Day-6 Of My Vacation Journal

Friday October 23 

It was the second-to-last day of our vacation, and the parents and I actually went on a fun, family outing… 

WE WENT OUT TO TRADER JO’S! Aaaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha! Like I said on the post about Day-1, the parents and I are the most boring fucking vacationers we know. We’re devout Aldi and Publix shoppers—especially cheapo Aldi. Venturing off to pricier places with a selection of exotic goodies, like Trader Jo’s and WholeFoods, is like the Safari experience of grocery shopping. 

It’s been a Tuscany Resort tradition for the past decade, to make an outing out of going to one of these higher quality stores, and loading up on unique foods that weren’t usually available at our everyday stores. Coming back to our condo,, with eco-friendly bags overstuffed with things like, Hibiscus soda, beers from obscure microbreweries, weird flavored cheeses, and interesting pasta alternatives, was always one of my favorite parts of the trip.  

WholeFoods is the all-time family favorite. One of their best variety destinations was the bulk bins. Their assortment of bulk bins was overwhelming, at times, but with this covid issue, I wonder if bulk bins are still allowed. I couldn’t get enough of their chocolate covered espresso beans, and carob covered almonds. They had some rock’n good crystalized ginger too. Hot, nose juicing, crystalized ginger. I was also hooked on these dried mangos that were delicious, despite how much they smelled like stinky library books. 

Trader Jo’s is the next best option. They’re a lot smaller, and they don’t have as insane of a variety of all things out-of-the-ordinary. But we love that place, because, of course, it’s cheaper.. For a store with less inventory, they still have a generous array of good quality coffees, which is my favorite part.  

I made it a mission to find coconut pancake mix, and these white chocolate-coffee dunking cookies. We used to get these things from Trader Jo’s, years ago, and I never forgot them. 

The coconut pancake mix was one of those “healthier alternative” things, because it was grain-free. However, it sure didn’t taste like health nut chow. It was so coconutty, with a buttery undertone, and just the right amount of sweetness. When dad made pancakes or waffles with it, they tasted like coconut macaroons, or buttery coconut cookies. They weren’t just coconutty, more like coco-naughty

As for the dunking cookies, they tasted like they were flavored with real coffee. Not that imitation coffee flavoring shit that kind of tastes like second-hand smoke and Honey Smacks. These cookies had a good, strong, bold coffee flavor.. Each had one half dipped in rich, creamy white chocolate,  When you dipped it into your hot coffee, the white chocolate instantly turned gooey and melty. If some of your coffee melted into it, oooooweeee, it was a mouth’s wet dream. 

We searched just about everywhere in Trader Jo’s, except on the roof, but we didn’t find the cookies or the pancake mix, but I wasn’t too disappointed. They had other exotic treats that I just had to have, like coffees from Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Honduras. I won’t ramble on about every single item in our cute little Trader Jo’s cart, but I was thrilled that they had Asian pares. For a while, it seemed like grocery stores stopped selling them. 

For those of you who never had an Asian pare, they are very different. They’re shaped more like round apples, and their skin—which I think is brown—has more of a potato skin texture. How they taste, I guess, depends on where you buy them. Christa says that the ones they sell in Panamanian stores don’t have much of a flavor. But the Asian pares I always bought, here in America, taste like rum. 

There were these grapes that I couldn’t help buying, just because they were Moon Drop grapes. They tasted like grapes, but looked like little purple weaners. 

After Trader Jo’s, it was back to good old Publix, for some aspirin. Dad had a gout flare-up that gave him a severe case of balloon-hand. We had to get some dinner stuff for the next couple of evenings too. While moseying among the frozen pizzas, mom spotted this pizza that sounded disgusting, so I had to try it. Cauliflower-cranberry pizza! 

When we got home, it was time for Friday’s Write-In. I sure liked Christa’s idea to move the second Write-In of the week, from Thursday to Friday. The way my quirky brain operates, having these meetings at the beginning and end of the week, is less disruptive on my natural flow. Christa, who juggles writing, blogging, a writing course, her husband, household and dogs, AND a full-time day job, feels the same way. Sadly, however, the other group members seemed not into this change, and Friday’s Write-In was a bust. 

Since the Writers’ Mastermind has members from all over the world, it’s hard to figure out what the perfect Zoom meeting schedule should be, whether it’s Write-Ins, or monthly meetings about what we members learned from Christa’s monthly workbook. I wonder if having Friday’s Write-In at the same time as on Mondays, would be better. People seem to prefer the morning Zooms, especially our members from European countries, where 11:00 A M over here, is early evening on their side of the Atlantic. One of our members is from Norway, which I was told, is six hours ahead. Christa caught her dozing off one time, during one of our 3:30 meetings. On the other hand, 3:30 is a good time for our members from places like, new Zealand, because it’s a decent hour of the morning, over there. 

