Saturday, March 29, 2008

Don't Take Your Guns to Town

We passed this sticker on a door in downtown Santa Marta.

It was a door to a bank.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Big Rock Salty Mountain Part 2

We're back home now. C posted an account of the Colombian Salt Cathedral that makes me pleased to read it but also annoyed, because it's so good. Puts mine to shame, and I'm supposed to be the writer here.

You don't have to read it if it makes you feel disloyal, but at least look at his photos.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bogota Spring

Our tiny Candelaria hotel room looked a little less crappy when we returned, hungry and exhausted, from Zipaquirá. Its ventilation-free scent was starting to smell a bit familiar, maybe even homey. After squabbling respectfully over custody of our shared iBook, we traipsed back up Senor Don Gato Hill to find dinner.

Bogota's La Candelaria is a colonial-era neighborhood, full of wrought iron, yellow cathedrals, and misaligned shutters. We were the little restaurant's only customers.

"What's the best place to sit?" C spoke to the waiter in Spanish.

The waiter, a university-age kid, gave us a "duh, obviously" look and waved his hand at the table in front of the open window. The shutter nearly scraped my head, but we had a ringside seat for the nighttime busking going on just outside in the square.

I'd been anxious about heading off for nine days with C. Due to a minor technicality, we'd known each other since autumn of 2002, but really, we'd only just met in Cairo last March. And running off to Maadi on a smoke detector expedition with Yasir wasn't exactly the same as 24/7 for nine days. I guess that's 24/9.

We'd had fun, and weren't at each other's throats. There had been a few tired moments, hungry moments, but we'd both known them for what they were. Had he noticed that when he got too quiet and tuned out, that I'd push hard to get him to talk? Poke, poke. Had I noticed that this had the exact opposite of its desired effect? Um... Had he noticed my laziness, how long I spend in the shower, that I put too much sugar in my coffee? Had I noticed his flaws? Of course not! And if I did, what makes you think I'd tell you? We'd had some laughs, and plenty of time of just pleasantly plodding along together.

Which is strange for me. I'm not much of an "us." I got it wrong a lot. I spend even more time worrying about getting it wrong, which makes me even trickier company. But C had been tolerant.

Colombia helped, of course. This country is at the top of its tourism game right now. Not a month ago, not next year. Now. It's just raw enough that not many foreigners are there yet. There's a lot less English spoken there than in other places I've been in Central and South America. Mountains, jungle, beach, history. Go. Now.

I opened my mouth to chatter nervously over dinner.

Then a band, well-meaning but not terribly adept, struck up a loud, unsynchronized tune some 20 feet away. Outside the open shutters, fire breathers and men on springs leapt high above the crowd. I smiled dopily. C looked at me quizzically and grinned. We sat in silence. There was nothing left to say.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Big Rock Salty Mountain

A hour from Bogota, there's a big mountain made of salt. I'm not going to wonder how it got there, or how salt is mined. What's important to know is that there is an underground cathedral carved out of the guts of this here salt mountain. And that's all we knew before we boarded the bus to Zipaquirá.

"This I gotta see," was the gist of why we went.

And it was fabulous. Mysterious, dark, cool, and utterly strange. Who carves cathedrals out of salt?

Salt miners, that's who. Though the original cathedral from the fifties was deemed unsafe. So the new cathedral (more for tourists and pilgrims, not so much for miners) was made with modern methods. Which is not a bad thing. I didn't want a salty cross caving in on me, or taking out C, whose hostile environment training did not extend to face-offs with Mr. Peanut's angelic cousins.

It was Easter week, so Colombian tourists were lined up outside the tunnel entrance. But when I asked about an English guide, we were escorted to the front to wait for Raphael, a lanky fellow who rolled up muttering "English guide? Who was looking for an English guide?"

Raphael led us through the dark tunnels, past the entranceway where video monitors forced Passion of the Christ on us every 20 feet, twisting along past 14 stations of the cross--mostly dark blocks, Roman numerals, and the occasional angel, donkey, or Mary sculpture. At the bottom was a cavern filled with pews, a giant cross, and a crack in the wall that led to a small temple. Beyond that was another cavern, this one a screening room where Gladiator was playing.

