Thursday, March 31, 2005

Bras are dangerous

So this a.m. I got up early, determined to get to work on time and I'm exiting the Duncan, coffee in hand and SNAP!

Thar she goes!

My bra strap suddenly went SPRONG! It broke. Had I not been wearing a blouse, it could have put my eye out.

I muttered a few choice words, then headed back home to look for another support mechanism. Couldn't find it. The broken strap was beyond immediate repair. Maybe DH can weld it together with his blowtorch, but I was in a hurry. Could NOT find any of my other three bras. I'm tearing through my clothing drawers, swearing like a sailor and the dogs are looking at me like I'm nuts.

Finally found one. I was so frustrated, I was ready to abandon ship and head to work without a bra. Which is not a good idea. I think there's a Bible phrase in there somewhere someone would toss out at me. Maybe its in the Ten Commandments. Yeah, commandment Number 11:

Thou Shalt Not Sag.

Sigh... gonna be a wonderful day. I can tell already....

Monday, March 28, 2005

Old book covers

These are a hoot. Couldn't resist adding my own captions.

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Because if my gun doesn't kill you, my nipples will! Posted by Hello

Even Viagra couldn't revive him!  Posted by Hello

Damn, he was coyote ugly! Posted by Hello

The worst romance I ever read

Well, to be perfectly truthful, it’s not the worst romance novel I’ve ever read. It’s just one of the most unusual.

It’s called THE SACRIFICE YEARS and Kathleen Norris wrote it. The original copyright date is 1931. I have the first paperback printing, cover intact! It was one of my mom’s.

The cover is a hoot. It features a woman looking off into the distance, wringing her hands. She looks like she’s either suffering from angina or a bad stomach disorder. What makes it so cheesy is the conflict. Here’s the front blurb: “An emotion-packed novel of a woman whose marriage is threatened by a possessive mother-in-law.”

I hooted when I read that! Here’s a sample: “I could handle such awful things,” Mimsy thought, “I could stand poverty – illness – anything with Phil. But this mother-in-law stuff is just the one thing I can’t seem to stand!”

She’s the same author who wrote THE FOOLISH VIRGIN published in 1942.

Ms. Norris was born in 1880, ironically, the Victorian age I write about in my Egyptian historicals like COBRA. She died in 1966. Many of her books were released in trade paperback after she died. She wrote romance novels during a time when the biggest problem many women faced was figuring out what to cook for their husbands’ dinners or how to clean up baby spit.

My mom, who worked for a large American corporation during WWII, was promoted to a very prestigious job during the war due to the fact the men were off fighting. When the war ended, my mom was demoted. My mom, who was single and helping to support her family, was demoted because “the men have to support their families.”

Romance novels, like women, have come a long way since then. And each time I pick up one of these cheesy, but innocent and gentle romance novels, I think of how times have changed. THE FOOLISH VIRGIN is now a sexy, hot steaming raring to go kick-booty heroine. And instead of being demoted because the men are off fighting a war, she’s there fighting right alongside them.

I think my mom would like the heroines of today. Even if they had mother-in-law problems.

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Big Booty Woman is gone

She’s gone. Someone bought her. Or stole her.

The painting of a naked woman with an enormous butt couldn’t be missed on our travels through Haiti. Her butt took over the bottom (no pun intended) half of the painting always caught our eye as we traveled through Delmas up to Petionville to our hotel. She had this “come hither” look, casting a seductive glance over one shoulder. We christened her Big Booty woman. Baby got some MAJOR back.

She hung on a chain link fence, said fence cordoning off someone’s private property. They took down the fence and replaced it with a concrete wall, but the enterprising artist found a new way to hang his paintings by inserting handles into the wall.

Haitian art is colorful, sometimes primitive. Some artists copy a famous painting over and over, like the infamous street market scene. Some artists can now command thousands of dollars for their art. Most of the street artists are just trying to scrape together a living, like many Haitians. I have a few paintings, but my favorite is one I purchased from a leper at a hospital in Leogane (yes, Haiti has lepers). It has special meaning for me because of the gratitude shining in the person's eyes.