Boy, am I making our writing group sound like something glamorous, with all this around-the-world talk. I wouldn’t bullshit you. Christa and I do get the privilege of digitally hobnobbing with outstandingly brilliant writers, but we haven’t reached any level of literary glamor… 

YET… 

It had been almost two weeks since Christa went back to Panama, enough time for a build-up of happenings to catch up on. So we spent the Zoom meeting, just hanging out. I told her about my dilemma with Sandra. Ah, man, when she told me what Sandra was really asking for, I felt like a total air-head. 

Sandra wasn’t expecting me or Jo to spend twice the cost of my book on mailing her a paperback copy, all the way to Québec, free of charge. What she was really requesting, was a digital A R C! So it was a misunderstanding on both ends of our Facebook Messenger. Oh, hell, I didn’t even know what a digital Author Review Copy is until that day. Sandra, along with other people I know on social media, assume that I’m just as technically advanced as them. I messaged her, apologizing for my misunderstanding, and promised that Christa would send her an A R C soon. I really want that review. 

Trying to make it as an author, while still having loads more to learn about social media, and about how the digital writing business operates, makes me feel like such a silly, naïve little girl, sometimes. Aaaaaaah!! What the hell have I gotten myself into!! 

Ending the second-to-last day on a positive note, the cauliflower-cranberry pizza was amazing. Whoever came up with that recipe, is a true flavor artist. It didn’t have the typical pizza stuff on it, like tomato sauce or Italian spices. Instead, it had a cream cheese-tasting sauce that was not spicy, but not bland either. It was kind of a go-between flavor that balanced out the conflicting flavors of the cauliflower and spinach, and the sweet and tangy, cooked dried cranberries. It was a savory pizza that was a perfect ending to the day’s adventurous food journey, after rum flavored pares, and weaner grapes. 

Love you all! Post you tomorrow!

Day-5 Of My Vacation Journal

Hey! I’m back! 

How was your Halloween? Mine was, meh. But I know part of that is my fault. I don’t like parties, because I’m just weird like that, and I don’t get any thrill out of costumes anymore, because I can’t see them. I do, however, still love Halloween candy, and scary stories. Foolishly, I decided to pass up going grocery shopping with the parents, on Friday. If I’d gone, I would’ve bought extra Halloween candy, so there would be plenty of leftovers. Mom and dad assumed that we weren’t going to get much trick-or-treaters, because of covid. So they only bought one little bag of fun-sized Kit Kats. 

Yeah, I’m an adult, but not a very grownupy one. When mom and dad were my age, if there was nothing going on for Halloween, it didn’t bother them at all to go about it, like it was just another day. To me, that’s depressing. The child within still likes to do something on Halloween, to make it a special day. 

I unintentionally ended up spending three hours on WordPress, catching up on reading others blogs, and commenting back and forth. That’s not very Halloween spirited, but deciding to not worry about time management kind of added a slight Holiday feel, in a nerdy sort of way. After that, I binge-watched shows about serial killers. Eh, it was something. The shows about BTK, Jeffrey Dommer, and some dude in Alaska who killed blond-haired strippers and prostitutes, were all very graphic and creepy. 

We had a surprising amount of trick-or-treaters. Mom doubted that we would have enough Kit Kats. She offered to set aside one Kit Kat for me, one for dad, and one for Jaden, but I told her to just give mine to a trick-or-treater. I didn’t want just one fun-sized Kit Kat for Halloween. That’s lame. When the trick-or-treating was over, we had two Kit Kats left, which are going to be given to Jaden. 

We had an amusing incident with this trick-or-treater who was a Trump fan. Mom and dad had put a Biden sign in our front yard. When this one little boy came to the door, he asked mom, “Why are you voting for Jo biden?” We thought this was funny, because he looked no older than 8, and his tone of voice, and his little face expressed such disgust. 

“Because I like him.” was mom’s appropriate answer for a child that age. 

When dad went out front, to take over the treat giving duty for mom, he came back in to throw away an empty juice pouch that one of the kids threw on our front porch. I wouldn’t be surprised if that little Trumpadite did it, as his 8-year-old way of letting us know that he thinks we suck. 

Anyhow, here is the fifth day of my vacation journal. 

Enjoy… 

*** 

Thursday October 22 

Spicy, salty, and so very greasy 

Processed junk in a convenient can 

Another disgrace to the American diet 

Making my mini fridge smell like processed pork farts

I’ve always had a fondness toward shit-nasty processed meat. It’s a guilty pleasure. Hot dogs, Bologna, spam, oh, it’s all good. Even Vienna sausages. What the hell are those things made of, anyway? They taste kind of like meat, but their texture is like they were manufactured by kids with Playdough Fun Factories. You could mush the whole can of them together, and start sculpting farm animals and ash trays, but it sure is tasty. 

