Friday, December 27, 2013

Now Luxury Condos on the Hill

Just tonight—only a few minutes ago—I realized I could see the old Jersey City Medical Center out of the back window in my apartment. 

It was built under the Hague administration between 1930 and 1941. 

That seems old until I remember the house I'm buying is at least 32 years older. Maybe even more. I have reason to suspect the 1898 date is based on a misreading of the width of the house on an old map. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Cheer

It's Christmas and you know what that's caganer season in Barcelona.

And in my apartment.

Here is a look at the caganer selection in front of the cathedral in the old city, from when I was there at holiday season just a year ago.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Snowmen and Santa

Kraiger is up at the Journal Square Holiday Market today.

He didn't make the handbags, but he made all the snowmen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Kick These Down the Hall on a Regular Basis

Someone in my building is kind of a smart-ass.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Old-Lady Bath

I received my appraisal of the house I'm buying today, and we're proceeding along as planned. Inspection is next week.

I took a lot of photos when I first saw the house, but I regretted missing some of the more awesome aspects of the upstairs bathroom. Fortunately, the appraiser included a photo.

What to do with this? Well, the floor goes. Fast. That's okay, I know how to do floors after that never-ending tiling experience in July. The wall has to go to. That I'm not so sure how to do.

But I think I have to salvage the baby-blue fixtures. I'm thinking one bathroom can be fifties-retro and the other can be Victorian-style.

The swans...I'm on the fence about the swans. They are kind of amazing, but I guess the question is how retro is too retro?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A New (Great) Bookstore

I stopped by the WORD Jersey City preview night tonight. The bookstore is right by the Grove Street PATH, so easier to get to than the original one in Greenpoint. I'm excited because I want to see their events, and sometimes be in them.

I started going to WORD when my friend Kelly got a job at their Brooklyn store as their events manager.  Before that, she worked uptown at a bookstore where I did an event for the 3-D Children's Atlas, and a baby ate a book while I was speaking. 

Kelly has long since moved on and then expanded to other cities, but WORD is doing that too. Over here, to my part of the  world. I am looking forward to their coffee shop. There never seem to be enough seats in coffee shops over by Grove Street. And what better place to write when I'm out than a bookstore? Though admittedly I've only been writing at home now for ages, because I've needed the large monitor to work on the Marvel movie books, looking at PDFs while also keeping my writing document open. 

So welcome to the neighborhood, WORD! We all hope you thrive and stay here with us in Jersey City. 

Monday, December 02, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

So for Thanksgiving, my car was rear-ended while at a full stop at a stop sign. By a guy who was also at a full stop. But he was looking at the oncoming car and thought I'd gone and WHAM, that was an interesting start to the day.

I had gone up to sign the contract on my new house, then dropped my car off in my garage, grabbed my bag, went to teach, then left class 20 minutes early to rush up to the bus stop for the TripperBus to Washington DC.

After standing in the cold rain for an hour, I started to think my 10-10:30 pm arrival in Rosslyn, VA might be ambitious. We were finally on the 6 pm bus by 7:30, and after the first hour waiting to go the three blocks into the Lincoln Tunnel, I went ahead and canceled the car I'd reserved. I had been planning on taking the Metro to National Airport and picking up my rental car, then driving the hour-and-a-half to my mother's house in the Shenandoah Valley.

But the rental car place closes at midnight, and we didn't get through the tunnel until 9 pm. Three hours to get to Hoboken. I could truly have walked there and back. I should have ordered my dinner to the bus from a Thai restaurant on Ninth Avenue.

I used my phone to book the Holiday Inn a block from the bus stop, and the bus pulled into Arlington at 2:30 in the morning.

When a holiday starts like that, there's really only one way it can end.

With the Newark-bound BoltBus breaking down on Friday evening, ten minutes out of Union Station.

The NYC-bound bus pulled up to help, and several of us jumped ship. When we pulled up by the Holland Tunnel, I tried to get the driver to let me out, but no, it's against the rules. Instead of being at Newark where I could walk over to the PATH, I ended up on Canal Street.