Big Booty Woman was always a familiar sight in Haiti, like the traffic, the diesel fumes, the potholes and the sidewalk vendors. She’s gone now.

I have a feeling she’ll be back, in some reincarnated form, on my next trip.

Ironically, the skimpy G-string donned by a woman on a billboard on the airport road advertising beer is now covered. A Haitian woman’s group complaining about how demeaning it was covered it with a big blue tarp. The same kind of big blue tarps that still cover many Florida roofs since last year’s frenzied hurricane season.

I saw it and laughed. If only bare butts were Haiti’s biggest problem, wouldn’t life be grand?

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Driving on airport runways

Calmer now. Back to my usual “this is life, get over it” typical self. Took lunch to do shopping therapy. Office supplies. I tooled around Office Depot, inhaling the fragrance of ink, and bought some funky Disney stationary featuring Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Figured I’d send out all personal correspondance on that from now on.

It will go well with the crayons they'll give me once I finally do land in the looney bin.

Driving back to the office, I’m singing along with Billy Joel’s “You may be right, I may be crazy.” And I flash back to last week’s driving about Haiti. C is a damn good driver. But driving in Haiti is pure lunacy. I’m so used to it, I don’t flinch anymore when she does a uee in the middle of oncoming traffic and a truck nearly clips us. The Newbie not only flinched, I heard him mutter, "Holy &#*@&#@."

He’ll get used to it.

There are traffic lights in Haiti, but many don’t work. In fact, people are so used to them NOT working when the lights do work they don’t pay attention and they go forward on red, green, and yellow lights.

Then we encountered a truck blocking the road, which was really an eroded dirt path (in the capital, a short cut). C is getting impatient. So she drives on the sidewalk, missing the truck by a hair’s breadth. We clap wildly, applauding her excellent driving skills.

If you don’t like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk.

Of course, driving in Haiti is more hazardous if you don’t have a 4x4 because the roads are so eroded your front end gets clipped and ends up sagging more than Grandma’s bosom. I personally prefer the Montero, which has a more comfy ride and better shocks and lessens the impact of feeling like you are driving down stairs. In Cap last week we drove around in the priest’s Toyota pick up. B had climbed into the bed, soaking wet after being in the mucky water photographing the kids fishing.

The good father forgot and started to take off while B was still climbing into the truck. And the roads… huge ruts, potholes that he drove into instead of skirting. We were springing up and down like malfunctioning Jack In the Boxes, nearly hitting the ceiling.

The Newbie, who had downed a big breakfast, is looking a little greenish as we’re bouncing around. It is St. Patrick’s Day, and the color is kinda cool. I mention casually, “Oh, did I tell you this is why I rarely eat breakfast out in the field?”

Then we drove on the runway. I mean, we drove on the &#*@&# runway of the airport in Cap.

It wasn’t the actual runway, but the paved “emergency landing” strip right before it. But it sure as hell LOOKED like the runway. I just sat there, laughing so hard my stomach hurt. I’ve never driven on a runway before.

But maybe the best description of driving in Haiti is what I found on a website. Unbelievably, a tourist website.

“We're sad to say that 65% of the vehicles one encounters at night have either no working headlights or only one working headlight. 75% have neither working tail lights nor brake lights. This includes heavy trucks that tend to use the middle of the road, even when totally unlit and driving around a blind curve. Drivers tend to be reckless and the vehicles unroadworthy. These are mild statements.”

No &#@*#&@…

Freaking out. Kidnappings and close calls?

I'm freaking out a little.

Scanning news stories and found out that last week, the same time we were in Cap Haitien, a guy who used to live less then 20 miles from me,

Was kidnapped. In Cap Haitien, the very same city we visited.

He stopped at a roadblock and they nabbed him.

Oh dear God. I don't even know where this roadblock was. I didn't see any roadblocks. Here I am, thinking of how peaceful and calm our trip was... no violence, nothing.

