Saturday, January 31, 2004

If only...

As I was walking down the beach this morning, post-breakfast but pre-swim, I surveyed my surroundings and came to the brilliant (doh!) conclusion that I could probably reside quite contentedly on this little rock for some time if I could spend time at the beach every single day. Now, technically, there's nothing stopping me from doing that. But by the time one gets home from the dreaded day job and then makes one's way to the beach -- right about the time the no-see-um's are coming out...well, sometimes it's just easier (and less itchy) to kick back and spend the last daylight hours unwinding at home. Fantasies aside, I always come back to the realization that even if I took a daily trip to the beach, I would still be spending my days and nights doing -- and more importantly, NOT doing -- what I am now. Hence the dilemma.

In Friday morning's paper, there was an article about a theatre production that's going to be staged here shortly. The article said the producer is seeking volunteers to perform and assist with the production. My first thought was, "I would LOVE to be involved" (with this particular project)--followed quickly by the realization that like all other cultural events here, it would (I'm assuming) be a half-assed, half-baked effort and I'd end up being more aggravated than fulfilled by the process. And that's a drag. When I mentioned it to the boyfriend last night, he immediately said, "Do it!" But when I reminded him about his experience with a production at the same venue one year ago, he understood why I had second thoughts. This may be an international destination, but it's still a small town for its residents. Call me a snob if you like, but some events are maybe just a notch above "Waiting for Guffman." So I wait...for our return to civilization...which will mean giving up my paradisiacal trips to the beach. Why, oh why, must we choose? :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The State of the Territory

One of the boyfriend's close friends here was chosen to represent the St. Thomas-St. John District of the Virgin Islands Police Department at last night's State of the Territory address. On the phone, I heard the boyfriend say that maybe he'd ask me to tape it (since he had a gig and wouldn't be home to see it.) When he hung up the phone, I groaned and said listening to the Governor's speech was the LAST thing I wanted to do. But, of course, I ended up watching part of the stupid thing anyway and taping the section where his friend was introduced in the chamber.

You can't possibly imagine how different our little State of the Territory address is from the State of the State addresses you have on the mainland (not that I've ever even watched one), but I just don't think you're going to find the same stuff. First of all, our Governor reads like an ESL student. This is a man in his 70's who has spent a lifetime as a teacher and educator, but he reads as if he's just recently learned to sound out the words. It's quite strange and for me, very hard to listen to. Secondly, the pomp and circumstance afforded the situation--given the tiny nature of this place--is quite comical. He shows up wearing a big red ribbon around his neck that has a bunch of medals attached to it. I have no idea what the significance of this thing is, but it's a little too much of a royalty touch for an elected official in a U.S. territory, if you ask me. You've got his security detail (with earpieces) posted around the perimeter of the chamber (a tiny room to begin with); they're just part of the his million-dollar-a-year security force. (Who the hell even cares about this rinky-dink guy?) Then he typically brings his sister to these kinds of fuctions, so she's escorted in as if she's his wife when actually she's his beard, since it's common knowledge that he's gay. And thirdly, the audience response is a little different. The television cameras spend a lot of time zooming in on individuals--all of whom, I'm sure, are known to the locals. Hell, I even know who a lot of them are by now. But here's the thing: they focused in on one older gentleman who was SLEEPING and several times, the Senators and audience members were LAUGHING, but the Governor hadn't said anything funny. So there's this weird dichotomy of taking this all WAY too seriously while mocking him at the same time. It's quite strange. But now that I think about it, that pretty much sums up life in the USVI anyway--overblown grandiosity which can only inspire mockery. Yep, that's it.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Cuban Internet Access

I heard this story on BBC Radio early Saturday morning. Here's the link on the BBC site. Poor Cubans.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Contents may settle under pressure.

I just read Christine's post (see "Bag o'tricks") about the contents of her purse. I had read a post on someone else's site that was inspired by Christine's entry, so thought I'd check out the original post.

It got me thinking about what I lug to work in my bag (and I always have a bag that I only use for the office) and that would be, in no particular order:

- wallet
- checkbook
- address book (including a book of stamps)
- little spiral notebook (that I never seem to write in, but feel compelled to have with me)
- assorted pens (most of which are either completely or nearly out of ink)
- comb (ever since I lopped off my hair I'm solely a wide-tooth comb gal)
- little cosmetic bag containing lipsticks (if I wear no make-up at all, I at least wear lipstick), concealer, blush, mascara, compact (why am I carrying around make-up when I rarely wear it?), a Band-Aid, a baggie with a few Ibuprofen, Benadryl (for the rare really bad allergy day), tampons (currently) -- I think I could leave most of this mini-bathroom at home.
- a computer disk, which seems bizarre since my laptop at home only has a CD drive -- I must have thrown it in there in the event that there was something I wanted to copy while I was at work...but then, how would I read it once I got home?
- a book (always a book) to read while eating lunch at my desk or standing in the occasional bank line (yes, they still exist here and if the ATM is down--a frequent occurrence--a girl's gotta stand in line to cash a check, hence the checkbook) or while waiting for my driver (works every time...just as I get absorbed in the words, he shows up.)
- the occasional breakfast item: a biscotti or Nutrigrain bar or baggie of Cheerios

The contents of my work bag sound just like my job: cut-and-dried, boring, uncreative, boring, unstimulating, boring.