It was okay though. At least it was shorter than the trip down.

I still have to deal with my poor car, though. Tomorrow...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

But Did You Sell Any?

I was a guest bookseller at WORD Jersey City for Indies First Day.

I wore the goofy hat cuz I'm a professional*.

*Do not try this at home. 

Monday, November 25, 2013


I went to take a look at my old website for my last condo yesterday, thinking I'd see the before and after.

Boy, did I. I'd forgotten how much my friends and I did to that place. The photos on the left were from the day I closed. We tore up the carpet about five minutes later.

The third one is one I took off the site of the real estate agent who just managed to sell it, so it's got the weird wide-angle lens trying to make the narrow railroad look larger. The place had been on sale for months and months. I thought it might need winter to sell it—the next-door neighbors like to hang out in the yard and make a lot of noise. And the arrival of winter seems to have helped a lot.

Friday, November 22, 2013

New Home

To no one else's surprise but completely to my own, I appear to be in contract to buy a house.

If you've been here a while, you know I've been looking for the right spot for years. I've found it a few times, but for one reason or another, either didn't bid or didn't get it.

I scrolled past the house I am buying for a couple of days before I realized it wasn't in an inconvenient area, but was only half a mile from the Journal Square PATH station.

Which is currently getting some big new high rises and development where the Tube Bar used to be.

I was aiming for the area by Liberty State Park, which I am sure is the next hot spot. You can get big lofts over there. But you have to take a bus or the trolley to the train. I really wanted a cute tin-row house there, but ultimately blanched at the cost. It was $320,000 and needed a lot of work inside, and much of the original detail was missing. I looked at its twin down the block, and that had been horrifyingly modernized. But it was cheap.

There are $75k-$195k houses up on Astor near there, incredible houses. Again, not on the train.

Ultimately, I don't know what the train is worth. But the house I offered on is close enough to the train and the area JC is developing that it seemed worth paying a bit more.

Too bad it's on a hideously ugly block. But the insides are amazing. And it's a legal two-family, so there are two apartments.

The house was owned by a Ukranian carpenter at a pencil factory. He and his wife and two kids, including Stella, came over in 1934, via Buffalo. Another kid came along too. The carpenter appeared to have been the one working on the house as the kitchen appliances haven't been touched since the seventies, and still have the manuals in them. I was looking all this up the night before I bid, and I was a little spooked when I realized the reason they are selling the house now, because Stella died, is Stella died on my birthday.

There was a bidding war. I didn't bid highest, but I bid my max and sensibly. And that appears to have worked.

But in any real estate transaction, there are plenty of ways things can go wrong. My lawyer is on-board, but all kinds of fun things can come up. Like termites.

But looking at the place, I think I would know already if there were termites.

Friday, November 15, 2013

It's National Bundt Day!

It's National Bundt Day today, and I have been sadly remiss in my cake-baking duties.

Is it too much work, as it was last year when I was working on the Iron Man Extremis prose novel? Is it like in 2011, when I was in some other country on and nowhere near an oven?

Or is it that I haven't eaten sugar or wheat since mid-August?

It's a combination of #1 and #3, but I wish all of you the happiest of happy Bundt days, and hope you are enjoying some cake since I won't be doing so.

Here are some photos of Bundt days past, and if you are so inclined, you can see the Bundt cake site I started putting together before real life got in the way. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Wander Woman Retires

My final post for my Wander Woman column on the Wanderlust UK website went up this morning.

It's for the best, really. I've barely had time to do this lately, and completely forgotten twice, which is mostly related to the hectic work schedule I've kept since I got home from Mexico. I'm often not sure what day it is, just that I need to get up and race through something for one of my freelance jobs.