And they grab this guy. The news report said this:

"She and other associates did not know whether Delafuente had been targeted or simply fell into the path of one of many armed gangs that roam the fractured country's streets and disrupt civilian life."

The victim has ties to the missionary community in Haiti. I knew the incidents of kidnapping had risen in the past year. For the armed gangs, it's a real money maker. And my friend, who was kidnapped a few years ago... held blindfolded in a dark room, a gun muzzle shoved to her head, threats of rape and death...

I can only pray they release him safe and unharmed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

U.S. Navy guys

I saw them as we entered the airport in PAP last week in Haiti. The two of them, dressed in BDU’s (battle dress uniforms) were standing near the long lines where you show your passport and paperwork to the Haitian immigration officers sitting inside their open air cubbyholes.

U.S. Navy guys.

One was tall, bald, had an arresting face and yards of complex tattoos carved on his exposed forearms. The other was shorter with cropped brown hair and a young, earnest face. Very American.

It made me a little relieved to see them. Not that I expected anything, just a nice reminder of home as I’m entering this somewhat volatile country.

Nothing happened while we were touring around. The usual traffic jams, the poverty, everything seemed “normal.” But I was well aware of the last trip, when we had to turn around at the airport and leave because our Haiti staff feared for our safety. And I knew situations in Haiti have a tendency to suddenly explode without warning. But nothing happened. The only difference was C drove the long way around downtown, because certain areas were “hot spots” and things “tend to get a little dicey there.”

We saw the UN guys tooling around, some in their tanks, some directing traffic, some just driving about in the white vehicles. They’ve become part of the scenery for me by now. And we visited the general hospital, where we received grim reminders of how desperate shortages are. People with broken bones who lie in bed and nothing can be done for them because there are no supplies. Traction is a jug filled with sand and a string tied to the broken limb. There are no sutures, little anesthesia. If you need surgery, you bring your own supplies.

We saw the same U.S. Navy guys at the airport as we’re leaving. They were standing next to the check-in line in their BDU’s, talking quietly. Again, it felt reassuring to see them.

We were back home in the US in less than two hours. Started making plans for the next trip back.

And then two days later, hell breaks loose in Haiti. Two UN peacekeepers were killed when the UN engaged former Haitian soldiers. It was a grim reminder that beneath the calm surface is a boiling volcano and there are areas still controlled by armed ex-soldiers.

When I heard the news, I thought of the Navy guys. Our guys.

I’m just glad they were there. I hope they’re still there next time I visit.

Monday, March 21, 2005

More romance titles that will never make it

There are some things I’ve seen and heard in my work in the Third World that are too terrible to mention. I try not to dwell on them. They creep into my mind, nonetheless. So I find refuge in twisted humor. Just like a cop or a doctor or a nurse, humor is a defense mechanism for dealing with the misery I’ve seen. In light of last week’s trip to Haiti, I decided to conjure up more romance novel titles that will never sell…


You’re just like my mother

Lord Rotter’s too tight breeches

The vampire’s dentures

My Viagra lover

The Gay Rogue Goes Wild

I love wussy guys

The viscount’s halitosis

The virgin’s magic purple wand

To marry a man still breathing

Curse of the hairybacked werewolf

The highlander’s floral kilt

Bed farts, tales from down under

Navy SEAL Fashionistas

Navy SEAL Fashionistas Mission: Wardrobe Malfunction

Navy SEAL Fashionistas Mission: Mall Rat Rescue

Navy SEAL Fashionistas Mission: Manolo Sale

Spanking the wild monkey man

Expecting the sheikh’s artificially inseminated baby

Lady Tweedles’ Bulimia

The proctologist who loved me

And, to mock my own upcoming release (HINT HINT PLUG PLUG SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION), instead of The Cobra & the Concubine…

The Concubine and the One-Eyed Snake

Saturday, March 19, 2005


My new author photo... Decided to get a different do in Haiti just to set off airport metal detectors. Now the studs in my jeans match the studs on my face. Guess you can call me stud crazy. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 18, 2005

In romance novels, it's the thrust that counts

the conversation was a waste of breath. But I had to try anyway.