I had gotten both spam and Bologna, as a part of my vacation-grocery order. I haven’t had spam in a few years, and it was an infamous food that I always enjoyed, as gross as it is. I mean, really. Think about it. It’s meat, chemically broken down and processed into a mealy mush, and then compressed and molded into smelly, greasy, pinkish brown blocks. Then when you take it out of the can, it makes this unappetizing, slimy sucking noise. Yet, I still eat it. 

I put the slimy, stinking block of meat-product on a large plate, and cut it into thin slices, to snack on with some cracker-cut sharp cheddar. As a teenager, I used to be able to eat a whole can of spam, in one sitting. Now-a-days, my post-40 digestive system couldn’t handle such an intense dose of grease. After a few slices, I put the plate of it in the mini fridge, with just a paper towel over it. That stuff was so greasy, I figured that it didn’t need much protection from the dryness of the fridge. 

Bleck, never again. 

Next time, I’ll put the leftovers in a vacuum-sealed bag made with oder-block technology. For the next couple of days, every time I opened the mini fridge, a fearsome, spicy processed pewsh cloud rose up into the kitchen, and extended its funk to every corner of the lock-off. 

Thursday was rainy, which enhanced my mood to be lazy, all the more. Aside from indulging in spam and sharp cheddar, I indulged into the whimsical world of Sarah Canon. Her Y A and new adult books are another guilty pleasure. I’ve been reading her Shadow Demons series, which has been one hell of a crazy reading journey. 

It’s about these witches who live in a small town in Georgia, called Peachville, but their secret organization called The Order of Shadows, extends all over the globe. They enhance their magical abilities, by capturing demons from a realm called the Shadow World, and enslaving them. The Shadow World isn’t Hell, or anything like it. It’s a beautiful world with three suns, and three moons, and zero environmental problems. Its demons are actually a magical race of people who could live forever, if they choose to. 

The Order had created portals to the Shadow World, where they send out their Hunters to capture the demons. The Hunters are kind of like zombi witches, but they’re a lot more functional than zombies. They could battle with their dark magic, better than normal witches, but they are magically kept alive, long past the natural human life span. So they age enough for their bodies to start decomposing, as though they are dead. The Hunters abduct the demons, and bring them to Earth, where they are forced to live within the witches’ bodies, never to see their friends and loved ones in the Shadow World again. When a witch dies, her enslaved demon dies. 

The half-witch/half-demon main character, who is also a princess in the Shadow World, is starting up a revolution against The Order, recruiting both demons and witches. Witches who are no longer bedazzled by the allure of The Order, and are aware of how corrupt it really is. I was on book 6 in the series. By this part, the princess, her hunky demon boyfriend, and their demon and witch friends have figured out how to deactivate the Peachville portal. They’ve also discovered the secret to how to destroy the portals, which would stop The Order from being able to abduct and enslave anymore demons. They learned about the secret to how to free demons from their witch captors too. However, I’m only about half-way through the series. Princess and company had both successes and failures, in ways I’m not giving away, but they still have a hell of a battle ahead of them.

It stopped raining, by the time we wanted to eat dinner, which worked out perfectly—Or so we thought. We planned to have dinner at the pool-side cafe, but when we got to the pool, there was no more restaurant. Because of covid, they stopped serving food all together. No more deliveries either. They have a little shop that sells some basic groceries and snacks, but because of covid, the shop closed at 2:00 P M. Back in the normal days, it used to stay open until nighttime. So vacationers who wanted to get something to eat past 2:00, were on their own. 

They still served drinks by the pool, but nobody was allowed to sit at the bar. Instead, there was this long-ass line of socially distanced people in masks, waiting to get a drink. This was vacationing, dystopian-style, baby. 

So we went to good old Publix to get dinner. Mom bought veggie burgers, and dad ordered a veggie wrap with no cheese, because they both think they’re fat. Ever since I’ve known them, they’ve had this obsession with getting thin, but they still never succeeded in how thin they wish they could be, after 40 freaking years. I ordered an Italian sub. A small one, of course, but only so I could make room for cinnamon & sugar pita chips. I think Stacy’s makes them. The parents didn’t find them, on their first grocery trip that week. I was thrilled when mom spotted them by the bakery breads, because I hadn’t had them in a couple of years. They are seriously addictive. 

After getting my gorge on, I checked my Facebook Messenger, and was like, “Oh, shit.” My fellow Writers’ Mastermind group member, Sandra, wanted me to send her a copy of HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land to review on her blog. And I had already told Jo to not send out any author copies. She lives in Québec. I told her that the book is available on Amazon C A, and she was like, “I’ll just get a copy on a later date.” 