I will miss it. It's a bit of a pain and the weird time-lapse that came from doing a column a week about trips that I lived every day was a little strange, but it made me still feel relevant to writing travel material. Now I'm back to the Habitrail of life, which doesn't merit being immortalized in words. It IS words. Thousands of them, in Marvel prose novels, Marvel movie art books, children's books about pioneers. Lots and lots of words.

But I'm pretty sure my devotion to the Habitrail won't go on too long. And so I knuckle down.

For now.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Hey, We Did That Already

Today I am a little bit annoyed as I watch the media jumping all over the story of a Muslim superhero.

Uh...yeah. I've got 99 of them and they're all from Jersey City, in a way.

Here's one.

But I do wish my long-time home team luck with their own Muslim hero. From experience, I know they will need it. But also from experience, I know they'll ignore the hate and just continue on with their new hero. I admire that, even as I smart from our team not even being mentioned in any of the news bits.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Big Questions

Something happened in the world of comics yesterday—something big, though long-expected.

DC Comics announced its 2015 move to Burbank. It makes sense in some ways, but it is worrying in others.

Comics are not just superhero magazines and movie and lunchbox offshoots. Superheroes can be, in a way, representative of a less-sophisticated culture, or of an innocence, the idea that you can bash your problems away. And the medium is so much more than that, and so much more than the Big Two. But still, my gut aches with the fear of the unknown, the idea that something which once supported an entire industry might end up being a few offices in two major corporations in Burbank.

But change happens. You have to stay nimble, not look back. Be sentimental, then wake up the next day and start in on a new project. Live through or submerge the pain. Try something new.

Also worrying to me is that so many things about Manhattan are already unrecognizable and to an extent, vile. The costs have skyrocketed past the reach of normal humans without luck or connections who haven't already been living in town long enough to have gotten something cheap back in the day. And who ARE these ridiculous cliched rich people littering the bars and restaurants? And when will the legend of Manhattan, NYC-which hasn't even been here in almost 15 years--stop showing up as gritty, mean streets in the movies which could just portray Chipotle, Cosi, and Au Bon Pain? (Note the Outer Boroughs, Harlem and above, Hudson Valley, and Hudson County are doing just fine, though some areas are imperiled by the same creeping gentry that walloped Manhattan below the north end of Central Park.)

I keep asking the DC move just a corporate decision which is ultimately meaningless except to the people with mortgages here and kids in school, or is this a symptom of something, not just in comics or publishing, but in New York City?

When is it time to go?

And then tonight, I went to see an an oddball musical about the Alison Bechdel graphic novel Fun Home. And I concluded: Not yet.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where I've Been

For forty-seven days, I lived and breathed a children's book property. I got the contract with the "Ready, set, go" order on September 10.

160 pages and the covers went to press yesterday morning.

I'm slowly normalizing here, late on my Spider-Man project, but exhaling greatly that the project is complete. Nothing to do now but wait on the payments and check the proofs.

Perhaps I was lucky, in the end, that my foot decided to break three weeks ago. It eliminated any external distractions. I went to dinner twice and to the coffee shop once a week.

Now has anyone seen my life? 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sneak Preview

I'm pretty excited at what FedEx brought me today—but I can't share it with you because it isn't released and in the stores yet.


So here's the cover and the credits page. Remember when I was conducting interviews on terrible Wi-Fi connections from hotel rooms in Cancun and Mexico City? This is the result.

The inside looks amazing, but no peeking yet.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

One Fracture Down, One To Go

I headed back to the Iron Man-fan podiatrist yesterday for a check-up.

Which is appropriate, since he gave me an Iron Man-like boot. 

And I've done pretty well. One of my metatarsal fractures is gone, and the other one is healing up nicely.

I have to wear the boot for another week whenever I go anywhere, and next week, I'm allowed to switch to a sneaker. Not just any--a New Balance one. (I'm not sure I have one of those. I'll have to check.)

I'm hugely relieved to be making progress. Being in mobility jail has really cramped my style.

And kept me on deadline.

Which is good.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Trapped in my house by a cinderblock boot, I am slowly going batshit crazy.