It happened at the hotel this week, at the bar. We had worked all day, and I was in the bar, reading Pamela Clare's RIDE THE FIRE. Wowser. I'm humbled and in absolute awe at her flare for writing. I bow before her superior command of the English language. She's amazing.

so there I am, in the hotel in Haiti, reading and enjoying a rum punch, listening to these people from Spain chatter away in Spanish, the loud American men in their shorts and socks and sandals (hello, can we say dweeb???) and the French stare at the TV blaring CNN. Reading a romance novel. A romance novel with a very sexy cover (John Desalvo, mmmmm!) There's a cool breeze drifting from outside and the chair is plush and soft. I'm chilling.

And along comes the New Guy. The Newbie.

We start talking, rather pleasantly, and he's discerned that I write romance novels. It's not something I broadcast at work. By now my friend and other co-worker, the photographer, has joined us. The newbie looks at me and remarks something like, "Oh those books are read by desperate women."

Grrrr.

B tosses out some impressive stats about the industry that he heard on NPR, like Nora Roberts outsells the leading MALE fiction writer. Then I launch into the reason why I write the books. For balance. To balance my life after seeing all we had in places like Haiti, the misery, suffering, etc. Because in romance, they always have happy endings. But romance novels, I am earnestly telling The Newbie, are relationship books.

The Newbie wants to know if I write sex scenes. I tell him yes. Then he gets this goofy look and says, "Oh and you use words like thrust. Romance novels are like PENTHOUSE."

then he kind of smothers a titter.

There is no other way to describe it.

I ignore that and describe how romance novels are character driven, how some fiction is plot driven and how writing a romance novel is great training to write ANY kind of novel because you learn to focus on the characters.... and I'm talking and it's like Charlie Brown's teacher in teh cartoons.

wah wah wha wha wha wha wha

Because after I finish my impressive little talk, woven in with stats about what percentage of American women buy romance novels, what kind of market share in publishing romance garners, and he kind of gets that smirky grin again and says, "So it's all about the thrust."

I changed topics. I know what I wanted to say.

I was ready to zing it out, to say in absolute dead seriousness, "Yes, it is. It's about taking your Raging Hard MANROOT and doing the nooky dance to this certain beat. Oh yeah, do me baby now yes yes yes yes harder harder harder faster faster faster slower slower slower, slower, then faster slower one two thrust thrust thrust. Cha Cha Cha."

Some days, I just regret wasting my breath.

Happy St. Patrick's Day! This is the green that greeted us in the slum on my favorite Irish holiday. It's algae, a scum formed atop the mucky water. Posted by Hello

This is Micheline, who lives in this slum. She had the sweetest smile. I don't think I'd smile that much if I had to live with this, especially since the sewage and garbage floods their houses when it rains.  Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Lost it

Here I am, I lost my room key. Okay. It's after 11 p.m. I've been running about all day. I'm tired. I have to get up at the crack of dawn. I lost my room key. Maybe I'll just sit here and look up French phrases on the internet while crunching down Immodium and warbling aloud, "C├ęst Francois. Francois est une fille..."

Of course I might always ring up the Canadian foreign minister and ask if I can crash in his room. He's staying here. Yeah, that might work.

Uh huh!

I have to find this room key. I have to get some sleep. Last night I got hardly any sleep. I kept dreaming about flying chickens and then we flew back to PAP, our driver picked us up and what did he have in the back in a box?

A live chicken.

Maybe I'm psychic.

We didn't have lunch today and I didn't have breakfast, because we were so busy. Then we got to the airport at Cap to find out our 1 p.m. flight was scheduled for nearly 3 p.m. arrghhhhhh...

I will find my room key. Maybe I will call one of those 800 psychic numbers to see where it is. Or ask them if they can figure out where I am... feeling homeless and a bit lost and a "fou blanc" (crazy white) in Haiti...