C had a fantastic camera, a fast lens, skill, and his small video camera (the big one stayed home). He got some amazing shots which I hope he posts for us eventually on his own blog. All I had was my point-and-shoot, so most of my photos looked like this.

Okay, not all of them. A few of my photos came out all right.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Revenge is Sweet, and Comes with Milk

C was sitting on the Colombian minibus giving me the evil eye. When he bothered to look my way at all, that is. Oh, the fury. I snickered on the inside. He was behaving me!

We'd gotten up early (which wasn't hard given that neither or us slept on the creepy plastic bed) for our day trip to Zipaquirá, We hadn't stopped for breakfast in hotel reception. It would have taken an hour and surprised the sleepy desk attendant. We'd stopped by Juan Valdez, the Colombian version of Starbucks.

Then, disaster! It was closed. So was everything else. Semana Santa, you know.

"We'll get coffee at the bus station," I reassured my caffeine-addicted companion. (Those of you who have followed all along know that I have my own caffeine problems, and if Turbo were to read this blog, he'd no doubt cackle with revenge-glee.) We caught the TransMilenio, a double-bus that winds around Bogota on its own lanes. Half an hour later, we disembarked at Portal del Norte.

And promptly got stuck inside the station. We could see an overpass, but couldn't figure out how to get to it. Plus if we went through the turnstiles we'd just crossed to get out of the TransMilenio lane, we'd have to pay again. Just to get out.

We could see a little shop across the highway. But seeing doesn't equal being able to get to, so we got on the minibus instead.

Grrrrr. I could feel the frustration. I am ashamed to admit I cheerfully looked out the window and giggled. He'd survive.

A hour later, in downtown Zipaquirá, we stopped in a small bakery for coffee and assorted bread.

"Leche con cafe again?" C was in a better mood now with his caffeine fix in front of him. Almost all the coffee we got in Colombia had way too much milk, no matter how C begged in Spanish.

We finished our hot milk with coffee and caught a taxi to our destination. The Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I'd like to take time out from blogging Bogota to remind everyone to microwave some Peeps.

Half-price today!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Back to Bogota

We were patting ourselves on our backs in the taxi. Our cheap hotel, Ambala, was only a few blocks from the lovely boutique hotel we'd stayed at when we'd first arrived in Candelaria. But it was half the price and included a free airport taxi.

We were less excited when we opened the door to the tiny room, noticed only one towel, no window at all, and that the too-small bottom sheet didn't quite cover the plastic mattress cover.

Ew, we have to sleep on plastic? Will inertia keep us here two nights even though sleeping on plastic gives me the creepy-crawlies?*

One thing Ambala had in common with Abadia was that the staffs at both strongly believed that there was nowhere to eat in Candelaria after ten at night. C and I both refused to believe this.

"Let's just go up the hill to that Gato place we ate at last week. That was open late," said C. We'd both started singing a children's song about Senor Don Gato was a cat when we'd first heard about El Gato Gris. The menu wasn't spectacular but it was big on atmosphere. It even bordered on a square full of buskers, and a reggae store. How much for some reggae?

Not only was El Gato Gris open, but a half-dozen restaurants within spitting distance were also open. We selected one which turned out to specialize in mushroom casseroles. Interesting.

Just after we paid the check, the entire block's lights went out. The staff freaked out. They told us to stay put and went to the door. It seemed like they were ready to barricade us in.

At first, we both stuck to going with local info (meaning sitting tight until we were told it was safe). But eventually C looked out the door.

"The lights on the next block are on. Let's go. We could be here all night."

The staff was still apprehensive, but we left. We both hurried down the street. Freak-outs are contagious.

*Yes. But on the bright side--no bedbugs!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Perlas of Wisdom

"You know how you can tell if a tourist is going to Taganga instead of Santa Marta?" Our driver was chattering speedily along in Spanish. C was keeping up, and filling me in every few minutes.


"By their luggage! If a tourist has a backpack, they are going to Taganga."

He also told us that there were no more guerrillas along the trail to Ciudad Perdida, the lost city that was a six-day roundtrip trek in the mountains. Backpacker lore holds that since the 2003 kidnappings of tourists along the route, the tour companies had paid off guerrillas to keep visitors safe, but our driver laughed at the notion of errant paramilitaries.

"They are all in the south!"