Does batshit have a hyphen? she wonders for too long.

Going out is a pain. I can tell you every trip I've taken outside the house since I got this air cast last Monday.

On Tuesday, I drove my car to a lot by the PATH train. I hobbled down the stairs (how do mobility-challenged people get around?) to the platform, no one offered me a seat, and at 23rd Street, I hobbled down, up, over, up, and the three blocks to SVA to teach my class. My students were sympathetic. Several of them had done what I did, which is overdo it after stressing foot bones. I fractured the fourth and fifth metatarsals.

My trips out after that were mostly to move my car or get the mail. One night, I walked across the street to the Italian restaurant with my neighbor Denise. I'm still off sugar, which means no pasta, but I had a delicious steak.

On Friday, I ran some errands in my car. Post office, car wash, gas, laundry, supermarket. But I overdid it, and had to rest all Saturday.

And by rest, I mean sit at my computer and work on various projects. Editing Larry's Captain America book. Lining up interviews for the Spider-Man movie book. Endlessly fiddling with the manuscript on the book I'm rush-packaging.

It's not the worst time to be stuck inside.

But it's driving me nuts.

Monday, October 07, 2013

A Fractured Not-So-Fairy Tale

That's not a parrot in my hand. It's my other shoe.
I'm not even sure what happened.

I noticed some swelling and sensitivity on the squishy part of my foot under my left pinky toe.

When was this? Wednesday? Thursday?

Then on Friday, I stubbed my toe on my desk chair.


But I had things to do, places to be. A friend who lives in Greece was meeting me at 3, and I had to stop by the old office before then to see a box of magazines that had shown up in the mail (I'd supplied the cover), then I had a ticket to a New Yorker Festival Event. Jonathan Lethem was being joined by Junot Diaz, who I had been somewhat interested in seeing speak when I was in Bali, but then I'd been working on a different panel that took place simultaneously. That was okay—I've never actually read his books. But the twofer-one deal was appealing.

So I scampered all over town on Friday night. My food was a bit sore, and by the time I got home, a lot more sore. But I didn't think much of it.

Until I woke up in excruciating pain in the middle of the night.

The swelling didn't go down on Saturday, though I was able to hobble out of the house to the car and go to the supermarket. Which was good since after that, I couldn't hobble much of anywhere.

Roberta recommended a podiatrist by the post office—"He even has a parking lot"—so I dragged my bum foot along behind me to the car, then out of the car to the office.

And look what I have now. An awesome space boot.

I get to wear it for a month.

And because I don't do things small, I have two, count 'em, two fractures.

Those are bone flakes, apparently.
"See it? Right there." "Uh, really?" "Yes, you don't see it?"

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Erie Cut - the Back of Downtown

I've always wanted to go explore in the Erie Cut, but I'm too chicken to go alone. One of my neighbors has explored the area extensively as he mentions here on his blog, with links to his great photos.

I am currently overwhelmed with freelance projects, but right before that happened, I walked down to my old block and looked for a way into the cut. I thought it would involve climbing fences.

No. There's actually an easier way. You just walk through the gate. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Flea Market in the Heights

Michael Kraiger and I made another attempt to sell off the trade paperbacks we had found in our office storage space last year. 

We didn't succeed, but we got a little spending money. 

Which is good, because I'm a freelancer and I get paid when the gibbous moon shows up aligned with the top of the tallest building on the park in a rural neighborhood in an English-speaking part of Kuala Lumpur. Or something like that. Something entirely random and not appreciably in sync with when my bills arrive. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Staying Warm

"My mom makes quilts all the time," Michael Kraiger has said to me several times.

Finally one day I said, "Would your mom make a quilt for me?"

He asked her and she cut me a deal. I make her a bag. She makes me a quilt.

I'm going to have to make an amazing bag, huh?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Moving House

Right after I got back from Mexico, I saw this strange thing in the park across the street from my house.

What the hell? It looked like a squirrel eating a squirrel. Or with a very strange mouth.

