Friday, March 30, 2012

Coffee and Rust

A photo from Roberta.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

But Can You Take It Back?

This was Suzi, my sister's pet pig that she had some years back.

When she got Suzi, she thought she was getting a miniature pet pig.

Alas, that was not the case.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Telling Stories

I'm trying out a new storytelling site called Cowbird. This seems useful for things that would get lost in the archives here on the blog and have nothing to do with travel.

Or maybe some of them will be about travel. I'm not sure yet. This is my first attempt. I wrote this story in 1997 or so, based on something that happened to my sister. She had some pretty nutty things happening down there in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley.

I couldn't even find this story in my archives. I had to go and dig it out of, where is was on an ancient site I had up for a long time.

I did have to revise it, and I'm pleased with the results. I'm liking Cowbird a lot so far. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fun With DIY

I have an exciting month ahead of me in April.

My knees hurt already.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Civil Wars

In the weird-coincidence department, my mother (in the photo) attended a ceremony honoring her professor yesterday. He's a Civil War expert, and she's taken his classes and gone on his field trips since 1989.

The State of Virginia was honoring his educational feats, and they'd come up with a gag gift for him, Marvel's Civil War graphic novel.

My mother was surprised to see it, because she knows that this is the book I was working on at that same moment, up in J.C. I've been editing the prose novelization manuscript of this book for weeks now.

Which got me thinking...Cap=Lee, Grant=Stark. Right?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tell Me About Your Father

I have a huge backlog of web video that I've been slowly upgrading to HD and posting on Vimeo. This enables me to post something of decent quality without sorting out the "who can play Flash and who can only do HTML5" problem.

Which is becoming less of a problem as we kiss Flash's ass good-bye, thanks to some bold moves by a company named after a fruit. (No offense, Mom's dog Flash.)

I made this video in 2008 when Thanos first bought his Zoom H2 during one of our pilgrimages to B&H. We went over to Denise's, which was a temporary apartment on the water since her house was under renovation, and Denise and I improvised a therapy visit as a framework for the audio I wanted to play.

I was trying to contrast the cute-kid photos against the hellish situation, and to show the absurdity of therapy when the therapist isn't really paying attention.

Anyway, I love this, but please proceed with caution, as the audio is fucking obscene.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Day's Work

I'm in the middle of editing a massive project for Marvel—feels like I've been working on it for months rather than years. It's a prose novel with multiple viewpoints. I've got to pay attention.

I go a little nuts sitting at my desk in my home office all day, so I tend to take lots of mini-breaks. Today I first threw a box in the back of my car, then drove over to my former tenant's house. 

What if they're not home?

They were, right by the front door. 

"Here. This is yours."

"It is? Oh, wait..."

The guy went into the bedroom and came back with my computer speakers. I really wanted these back, as they're kind of fancy. 

Delighted, I headed back to Hamilton Park to meet Denise for coffee, and then went into her studio, where she does her silkscreening in the old nursing hospital above Hamilton Park. Her studio has a view of the Empire State Building.

Friday, March 23, 2012

How Not to Be A Coward

Sometimes I go back and read this post I wrote in 2005, and it still resonates.

Today it resonates with me, still, about me trying to overcome my anxiety and panic about relationships—that's a byproduct of the bad stuff in 2005—but also, it resonates when I see and try to understand the behavior of people who are behaving badly.

Change is hard. Being brave in a blustery way, the way I do when I cross continents on buses, is easy.

Confronting your own emotional cowardice or inability to actually interact on any intimate level? That's tough. I need to read this sometimes, to remember why I bother trying to get through situations that make me uncomfortable.

Sometimes I veer off into what almost sounds like self-help, don't I? But it's really just me, thinking about my own actions, and those of people around me. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Looking Back

I have been digging around in my photo library, trying to find photos to populate an album of "Stalking the Wild Dik-Dik" images.

Browsing through old photos makes me wistful, or sometimes sentimental. I usually find myself hurrying past certain images that remind me of unpleasant times, but today I didn't rush. I looked at photos of past heartbreaks with a kind of dull curiousness. That's me? And that German guy there is the one that abandoned me fresh out of a Namibian hospital, and hid in the Ugandan forest for months without contact?

He He holds no power over me.

So I'm stronger, not bothered anymore by old news. That's not because of time—time doesn't really heal wounds. Rather, it helps you learn to live with them.