I asked her if it was more expensive at the Canadian book store than at the U K and U S ones. 

“I don’t know,” she said, “I never shop at Amazon U K or Amazon U S.” 

I admit, I got the wrong idea, which made me a little annoyed with her. I thought she was being a cheapskate who thought she should get the book for free, because she’s a group member. I didn’t want to tell Jo that I changed my mind, and then have him spend his money on mailing Sandra an author copy, all the way to Canada. But at the same time, I really, really wanted her review. She’s good at flying through books, and loves giving reviews. So I was in a dilemma, and decided to ask Christa what I should do about this, on Friday. 

By the end of the day, I finished book 6 of the Shadow Demons series. Wow! Each book I’ve read had ended with a twist. The sixth book had two, the usual type of twist, and then the mother of all holy-shit twists. It was one of those endings that got me PUMPED. I can’t say that I recommend you to read this series yet, because like I mentioned before, I’m only about half-way through it. The ending of the last book might be a total stink bomb, for all I know. As for now, it was an exciting, mental movie experience to have, before getting ready for bed, and the ending for my journal post about Thursday the 22nd. Otherwise, I’ll be yammering on about putting on slipper socks, going into a bathroom vent induced trance, and leaving the dishes unwashed for, yet, another night. 

Love you all! Post you tomorrow!  

(Yahoooo! Feeling all better now!) Here is Day-2 of my vacation journal

Monday, October 19 

I had a weird dream about Jo. He was over at my house, hanging out with me and the family. For some reason, all the lights in the house were off, but the windows were enlarged, and bare of all window treatment. The crowd of us was downstairs, blabbing and mingling around in the dark, between the kitchen and living room. The enlarged windows revealed the dim but beautiful, purple-blue light of dusk. It was a more intense purple-blue than usual. 

Jo stayed close by me, through the whole gathering. Every time others in the room had their backs turned for a second, or if they got distracted by the other conversations going on, Jo would quietly slip a wad of cash into my hand. The first time he did this, I thanked him, and asked him what this was for. He pretended to not hear me, and kept talking. So I got the hint that I’m supposed to keep quiet about this. Then he snuck another wad of cash into my hand, and another, and another. I appreciated his generosity, but this was a weird way of expressing it, and it was making me uncomfortable. In real life, I had given him an extra 200 pounds, for editing my same damn book, for the millionth time. This equaled to about $284. In the dream, I was worried that he would end up giving me back all the money that I paid him and more. It clearly felt like the wads of money he kept giving me were of American bills. After the tenth or dozenth wad, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore. “Jo! What are you doing?!” I asked. “You’re giving me back, like, all the bonus money I gave you!” 

He stopped talking, and looked towards me, as though to answer, but before I got an answer, I was suddenly outside. 

I was walking away from the house, by myself. Heading down the driveway, and down the street. It was still dusk outside, but the street was brightly lit with silver L E D streetlights. This is the part where the dream got stupid, because the curbs of the street were replaced by mounds of plain, cooked pasta and white rice. 

Whenever my editor appears in a dream, it usually means that I’m either going to get an email from him, or I’m going to see him that day. There is something a little paranormal about Jo. Spooky, psychicish things like that often happen to those who work with him. 

It was vacation, so I switched off my phone’s 7:00 A M alarm, and slept in. I had coffee with vacation-style junk creamer, instead of the vegan kind that’s made with almond milk. Their coffee maker was awesome. It was one of those with no carafe. So the coffee never burns or gets stale and pissy smelling. 

While turning on the Apple Music hard rock station, I realized that the wi-Fi they gave us was a pain in the ass. Well, maybe not really. I’m just a technologically spoiled diva. The resort had a menu of other wi-Fi options. Some were secure, and others were unsecured. They gave us an unsecured one, which means that you don’t need a password to log into it. All you do is tap on its name on the menu, and your in. Perhaps It wasn’t necessary for me to explain that to all of you who are most likely more technically in-the-know, but this was something new to me. I thought it was cool, at first, until I discovered that every time you lock your phone, or put your computer to sleep, you get bumped off of the wi-Fi. Every time I unlocked the phone screen, god forbid I had to inconvenience a minute or so of my time, swiping through the wi-Fi menu to get back on our assigned network.  

When the clock struck eleven that morning, it was time for Monday’s Write-In, with the Writers’ Mastermind Group. The Write-In is when we authors and aspiring authors among the group meet up on Zoom, Mondays at 11:00 A M, and now on Fridays at 3:30 P M, Eastern Standard time. These meetings are for writers whose day jobs and busy schedules get in the way of their writing time. First, everybody who shows up spends a few minutes catching up with one another. Then Christa, who hosts these meetings, sets her timer, and puts the whole room, including herself, on mute for one hour. Within that hour, we are to get as much work done on our books, as we can. When the hour is up, we all share our W I P updates, and then just hang out for a while. 

