Monday January 31st, 2011

The exercise:

Today will be our first full day in Jamaica. So let's write about being: in the tropics.

Note: I'm away on my honeymoon so this is a scheduled post.


The sun seems a little bigger,
The people too full of vigour,
These drinks don't ever stop flowing,
The guide don't know where we're going,
The bus is always breaking down,
The driver thinks he's a clown,
The price goes up by the hour,
The other tourists are sour...

But it's still better than a day
Spent shoveling wet snow, I'd say.


g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

A little change in the wording...
"From the tropics"

My roommate is from Sichuan, China, which maps tell me isn't exactly in the tropics, but it's pretty close. At the very least, as far as I can tell it never gets below freezing at any point during the year.

So New York winters are something entirely new to her.

Though scores of folks complain, people who were either born here or have been rooted here for a long time are used to long, cold, and dreary winters typical of Upstate New York. Once it gets cold, it's interesting how one's reaction to temperature readings changes. In June, anything below about 60 degrees F (about 15 for Celsius folks) sounds frigid; in January, anything above 35 starts sounding really, really comfortable.

A week or so ago we had a terrible cold snap; one of the days, in some areas it was so cold school was delayed or canceled altogether because buses couldn't start. By the time I got home for the night I found the temperature to be 1 degree. When my roommate got in, saying how cold it was, I agreed and told her the temperature reading I'd just found.

Then I remembered she's probably more used to Celsius, so I switched the reading accordingly.


She nearly fainted.

I've been trying to assure her that it's not always this bitterly cold here in winter.

I'm not so sure she's completely convinced.

Hope you're having a good time, 'Loo! ^^

Heather said...

G2- I very much remember acting as ambassador to the Vietnamese students when I was in college. I remember how joyful they were when the snow first fell and how cold they were from that day on.

David- I appreciate that you are leaving everyone comments. It's such a little thing to do and it goes such a long way. In the same spirit, be sure to check yesterdays comments as I have opted to go back and leave one for every one.


Rick sat underneath the leafy canopy, his chest laboring to function in the heavy moist air. He'd wrapped a bandanna over his nose, but it was of no use. The stench of decaying fauna had found its way in causing his stomach to lurch steadily. Wiping away the sweat that continuously beaded on his forehead, he listened intently to the approaching low growl. It wouldn't be much longer before the source of that unsettling noise would be upon him.

Taking his hand from his forehead, he felt for the familiar cool metal of his gun's barrel. It was there next to him, vines twisted around it and cockroaches scuttling over the length of it's body. He heard them scatter as he stroked the barrel. The low growl erupted again and he squeezed the gun, ready to pick it up at the first sign of imminent danger. A bird screeched in the distance. A moment later, he saw a large winged shadow fly over him. He followed the path backwards and determined that was where the growl must have originated from.

Pushing his body further into the tree, he checked the extra clip on his belt. It was full. He wondered if they were wet from condensation, the sweat that had soaked his clothes, or if the seals had broken down and water had entered the day before when he had stumbled into the river. The growl broke his thoughts, captivating his attention and taking over his mind. Rick recognized that it was closer, more intimidating, much larger than he thought was possible.

Something fell on his shoulder. He pulled away out of instinct, loosing his grip on the gun. Whatever it was brushed his neck next and then his head followed closely by the back of his hand. He reached for his neck as it rolled in a jagged line down to his collar. He looked at his hand and caught his first glimpse of the danger. It confused him. Before he could process what was happening, the largest explosion he'd ever heard in his life filled his ears. In less than two seconds he was soaked to the skin.

He laughed heartily for the first time in two days as the cool rain drenched the ground and pounded against the leaves. The growl came again, this time accompanied by bright lights. His whoops were drowned out by the continued downpour. The only witness to the Rick's maniacal relief was the black panther that watched him from the branches above hungrily.

Zhongming said...

Marc – Man, I feel like you’re still around even though this is a scheduled post, your sprit feels alive! The poem is full of bittersweet! I like the final combination of your last two verses, it represent the humble thinking of farmers! :)

G2 - -17 degrees, that’s cheating! She should be frozen to death! :)
Heather – beautifully written! Your story had drawn me deep into the scene. The details are fantastic! :)

Greg, David & Heather – thanks for your comments from yesterday :)


In the tropics (Continuation from the snowy woods)

Memo of day sixteen, 08.47pm Thursday, 5th Feb 2000.

