffed pork chop.” And when things get real serious and they must fight? They can all pelt lentils at each other.
I crashed again and had weird dreams. Dreamt that I was at a Paul McCartney concert with girlfriends, when I was much younger and he was much younger and cuter (20-something) and he invited me back to his hotel room. Me, the raving PM fan, was giddy at the idea of having sex with my favorite crush. I got there and he is sitting in an easy chair drinking milk and eating cookies. All he wants to do is talk about how stressful the music business is. Disgusted, I leave, vowing to track down Mick Jagger, who doesn't have issues.
Resolved today to do something productive and then write at least 3 pages. It's a dreary day outside, so I finally tackled the spare bedroom closet. Starting digging through all that mess and lo and behold I find roll after roll of Christmas wrapping paper on the bottom of the pile. ROLLS of it! I mean, we're talking four or five years worth. I know what happened. Every year I knew we had Christmas wrapping paper, but couldn't find it so we just bought more. Either that or two rolls decided to get together, have a glass of wine and heated sex and make other rolls. Yeah, that's it. Christmas wrapping paper making babies. Santa and Frosty getting it on and giving birth to this roll of grinning penguins. Smiling penguin wrapping paper. Tacky, but hey, it was on sale.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
1) Julian McHahon, who plays a plastic surgeon on NIP/TUCK, is asked all the time by women how their boobs are and if they should get a boob job. Seems they think he’s an expert. (Sounds like a good side business for him. If NIP/TUCK goes off the air, maybe he can open a drive-by Mammary Assessment Center with free hands on exams. )
2) Victoria’s Secret is bringing 1,000 jobs to Licking County. Pending approval by the Licking county commissioners. (Just saying “Licking Country Commissioners cracks me up. One wonders about other businesses in Licking County. KFC: Finger Licking good. Burger King: Have it your way in Licking. Campbell soup: Mmmm, mmmm good, Licking! Timex: Takes a licking and keeps on ticking in Licking! Wendy’s: Where’s the beef in Licking? Avis: We try harder in Licking. Trojan condoms: What a man wants in Licking.)
3) A woman admitted to drinking three glasses of three glasses of Listerine mouthwash in Michigan was arrested for drunk driving. (She may have been drunk, but hey, she gave a blast of freshness to that Breathalyzer.)
4) In Stockholm, Sweden, a landlord says it’s okay for a couple to make noisy love, as long as it’s done in the daytime. Neighbors complained about the couple. Law protects them from being evicted, and the housing project’s marketing director said that “It's comparable with babies having colic.” (Yeah, uh huh. Babies crying from having gas and couples humping like moaning bunnies. Same thing. Poor Sweden. No sex at night but then again, who can tell when it’s night? It’s dark all winter! )
5) French cemetery in Paris fenced off statue of journalist Victor Noir to prevent women from touching his groin. Seems like women like to rub the statue for luck. The statue is lying down and features, “a distinct enlargement in the groin.” (Sheesh. I guess size does matter to men, even when you’re dead. As for the rubbing, sorry ladies. Bad news. When you’re dead, it’s done and there ain’t no bringing it back to life. Not even with Viagra.)
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I do like this story. My first erotica! It’s about Cinderella escaping from her fairy tale into the real world and the king of IsBn, who rules over all fiction, trying to coax her back. There’s lots of references to romance. When the alarm bells ring, telling Daryl, the king that something is amiss in the world of fiction, he glances at the romance monitors and muses, “Did Nora Roberts fail to make the NY Times list?”
Still plugging along on Rashid’s story. Added some touches of humor to lighten it up, but I’m determined to write this book as his character dictates. That’s why I’m thrilled Cinderella made it to the finals. I’m trying to expand my writing. Write something dramatic and dark, and then write something funny and light. Allowing myself the freedom to explore Rashid’s reclusive personality and Jillian’s determination to draw him out.
Now if I could only sleep. Insomnia all this week. Three hours of sleep last night. Dog kept snoring.
Monday, January 10, 2005
The Sheikh & the Tired Prostitute
The Cowboy’s Secret Moody Teenager
Are you my mommy’s sperm donor?
The Bride’s Significant Other
My Sexy Transvestite
Lady Tweedle’s Bunions
The Boring Marquess
A case of herpes to remember
Kiss of the Used Car Salesman
Truck Driver in a Kilt
The Rake & the Hoe
The Pirate who never Bathed
The Chinless Duke
The Virgin in Menopause
And last, but not least…
Vibrator of my dreams
DH calls and says, "How's it going?" When I tell it is going, somewhere, he tells me, "I got hit in the head by a banana."
