4/27/2011

REPOST: Dating in Delaware

Make sure to check out Jamaican Adventures Pt. 2. I was digging through more old blogs and stumbled upon this gem from December 2008. Enjoy!

"I went out to dinner tonight with a guy named Jim. I met him at the gym. I know right? Jim from the gym. But hell it's simple and I love simplicity. Jim's mad cool though. I remember him from a few weeks ago and he just kinda watched me while I was lifting. It freaked me a little but I decided to pretend not to see him. So a few days ago, while I was lifting and minding my own business, ipod thumping and sufficiently drowning out human contact, Jim started talking to me.

"Blah blah blahbitty blah blah..." is what his mouth said.

"Huh?? What's that?" I said, ripping out my headphones, fully annoyed and breathing hard.

"Oh, I just said that like, you're using the, like, hardest machine here. That's what they said...but you make it look so easy..."

**sniff sniff** Do I smell game? Alright I'll play along...

"Ha..well..I dunno about that. But it's pretty tough, yeah.." I responded, gulping water and wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, totally de-feminizing myself.

"So um, I've seen you here before...are you from here?"

Little did Jim know, this is one of my pet peeves at the gym - having full conversations while trying to exercise. But I played along because he seemed pretty harmless and nice. I respect that he had the balls to approach me in the first place. He's the only guy, well except a chubby guy last month, that's actually talked to me. So, after about 5 seconds of an awkward pause, I chimed in, "Well, see you around. Enjoy your workout!"

As I started to walk away, he said, "Hey...ummm..hey, if you're not busy this weekend maybe, do you wanna have dinner..or something?" This put me in a compromising position because I was surrounded by all the much hotter guys that I was actually interested in. They'd all seen me chatting with Jim, sizing him up no doubt. So I had a couple of options: 1) I could make up a lie like, "Oh gosh, I'm sorry, I have a boyfriend..." which would effectively take me out of the running with said cuties 2) I could awkwardly say I wasn't interested, playing this poor guy in public and sending a signal to others that I'm unapproachable or 3) I could just go with it and say f*ck it!! I realize there are implications to giving my number to the nerdy guy, but truthfully, nerdy guy is actually nice. Not attractive, but nice. He had the cojones so he got the digits...

So we went to this Indian restaurant for dinner. It's my fault for saying I'd eat anything. I just got flashbacks of my Pizza Hut incident from Korea and prayed that I wouldn't have to bolt from that place. He ordered so much daggone food. My stomach started rumbling after the Tandoori Chicken. Then it tightened up a bit after the Curry Lamb and started straining by the time our honey-laden dessert rolled around. Have you ever felt so full you can't even concentrate? That's kinda how I felt tonight. And he talks really slowly and methodically, choosing words and questions carefully. Not a problem except my eyes were starting to blur. But it was nice, had a great time. I could tell he was taking careful mental notes about things I liked and didn't like, pet peeves, etc. And his mother and I share a birthday which is ironic. So finally, after 2.5 hours of gorging myself, I stumbled to my car, gave him a hug and bounced.

Annoying thing #35902456 about living with your parents: having to explain inconsequential outings. I told my mom late in the evening that I was going out for dinner.

"With who?!?!"

"This guy Jim from the gym...it's nothing, just dinner."

"Well it must be pretty damn important! There is TOR-REN-TIAL downpour! Where are you going? Is he coming to get you??!"

"No, Mom..I'm meeting him there.."

"Oh good. Don't tell him where we live. You barely know this person..."

"Yes, Mom..."

Then when I came back, I had to hear it from both my parents.

DAD: Uh hmmm...so how was your date? Did you kiss him?

ME: Oh JE-SUS, Daaaadddd!!! You're so embarrassing!! It was JUST DINNER!

MOM: Well...who is this Jim? You didn't mention him. What did you eat? I made Michelle's cake. So when are you gonna see Jim again hmmmm??

DAD: Yeah, you were gone for 2.5 hours. Hmph, some dinner. Bet you kissed him.

ME: GOODNIGHT!!!!!

Ugh...parents are annoying. Any and all dates will be John Doe from now on. But yeah, he's cool people. However, I'd better make it clear that friendship is ALL he's about to get from me.

I'm off to North Carolina this weekend, with a quick stop by Richmond to visit my Crazy. Stories to follow I'm sure... :)

Until then,

J"

Jamaican Adventures Pt. 2

Thankfully, the rest of our trip was much less stressful - no broken down cars or shady people to deal with. Since the shady car guy wasn't going to repay us for all the money we socked into his piece-of-crap car, he agreed to take us to Good Hope, a scenic area of Falmouth atop a winding, dirt road the next day. It would have been better were he not there because he had a funky attitude the entire time. So, I took it upon myself to stay as long as possible and waste all of his time. Perfectly passive-aggressive.