I don’t have a day job, or a husband and kids to care for. My busy schedule is all in my mind. Nobody outside of my head is obligating me to write, read, and go on social media at such-and-such day and time. So I don’t necessarily need to attend these Write-Ins. The way my quirky brain operates, the Write-Ins are honestly more of a hindrance to my natural flow of productivity, than being of any help. However, I love them. 

It’s fun to hang out with other writers, and exchange gossip about our characters, as though they are real. We’ll exchange opinions on each other’s work too. I bought group members’ books, and some members bought their own copy of HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land. And we promised to give each other reviews, or blog about one another’s books. 

When people started showing up to Christa’s Zoom waiting room, sure enough, there was Jo. 

As much as I love the Write-Ins, and writing is my Lord and Savior, the Tuscany Resort is not the most concentration-friendly environment. They have staff outside, constantly primping up the landscaping. So all throughout the day, there’s either a lawn mower going, a hedge trimmer, or some other peace disturbing yard equipment. 

While me and the group members got our pre-writing blab on, someone started up a lawn mower that sounded large and powerful enough to mow the grass plus the trees and buildings. It mowed down the sound of our conversation too. 

When the timer was set, and it was time to write, I had to go look for an outlet to plug in my Mac Book. The poor old thing’s battery is near the end of its life. So it has to be plugged in, if I want to use the computer for more than ten minutes. The closest available outlet was at the wet bar, which was on the other side of the room. At first, I thought this was a risky place to put the computer. Thankfully, the sink didn’t turn on full-blast, by itself, and the nearby bottles of spring water didn’t spontaneously explode. 

When I pulled up a chair at the wet bar, and started writing, the lawn mower thankfully stopped. But only to make way for the noise bomb that went off by my workspace. The wet bar was near the lock-off’s front door, which faced an echoey walkway. Someone was shouting something in Spanish. Rattling room service carts came passing by, along with a stomping tribe of rowdy kids. A neighboring room was being vacuumed, and then someone started up a leaf blower. So yeah, I didn’t get much writing done. 

Even so, it was a wonderful write-in, because after the hour was up, the group members told me what I wanted to hear. That it’s perfectly OK if you’re not one of those writers who could pound out a thousand or so words an hour. Even Jo, who always seemed like a speeding novel dispenser, admitted that, on average, he gets about a little over 400 words done a day. My fellow blogger friend and group member, Clennell, mentioned a writing group called something like, The 10-Minute Novel, which is for those whose schedules are SO swamped, they could only squeeze in some writing time during their bus rides to and from work, or during their lunch break. Aspiring writers with that kind of life are lucky if they could get just a paragraph done each day, but it all adds up. 

While trying to make it as an author, it’s really hard to not feel burdened by the pressure to be productive. Especially when writing a series. Some of the group members, and even the authors I follow here on WordPress are SO… FREAKING… PRODUCTIVE! It’s like, every time they exhale, they have a new book out. Or they’re working on the next one in the series, and also an outline for a fresh new story idea, all while writing short stories on the side. And it’s not like these writers are just slopping ideas onto documents. I’ve read samples of their work, and they’re GOOD, god dammit! Grrrrrrr! It makes me so jealous. So intimidated too. How could I compete, when it took me THREE YEARS to complete the first HECCTROSSIPY book? It took a year-and-a-half to complete the first DARK ADMIRATION book, but that one is going to be the fourth one under the Velva Leena series category. So it won’t be released until after the third HECCTROSSIPY book. I started my dozenth or so re-write of the second book, back in March, and I’m still nowhere near being finished. It’s a well-known fact among the writing community, that you should never take a long time to write the next book in your series. People will forget about you, and forget about what happens in your story, which would make them not feel all that pumped up about the next installment. AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!! 

…Relax… Take a few deep breaths… The Writers’ Mastermind group says, take a chill pill. Everybody goes at their own pace. Miracle willing, I’l get each installment completed and published, in less than a year. 

It’s hard for me to stay satisfied with what I’ve written. There’s always something to tweak, something to add or delete or rearrange. I’ll get a chapter done, and be on a high about it. Then a new idea would come rudely barging in, about how I could make this and that scene so much better. This, of course, really dddrrraaawwwsss ooouuuttt the novel writing process. Sadly, a couple other members among the group have to put up with the same issue. Fingers crossed that this perfectionism insanity will pay off…

After the Zoom meeting, I hung out at the parents’ suite for a little while, where mom read to me. Yeah, I know, I’m a grown-ass woman in her 40s, and mom still reads to me sometimes. Very cute, huh. Pllllll! 