Seems he was working in the ER, near a patient who was baker acted. The patient suddenly began hurling his lunch at everyone in sight. He took the banana and WHUMP! Hit my husband on the back of the head.
"It was a big banana," DH told me. "12 inches."
I tried my best NOT to make a snarky remark. Failed. What do you say to your husband when he tells you a 12-inch banana attacked him?
Is Friday here yet?
The Twelve Steps of Writers Anonymous
1. We admitted we were powerless over publishing.
2. Came to believe that a force greater than ourselves, the publishers, editors, agents and the reading public, held the power.
3. Made a decision to turn our will over to the joy of writing for writing in itself as a pure creative expression of our inner selves.
4. Made a determination to write fearlessly without the restraints of the inner critic.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another fellow writer that this business truly sucks some days.
6. Were entirely ready to allow ourselves the freedom of expressing ourselves through our writing, no matter how politically uncorrect or unmarketable the writing was.
7. Humbly acknowledged there will always be a writer better than us, more popular, with better sales, more contracts, some of whom have egos that suck up all the space until we’re left with a gasping black hole.
8. Made a list of all the egocentric writers and decided never to buy their books, except at a UBS. Continue to support other popular authors, read their books and learn from the wisdom of their experience.
9. Acknowledged there will always be writers worse than us as well, and all we can do is become the best writer we are meant to be instead of comparing ourselves to others.
10. Continued to balance our writing with our personal lives and to treat other writers with the same respect we ourselves desire.
11. Sought the advice of more experienced writers, writing manuals and workshops to improve our writing, but while acknowledging these methods may not work for us and that’s okay.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to practice these principles in all our writing.
Thursday, January 06, 2005
If I go, it wouldn’t be for a month. Too soon to tell. After visiting Haiti after the flooding, at least I know what to expect. The dead bodies will be gone by then, hunger and disease set in. In Gonaives, they did amputations without anesthesia, that’s how overwhelming the need was for medicine and supplies. Mothers talked to me with blank shock in their eyes about watching their babies drown as they were swept away. People living on their rooftops, mud clogging their homes. 2,000 died in Haiti, leaving hundreds of thousands of survivors. Now we’re talking 140,000 dead in Asia, with 5 million survivors.
Sheesh, anyone reading this must think I’m a nutcase. I go from whimsically writing about inventing purple prose words for a man’s private part to talking about dead bodies and disease and hunger. That’s my life. The pendulum kicks back and forth, forcing me to shift gears without warning. It’s nothing compared to the suffering of the victims. No wonder TV reality shows like Survivor hold no interest for me. I’ve seen the real thing, and it’s raw, real and blistering.
Wednesday, January 05, 2005
Love Monkey Handle (remember CB radio's? What's your handle?)
Staff of Ra, the god of love muffins (nice Egyptian ring)
Mighty rod of pleasure
tower of power
Cupid’s thrusting arrow of molten heat
Male instrument (What instrument do you play?)
One-eyed snake in the night
One-eyed snake in the day
One-eyed tired snake
Bulging Rampant Purple Love Warrior (that’s purple prose)
Stud plunger (Goodness, that sounds like a bathroom product)
Ah… I think I have it now…
The organ men sometimes use to think with…
Starting off the year determined to forge ahead on Rashid’s story. Book is getting darker, but added touches of humor as well to lighten it, such as the scene where he is discussing venturing deep in the western desert to find the treasure, and Jabari warns him the way is treacherous and the oasis difficult to find. Rashid boasts he can navigate at night by the stars and find camel tracks in the softest sand. Then Jabari and Ramses exchange glances and Ramses remarks, “And you got lost in Cairo trying to find the Shepheard’s Hotel.”
I’m having fun researching the setting. Learning all about the environment of the western desert. Rain is rare, but it happens. In 1873, German explorer Gerhard Rohlfs set out for the great sand sea. He got stranded and unbelievably, for two days, it rained. And saved him. Explorers believed somewhere in the western desert was the lost city of Zerzura, an oasis where there was a castle filled with treasure.
I'd love to be an explorer, searching for a lost treasure city. Guess I'll have content myself with visiting slums instead. Trip to Honduras all set for month’s end. Gang violence getting worse, there’s a bit of concern since the incident two weeks ago when gangs raided a public bus and shot and killed 28 people. But I figure we’re not taking public transportation, so we’ll be okay.
Saturday, January 01, 2005
Happy New Year. Blessings to everyone for a peaceful, blessed New Year.