Saturday, January 27, 2007

Birthday Bug in Costa Rica

I've always been a passionate promoter of solo traveling.
I've extolled the virtues through rough, approximate-syllable haikus and slurry eulogies to every mosquito, resort-rendered deaf vacationer and apathetic aphid I could find.
I've told them of the remarkable benefits of bussing, training, and hitching alone (namely, the amount of people you meet, the extended kindness and invitations offered by others and the ability to avoid the itineraries of shopping travelers, dance club seekers, Mai Tai enthusiasts… as well as the soul-necessary ability to stay three extra days in an otherwise touristically uninteresting place, just because the hammock is comfortable...)

But, there is one logical reason I can think of for inviting a travel companion along with you on a vacation or exploration. And that is:

so you have someone to take pictures of.

And, so..., when my mother gave me this hand-made, construction paper Bug for my birthday last summer, I decided He would make the most amiable and relaxed companion on my next trip. Afterall, he already seemed to have a flair for the travel life...

And, I must say that our little Birthday Bug did quite well on the road.
He was care-free and friendly as we navigated the crowded Avenida Central in San Jose, remained pleasantly optimistic when we had to stand without seats for the four hour busride to La Fortuna, and slept peacefully as his travel companion (yes, that's me) joked and chatted into the early hours with Japanese-fluent Tico hostel owners and Law philosophers.

Now, many creatures of Costa Rica have an affinity for and an exclusively survival-based relationship with water (like the Jesus Christ Lizard and the poison dart frog). But, our little Birthday Bug companion proved not to be the aquatic enthusiast you'd expect.
Infact, he was appallingly frightened of swimming, cowered from waterfall misty sprays and even crumpled his contruction paper arms at the touch of sweaty tourist fingers.

(I even offered him a stylish mini-coconut bikini and a tree-sap latex speedo, depending on his orientation... to no avail.)

BUT, I did finally get him to pose for a photo once, albeit very unwillingly, infront of a small cascade...

He tried to smile, but the wind currents sent his black paper
legs swinging liberally in the humid breath of his hiking companion, and he just didn't feel comfortable posing alone.

Having been the domesticated entomological puppet of a mother's creative hands for so long, he just didn't feel much at ease in the presence of a daily-active volcano and its seismically charged, bordering rivers...

But, I like to think he DID later enjoy himself a bit, locked safely inside a Zip-Lock tupperware containter for three days (with appropriate airholes, mind you), as his traveling home-girl hiked throught the Cloud Forest alone, aweing at the sights of Quetzales, being drawn to wing-like arm stretches beside cloudy vacancies and enjoying the sounds of non-construction-paper insects and birds for three hours at a time without seeing another person...

But he did get hungry.
And he did get lonely.

So, when he met a tired and friendly stray puppy one night, our little protagonist insect (though, he could be an arachnid... for he has lost a few paper legs in journey...) reached out for companionship.

And because his travel companion had forgotten to bring such proper medical supplies as glue, colored construction paper and scissors, and because he was so tired, lonely and hungry...

He ate the dozing puppy right there in Mal Pais, Costa Rica;

first swathing the dozing puppy in a moist caccoon of artificially-colored paper,

and then sucking the sashimi juvenile dog juices out like a dry martini with bedbug chasers and remnants of undigested, out-of-date Lonely Planet guidebook pages...

Yes..., I like to think we both had a good time...

(more to come soon...)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Post from the Road

Midst trip through CA hotspots.
Minimal time to post.
Will try anyway.

Familiar warm winds. Relatives and frozen water pipes. Traffic and Mexican food. Harp players and Waldorf zealots. Bloody poodles and ferocious rotweilers. Desert stars from the back of a pickup truck. Wine country and incompetent bank tellers.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be poetic, entertaining, lyrical or even readable. I just felt I should post before boarding another plane.

I should have, however, just sent you here to check out my Simulated Self in action, selling flowers. It's far more palatable.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

1,2,3... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I know a guy who can replicate, precisely, the distinct sound of a dove looking for a mate.

His realistic “coo” can get any wholesale warehouse shopper to look up and squint inquisitively at the rafters of the ceiling. His hollowly sweet song can have pale-wristed, avion-scat-a-phobics* on the sidewalk ducking under large parked trucks and pulling juvenile weekly newspapers over their shower-capped heads.

Not only can he also do this in Spanish (“cu-curru-cu-cú”!), but he can dove purr in any language and, most exceptionally, he can impersonate these white winged peace icons ON COMMAND!

…I also know a guy who can theatrically burp on command, and a friend who can consistently produce an obscure and hilarious new vocabulary word on command.

So…, for example.., if these three were sleeping, you could jab them all in the derriere with a pinecone, require them to immediately perform and, without even a grunt or an eye-rub, you would hear:

“Cooo-ooo! Cooo!”
“ah.., f*ck this uxorial, crapulent imbroglio!”

and, then they would all roll back over and sleep as if nothing had happened.

So…, why am I writing about this?