I watched for a while. This was a Mama Squirrel moving her babies from one next to another. She'd run up the tree on one side of the walk, grab a baby, then run down, across the walk, and up the other tree. 

At one point, she glared at me and unleashed a string of obscenities. 

A man walked down the walk right as she approached. I stopped him, alarmed. 



He probably thought I was a lunatic. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Promotional Materials

Now that I don't have an actual office in Manhattan anymore, I've had to think about setting up my home office in a more useful way. Plus, I've started dragging my old comic book reference material out of the garage.

I bought a new bookcase over the weekend. It's a cheap IKEA one and matches the other cheap IKEA one I bought in 2007.

Today I assembled the bookcase (yes, it was slightly annoying, but what do you expect when it comes in a box?) and set it up. I pulled all the books off the old bookcase and rearranged.

And look what fell out! A time capsule from 1988 or so.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Amazon Author Central

I made an Amazon Author page in...2005? No...couldn't be. Could it? But I think I was in my little apartment on Ggaba Road near Kabalagala, outside Kampala, so it must have been.

I promptly did not update it until yesterday.

It's not very exciting, but here it is:

Friday, September 13, 2013

Home Is Where the OHOTMU Is

Before I was completely immersed in the world of Thor, I was solidly buried in Captain America.

I'm editing this prose novel written by my old friend Larry Hama. I've known him since January of 1988 when he'd stop by the Epic intern's desk (mine) to help me do the daily NYTimes crossword puzzle. He wrote a little comic book called Wolverine and another one called G.I. something. Maybe you've heard of one of those.

Larry wrote a highly entertaining, tight, and atmospheric novel last year, and after I read it, I became determined to get him onto one of the Marvel prose novels I've been working on with my colleagues Stuart, Jeff, and Axel. I was a little annoying about it, even, until Stuart agreed to read chapters from Larry's novel.

I can't share a preview with you, so you can't read it yet, but I can tell you this much. Larry asked me a question about SHIELD's gear the other day, and neither of us were able to locate what we needed online or on Marvel's digital archive. So I headed over to my garage to dig out some things I nearly threw away a few years ago, some things I never expected to need again, as recently as a few years ago.

Freelance editing and writing for Marvel isn't a turn I expected at this point in my life. But it fits better than gloves or old shoes. It fits like home.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Me on PBS

The documentary on the company I worked for from 2006 to this past July is up this week streaming on PBS.

Check it out here.  I'm not sure how long it's up so don't dawdle.

I'm at 12:47, 32:50, 39:08, and 46:58. I'm either the voice-of-reason or should have been fired for not being gung-ho enough. I'm pretty sure it's the former, but I did something similar on the BBC a few years back, so I probably should have known better.

I am not capable of lying on a recording I know will be around long after whatever it is I'm being interviewed about has disappeared. This is what we know about me. The filmmaker worked it in nicely as a way to ground the concept a bit.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mexico: How To Marie-Style

Welcome to another installation in "How does she do this if she is not filthy rich."

Though if you've been here a while, you probably already know from your own experience that the whole "Travel is expensive" thing is a sham perpetrated by people selling advertising in their publications. Travel is only expensive if you buy into the notion that hotels should be $100-300 a night or more, and that you should fork over endless huge amounts of money for things you'd buy at home for normal prices.

We all know I don't have a job at the moment. I'm not unemployed. I'm overemployed. But I'm freelance. So you might be wondering how I could do this, but the truth is, by going to Mexico, I spent LESS than staying home for that time.

-I used American Airlines frequent flyer miles (mostly collected on my Aadvantage Mastercard) to fly from Dulles (near where I was visiting my mother) to Queretaro, the nearest airport to San Miguel de Allende. Normally, I'd have had to fly to much-cheaper Mexico City, but on miles, you fly by zones, so smaller, pricier airports use the same number of points as larger destinations. So I got within an hour of my destination instead of having to take a 3.5 hour bus journey as soon as I landed. There's a shuttle, like SuperShuttle, from the airport to the town. That was $29.