We also brought along the young son of G's friend and his classmate. They needed to get out of the house. And I think secretly, they wanted to tag along with such a cool lady like myself. :) ....or maybe they were just really bored.







Later on, we went to a local hang out near the fisherman's pier. They blast good reggae and serve up drinks and chill vibes. After my usual rum cream on the rocks, I was feeling pretty good, though not good enough to dance battle anyone. G did though. The photos will remain locked away for eternity (his strict orders). But suffice it to say, I got a chuckle.




*Me with Peter's son...loved that kid!!*

The next morning, we woke up painfully early to go fishing. I had bailed the first time because it was still dark outside and I was exhausted. I'm glad I didn't do that the second time because I actually had a blast (once I got over being up earlier than the chickens). I enjoy fishing actually. My family would go often and although my brother and dad caught the majority of the fish, I still learned how to bait the hook and got a rush everytime I felt a tug. But fishing in some NJ creek is a long way from doing it in the Caribbean. Luckily, no sharks got to me...though I'm sure I'd make a great meal for them. Plenty of meat.




*Me in my island Rambo/croc hunter gear...WTF*



*poor little Jackfish...he was delicious*




*in the swamps*


*G going spearfishing...add that to the list of "things i will probably never do"*


*Peter cleaning the fish...and using the guts as bait! Genius!*


*sorry we had to kill you and fry you and grub down on you with some cabbage, rice & peas, and a Red Stripe...you will be missed*




*an interpretive picture of me, drawn by Peter's son....he wants to be an artist...or a doctor...or a builder...anything where he can work for himself. Love it!*

On the penultimate day, we walked around town taking photos of all the cool, historic buildings and sites, starting with where we stayed: The Baptiste Manse aka Falmouth Heritage Renewal.







Next, we walked to the Phoenix Foundry:







A recently remodeled building with a big clock...lol. **insert oooh's and aaahh's**



And around town, I just snapped photos that I fancied...like this one where the clear sky and swaying palm trees were perfectly framed through a broken window



Or this demolished "Rastaurant" where Rastas could eat healthy food and pay homage to African kings and queens at the same time. I wish I could have eaten there.





These little houses sat along the massive, new port built for cruise ships. They are used for braiding hair



Finally, my favorite building in Falmouth - the Courthouse. They slapped some fresh paint on it and it really adds to the beauty of the town's coastline. Yellow is just one of those colors that can never make you angry so I enjoyed seeing this building everyday.



So it took me two months to complete these posts, but guess what?! I'm officially finished with graduate school! I'll walk across that stage in 11 days and can check it off my to-do list. Two weeks after that, I start my new job with the State Department. My life will be in transition, but I definitely intend to keep blogging! The next few months will be very exciting...and I hope you'll come along for yet another ride!

Until then,

J

4/07/2011

Jamaican Adventures Pt. 1

Hi folks! This post is long overdue, but I wanted to recap my fabulous trip to Jamaica last month. Things are pretty good with me so I'm not going to complain. I'm just a month away from finishing up school and reclaiming vital parts of my life. I can't wait to just watch TV again and read non-foreign policy related stuff. And exercise. Yes, the Chubby Train is pulling into the station....anyway, on to adventures...

And boy did we have an adventure in Jamaica. I realize most people who travel to Jamaica on vacation probably stick to all the beautiful resorts the island has to offer. If I weren't dating my boyfriend, I'm sure that would have been where I ended up, too. But because he'd spent some time in Falmouth, a historical and revitalized area of the country, that's where we decided to go. Leaving Baltimore, where it was 42 degrees and bitter, and arriving in sunny and breezy Jamaica nearly sent me into cardiac arrest. I immediately loved it and I loved the people and their accents. Reggae blasting from car stereos and friendly taxi drivers offering rides to wherever were a wonderful introduction for me. Along the way, I snapped pics of the scenery, all very beautiful and lush and, unfortunately, privately owned by expensive resorts. That kinda bummed me out that so much of the prime real estate in Jamaica isn't owned by or given access to Jamaicans. But I think the same can be said of all developing countries that happen to be near a beach. It's not right, but it seems to be a reality for now.





So, we finally arrived in Falmouth after a harrowing ride (I was clutching the door handle for most of it) and settled at the Falmouth Heritage Renewal (FHR). It's a historical organization that works to revive and restore parts of the city. It's kinda cool because the building, which architects and others have worked to restore, is a beautiful mansion with a woodshop downstairs and bedrooms/office upstairs. My boyfriend worked for them for four months a couple years ago so it was nice for him to see all of his old friends. Now, we had planned to just spend a week by ourselves in this BIG mansion, but alas, God had other plans. There was a group of 13 students in town on spring break who were interning for FHR and they would be staying there, too. So, we just rolled with the punches. I will admit at times that I felt like they were just looking at us like, "What are these two old people doing here??" But overall, they were really friendly and open. And they had a great experience!