"One tourist tried to pay my guide to introduce him to a guerrilla! The guide said there were no more guerrillas. The tourist said 'how much?' Ha ha ha ha, as if we could just go and visit a guerrilla."

We were riding in a hired car from our luxurious hut at Tayrona National Park to Santa Marta, where we would catch a plane to Bogota later that night. After leaving our bags at the airport, we caught a taxi into the town center and took a look around. Highlights included pink porta-pottys decked out in tampon ads, and a man building a Jesus-on-the-cross scene on the sand, complete with evil Roman looking on.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Hut, Hike, Horse

We could have taken a taxi-bus-Jeep combination to get to our little hut at Tayrona National Park, but it was easier to just book a car-and-driver for the hour-or-so trip into the coastal rainforest. This way we didn't have to drag our bags in and out of crowded public buses. Sierra Tours in Taganga gave us a taxi to Canaveral in the park for about $32. (And back to Santa Marta Airport the next day for $38.)

The 37,000 acre park is relatively undeveloped, so we were surprised at the luxury of the huts, called "ecohabs." Upstairs was the bedroom—including DirecTV, wi-fi, and phone. The windows opened to an incredible sea view of violently crashing (and loud) waves. Downstairs was a luxurious bathroom, mini-bar, hammock, coffee maker, and dining table.

We were both given cherry lemonade on arrival. After leaving our bags in the hut, we took off for a hike.

I was feeling cranky and a little resentful at hiking instead of laying in the hammock and doing nothing. But I got to ride a horse on the way back, so I perked up.

At least, until I smacked my head on a low-hanging branch. Ouch. And lived to tell the tale.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I'll Huff and I'll Puff

Our Mission: To get from Cartagena to the fishing village of Taganga, four-hours-and-change Northeast along the Caribbean coast.

The guidebook and photocopied pages I'd made of my "South American Handbook" wanted us to take a taxi to the Cartagena bus station, a bus two hours to Barranquilla, then another bus two hours to Santa Marta, then a minibus or taxi over the hill to Taganga. But a little on-the-ground research led us to a "Marsol" direct shuttle, straight from Casa Viena hostel in Cartagena to the marketplace in Taganga.

Why Taganga? It was a waystation en route to Tayrona National Park, where we were headed tomorrow. Santa Marta was the nearer city, but it was Easter week and Santa Marta was filled up. I'd also read lots of reports that Taganga was the happening spot at the moment. (Translation: the Khao San Road of Colombia.) I wasn't sure Taganga was our choice over Santa Marta but this I knew: We had a room in a new hostel in Taganga. Easter week is a terrible time to look for accommodation in Latin America, so we'd stick with what we could get.

The shuttle wound us and a half-dozen backpackers along switchbacks up a mountain over Santa Marta and over to Taganga. Two college-age backpackers behind us exchanged information. "I'm hoping to get on a Ciudad Perdida trek tomorrow. But I don't have any hiking boots." "Dude, I bought mine yesterday. You can get them here."

To nickname Taganga "Khao San Road of Colombia" is a disservice to this lovely town on a bay, but it is not wholly inaccurate. The number of backpackers seemed to equal the number of residents. We headed up to our hostel, where we learned that the paint was still drying. The room itself was tiny, with a ceiling fan, a shower curtain that served as a door on the small bathroom, and open-air patterned carved areas in the wall rather than windows.

"It's only one night."

And what a night it was! The wind was ferocious and tore in from the sea, sending things that were tied down loose from their tethers and whirling overhead. Dogs flew. Okay, exaggerating a little. Dust covered us, our possessions, the room, the entire hostel and the entire town.

Neither of us slept much.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Day in Cartegena

"Last time you took me down one of these tunnels, I couldn’t walk for three days!" I was complaining to C, who grinned and pushed on, down the tunnel into the belly of the fort.

We’d come to the fort seeking shade as much as history. Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas *was* the biggest fort the Spaniards had built in their colonies. It did dramatically tower over town, imposing its stony threat by sheer solid volume. But given the taxing humidity of the hot Caribbean coast, we were enticed by the promise of cool tunnels. They were shady, but I could only take a little bit of steep underground closed-in spaces before bolting up to the surface.

At the top of the fort were views of Cartagena’s walled historic center—where our hotel was—as well as of the nearby sea. The walls were intended to protect the city from pirates, but also from battles between countries. Cartagena was the conduit for the plundered riches of South America, which were being taken back to Spain.