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Real life heroes

Today we visited homes in a slum in Haiti that is built on the water with garbage. By that I mean they piled garbage atop the muck until they had "land"and they built atop this. But the problem remains that the land floods when it rains. Instead of sidewalks they have piles of rotting trash. They have lakes of green algae coated sewage. (Happy St. Pat's Day! I saw green!)

I talked to one father who told me, without emotion, that he grabs his wife and kids and runs, I mean RUNS when it floods because the water rises above the windows. The children will drown if he doesn't. He told me, "I told God, I am in your hands. My children and my wife are in your hands. Save me."

He says all this matter of factly in Creole while I am scribbling notes with the hot sun beating down upon me, standing outside his twig and rusted zinc shack, the children gathered around. I am thinking of my middle class home and sidewalks made from concrete, not garbage. Of the lake and its quiet serenity in the neighborhood, not water with raw sewage and trash and algae in it.

I am thinking that as weary as I am, this man's burden is twice as hard. He has children who live like this. Would I be as friendly, as calm, if I were in his (broken heeled) shoes?

No. I would scream. I would rage.

Inside, I am screaming.

His wife cries because they live in a tiny shack where they coat the ceiling with plastic to keep the rain from dripping on their faces. They run when the area floods, which it does at least once a year. He tries to comfort her as best as he can, but he is helpless to do anything.

I am thinking of romance heroes now. Of big strong men with muscles and good looks who are larger than life. I am thinking of Khepri/Kenneth in THE COBRA AND THE CONCUBINE. A strong warrior. An English duke. He will do anything for Badra, the woman he loves. He is handsome, striking, larger than life. Sculpted muscles. A romance hero.

I am thinking of this little Haitian man who is thin and hungry and has aged eyes, and looks far older than his 34 years. He does not look like a romance hero.

He comforts his wife when she cries because they live in this swamp of sewage and trash and they have to run for their lives when the flood comes at least once a year. He does whatever he can to keep his little family happy. He prays. He tries to sell whatever he can to feed his family. He prays to keep them safe. He loves and cares for them.

He's poor, black, thin and desperate.

In my book, he is a real life hero. You'll never read about him in a novel, or sigh over him when you finish a book, but he's there. He's real. He's a hero.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Can I scream now?

Still in Haiti.I need to scream to release all my frustration. Pardonez moi.

arrrghhhhhhhhhhhh
hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
hhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I should feel better now with a cyber scream. I don't.

We're in Cap, and today, after one frustrating delay after another, we made it to a slum where the children slog through mud flats and fish for these tiny fish, like the size of guppies. For food. Not fun. They eat them because they are hungry. There were large groups of people, as we always attract them, like we're people magnets, people coming out of their houses to see the "fou blancs" who are visiting. So there's a woman with a toddler, a beautiful child who is crying and crying. He's naked. She shows us. This kid has a hernia the size of a small golf ball. It was horrible. And to fix this, it will only cost $80 US.

So I told C that I would pay for the operation. I told her this as an aside, on the quiet, because I can't stand to see this poor baby suffer and it's in my price range.

And then, this is what kills me, these kids come in from fishing. They have these fistfuls of fish that won't barely touch their hunger, just sort of take the edge off. One girl told us this was all they were eating today. Their daily bread.

I saw the toddler's mother start collecting all the fish from the kids. It puzzled me, but I was distracted with something else, so I didn't ask about it.

We followed one of the fishing kids home. This little 11-year-old girl. We go into her house. Her mom had been in bed, sick with a fever. We asked to see the fish and how her mom would cook it. Then this little girl tells me that the lady who took the fish has them. She took all teh fish from all the kids and they had to hand them over. I had thought the woman was holding the fish for them for some reason.

Nope.

She took them for herself for dinner. The mother of this toddler with the hernia. And if they hadn't handed them over, she would have beaten them. Their parents can't do anything. This woman is the village bully.

Laws of the jungle. Survival of the fittest.

I was so upset I wanted to rage. Instead, I said that no way in hell am I paying for this kid's operation when the mother is such a bad ass, stealing from these hungry kids! And then I realize that if I don't this toddler is still going to suffer. Yet if I DO pay for this operation, what kind of message am I sending to the mother? The "rich" (interject laugh here, hahahahahahaha!) blanc paid for my son's surgery and saw me take the fish, and rewarded my behavior with this surgery.