After the episode of freeing myself from the nightmare of snakes, I carry on with my noble mission. On the brink of death allows me to fully utilize my bravery towards the saving operation. I couldn’t care less about what is going to happen to me anymore. I cleared my mind and decided that I had to obtain the “Pearl of Amulet” before I can safely progress to discover the “Map of skull” which should lead me to where Ronnie was.

Now I have a problem with my supplies since I left the bag in the secret passageway of the “Skull Head”. Just when I thought I was a goner, someone yell at me from behind!

“Multiple screams from afar” John! John! Hey, is that John???

I turned back eager to find out who was screaming. And guess what… It was Sam, Jennifer and his gang! A total of four warrior, two man and two women!

I walked up to them and said: “Hey what’s up, buddy? It’s great to see you! What brings you here? I’m so glad to see you around!”

“What the hell do you think you’re doing? Coming here alone to die? Why have you decided to come here alone? If it wasn’t for Winnie, we could have lost you forever!”

“I’m sorry for not telling you guys about saving Ronnie’s operation. Well, you found me on this deserted island even after I roam around here for a few days. I guess we’re fated to do this together. Hmm, are you going to introduce your two pals to me or not? I think they’re getting tired on feet, I suggest that we setup a fireplace in the snowy woods to warm ourselves up in the tropics.”

“You say tropics? That’s more like freezing, pal! Anyway that’s a great idea! We’ve got lots to catch up! Let’s talk to our hearts contents! Wine is on the house! “

“Of course, buddy!”

David said...

Here's my take for today - will make comments in a second post:

The Beard stood alone in his kitchen on that Monday morning. He looked out his sliding glass door to the tranquil sea. He was surprised that he did not wake up to a violent storm after hearing the waves crash against the reef the night before.

Time to make breakfast he thought. The Beard loved to cook, but sometimes he grew tired of preparing all of his own meals. He had a chef on the staff once, but that did not work out as planned. He cracked four eggs and mixed in the onions and peppers. He added a bit of habaneros to wake him up. Chorizo used to be a part of this morning routine, but he had to give that up as a younger man.

The Beard contemplated his situation. He grew weary of this current posting, and his restless nature would force him to move on soon enough. Was the job complete? They never are, he supposed. There is always just another one.

The eggs sizzled and he heaped them on top of a tortilla he had made by hand. He took a sip of his coffee, one of the few luxuries he would allow himself. Some people are wine lovers, traveling the world in search of the finest vintages. The Beard’s line of work shuttled him through some of the best coffee growing regions.

The Beard thought about his nickname. He had no beard, had never worn one. So few people actually knew his real name, most of them were dead. Those that knew a name, knew it to be Francisco. Others knew a longer version Franciso Garcia-Gonzalez y Ruiz. Few that actually knew it believed it to be true, for they had heard stories that he had also been known as Francisco Hernandez Silva, Francisco Alvarez Sosa, and one time he had added a Fujimoro. The name would change depending on the country, it was easier to get work as a revolutionary if the people thought you were one of their own. The Beard new there was only one person who knew everything, his brother Fernando.

The Beard heard the sound of trucks rattling in front of his house. He watched the tropical skyline, seeing clouds gathering. He heard the front door open. His morning retreat was over. Four men dressed in green camouflage jumpsuits stood in the kitchen, saluting him. The Beard took one last look at the clouds, they seemed to be darkening. Perhaps the storm will come today.

David said...

Comments on yesterday:

@Zhongming – I’m starting to get into the rhythm of this ongoing piece. I’m very intrigued to see where it will go. I like how it seems to be driven by the prompts, which makes for some interesting choices.

@Greg – you sneaky bastard. So darn subversive. I loved the simplicity of the piece and how you pulled the rug out from everyone. I had to read it twice. Read it late in the day, and not so critically. But the words “poisonous vines” stuck out. Wait a second, what was that?? Brilliant.