Evenings and weekends I sometimes don't even carry my wallet (which has a shoulder strap). I use something better: my boyfriend's pockets. Let him carry the money. I may throw a lipstick into a cargo pant pocket, but sometimes I don't even go that far. But then I live in a small place--it's not like I'm ever gonna be more than about 10 minutes from home.

When we venture into town on weekends for breakfast or whatever, it often occurs to us TOO LATE that we should have brought the digital camera with us. Oh well.

As a little girl in the 60's, I loved having a purse. I'm trying to remember what I kept in them. I seem to recall a coin purse, a handkerchief (jeez, I AM old if I carried a hankie rather than Kleenex), a pen, a Chapstick (pretending it was lipstick, of course). I remember my little purses always seeming rather...empty. I think I must have mimicked the contents of my Italian grandmother's handbags. Hers were always those type have a clasp that snaps shut, and she carried the minimum number of items: lipstick (she wore one shade of red for as long as I can remember), a compact, a handkerchief (that's probably where I got the hankie thing because it sure wasn't from my mother), a comb, a coin purse. I don't even remember her having a wallet and believe me, we were the worst kind of prying grandkids--the poor woman had no privacy. And as soon as she returned home from church or an outing, she would carefully replace every item in her purse in its proper place at home.

My mother and aunt, on the other hand, always seemed to be carrying handbags that were so full and heavy. What was IN there? Probably a lot of the same unexciting crap I cart around.

All of this handbag analysis makes me realize that maybe I've got it bass-ackwards. Maybe I'm creating a bag to match the job (and my uninspired feelings about it). Maybe I need to create a bag that matches ME. My slogan about my current job has always been "Check your brain and creativity at the door." (Meaning my front door, not the office door...I start putting on my "game face" the minute I leave my house.) Maybe I need to be much more creative with my contents...and then they won't SETTLE...under pressure, or otherwise.

Thursday, January 22, 2004


Sorry, I just haven't felt inspired to write about island life lately. What can I say about my little island? It's beautiful...and boring. Beautiful and boring. And boring. And boring. Maybe it would seem even more beautiful and a lot less boring if I didn't have to work where I do. Now, I don't HAVE to work there, but I read the classifieds religiously and believe me, if there were some exciting alternative, I would have pursued it long ago. And maybe the work situation seems particularly heinous because the only fun thing I do outside of work is go to the beach--which I love--but a gal needs a little more than that to make a "life." Know what I mean? So bear with me as I find myself in the doldrums. I only recently learned that that refers to an actual place: the ocean regions near the equator where there is little or no wind. I'm there, people...literally.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Technical Problems

St. Thomas and even St. John get a lot of cruise ship visitors, but St. Croix's cruise ship traffic came to a screeching halt some time ago. Some of the cruise ship lines said they were pulling out because of the high crime rate--specifically the crimes against passengers and crew members. But St. Croix has plenty of other problems, too. Yesterday, they were scheduled to receive their ONE cruise ship for the season (and it's been over a year since a ship visited there). But the Radisson Diamond canceled its St. Croix call and went to Virgin Gorda instead. They cited "technical problems," but everyone seems to know the real reason. The ship didn't want to call on Fredericksted because there's raw sewage flowing near the Fredericksted pier and onto the public beach there. And this isn't isn't a rare occurrence--it's been flowing for a month. Raw sewage is a frequent problem on the big island. A couple of months ago, there was a large photo on the front page of the paper showing a woman gingerly crossing a street in Christiansted, trying to avoid the sewage flowing in the street. That's right, we're a U.S. territory and our largest island has raw sewage flowing onto streets and beaches. Maybe our government employees could spend a little less on government vehicles (most of which are treated as personal cars) and travel and overtime pay...and just a little more on waste management.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

America's Dumbest Cops

Is there a show with that title? If not, maybe there should be. Before Christmas, a man (who happens to be a teacher in Massachusetts) walked into the Diamonds International store downtown, got hold of a diamond, swallowed it and walked out. He was arrested on the spot. But in the follow-up story that appeared in the paper last week (following his arraignment), I was astonished to read that the police had allowed him to bail out immediately following his arrest. Wouldn't you think they'd hold him until the evidence But no, they released him within hours and he returned to Massachusetts. You've probably already guessed his plea: not guilty.