Today the walls still feel protective. Colombia is so far a lovely place, but there is no ignoring its safety issues. Inside the walls, I felt safer than I had outside the walls, or over in also-walled-in Getsemani, where we’d gone to buy our Monday shuttle tickets to Taganga. This might be due to the heavy police presence.

In the heat of the day, I struggled not to lose focus on the colonial city, with its cathedrals, museums, and plazas. We stopped in the main Cathedral at one point, stumbling onto a student orchestra rehearsal. C worked, shooting footage for a project, while I simply sat on a pew and enjoyed the shade.

At dusk, the city came to life. Buskers danced in Plaza de Bolivar. Women sold homemade sweets by Puerto del Reloj. Horses trotted along, pulling tourists in carts. We sat on a bar balcony overlooking Plaza de San Diego, where we had a great view of a couple doing the tango for spare change. Finally, we headed back to our own hotel's square, Plaza Fernandez de Madrid, for a crisp-crust pizza.

"I love this. The restaurant is the sidewalk." Indeed it was. Customers order in a tiny carryout. The waitress then brings out two plastic chairs and a small stool. Patrons sit on the sidewalk across the street, alongside a park. The pizza ends up placed on top of the small stool.

Even better? The pizza was delicious.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Don't Speak that Language Either

The change in altitude and temperature—one down and one way, way up—made me punchy. Even though it was ten at night when we checked into our hotel in Cartagena, I wanted to go out and see this UNESCO World Heritage site immediately.

"Come with me to get a juice!" I'd read that there were 24-hour fresh juice stands just outside the main gate to the colonial walled city that we were staying in.

And so we walked down to the plaza where slave trading had once occurred, through the main gate to this fortress of a Caribbean city, and just to the left. Most of the stands sold shrimp cocktail or ceviche, but one served fresh juice.

"Jugo de ananas, por favor," I pointed to the pineapple. A fresh pineapple juice sounded divine.

"Pina," said C sharply, when the vendor looked puzzled. Then he lowered his voice.

"Ananas is Arabic."


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Local Information

For about ten minutes, I struggled to convey (in appalling Spanish) to the hotel staff that I wanted to leave bags in a room, that our flight to Cartegena did not leave until evening. Finally, the hotel's Italian owner came out and spoke to me in English. "Ah! Of course."

One mission accomplished. Next, we wanted to find the funicular up to Monserrat, the peak with a view of Bogota and the surrounding mountains. This involved me butchering the Spanish language less, but sweating more. I blame altitude, but it might just be my slothful lifestyle that leaves me so short of breath.

The funicular up the mountain was fun, the sculptures of Jesus at the top a bit strange, and ultimately the path up led to a church as well as a viewpoint. The panoramas were stunning. Friendly dogs seemed nonplussed by the altitude, though they weren't too interested in the view.

As we'd boarded the funicular, a cool Colombian man had addressed us. He looked apprehensively at the two of us, boarding the funicular together. He smiled nervously.

"My wife would never come up here with me when we were dating. It is said that if you go up this mountain with a man or woman, you will never marry them."

For a brief awkward moment, we stood there struggling for adequate responses. Then we both recovered.

"Sometimes a curse is a blessing," said C, reddening slightly.

"His loss," I shrugged.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Raining in Bogota

Day One: Bogota.

It poured rain all day. The local residents all looked marvelously hip and edgy, as they posed in coffee shops. We looked like wet tourists.

We are staying in Candelaria, the old section of Bogota. So we walked around in the rain for a while.

Then we had some of Bogota's specialty, a chicken soup called ajiaco.

And finally, we gave up on walking in the rain and went to the Botero Museum. And that's where I learned that the massive fat cat sculpture on the Ramblas de Raval in Barcelona isn't just any fat cat. It's a Botero cat!

Friday, March 14, 2008

How the Other Half Lives

C has this magic plastic card that compels airport employees to cheerfully admit both of us into business lounges normally reserved for people with a lot more money than I have.

We visited two such lounges yesterday, one in Newark and one in Atlanta. I was dazzled by the simple comforts of the lounges, and both of us were "eating like freelancers"* because we were surrounded by free drinks, free snacks, free bagels, free hummous in tubes, free carrots, and of course free alcohol for my travel companion.