But if I don't the kid will still suffer.

I can try to send a message that I will pay for it if she stops stealing the fish. Uh huh. Sure. When pigs fly, that's when it will make a difference.

I don't know. I'm so tired and upset right now... I can't think about this anymore. This is the frustration I live with on the job. And yet it's just a tiny part of what takes place every day.

I keep telling myself, "Look, the good you can do outweighs the bad you will encounter. You can't change everything."

I can't. But damnit, why must it be so damn hard?????

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Monday, March 14, 2005

Bare, dusty feet in Haiti

Here in Haiti. Internet connection slower than watching paint dry. Things are quite calm.

I don't know what it is about this country that tugs at me like a small child yanking at my sleeve, why I love coming here and hate coming here. I love the quiet simplicity of some of the poor people and I hate it when some of them get so wired and scream at us, as one woman did at us today. I hate the poverty, the suffering, the haunted misery in the eyes that meet mine, sometimes defiant and angry at me, the seemingly rich blanc (white) with her blonde hair and notebook charging into their lives, asking personal questions, who then can board an airplane and leave.

And then I forget all that when I meet kids like the little boy with the dusty, bare feet.

Ten years old. He hunts for food during the day, like an animal nosing about for scraps. He has 11 brothers and sisters at home who rely on him. His dad makes pennies selling coconuts at the airport.

His feet were bare, caked with grime and dust. I asked when he had last eaten. He told me yesterday. I asked him if he would eat the food if he got any. He said, "No I will take it home first to my brothers and sisters because they are hungry."

It was past noon. He hadn't eaten anything yet. He came to our feeding program hoping for scraps. Wasn't on the list, but he heard they gave out leftovers to kids. So every day he comes to our feeding program, stands in line in the hot sun for hours. And he gets beaten up. The rough, older boys push and "they trample me."

He has to pass by the bridge connecting the dirt road to the slum, the bridge where his cousin got shot and killed two days ago. This bridge is right behind our warehouse.

"I was scared the first day I passed there."

His mother died when he was only two years old. His biggest fear? What he prays for at night. "I pray before I go to sleep that my dad never gets shot and killed because if he does, I will never be able to eat."

At ten years old, his eyes are aged. This little boy, with his bare feet, his torn olive pants, is carrying a heavy weight on his shoulders. He's seen too much. Felt too much.

We got him and his friend food, big tin cans filled with rice and vegetables. And as they walked off, I silently reminded myself, "This is why you go to Haiti. This is why.

4:30 a.m.

I am not a morning person...ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Leaving for the airport for Haiti in 50 minutes. Coffee, where are you?

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Sunday, March 13, 2005

E G A D S! Egos in romance

I can't stand people who constantly brag about themselves. Especially authors. Sitting next to them at conferences, conventions or at parties is like being trapped in an oxygen-deprived environment.

When I'm around them and they start spewing allocades about themselves, I secretly call it "mouth farting." Because it's loud, it stinks and everyone's trying to be polite, not saying anything but we all know it's quite crude.

There's nothing wrong with sharing stories of success. There's lots of reasons for romance authors to talk about it, what worked for them, etc. I love it when successful authors share the secrets of their success. And I delight in hearing good news, especially in these tough times of publishing.

What gets my goatskin is when authors DO NOTHING but brag about themselves. They don't ask you how you are. They don't even pretend interest in anything other than themselves.

The conversation (monologue) starts off like this, "My last book, WHIP A WILD MONKEY MAN, just made the Poughkeepsie Press's best selling list! My editor now wants me to write 10,000 new books, and gosh, I don't know how I can get it done between our vacation in Europe and my hair appointment and getting my nose hairs clipped for that important meeting with my agent and Tom Cruise, who's starring in the movie version of my last book, you know, I'm sure you read it, my contemporary romantic suspense comedy paranormal about a vampire who works for a major NY fashion magazine and is really a time traveling Regency dandy who got lost in the space time continuum and lost his memory along the way. Oh, and pass the butter, please."

