Seals and Friends

Trip Start May 07, 2004
Trip End Jun 27, 2006

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Monday, August 9, 2004

See, now I just feel like I'm indulging my ego - writing and telling the world what I'm doing. I'm not travelling anymore. Not really. My 'round the world' trip ended three months ago. Do I really think I'm this interesting? But I seem to keep going places, even if they're small trips or to a place I've already been.

Jimmy said he was excited to read my next entry (it's all about him, is why!). The rest of you - read it or don't. I guess that's been the mantra all along hasn't it?

The Invite
So...there I was, happily (and at times, not so happily) living in my brother's apartment while he's in Poland for a month, thinking about how this is the first time I've ever had a place of my own (four whole weeks!), when Anna writes me:

[15:42:32] anna: so i have a proposition for you.
[15:42:38] mona joanna: what's that?
[15:42:39] anna: (or a proposal, not sure what the right word is.)
[15:42:57] mona joanna: i'm intrigued
[15:45:07] anna: well. so. next weekend (probably leaving on thursday night, or on friday) alison is going to the cottage that her company owns on the cape. she invited me to join her, and i was somewhat intrigued, because we have done that every year for many years, and it is always a good time. also, heading to the cape is a lot easier for me in terms of dealing with work than heading up to toronto to go the festival with you. HOWEVER! i was quite looking forward to spending time with you next weekend. so my proposal is this. it will soon be your bday. if you are interested, why don't you let me fly you down here for the weekend, and we'll go to the cape, and rock out? alison would love love to see you (she was sad that she barely got to spend time with you when you were here..)

Man! I have to wonder how I end up making such great friends! Very lucky.

And the nice thing about working from home is that you can work from anywhere, so after a little bit of making sure that she was sure that she was totally serious, we decided that I should stay the week.


Getting There
So off I was on Wednesday. Jeremy drops me off at the airport - I'm bouncing off the walls, and he says to me - don't come back unless you *really* want to. Hmm - is that a mistake to say to me or what?

And then we didn't go anywhere. No pilots. Cuz that's normal for a regularly scheduled flight at an international airport!?!?

My flight finally got in around 10 and I managed to somehow navigate my way to Anna's house with only the initial phone call. As I climbed the stairs from the T, I felt a little drop of rain. Anna's place is about 5 blocks from the T stop. I had a backpack full of clothes and another pack for the camera and laptop and stuff (you'd think I'd have learned to travel light by now!). We were all soaked by the time I wandered through Anna's kitchen door.

Big hugs all around and a bit of chatter. Jimmy had to fly to San Franscisco at some ungodly hour in the morning and both Anna and I were working before heading up to the Cape so we only yipped away at each other until around 2.

Cape Cod
The next morning I got up and wandered down to Starbucks because Anna's internet access is an MIT experiment, and the experiment is apparently failing. It kinda felt nice getting out of the house and going to work instead of the usual rolling over and picking my laptop off the floor (which we all know I don't really mind too terribly ;-) Plus there was coffee!

The day ended in a big rush of me trying desperately to finish my work and us rushing down to the Charles Hotel so we could rent the car Anna had reserved. The boys gave us a choice, but advised us to take the Mitsubishi because it was sporty. Well okay then! And we went to pick up Alison giggling and playing with the sunroof.

The drive up to the Cape was the perfect little road trip - only two hours, but enough time to listen to some tunes, stop at McDonald's and get stuck in traffic. And when we got there we ate birthday cake and played the rizzla game.

We walked in a national park and then met Alison's mom who took us off-roading in sand dunes down to a relatively secluded beach. The water was freezing but we HAD to go swimming.

Anna and I had pumped ourselves up for this days prior, but we still squealed with every baby step that took us further away from shore. I was impressed that Alison's mom was in the water with us, although that was quickly replaced with amazement when, what I thought was a dog or piece of driftwood twenty feet away turned out to be a seal! It watched us watch him for a while and then he went fishing. But there were a couple more out there. It all felt so very natural and I couldn't help but notice my need to live near the ocean had returned. The sounds of the waves are so soothing and even the stress you didn't realize you were carrying just slips away.