Long, long ago, we used to have a morning ritual where she would read to me, while we had our coffee. We read mostly non fiction. A lot of personal growth books and spiritual type books, inspirational stories, and stories about miracles. Then I started going out in the mornings more often. Going to the gym, or attending classes at this or that program for those with disabilities. Then I lived in a separate place for a few years. Meanwhile, the parents got more and more into watching TV in the morning. So our cozy reading ritual gradually fizzled out. 

She brought an Anne Rule book to the condo, one of Rule’s true crime story collections. We had started this book exactly a year ago, during our last resort vacation! I hoped we could finish the book this time around. We got into a story about a sweet little housewife named Nancy, and her best friend, Rose, who was in an unhappy marriage. Rose’s husband, Art, was a good guy. It was Rose who seemed like a prissy bitch that didn’t appreciate him. Still, Nancy sided with Rose, no matter what. Her unconditional loyalty towards her was a bit overboard. Enough to where she assumed it would make Rose happy, if she had Art killed. So Rose could be free of her marriage, and have Art’s million-dollar trust fund. The way Nancy conspired this murder was so twisted and manipulative, and how this story ended up with a holy-shit ending, there just has to be a LifeTime movie based on this story. 

Mom read until her throat dried up. So I went back to my lock-off, and didn’t do anything according to plan. My book just came out! So there was no time to waste! I had to go hype it up on all of my social media outlets. However, vacation laziness overruled this plan. Christa had already promoted HECCTROSSIPY on social media, and so did Jo and Ross. I used this as an excuse to be a lazy turd for the rest of the day. 

Terrible. 

There was not going to be any indulging in TMZ and Judge Judy this vacation. To my great annoyance, the resort changed their TVs to be more high tech, in a way that’s not accessibility-user friendly. 

It used to be, when you turned the TV on, it would be on the Tuscany resort channel, which has TV guide and movie rental menus and such. All you had to do was simply hit the Channel-Up button on the remote, and it took you to their selection of regular TV channels. I loved it that way, dammit. Mom or dad would just show me where the basic buttons were on the remote, and I was fine on my own. Now when you turn the TV on, you have to visually point and click the remote at the icon on the screen that puts it on regular TV mode. This takes you to the Tuscany resort channel, where the Channel-Up button no longer takes you to the regular channels. You have to visually point and click the remote at some other icon, and only then can you watch TV. 

Booooooooo! Not cool, Tuscany! Not cool at all! 

I sure as hell wasn’t up to driving my parents nuts, coming into their condo a couple times each day, like, “Could you help me turn the TV on?”, “Could you help me turn the TV off?”, “Could you help me turn the TV on?”, “Could you help me turn the TV off?” 

Luckily, my favorite pass-times are on my I-phone, anyway. 

Among my inner rabbit hole of many levels of synesthesia, musical synesthesia is one of the forms of mixed sensory that I actually don’t resent having. Yeah, it’s like color-sounds, but different. Music doesn’t just send patterns of colors and shapes parading across my brain. I could feel the colors and shapes dancing, slithering, and swishing through my skin and internal organs. The patterns of melody, rhythm, and tones of singing are different electrical currents of emotion and expression that surge through my torso. No matter what the sound of the music looks, smells, tastes, or feels like, it sends all kinds of mental movie images into my mind that can put on one heck of a grand, imaginary story show. I could easily waste hours of time, just tripping out on music. 

Apple Music has a selection of radio stations that broadcast live, from all over the world. So I spent most of the rest of that day streaming radio from Kenya, Germany, Thailand, Norway, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, and several Latin American countries. It was addictive. Sadly, the dreams from my youth, of living a globe trotting, jet-set lifestyle weren’t written in my cards. So this was the next closest thing to world travel. 

It was interesting to listen to, and compare the tones and patterns of different languages. The Norwegian radio personalities spoke with a bouncier, almost singsong tone, while the radio voiceover guy from Thailand sounded kind of reprimanding. The people from some of those Spanish speaking countries can talk at the speed of light. It’s amazing that a human tongue could move that fast! Those people would definitely get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie pop, before any english speaking people could. 

While listening, I thought about how, somewhere in those faraway countries, someone was listening to the same radio station at the exact same moment. Thailand’s time zone is 11 hours ahead of Florida. At the time of the afternoon I was listening to their pop music station, it was a wee hour of the morning where they were. Who in Thailand was up at that hour, listening to that station too? A College student, cramming all night, before a test? Someone with a nightshift security job? An unfortunate young person who can’t sleep, due to the pain and suffering from terminal illness? 