I had a hard knock again over the last few weeks. But this time, I seem to be springing back way faster, and seizing the opportunity to ground myself in ways I should have done the second I returned home. I let myself be railroaded into a situation way too quickly, in part because I was dealing with an unstoppable force of nature, in part because I was too wishy-washy to get my point across firmly, having just landed on America's soil after months of roaming.

It might take me a while to look at the most recent photos—I'm not so tough that I have forgotten that quickly.

But I can look at the old ones, of the man and his Yamaha Tenere that I met on the way out of Sudan that I later thought of as the lamest-man-in-the-world, and I can enjoy them now.

He's not in this one. Someone had to take the photo. But what on earth was I doing? Amusing my future self, no doubt.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Souvenir Smuggling

I've been providing Wanderlust magazine in the UK with a weekly blog for months now. They're far behind me on because they only print one blog post a week, whereas my trip was going on every single day.

I chuckled when I finished up this week's post.

It was the one about Tintin in the Congo, where I finally lost my temper with all the requests for bribes.

Probably not the smartest thing I ever did, but kind of funny. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Inspiration from Old Friends

"This town's not big enough for both of us,"I thought when I saw that the circus was pulling out of town on my return home to NJ/NY.

I'd been at Wondercon, a smaller-but-significant comic book convention that occurred this year in Anaheim. I'd been a little anxious about going—I'm on the periphery of the comics biz these days—but while it wasn't my heyday in San Diego or London's UKCAC, I really did have a wonderful time.

I ran into a bunch of people I hadn't seen in years, sometimes just walking through the hotel, other times in line at the registration booth or even on my flight home.

Comic books are tricky business these days. They're suffering growing pains as companies try to sort out the next wave in digital publishing and how to take advantage of new mediums, and there are contractions as sales of paper products go sideways or a little down. But of course there is so much opportunity in this new wild west frontier. Who knows what comes next?

I sat with Steve and David at dinner on the first night and we talked. No, we brainstormed. And then, by the time Sunday afternoon rolled around and David was driving me back to LAX, I knew what to do.

I have to try my hand at the digital end of things. I have a story— 2011. Now all I have to do is make something out of it.

I must've been feeling pretty confident when I got off the plane in the morning and saw that I chased out the circus.

Today, I'm less confident, but I still can't wait to try to create something new. Thanks to Steve and David for setting me straight. I'd been waffling and uncertain since I returned home from my ten months abroad.

Now I'm going about getting grounded. 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Schmoozathon in Anaheim

Conventions are always a complicated handful.

They're fun—you get to stay up until two hearing hilarious stories and bullshitting with other professionals.

But they're awful too, when you attend without an agenda. I'm on a panel on Saturday, so on Friday, I wandered around and socialized.

Sometimes this works great. Steve and I hung out with Scott Koblish, Ted McKeever, Brian Haberlin, Scott Lobdell, and of course our old friend David Wohl.

Other times, it's awkward. Like when you run into someone you've known for years and they look exhausted and seem to be avoiding you, and you know it's just that they've got a lot of responsibility, but then you start to get a complex.

And then there are moments when you run into, er...celebrities.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

New Friend

I'm in Los Angeles for a few days, getting ready to head down to Wondercon, which is Anaheim this year.

My friends Steve and Cat have two Havanese dogs. One of them, Shocko, went completely spazzy last night. He'd never had a guest on the couch overnight before and what he wanted more than anything was to jump up on me and sleep or maybe chew on my clothes.

Steve got no sleep as he spent all night trying to calm Shocko down. I think tonight we'll just let the dog sleep on me and hope he doesn't chew.

Here's me and Shocko, BFF.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


As you know, I slaved away to fix a few broken iPhone 3Gs that I'd come across.

Well, after swapping out a battery and taking the iPhones into 40 pieces and putting one back together using the other's logic board, I put Ultrasn0w onto the one and suddenly it worked beautifully. Perfectly. I loaded up apps and contacts and songs. I went around the block checking-in everywhere on Foursquare.

Delighted, I took the new Frankenphone out to play yesterday. We went to SVA, to West 4th, to a restaurant on Bleecker, and to the Magnolia Cafe.

The phone was so fun and perfect compared to my original 2G iPhone.

Except for one thing.

The part where you can make and receive calls?

Doesn't work.

Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pi(e) Day

I'm heading to a comic book convention in California on Wednesday, which is the actual day of pi(e), what with it being 3.14 and all.

So my pals and I had an early pie day tonight here in J.C.

Somehow it became a competition—because everything seems to end up being a competition—and the stakes seemed high. 27Ray and Roberta both wanted to win. Which is odd because everyone knows that Michael Kraiger bakes the best pies.

I went to pie school in 2010, so I could have tried my hand at the competition. But we were already going to have three pies and only five eaters, so I opted to try something a little different.

I made the pie from the back of the Ritz Cracker box.

I'd made it before—maybe it was my mother who did this first for me when I was a kid, as a fun activity. Or maybe I just tried it. I can't remember now. But I do remember being surprised that it tasted at all like an apple pie.

I wasn't going to win with this fake apple pie—I might have had a shot at second or maybe I'd have gotten lucky and Kraiger might've had a bad day—but at least I could get a laugh.

The taste was different than I remembered it—but then I didn't actually use the recipe from the back of the Ritz Cracker box. I used a recipe from this here Internet-thingy. And it called for lemon zest, so I grated a lemon into the mix.

I'm sure I didn't grate any lemons when I was a kid. I didn't even know how to grate lemon zest. I had to look that up too.

My pie was far from delicious, but it was edible and certainly odd enough. There was a dizzying amount of competition in the room, which gave me a kind of headache or maybe that was the amount of pie I ate, but in the end, the pie-master did win. Mr. Kraiger himself made the best pie.

Because Michael Kraiger always makes the best pie.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Unassuming Girl Traveler

I found myself on this Wanderlust list of women travelers that was posted on International Women's Day.

I'm not sure who wrote this, maybe Peter did or maybe his clever assistant, Daisy. Either way, I'm grateful for this apt description, as I'm quite good at being unassuming, not making a big issue out of gender (I firmly believe traveling as a woman offers the advantage of people being eager to help), and I certainly am quiet about it, but none of this is by choice. Well, maybe my gender is. I have no idea how to get people to my blog, how to make people notice what I'm up to.

"In a world where male adventurers are tweeting every time they flex a bicep, it's nice to know that there's a girl out there quietly going about the business of having adventures in some of the most challenging countries in the world. Single, determined and unassuming, Marie Javins is proof that gender need not be an issue if you want to travel to every corner of the globe independently."

The first time I went around the world solo, in 2001, hardly anyone had a travel blog. What I was doing then got a lot of attention. This time, in 2011, no one noticed except my Facebook and Twitter friends. I'm convinced that few people really read personal blogs anymore, not the long-journal kind. Social media is so much more interactive and fun.

I still kept my MariesWorldTour blog because I need the notes. I need to remember what happened when, and I need to have it there for the small number of people who DO still read, and also to keep myself in practice. Finding time to write is such a challenge. Blogging regularly is necessary for me.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Down Side of Homecoming

In case you're wondering, I did get those two iPhones back together.

They function exactly as they did before I took them apart. That is to say, they don't.

I replaced the battery in Ed Ward's old iPhone, and it holds a charge now, but the SIM holder needs soldering as one of the contacts came out during a fight with a SIM card holder. The other one, 27Ray's old phone that he found smashed in the gutter, is still smashed. I tried changing the case but it's no different than it was before I changed the case. And since the on/off switch is the broken part, I can't restart it in DFU mode or even get the little pineapple icon to stop hanging out on the screen.

I've been quiet here on the blog. There are a couple of reasons for that. More than a couple. Coming home after an extended journey, or in my case an expedition, is never the easiest transition. I knew this and expected it—after all, I've gone around the world before, lived abroad six other times, and I know too well the inevitable post-trip crash. This is it? This is my life? I do laundry, make coffee, and race around to make the money that pays the bills? Even after all that change I made, this is STILL my godawful routine boring life?

Friday, March 02, 2012

But I Need Them to See the Little iPhone Screws

I think what this is telling me that $7.95 reading glasses from Borders give you exactly eight dollars worth of use.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Gimme Shelter

Marie's home for broken, abandoned iPhones got a new family member yesterday, courtesy of Ed Ward who was passing through town.

I can't wait to see if I can make it work. Unfortunately, this project has to wait for next week as I'm on a deadline, editing a prose novel for my alma mater-comic book company.