Regarding my tense change, I realized I did that and kept it in. One , to see how it played, and two, I was a bit lazy. Thanks for the feedback, I agree it is too jarring.

@Heather – thank you for the feedback. Please don’t feel compelled to comment, it’s nice to hear what people think, but we should never feel guilty if we don’t have time. I have a bit of time right now, but cant guarantee that will always be the case. I actually had an experience awhile back where I was writing a blog and it received attention from a prominent person, who tweeted links to my blog. Four out of my first six posts were commented on. Guess what happened, I got away from writing from my heart and started trying to impress this person. And then when the person stopped commenting, I second guessed a lot. So moral of the story enjoy the process and just have fun.

Regarding the Barber – it is a bit quick because of the nature of this forum. Plus, I am just getting back to writing, so am I giving myself a reasonable time limit (15 mins). Some days I write in that time, and sometimes it flows longer. You might like the more leisurely pace of today’s piece. As for swimming, he hates the act of swimming, but sarcastically needs to psyche himself up for the swim back to the island at the end, so he loves swimming.

Today’s comments:

@Marc – ah the glass half full kinda thing. As I sit here with yet another snow day, I have some choice words for ya, but we’ll just keep sending you good thoughts.

@G2 – Here’s to your roommate not fainting and a time soon enough when we won’t be talking about the weather (at least as much).

@Heather – that was the anti-Greg piece. Loved it. The detail about the stench and covering his nose in the bandana brought me right in. Well paced, I got a bit lost towards the end and that worked well as it was the point when Rick was confused.

@zhongming – as I said from yesterday’s comments, look forward to see where you go with this. Today’s felt like a staging episode, getting the pieces in place for the next bit of action.

morganna said...

Old-eyed monkeys
Plenty of flowers
Incredible vines
Cats lurking in the shadows
Save paradise before it's bulldozed.

Greg said...

@g2: Your poor room-mate! We tend not to get temperatures that low here in London, but I've been in -20 in Germany and -30 in Canada, so I know how brisk and invigorating they can be!

@Heather: ah, a thunderstorm! I had no idea what you were leading up to until the end; very nicely described and misdirected. I think something went astray in your third paragraph though; the sentence "He wondered if they were wet..." doesn't seem to tell us what 'they' were.

@Zhongming: more intrepid explorers into the fray? I imagine we'll be seeing even more excitement soon!

@David: I like the background detail that's filling in, though my personal preference is for showing, not telling, as I always worry that exposition like this can drag for some readers. The little details here really bring the piece alive (although I do wonder how long the Beard spends making breakfast if he's made his tortillas by hand as well!). I think I liked best, though, the fact that the prompt is barely reference because it's actually pervasive.

@Morganna: That's a fascinating little poem with a great sentiment at the end.

@Marc: Heh, I see you're really looking forward to leaving the snow and cold behind for a couple of weeks. The rhythm of the poem is great.

Greg said...

And now my take on today's prompt!

In the tropics
"Dr. Anonymous, why are we here?
Lost in the tropics, with so much to fear."
"Surely my dear, the answer is clear?
We're here to poison a horse."

"Dr. Anonymous, does that really make sense?
And surely poisoning's a legal offense!"
"It's all done for medicine, in my defence,
And here's where the snakes all live."

"Dr. Anonymous, I want to leave, if I might,
I'm frightened of snakes, even by sight!"
"Don't move my dear, the snake's going to bite!
Ah, so we don't need the horse."

[Dr. Anonymous's first class anti-venin elixir, guaranteed to work in humans, restore hair, thin paint, relieve asbestosis and only occasionally exacerbate bleeding: $18.99 a bottle. Order today!]

Marc said...

g2 - I can somewhat relate to that - one year I went from fall in Canada to spring in New Zealand before returning to Canada in spring. Quite entirely skipping winter.

The next one that came around seemed particularly cold to my poor bones.

Heather - loved all of the details. You've got me wondering how poor Rick ended up there in the first place.

Zhongming - an unexpected turn in events! I like it.

David - really enjoyed seeing the Beard's perspective. Loved how contemplative the piece was.

Morganna - 'old-eyed monkeys' is a great line. Excellent final line as well.

Greg - fun poem :)