Queen Mary 2

The Queen Mary 2 arrives here on Saturday, the 24th, on her maiden voyage from England. This ship made news recently when she was docked in a French port and they opened her to the public for tours. A gangplank broke and several people were killed and several more injured. (I'd be a bit nervous boarding a ship right after that kind of incident.) She's being touted as the largest crusie ship in the world and costing almost a billion dollars to build. We get some large ships here, but she's supposedly going to dwarf them all. She won't be docked at the cruise ship dock, but in the harbor. We don't always head into town on the weekends, but we might have to go take a look that day.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Odd Couple

I saw a very strange couple at the beach this morning. They were off one of the cruise ships (you can tell by the towels). He was probably in his 40's, had slicked-back blond hair, was very tan, and was wearing a Gold's Gym tank top, a Speedo (eeeew!) and a big gold chain around his neck with a large barbell charm. (At first I thought it was a dog bone.) When he took off the tank top it was clear that although he still looked middle-aged, he's someone who spends time at a gym. (He even stood with his hands on his hips while his wife applied sunscreen to his back--as if he were posing in front of a mirror.) His wife on the other hand was pasty white and had to weigh at least 350 pounds. She was HUGE. All I could think was, wow, those lounge chairs are really strong. They were sitting very near us and it was hard not to stare, because they were such an unlikely pair.

One of my favorite things to do at the beach is people-watch anyway. Actually I enjoy doing that anywhere. I've spent countless hours doing it in nightclubs. When your mate is a musician and on the bandstand and you're sitting alone, you gotta find some way to entertain yourself. I'm always fascinated by couplings. I'm sure my boyfriend and I look like an unlikely pair to some people, too. But I have to say that the couple we saw today was defiinitely one of the most unique.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Beach Etiquette

Let me give you a few tips on beach etiquette for your next tropical vacation:

1) Don't litter our beaches. There are garbage cans lining the length of the beach. Use them.

2) Don't throw a frisbee or kick a soccer ball around when you're surrounded by a lot of people. If you hit someone with the frisbee and an hour later hit her with the soccer ball, chances are you need to find a more unpopulated section of beach for your little games.

3) Smoking is offensive to the people sitting next to you...even outdoors. And don't throw your frigging butts in the sand.

4) Before you shake out your sandy towel, check to see which way the wind is blowing.

5) Don't be rude to the employees who staff the cafe or bar or gift shop. Trust me, it only makes YOU look like an ass. (Example: Last weekend, a guy who looked about 14 came to the bar asking to be served. The bartender asked for ID. He returned with ID, she made his drinks and he paid her...minus a tip. She told him that since he's only 18 and not old enough to drink in the States he probably doesn't know bar etiquette yet, but that it's customary to tip the bartender. He said when he got good service he'd leave a tip. She said good luck getting served the rest of the day.)

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Ticket Price

I did something last night I haven't done in months: went to one of my boyfriend's gigs. I hadn't planned to go, but he kept asking me if I was sure I didn't want to come until (brilliant one that I am) it finally dawned on me that he WANTED me to go. So I went. It was as laid-back as a gig could be. It was at an open-air bar/restaurant that serves pub food and has a pool table. I mean really in no walls, just a roof. It's in the courtyard of a funky (in a good way) shopping/art gallery complex.

So I was sitting there during this early (7-10) gig, listening to the music and watching the people, and it suddenly hit me what a tiny little globe this is. The guy who called him for the gig (someone he's played with many times) told the boyfriend the first time they played together that he also used to live in Portland and used to go out to hear the boyfriend play. And I was thinking what funny twists and turns life has in store for us. Here's a guy who used to go out to the best club in Portland to hear my boyfriend forward a decade and here's my boyfriend backing up this guy who we'd never heard of in Portland. It was an example of not only the obvious "big fish in a small pond" cliche (since this guy can be a draw here but would never have been in a larger market)...but also of humility. But here's the twist: my boyfriend (and I think I'm stating this pretty objectively) is most most humble and modest musician I've ever known (and I've known a bunch of them). So then I wonder: why has he put himself in a situation/circumstance where he's having to experience even MORE humility? That's the price of the "tropical lifestyle" ticket, I guess. Wanna live in "paradise"? Okay, better give up on having a real career as a performer...with fellow performers at your level. But not a day goes by that I don't wonder if that price isn't way too high.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Lady Ann Magee

To see the yacht where the boyfriend did a jazz gig on New Year's Eve, go to Google and enter "Lady Ann Magee." There are a couple of sites where you can take a virtual tour. He gave me the virtual tour last evening. Brat! Here I was curled up on the couch watching TV while he was cruising around on this little number that rents for about 190 grand a week. Check it's pretty awesome.