A friend of mine and I worked out this great secret arrangment to get us through moments like this. Moments when we are trapped in parties where the egomanical authors start sucking out all the air from the room. We look at said author brightly and chirp, "That sounds GREAT!"

Said sentence is doled out with cheery enthusiasm.

Said sentence in code can mean a number of things, depending upon the person. It can mean, "You're a boring ass." Or, "I'd rather read bicycle assembly instructions in Chinese than listen to you." Or, "Did you know you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe bottom?"

Some of the most successful authors I've met are the nicest, most friendly and sometimes shy. They're real people. They have lives outside their careers. And when I say to them, "That sounds GREAT" there's no code words involved. Except for maybe, "You're a wonderful person and a great writer. And in my book, that's a pretty fantastic package."

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Haiti travel warnings

Damn.

Leaving Monday for Haiti and the US state department just issued this new travel warning: (from their web site)

"Americans are reminded of the potential for spontaneous demonstrations and violent confrontations between armed groups. Visitors and residents must remain vigilant due to the absence of an effective police force in much of Haiti (HA! WHAT police force???) ; the potential for looting; the presence of intermittent roadblocks set by armed gangs or by the police; and the possibility of random violent crime, including kidnapping, car-jacking, and assault. Travel can be hazardous within Port-au-Prince. The embassy has limited travel by its staff outside of Port-au-Prince and the ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-Au-Prince remains extremely limited. "

Translation: You're on your own, kiddies.

Sigh... at any rate, far as I know, we are still going. It's not going to be a trip to Disney, that's for sure.

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I love romance!

Sigh... being sentimental here. I'm watching SABRINA, the 1995 version with Harrison Ford. double sigh... it's such a romantic film, the shy lower class daughter who adores the playboy rich son... how she goes to Paris and becomes stylish and a woman who has a sense of self... and Harrison Ford's character, Linus, who doesn't want to love. He DOES NOT want to love her...

and yet he does...

Sigh... Yeah, I'm sentimental. I love this line that Linus says, "But I need her and I don't need anything."

BUT I NEED her and I DON'T need anything.

Wow.

sniff sniff sniff...

This is why I love reading/writing romance novels. Call me a throwback to the Sixties and the Love Generation, but I adore sappy, sentimental books and movies.

Then again, there IS my deep fondness for all those Friday the 13th teen slasher flicks...

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Peep Haiku

Yellow sponge of fluff
Expanding largely
In silence, I watch you grow.

See the innocent sugar chick
Beady eyes watching
Itself puff and now explode.

Easter peep, you are mine
Helplessly trapped,
Ding goes the microwave

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Bring out your dead

There’s a dead body lying on the street in Bel Air. A young man, who died in last week’s violence during the march to protest Aristide’s departure. No one wants to touch it. The Brazilian UN guys patrolling the area say the police need to pick it up. The police haven’t hauled it away. No one’s claiming it. Residents in the slums don’t want to touch it, fearing the chimeres (pro-Aristide gang members) will go after them as well.

So this poor dude, bare-chested, bullet-riddled, is lying face down in the midst of a trash heap on the street, flies buzzing about him, rotting away. While life goes on around him as normal. Peddlers hawking bits of fried plantains to eat, charcoal to sell, bottled water. Men playing dominos. Children trudging to school.

I can picture it, so surreal, and yet typical of Haiti. And my warped imagination is playing a twisted version of a scene from Monty Python. “Bring out your dead! Oh wait. Not THAT dead. We only want the safe dead. Bring out your Politically Correct Dead!”

I hope the body is gone by now. I hope it’s gone by the time we arrive in Haiti next week.

In the meantime, I need a list of items to pack.

1) Bullet-proof vest
2) Steel helmet
3) Notebooks and writing instruments
4) Romance novels to read on the road while driving by dead bodies in the street.