Alison's mom had a few clam bakes and fish that her dad had caught the week before so we were treated to an absolutely superb meal. That night Alison and Anna insisted I watch Buffy with them after we had played a bit of Scrabble. I don't watch TV, but it was a bonding experience, and by the next night's session (after a very intense game of Scrabble) I was the one who wanted to watch the remaining six episodes until 4 am.

I hate to admit it, having fought the cottage experience vehemently as a teen, but there really is nothing like a few days at a cottage. I love mine (previous entry), and anyone else's I can get to.

Planning a Bash
We went to the delightfully eclectic Provincetown the next day after bringing our boogie boards to a beach with no waves, and decided that in fact, since there was going to be a birthday celebration for Jimmy and Nat the following week, well maybe we should resurrect bags o' fun.

At first I was a little hesitant - I'd made bags for Jimmy and Nat for Christmas in Buenos Aires and wanted to do something a little more original, but of course after explaining the pick-up lines, challenges and various possibilities for loot that goes into the bags, I got all excited again, and we decided that it should be test marketed at a party. So we went shopping for fun stuff.

Fake boogers, candy that tastes like mustard, plastic cockroaches and the like were easy enough to find. Glittery pens and of course balloons, condoms and fake jewelry also were no problem. But Boston is a much smaller town than the impression I had from the last time - or at least it was pretty much impossible to find dollar stores - especially any with plastic Dame Edna glasses or sparkly tiaras for less than 50 cents a piece - luckily we had also decided it was going to be a costume party anyways.

I kept hoping that all the artwork and layouts that Emma and I had done last year were going to fall from the sky (or at least appear in my email account) but I knew, deep down, that the only electronic copies were sitting somewhere random in my room at my parents' house. So we designed them from scratch.

Distracted by the occasional banter of ideas for pick-up lines, challenges and punkings:

- Get some male strippers and ensure we specify that special attention is paid to the birthday boys?
- I have bunk beds (this is a line that actually worked for an acquaintance of mine - she's still with the boy three years later)
- Pretend to be an eagle for the next hour

We did as much as we could while feigning productivity at our real jobs.

Unfortunately we did not do as much as we should have done after work hours. I mean, the reason I'd stayed the week was to spend time with Jimmy. I'd never been to one of Jimmy's famous trivia nights, so that was a must. So Tuesday night trivia is at The Asgard (yes, this is the name of a pub), and I was as useless as I had predicted. Wednesday I managed to buy some colored paper at Kinkos and get to a mall. But Thursday was another pub where we met the kind of Bostonian you see in movies. A real live Polo player wearing Ralph Lauren. Jimmy had to invite him to the party, and he showed up - as the great white hope for polo (is that famous?).

Things went a little awry on Friday when at 5pm Anna could not print off all this hard work, nor did she have a costume yet. Jimmy and I met her at her house and Anna and I ran around whispering - what are we gonna do? We could just get a pinata (which there ended up being three of) to put all the candy/balloons/sparkly glue pens in. How do we get Jimmy to go buy all the alcohol and food by himself - for his own party, so we can go to Kinkos (did I mention that bags o' fun was a surprise?)

In the end, Anna had to fake a very important work project that needed to be done. She got Jimmy all worried for her AND she somehow managed to get his help in printing off 100 pages without him knowing. Alison and I ran around getting make-up and more stuff, and two emergency pinatas. Thanks to Alison's help, by the time Jimmy and Anna showed up all the bags needed were the labels and our 'special activity' cards inserted. Good thing, cuz it was nearly ten.

Happy Birthdays (we hope)!

I have to start by saying that we, the hosts, and by that I mean Jimmy, Anna, Alison and I, looked fantastic.

I was glad that we had persuaded Jimmy not to come as "the mother-fuckin' wheel", because he made a fab Fatboy Slim. Alison was a superstar as the chick from Band Camp from American Pie. Anna's last minute Twiggy costume was sensational, and my mom's 30+ year old mini-skirt certainly lent me the look of Felicity Shagwell from Austin Powers. And my favourite non-host was Hunter S Thompson. If you know of him at all, you wouldn't have mistaken this guy for anyone else!