Germany is 6 hours ahead of Florida. It was around 11:00 at night over there, when I was listening to their pop hits. Who was listening in Germany? Someone on their way home from a visit with their secret lover? Yeah, my imagination flies off the handle like that. 

It was evening, when I started listening to the station from Singapore, but it was Tuesday morning over there. The station had on a morning show, very much like the silly morning shows on American radio stations. I was surprised that the radio personalities, and all the people that called in, spoke full-blown English. They just had a cute, Singapore accent. There was a morning show on, on the station from Indonesia too. I didn’t understand their language, but I could tell it was the same type of morning show, with goofy radio personalities, and people calling in to answer prize-winning questions. 

It’s interesting how universal we as a human race, really are. The radio stations all around the world had the same types of radio jingles. Some jingles were snazzed up with the same types of electronic sound affects. I heard commercials for a lot of the same types of things, like car dealerships, insurance, and fast food. Except that these ads were spoken with different accents, and some countries have different car and fast food Preferences. We are more universal than a lot of people would probably want to admit. I had also observed this, by watching a lot of travel shows, through the years. However, as universal as humans may be, we still stubbornly insist on being tribal and cliquish, with this need to fight with other tribes and cliques over whose dominant, and whose right. So that could only mean that not getting our shit together is our most universal characteristic. 

Love you all! Post you, hopefully tomorrow!           

Vacation Journal: Day 1

 I prefer to post on weekends, but why not go Marathon for this week, and post you every day. I just got back from vacation, and thought it would be fun to share my vacation journaling with you… 

Sunday, October 18 

It had been an emotionally intense week. First, Christa went back to Panama, on Monday the 12th. She has been coming to the U S to visit us, twice a year, since she moved to Panama in 2006. In the beginning, her visits were about two weeks. Then due to family reasons, Visa reasons, and I guess because it was more convenient for hers and her husband’s work schedules, her stays in the U S extended to about a month. Usually, I could handle it just fine, when it was time for her to fly back home, but this time around, I was barely able to cry silently. 

Because of covid 19, Panama kept pushing up the date for when they would re-open their borders to travelers. Christa came to visit us, back in February, and was supposed to go home in late March. Then she had to reschedule her flight to late April, and then early June, and then late June, and so on. Of course she loves us, but this was absolute torture for her. The poor thing was dying to get back to her husband, and her beloved dog-dogs. She and Marco were stuck with having to make the best of carrying out a long-distance relationship for eight months

Since it had been almost a year, it seemed like she was here to stay. The downstairs guest room was her living quarters/office. She stayed with us through 4 birthday celebrations, 4 holidays, and multitudes of Wojciechowski/Jaramillo family dinners. Christa and I had cocktail hour, almost every day, and we also launched her Writers’ Mastermind Group, while she was here. I was surprised at how much harder it was to say, good-bye, after 8 months. I became very attached to her presence in the house. 

When Monday the 12th came, I couldn’t even bare to go with mom and dad that afternoon, to drop Christa off at the airport. I was happy for her, and relieved for her, but it was all just too depressing. The grief hit me like a death, especially that night.

For the past 8 months, while me and the parents would be getting ready for our old fart, early bedtime, Christa would be downstairs, making tea, and blabbing with Marco via What’s App. When I went downstairs that Monday night, to refill my water bottle, that part of the house was too dark and silent. All signs of her had been cleared out of the dark, lifeless guest room, forcing the fact that she’s gone, to really sink in. 

By the end of the week, good old Jo and Ross—the guys from the Writing Collective—snapped me out of my grief, when I got their email correspondence threads about my debut novel, HECCTROSSIPY (book 1) The Legend of the Land. Jo, my sweet editor, zoomed through all the proof edits, and got my book primped up and polished, AND OFFICIALLY RELEASED ON AMAZON!! Wooohooo! He also sent me an author copy, and a what’s-it-called copy. What’s the word? I’m having a brain fart, just like dad. Adobe? 

Meanwhile, his business partner, Ross, put my author website together. I was thrilled to read in their corresponding, how superb Jo thinks the site is. I don’t know shit about how to design, or even how to maintain an author website, so thank God I have Ross to take care of that stuff. both guys are angels disguised as humans. I felt more giddy-happy than a kid getting her dream Christmas present, when I found my own professionally published novel on my Kindle app. The parents were so proud. What an amazing way to end the week, before vacation time! 

Speaking of 2006, that was also the year mom and dad joined the Hilton Honors Vacation Club. Since then, we’d made it a family tradition to stay for a week at one or two of the Time-shared resorts in Orlando, usually sometime during autumn. We either go to the SeaWorld resort, Tuscany, or Parks Olay. 