An Unexpected Turn of Events

Back on the Hampton Inn shuttle at the crack of dawn. Back to the airport for another mediocre breakfast of eggs with a side of eggs. Board for Newark. Disembark at Newark, collect luggage, jump on Airtrain, wait ages for train to Newark, switch to PATH train, zip to Grove Street.

Stop at the greengrocer for some delightful berries and lactose-free milk. I've decided I can have berries on my no-sugar plan. I've also decided I'll have lactose-free milk, since lactose has sugar and I am not trying to drive myself nuts, just trying to have as little sugar as possible.

I walk home. The day is stunning. Sunrise was stunning. The brownstone I live in on Hamilton Park is stunning. My apartment looks fantastic—Yancey and his family took great care of my (their) apartment.

Home is so beautiful this time of year. I realize I missed summer here.

But that's okay. I spent a summer in Mexico. I feel incredibly lucky, suddenly, to have had work where I could go abroad so often and even work abroad. To have traveled around the world twice, to have lived in Berlin, Australia, Barcelona, Uganda, Namibia, Kuwait, Cairo, and now San Miguel. To be a working writer/editor with plenty of freelance for the moment.

I stand in front of my building for a moment, grateful for all the opportunities I've had in life. My life has been far from normal and I've spent too much time complaining about being single when the truth is it is wonderful. I'm sure all you married people enjoy your lives too. But there is surely nothing wrong with mine.

I head in, as it clicks.

Being off sugar is making me weird.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Leaving Mexico

Today it was raining in Cancun.

That was all right. I was working in my room until check-out time. And it wasn't just raining—it was alternately pouring and raining. 

Lucky for me, the rain slowed to a drizzle after 11 AM, then stopped completely by around 11:30. 

Time for a break to the bus station, I knew. 

I checked out and pulled my bag across a slightly flooded lot, in between two buildings, and over to Tulum. I didn't want to risk jaywalking with luggage, so I went down to the crosswalk. Or what appears to be a crosswalk. It's really a semi-speedbump where pedestrians take advantage of the slow speeds of vehicles to cross in front of them. 

At the bus station, I approached a counter with the word AEROPUERTO signed above it. I bought a ticket—just a few bucks for what was a small fortune by taxi—and boarded the bus to the airport. 

Where I proceeded to get off at the wrong terminal. It came back to me now. There was the big international terminal, then there was the domestic and Cuba terminal, where you rock up to the desk and buy a visa. 

I got on the shuttle bus to the international terminal. No harm done. I had the most disgusting, expensive lunch I'd had in Mexico, made all the more insulting by the wide variety of food on offer in the food court behind Security. But I'm off sugar, so it was chicken or chicken. 

The flight to Miami was startlingly short, and on arrival, I went out to the curb and used my cell phone to call the Hampton Inn Blue Lagoon for a pick-up. I was able to communicate again! That was nice. And at the hotel, I ordered dinner in from the Cuban restaurant across the street. The hotel was pleasant, but it didn't matter. I was asleep early. Tomorrow I'd get up at the crack of dawn for the flight to Newark.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lost in Cancun City

What? Really? I swear I clicked the little walking icon.

I've been told "I clicked walking" were Ernest Shackleton's words too.

All I wanted was a salad. I ended up in a Mexican food court eating fried meat in a tortilla.

That's Senor Thor to You

I worked on my Thor book instead of going on the whale shark trip. Not because I didn't want to see the whale sharks, but the annoyingly (and ineptly) flirty boat pilot had put me off the idea of hanging out with him again, and I had work to do. Plus, I'll happily have a reason to come back to Isla Mujeres in the future.

My hotel, Bahia Chac Chi, had an included continental breakfast, but since I'm not eating sugar at the moment, toast, cereal, pastries, and flavored yogurt didn't interest me. I headed back to the walk street for an amazing dish of poached eggs and a kind of spicy sauce. 