A few people began showing up and it was decided that the pinata should be hung from the tree. Jimmy pulled his hat over his eyes and span around on the broomstick 10 times. Unable to stand, he was actually somehow moderately successful at swiping the tree from which it hung. There just wasn't a lot of accuracy with the pinata. With half the branches missing from the tree, and Jimmy laying on the ground, Anna had to call a halt to this game and it was decided that we'd continue it later once the stuffed donkey was hanging from the porch and, presumably Jimmy was even less stable on his feet.

The crowd filled out a little more and we decided that it might be time to pull out the bags o' fun. We handed them out to a fairly receptive audience, I think. People were intrigued, and there was certainly an appropriate amount of sparkles being drawn on people and silly pick-up lines being used.

"My love for you is like diarrhea - I just can't hold it in!"

Now the funny thing about the challenges is that I wrote or found most of them. I certainly saw every one of them. Not 5 minutes after we handed out the bags o' fun, Nat was lying down on the deck with his head hanging over the stairs drinking a beer. I asked him if it was a challenge, and he was like - "no, I'm just trying to relax". Which I believed. Until the next day. Even though I had written into the challenge that "trying to relax" was the response to use when people asked what you were doing. He used the exact wording I had written and nothing triggered. Note to self - don't trust your own memory.

My Spanish had a nice little reality check at the end of the night. For a little while after Colombia, a few drinks would allow me to natter away with some confidence in Spanish, tripping over a few words or whatever, but totally getting my point across and doing really well - politics, travelling, whatever. I was introduced to a group of Colombians the night of the party and was given a nice reality check on just how bad my Spanish had become. HORRIBLE! A few short months and man, oh man! I see there are only two options here - moving back to Colombia or paying for lessons up front. Otherwise, there isn't much chance that I will practice sober, which means there isn't much chance I'll have anything intelligible to say a month from now!

I think my favorite part of the evening was JimmyK running into the kitchen wrapped in scads of toilet paper. He was yelling something at me, but all I could do was burst out laughing. I had thought people had been paying a disappointing amount of attention to the 'punks' we had put together (and granted, there were far fewer of them, and they were new, so not quite as well thought out), but this made up for it.

As it turned out, Jimmy had been receiving all kinds of concoctions with fake cockroaches and unknown ingredients.

He was a little worse for wear the next morning.

The Aftermath
Bags o' Fun are fun. But Anna's house the next morning was not. WHOAH! None of us has ever seen a disaster area quite like this before! Not even my parents when I was a teenager.

I mean. The beer bottles and rotting food, cigarettes on the lawn - this is all to be expected. BUT - the brightly colour paper stuck to, and dying the floor. The purple sparkles that had hardened on the stairs. Tootsie Pops melting all over the grass downstairs. Nasty stuff.

Anna declared that she might even learn how to mop given the shape her house was in! Had we not seen the pools of who knows what in her bathroom and kitchen, Jimmy and I might have been speechless at that comment.

Goodbye, Again
It was an amazing trip. I was especially happy to watch Taylor play piano - amazing that he's self-taught and cannot read sheet music. He also took me to see more sights in Boston that evening than I'd seen in the total of three weeks I'd spent there until that night - the Bunker Hill monument (which is not on Bunker Hill, but whatever) was especially cool. As was our cab driver, Thomas who was sweet enough to drive a couple of drunkards around to random sites, cemeteries and buildings in Boston.

My final afternoon was peacefully spent sitting on the grass watching Alison play the french horn in the Harvard summer band.

And then it was time to go. I think goodbyes suck again. I was good for a while, but Jimmy's going travelling soon so I'm not entirely sure when I'll see him again. I know I will, but still. At least he's got my brother, and sometimes even Anna, calling my Ho-Dub. Super.

And now I'm back. Happily sitting in my brother's apartment wondering who the hell is gonna clean this dump up before he gets back, and what the next adventure might be (other than figuring out who's couch I'm gonna be on next week!).

Em's talking about Montreal in September. I'm talking about good times, GOOD TIMES!

Random theme songs I've had in my head over the last twelve months...

- All through South America, having not heard the song in years, I constantly found myself singing - "Cuz I'm free, to do what I want, any old time..."
- For some of June and July it was "I'm here for a good time, not a long time..."
- And the last few weeks I've had the song from Pulp Fiction "Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo, now don't tell me there's nothing to do".

Thanks Anna.
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