This year’s resort fix was at Tuscany, which is our favorite of the three. We were booked to stay from October 18th to the 25th. Because of the virus, they only allowed 30% occupancy, but mom had no trouble getting our rooms booked. The governor of Florida has ordered all businesses to open up, but many Floridians are still safety conscious, and go out sparingly. Masks and social distancing were mandatory, at the resort, and they had hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere. So we felt it was safe enough. We got our usual family tradition type of suite, where the parents get the full-sized condo, and I stay in the lock-off. I LOVE having my own coffee maker, mini fridge, and wet bar, and my own hermit vacation space! When the 18th came, we were ready for a week of fun in the sun, and adventures all over Orlando—Nah, just kidding. 

My parents and I are the most boring fucking vacationers we know. 

We hardly ever leave the resort. When we do, it’s mainly to go to the Publix across the street. In fact, we hardly even leave our rooms. Every now and then, we might venture outside to take a walk around the premises, or go to the resort’s gym, or to the pool and hot tub. Maybe once during our stay, we’ll eat dinner at the pool-side cafe. The parents are reluctant to do this more than one time per trip, because going out to eat is expensive. Mom especially would rather not eat out. She’s one of those restaurant customers that are almost never happy with what she ordered. It’s either too dry, too salty, too saucy, not cooked right, and so on, and she often wishes that she ordered what me or dad got. 

My parents do the same things they do at home, while on vacation. Dad still goes to work, and mom still cooks and cleans, and they watch their usual political shows. To them, just a change of scenery is enough to make it feel like a nice getaway. I, on the other hand, at least do things that I don’t do at home, to make my vacation more special and vacationy. Like drinking more than usual, and filling my lock-off’s mini fridge with unhealthy food choices. Then I’ll be like a teenager again, and indulge in binging on hours of substance-lacking TV, like celebrity gossip shows, and stupid reality shows. Those day-time court shows are especially hilarious. This whole business of trying to make it as an author has turned me into a workoholic. So at home, I rarely ever watch anything. 

I’m not complaining about how boring we are. Since my eyesight has been reduced to indistinguishable color blobs, I’ve grown to feel perfectly OK with not doing anything that exciting during vacations, like going to theme parks, and other tourists’ delights. One reason is, yes, I admit to having a rotten attitude about making the best out of seeing the world through my other senses. I’ve already expressed that in past blog posts. The other reason is, my remaining senses are a warped and mingled, distorted mess. While walking around at some place, such as Sea World, or even at the mall, my surroundings become a confusing jumble of things like sound-color-texture-shape smells, and smell-color-tactile vibes, and too many note-humming energy presences. This makes me easily get disengaged from what the experience is supposed to be, and I get bored. When I had better eyesight, my visual sense was a mingled mess too, but the human brain is hardwired to perceive information, mostly through sight. So back in the day, I had a much clearer idea of what was going on around me, during family outings, which allowed me to enjoy the experiences as much as the rest of them.  Now-a-days I could be perfectly content spending my vacation time hiding away in my little lock-off, getting a good beer buzz, and snacking on junk food, while laughing at the people who go on TV to battle over the dumbest lawsuits. I eagerly looked forward to a week of this until we pulled into the Tuscany resort parking lot. Then anxiety over the virus started creeping in. 

We’ve had five covid scares, since the outbreaks spread to Florida. Christa and mom had gotten sick, some weeks ago, but luckily it was from other things. Christa’s sickness was brought on by stress, and mom was always one to get little virus bugs several times a year. Dad was possibly exposed to a Pet Boys employee who had contracted the virus, but when dad got tested, he was negative. There was one day when my throat hurt, and I had no sense of taste, which is a common covid symptom, but this only lasted for part of the day. So I couldn’t have been positive. Carlos, my brother-in-law actually had covid, but his case was very mild. Gina and little Jaden got tested, and miraculously, their tests came out negative. We have been fortunate, so far, but it’s because we stay conscientious about it. Never breaking the safety rules, and only going out more sparingly than other people. Now here we were taking a risk, staying at a resort among dozens of total strangers. Strangers who might not be as rule abiding and safety conscious. Or worse, what if some of them were carrying the virus, and didn’t know it. Then you have those people who refuse to take precaution, because they don’t want people telling THEM what to do. My paranoia was enough to make me borderline agoraphobic, but it was too late. I was stranded in our parked car, too blind to chicken out, and drive back home. Mom and dad were at the concierge desk, checking us in. 

We got settled into our nice rooms on the fifth floor. The parents got an order of groceries from the Publix across from the resort. We had an easy fried chicken dinner, and the rest of the night went along smoothly and relaxing. The only problem was—aside from my covid paranoia—was, how could I get into being in lazy, vacation-mode, when my freaking BOOK JUST CAME OUT?! I needed to get out there, and make it known!…  

Love you all! Post you tomorrow!