The no-sugar thing had me eating stuff I would normally approach cautiously. But I was quickly realizing we'd been led astray about what to eat and what not to eat. I seemed to be eating gobs of eggs and meat—food I thought wasn't good for me—and I was losing weight. I hadn't gone into this no-sugar thing to lose weight, but that was what was going on. I'm sure not arguing with it. 

I wasn't in a hurry to get back to the spastic Internet of the Radisson, so I checked out just before noon and headed back to Cancun by ferry. I followed the other passengers out to the bus stop, waited ten minutes, then caught the bus back downtown, where I checked into the Radisson to find my new room had as bad a connection as the old room had. I went out for a salad, ended up with fried meat in corn tortillas, and headed back to my room. Thor, Thor, and more Thor

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Bad Hair Dive

I felt a little queasy from my underwater sculpture dive, so I relaxed in my room in the afternoon. I had looked ridiculous when I checked in—one thing they don't tell you about diving is you ooze lots of snot. Another is the mask and the salt do terrible things to your hair. Any vanity you might have disappears when you notice someone looking at you. Is my nose running? It my hair a giant tangled mess? 

In this case, it was no to the former and a resounding yes to the latter. But this is an island with lots of divers. I knew I wasn't the first tangled mess the hotel clerk had checked in.

After a delicious salt-free shower, I worked on my Thor book for the afternoon, and went out to see the town at sunset.

You wouldn't see a travel agency
like this in the States
Isla Mujeres is lovely. Two parts touristy and one part over the top, but all heart. I wandered around the walk street, reading menus to see about finding some sugar and bread free food for dinner.

One guy asked me if I wanted to come into his restaurant and sit down. "Well, the thing is...this is really expensive," I said a little apologetically. "Actually, it's all expensive." I waved an arm down the whole block. He nodded sagely, to my surprise. Yes, it's expensive here. I'd been in Mexico long enough I knew these prices were unusual.

I settled on a Cuban restaurant. Wasn't I close to Cuba? I ordered ropa vieja, ignoring for the moment that there would be vinegar in the sauce and I wasn't supposed to eat vinegar.

It was delicious. I walked around a while longer after dinner, and as the town shut down, headed back to my room. 

Afternoon (Non) Dive

Our dive master, Rodolfo, signalled us to ascend. Up we went, slowly, equalizing a few times. We weren't far down to begin with, but I went slowly and equalized anyway. 

At the boat ladder, I removed and handed one fin, then another to the boat's pilot. I took off my gear and handed it to him, until just me and my wetsuit were left. I climbed the ladder and collapsed onto the boat, watching as the other divers joined me. 

"That was great!" Everyone agreed. We were all fans of diving the underwater sculpture garden, or MUSA. 

"Now we'll go to the other dive site," said Rodolfo. 

"I'm done" I declared. "My diving career is over." 

Everyone looked at me with surprise. 

"I don't really like to dive," I explained. "I just wanted to see the sculptures." Then, seeing their disappointment, I added: "I'm retired until there's something else I want to see."

Morning Dive

My hotel is the white square directly
over the bright blue boat cover.
"How will I know where the hotel is?" I wondered as the ferry jetted from Cancun over to Isla Mujeres. I knew it was near the ferry pier, but that could mean anything.

I poked at my iPhone map and swore at Apple. My hotel wasn't marked, and I wondered too late how I could go about putting Google Maps onto my phone instead of the Apple map.

But then as we approached Isla Mujeres, I learned quickly I had nothing to worry about. The hotel I'd booked with bank points rose up over the harbor, just to the right of where we were docking.

I strolled off the boat, following everyone else around some construction. I turned right and when I got to my hotel, I learned I was too early to check in. I'd gotten the 11 AM ferry, so it wasn't quite 11:30 yet.

I went into the mujeres room by the hotel pool and tried on my old bathing suit. It was neither too tight nor too loose.

"I've seen worse," I thought. I could do this.