Monday, February 14, 2011

Not your typical Valentine's Day

First, a couple of links. In honor of Valentine's Day, my favorite Valentine's post ever, in which Kristina Springer points out that everyone's idea of romance is different, and many women are much more practical than TV commercials would have you believe. (Says the woman who chose a honeymoon trip hiking in Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks over a diamond engagement ring. Yes, I made the right decision!)

In other news, I visited the blog of Judith Graves because, like me, she's doing a series on writers and the "second-book experience," and I'm her first guest in that series. I even dropped some major hints about what my second novel contains.

And speaking of guest posts, the latest installment in my bloggers' exchange program! Tracy D., known on LiveJournal as tracy_d74, wrote one for me. I suggested "worst vacation" as a topic because, as I've observed before, best and worst stories are usually interesting. This also ties in with Valentine's Day, because I heard on the radio today that you could name a Madagascar hissing cockroach after your sweetie as a V-day gift. You'll understand the connection after you read this ...

Miami Vacation
by Tracy D.

Thank you, Jenn, for inviting me to your place. It’s so exciting to see how others live, sneak a peek in the medicine cabinet … check out your bookshelf. You asked me to write about a vacation memory. After all, vacations are fodder for story ideas. I considered giving you a boring spiel, but then I thought, “Hey, I’m a writer. I can make it fun (I hope) and maybe show how to write in first person, past. Something I have never done.” The names have been changed, but not the event. So here we go … Miami, Florida, December 29, 2002 . . .

We stood in the doorway. Karen’s mouth agape, my eyes wide, and India’s mouth tilted in a smirk. The black lacquer furniture was ripped out of a 1980’s home d├ęcor catalogue.

This was free, I thought. It’s the only way I could afford to come to Miami for New Years.

I took a few steps, crawled across the king-size bed, wedging myself between the bed and the closet. India wedged herself between the dresser and other side of the bed. Karen remained in the doorway.

“Well, this will make an even better vacation story,” I said.
“I was expecting—” Karen started.
“Something from this decade,” India finished.
“I’m sorry, guys. My aunt described the room … very differently.”
“No worries,” I said. “Look, we came to play. We won’t even really be here.”
India unpacked our food supplies, placing them on the dresser.
“I get first dibs on the bathroom,” I said crawling across the bed and squeezing past Karen.

I flicked on the bathroom light, and my hand reflexively covered my mouth, stifling a scream. You should know something about me. I am a tad … just a smidge … germ-phobic. Meaning? I don’t use antibacterial wipes after I shake a hand. But I do have images of cat-sized germs lunging at me; their black claws tipped with dried blood ready to tear into my flesh. So, when I saw a bathroom that Clorox would shy away from and met one of the locals--a LARGE roach--my first instinct was to scream.

I heard angry voices—Karen’s in the fray. The thick Jamaican accents disguised words, but not their meaning. Karen yelled for me. Thank God, a reason to leave this … this … the roach stopped and glared at me. I shivered and turned off the light.

“We have to go,” Karen said.
“What? Why?” I said, glancing at India; she was talking on the phone, asking about hotel reservations.
“My aunt says our food will bring bugs.”
I glanced at our six-pack of water and unopened Little Debbies. Seriously? Did the woman not know she already had a squatter in the bathroom?

So, it’s your turn. Share a moment from your vacation. Or tell us what Tracy should've named the roach!

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