Well…, I guess it’s because I’m jealous.

I have never had, as far as I know, a talent for performing an audience-pleasing action ON COMMAND.

Whenever someone asks me to “tell a joke” or “be funny”, I immediately freeze up and can’t remember even a single nun pun…

If someone asks me point-blank to juggle or dance, my cheeks start to burn baby-butt pink, and I toss the balls as quickly as I can…

I hate it when people ask me to “speak another language” for their exotic pleasure, and I employ every quick, clever quip I can to get out of reinforcing stereotypes by “telling stories” of my international experiences in 40 second conversations…

Basically… (even though I love performing and making a donkey organ of myself at times), I don’t like ‘dancing’ on command. I prefer to dance when it comes naturally and in proper context.

I mean..., you wouldn’t ask a great sexual composer to create a masterpiece without foreplay, would you? And, what kind of interviewing reporter would ask for a life history without establishing an understanding and casual rapport first?

What I’m trying (albeit long-windedly) to get at is that being retrospective about the past and contemplative about the future is not something that happens ON COMMAND.

(...for me, at least.)

It’s not something to be done only during January of the New Year.

It’s something that is done year-round, on arbitrary Sundays when the wind is particularly awkward and on weird Wednesdays when your ordinary habits seem suddenly silly…

So, all I'm saying is: Forgive me for not observing the New Year in the seemingly accepted manner. Trust me, I've got enough resolutions to fill this month's void!

***By the way, if anyone know the correct word for the phobia that reflects a fear of falling bird shit, please let me know. You need help as much as I do.

Monday, January 01, 2007

On unflawful perfection and fault invention

If you don’t have enough inherent idiosyncrasies as a person, I say it is your social responsibility to invent some.

I mean, lets say you’re an outstanding guitarist. You are an impeccable master of both technical and methodological precision who tight-ropes flawlessly between soulful inspiration and musical exactitude. You run up and down arpeggios like virtual staircases, and your every performance is like a Jimmy-invoking séance.

Yes, you’re an extraordinary musician who will probably even make it into music history books and slip into the pretentious conversations of martini-drinkers at parties held by old people trying to be hip.

But…, will people like you?


Because no one likes a faultless genius. No one likes a perfect neighbor, an intelligent AND beautifully-breasted coworker, or a weather man who is an actual meteorological psychic. Aside from making great paper weights, such people just serve to highlight the flaws and shortcomings of others.

So, that’s why I think it’s important for everyone (especially all the other flawless people like me in the world) to invent a few well-developed, rough-edged idiosyncrasies that can be tacked on to their personality in times of social awkwardness or peer disdain.

The kick-ass, impeccable guitarist, for example, would be wise to get himself a drug addiction of some sort and an affinity for rubbing zebra dung on his forehead and genitals during performances.

The perfect neighbor could get herself a minor personality tic like…, for example, an obsessive-compulsive need to repaint the mailbox each and every day wearing only a pair of blue clogs and a postal service hat.

Et cetera…

But, you ask, does the preacher practice what she screeches?

Why yes, in fact, I do.

In my own life, I’ve uploaded a few invented flaws and idiosyncrasies that I often use to highlight my inherent persona and keep my social peers from thinking I’m dull.

The first thing I invented was a passionate disdain for mayonnaise. I learned over many years of being asked “What foods do you like/ dislike?” that my honest answer (“I like everything. There’s not a food I can think of that I don’t like.”) was not a socially acceptable answer. Every time I tried to answer truthfully, my interrogators would INSIST that there must be a food I couldn’t stand.

Hence, I pulled mayonnaise out of my ass (…but, sorry, I didn’t film it and post it to Youtube), and now just the thought of that whipped-cum white puree gives me the inclination to sing Christmas carols with Whitney Houston and Ted Haggard.

The other personality enhancer I brewed for myself is a lovely little piece of work I call Travel Snobbery…

I figure everyone spins the globe and fantasizes about seeing the romantic shores, exotic creatures and diverse flora of distant lands unprotected by corrupt governments.., but NOT everyone can boast of a narrow-minded snobbery about the “correct” way to travel.

So…, I carefully designed (first out of toothpicks and later out of idea alone) a unique, backpacker-wiggle-your-bare-toes- down-into-the-cultural-earth-eat-cheap-stuff- from-local-markets-and-stay-in-three-walled-places-that- cost-less-than-a-bottle-of-water attitude towards travel which I have used to add spice to my public personality on many a crowd-pleasing social occasion.

And this little idiosyncratic attitude of my exoteric self says that Costa Rica is for howler monkeys and one-week tourists who wear their backpacks on their stomachs and scream when they see spiders near their food.

But… what can I say…, the ticket was cheap. So, I’m going.

...Phew!... All of these words just to say that I’m going to Costa Rica…

No…, honestly, all of the circumlocutive wordiness is just a part of my recently invented “Can’t get to the point” Flaw that I’m working on now to enhance my otherwise banal personality. Let me know how it’s coming.