But the best was this.

*phrase co-opted from C's friend Katherine

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Off to Colombia

I'm in my pajamas. My hair is wet. I don't know where my summer clothes are, and I didn't get around to buying any new shoes, though I got a last minute bathing suit.

I text C, who is going with me to Colombia (or maybe I'm going with him).

"Is it hot or cold in Colombia?"

"I'm already on the train! Just throw something in a bag and come to the airport."

I sense that I am a little behind the curve here on this Thursday morning.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Fun with Translation Software

At work today, I got some puzzling specs from our new Indian licensor.

They wanted a file at 21 cm x 26 cm, with 4 mm flesh cut.

Flesh cut? What the hell is a flesh cut? Some graphics term from the Subcontinent?

I googled it for a second, and then it dawned on me. Someone was using translation software.

Flesh cut=bleed.

4 mm bleed it is.

Repeating Myself

I can't seem to catch a break on Strip Passport.

In 2007, I lived outside my home country for six months. I stayed in Barcelona for two weeks. But somehow, I just kept repeating myself. I haven't added a new country since I flew to Bahrain for bacon in February, 2006, while living in Kuwait.*

So when C and I were trying to figure out where to go for a much-deserved spring break, I was determined to find somewhere new. Somewhere I'd never been. And it was only fair to make it somewhere he'd never been too.

"How about Bolivia? You been there?"

"Yeah, I have. What about Cambodia?"

"Twice. You been to Dominican Republic?"

"Yeah, with work. How about Sri Lanka? Oh, wait. Of course you've been to Sri Lanka."

And so on.

In the end, I didn't come up with a new stamp for Strip Passport, which delights its creator to no end as he is steadily gaining on me. But I can't very well design my life around what gets stamped in my passport, and anyway, I was only in one border town in Colombia in 1993.

About a year ago, Amanda got to see Cartagena and Bogota, and said they were marvelous. Then Bob Harris sent back incredible photos, and that was it. Forget Strip Passport. Colombia it is. Only 35,000 Continental miles too.

Here are a few photos from my 1993 excursion into Leticia, Colombia. It's an Amazon town, and I was on a riverboat journey from Iquitos, Peru to Leticia. My primary memory of Colombia is that we were allowed into the cages with the animals at the zoo.

*Okay, I wasn't really in Bahrain for bacon. I was there to visit my old friend Daniel Kratochvil, who was a professor there. But it amuses my writer colleague Edward Readicker-Henderson to say that I was there for the bacon, so I go along with it.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What Happens When We Aren't There

This weekend, the entire region—maybe the whole coast—is getting rained on. We're having flash floods and my poor Henry the Ford has declared himself allergic to rain.

Last night, he mysteriously started after refusing to start for an hour. I placed him back in his garage until he can get his bits and pieces checked out for cracks. This is the same thing that happened a month ago, before I had his starter replaced.

Guess it wasn't the starter after all. Well, what's $300 between friends?

I trudged home from the garage in the rain, and stopped by a Korean deli en route.

It was a slow night. I was the only customer. The normally blase staff greeted me like a long-lost friend.

I dallied too long over the coconut milk, and when I looked up, the staff was playing hacky-sack with a lemon. They spotted me watching, and quickly stopped to stand stiffly at attention by the lettuce.

I laughed, and they broke into guilty smiles.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Adventures in Waxing

"Come on, Tanya," said Nina, a sixty-year-old Russian woman with dyed bright red hair. She waved me into the little waxing room at the back of the salon.

I looked around for a Tanya. No Tanya. Nina motioned impatiently. Me? I was Tanya?

Apparently so.

I trotted cooperatively into the waxing room. I'd been empowered by my waxing experience a few weeks ago, and I'm bound to have to wear my bikini in Colombia, so I thought I'd make my life a bit easier and eliminate leg shaving for the near future.

"Ffflllhf llglggl?"

"Um, what?" Nina was speaking to me in Russian, or was it English? Oh wait, I know. She's asking if I want a full leg wax.

"Yes. Full leg and bikini LINE." I emphasized line. "NO Brazilian. NO. Only line, here."