Tut Tut Tut

I almost wish they hadn't found out Tut wasn't murdered. I love mysteries. I love using mysteries for stories. And now they say someone didn't do in the boy king. BUT... it was only a CAT scan... hmmm... what about poison? What if someone DELIBERATELY broke his leg and allowed infection to set in, instead of the embalmers doing it, as Zahi Hawass suggests? Ah yessssssss.... there still lurks within in the lurid mind of this writer the possiblities...

http://www,bonnievanak.com

Tut tut tut. Darn! They did a CT scan on King Tut and found out the boy king hadn't been murdered after all. My man, Zahi Hawass, said the king's leg was broken, and possibly infection set in.
 Posted by Hello

Monday, March 07, 2005

A new secret weapon?

Real life is far more odd than fiction… Just read that a former stripper sold one of her boobs on e-Bay. Well, not her actual breast, it was her silicone implant. Sold it to the same casino company that bought the Virgin Mary cheese sandwich.

Said boob sold for more than $16,000. Sheesh. Said boob is purportedly a size 69 HH before the implants were surgically removed.

Said stripper was also once accused of beating up a customer with her big breasts. Whoa. Awk, the visuals… The customer said he suffered “whiplash” when she pointed her big bazookas at his face. He claimed they were like “cement blocks.”

Wham bam, slam, damn!

The mind reels… What if… the Pentagon got hold of this? I mean, these boobs could be a new secret weapon. Imagine parachuting strippers with 69 HH boobs into enemy territory. Navy SEALS, yeah, they’re tough, but how could they stack up (pardon the pun) against a pair of 69 HH boobs? Air drop the strippers with their 69 HH boobs and have them just beat the enemy with their breasts. Slap slap slap. Said enemy would die of broken necks, but die with big smiles.

And what would the Pentagon call this new secret weapon? Hmmm, how about…

Booby traps?

Friday, March 04, 2005


I'm in the mood for Halloween. Jack o the lantern anyone? ;-) Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Where the violence is

So I'm trying to explain Haiti to someone who's never been there and was asking about visiting Cite Soleil. The poverty is there. We need to go where the poverty is.

Yes, but the violence is there as well. You can't help the poor if you are dead.

I realized then how very aged I feel after doing this kind of work for more than 11 years. Eleven years of visiting slums, helping the poor, seeing gut-wrenching suffering. I'm jaded and cynical, and trying to explain poverty/politics/etc. to someone who's never visited a country like Haiti is challenging. Because where do I start?
On this trip we'll be visiting a hospital where most of the doctors left because they weren't paid their $171 monthly salary for months; there is no medicine, no supplies like sterile gloves, no blankets for the beds, a baby died because the hospital had no oxygen and the patients pray and moan and weep in their beds because there is little the remaining medical staff can do, and sometimes they just die.

It's not a nice place to visit. C told us, "I hate you. That place is awful. Why are you making me go there?"

I told her, "Because that's our job. I know you hate us. Because we always drag you to the icky places."

And that is our job. Visiting the icky places. Seeing the worst of the worst and trying to frame it in heartwrenching photos and stories so we can raise money and make those places not quite so icky.

No wonder I write romance novels. I honestly doubt that the worst thing I can write about, the darkest moments of the human soul and there are plenty of those in Rashid's story, will never match what I've witnessed in real life.
http://www.bonnievanak.com

Long live romance novels. Sounds weird to say it, but hell, those HEA moments keep me balanced. Because in real life, the HEA doesn't always happen. Especially in Haiti.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Haiti definitely a go

Well, in two weeks I'll be in Haiti. Trying this again. Hopefully, this time we will make it further than the airport. Violence sprung up in the slums again this week, but I expected as much due to the anniversary of Artistide's departure. We'll be spending one night in the city and then traveling north.

http://www.bonnievanak.com

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

human again

finally.

not sick. well, at least not physically. no telling what state the mental part is in...

worked more on rashid's story. he makes me cry. i love this guy. jillian has really come along in her character growth. my characters are so real to me. feels that way anyway.

http://www.bonnievanak.com