Bikini waxes have gotten complicated in the last decade, which is probably how long it's been since I had my bikini line waxed. Nowadays there are all kinds of variations on the bikini wax. And that's where I show my age, my uncoolness, my total lack of interest in trying new things, where I fall down squarely on the "Don't make it the vertical Hitler moustache* and don't even THINK about yanking it all off" side of things.

Nina was moving things along quickly and with a bit of sting. Smooth, rip. Smooth, rip. Then, I felt a spreading warmth where there wasn't supposed to be one.

"NO!" Not the moustache! But the wax...she'd already painted it on.

Nina looked confused. She knew her job. What was Tanya's problem?

I surveyed the waxy clump. Let's see. My choices are: Suffer through the moustache or pick at wax for weeks. Hell.

"Go ahead." I sighed for half a sec and then YOW!


And as if it weren't enough that Nina had put me through this, she then gave me a lecture.

"You pay good money, Tanya. I do it right."

She ripped the hair out by the roots from the other side.

Enough. No more waxing for this Tanya. I hereby announce my retirement from all future waxing, or at least all waxing above the knee.

*I co-opted this phrase. Not an original.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Archiving the Archives

The cows have migrated. The simplest files have been deleted.

I'm working on taking down my ancient AOL websites, and cows aside, I'm not even bothering to move most of my past projects to my new server.

They're THAT old. So old that all I can do is copy them onto a hard drive and forget about them.

It's kind of fun to go through the files, but the web sure was clunky in the mid-to-late nineties. I wince when I look at these pages now. I'm not even sure why I left them up as long as I did. No, I am sure. Laziness. When I just took the cows down, I had to delete each file manually. Click-Utilities-Delete-Okay. Sheesh.

First, there's my 1996 overland trip to Central America. Ha! In it, I'm complaining about camping and how I'm not cut out for inconvenience. A wee bit ironic, no? Anyway, I can see from it that I was learning basic HTML as well as some Photoshop tricks. "Oh, is that how you make a collage? And let's try putting a title on a photo."

There's a few other trips that will all be coming down in the next few days.

I note, with some embarrassment, that I never even finished uploading the photos for the first Southeast Asia trip. But at least the fried-rat-on-a-stick is there.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Finally, a Vacation!

Now seems as good a time as any to announce that I am going to visit Colombia in two weeks time.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wrangling Me

There's a marvelous essay on writing in Brooklyn in today's Times. (I especially loved The Warriors as an updated Odyssey.)

And it could be about anywhere or any movement. "What's it like to write xyz" can pretty much be answered the same at any point in time. Writing is not glamorous. Unless you think it's cool when innermost thoughts become public domain, to be dismissed or dissected on a whim. Unless you think working in your pajamas is cutting edge.

You experience loneliness and self-doubt. You spend long hours procrastinating and then longer hours trying to catch up. You don't see friends to the point when you nearly lose them. You don't prioritize things that are good for you, like going to the gym or hiking Mt. Tammany. Your personal manias become inflated within the space of your own skull, with no outside influences to temper them.

Writing in the jungle of Uganda was much like writing in my apartment in Namibia or the hostel in Cape Town. Writing on Avenue B a lot like writing in Hamilton Park. Me. Me squared. Me unfiltered. And my pal/enemy, the evil, miraculous laptop.

The view is the same no matter where I am. And as for being somewhere with a literary community, well, if I spent all my time shooting the breeze over coffee, when would I write?

My current writer's community is virtual. I miss when Yancey, Ro and I were all freelance. Yancey as an illustrator, Roberta as a designer, and me as a comic book colorist and book writer. Back then, we'd all sneak away to the cafe for afternoon coffee. One of those afternoons involved the topic: "What should I title my Africa book?" As I threw out phrases, I knew I was onto something when I said "Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik" and watched Roberta crack up.

I haven't written anything since the Antarctica article. I've been slightly numb for the winter, and slacked off on the blog. And I haven't touched the book proposal since November. I blame the day job, the hibernation season, the half-assed attempts at a social life, and my own brain for being distracted when I used to be much better at fighting back.

And that simple acknowledgement is probably all I need. I've been acting lame. There. It's said. I may not be cool! hip! edgy! enough to be a Brooklyn writer (I have the contrary gene that inhibits my ability to participate in things declared cool by pop culture, and yes, I know this is stupid), but I can open the damn document and finish it.

Gotta go. I have work to do.