So, we shared a bunk bed (lol) and had to use mosquito nets at night. The last time I was on a bunk bed, I rolled off and knocked out all of my teeth (I was 5) so memories were flooding back. And then to know that tiny, bloodsucking creatures were going to attack me, too was all too much. So, we shared the bottom bunk and he received the brunt of mosquito bites....now that is love, folks.



Our first night was fantastic! I didn't take any pics, but we basically walked around town and ate A BUNCH of food. I can't even describe how much I appreciate that there are multiple, delicious jerk chicken stands all over town. I was completely in heaven. And then there was the beef patty place called Tastee which I visited every single day...sometimes multiple times a day....to feed my addiction. On top of that, there are fruit stands, fresh fish, brown stew chicken....I could on. Homegirl gained some weight and I was proud of every pound!

The next day, we ventured to Time N Place, a little secluded beachfront bar and restaurant. They were blasting more reggae and it was totally empty save for a few employee. It was the epitome of relaxation. I drank it up, like a Red Stripe.












On our third day, we took a road trip to Port Antonio, a beautiful, quaint town about 3.5 hours from Falmouth. It was to be a scenic drive along the meandering north coast of the island with picturesque views of the water, mountains, jungles, and everything in between. I was practically foaming at the mouth with anticipation...but naturally, we experienced more than a few setbacks. It all started with the car rental...

Something should have told me he couldn't be trusted. After numerous phone calls to friends of friends of friends, we were finally able to secure a car from a young Jamaican kid for our drive across country. We rode in the car with him and everything sounded ok. Sure, the brakes were making a little noise but nothing alarming. Kicked the tires for good measure. Insurance and registration, check. He gave us one piece of advice: "You can use my iPod, but don't play it when the car is off - it will kill the battery." Hmmmm...alright, that's weird. But we had no intentions of playing his iPod anyway so it shouldn't matter, right? Of course, the gas tank was on empty so we drove to the nearest gas station to fill it up. Fifty dollars and multiple swear words later, we were ready to head out. G turned the key and....silence. He tried again....nothing.

"C'mon babe, stop playing around. Let's go!"

"I'm not playing around," he said, "the car won't start..."


WHAT?!?! What do you MEEEAAAN it won't start?! We just poured fiftyfreakingdollars into it - it better start! I knew it! The damn kid had hustled us already and I was livid. I mean, livid. The gas station attendants took pity on us and offered a jump. Nothing. After 10 minutes with the car, the battery was completely, utterly, incomprehensibly dead. Luckily, I had the sense to get the boy's number before we parted ways and I called him up immediately, cursing a blue streak. Eventually, he figured out our issue and promised to deliver a brand new battery right away. He showed up, I glared, he fixed it, and we left. "If there are any more problems with this damn car, I swear..."

I just wanted to get to Port Antonio without anymore issues. So, finally on the road and basking in the Jamaican sun, I start to relax. Everything is beautiful and scenic. We're chatting and snacking on fruit and taking it all in. The roads meander through the hills as we whiz by the ocean. It was so perfect, I even started to doze a bit. Until I was rudely interrupted by a ferocious POP!!, then a slowing down of the car, a terrified look at G trying to steer the car, and a depressing thud as we pull off the road. Uh oh...we get out to inspect the damage: a completely flattened rear tire. Crap. In the trunk, there's a spare, but it's flat. The jack kit is incomplete, missing the crank to lift the car. And besides, neither of us knows how to change a tire anyway (shame on us). To make matters worse, the sun is beginning to set, we are parked on a two-lane winding road with drivers zipping by on either side, and we are across from a creepy, old cemetery. In short, we are f****d. Still a good 100 miles from our destination with no towns in sight, we are just flabbergasted as to what to do. We cannot push the car, we cannot call anyone to help, and we don't know where we are exactly anyway.

Now, I truly understand the saying that God looks out for babies and fools. Along came our angel #1 - a taxi driver who contained the Holy Grail of car tools in his trunk. He had an air pump (for the spare) and a complete jack kit. In less than 20 mins, he had fixed our tire and we were on the road again. We gave him some money, he grinned appreciatively, we thanked him 800 million times, and then I thanked God about half a trillion times. I was overcome with gratefulness for not having died on the side of a Jamaican highway. So we were on our way again, by the grace of a loving God, and I thought to myself, "If there are any more problems with this damn car, I swear..."

Guardian angel #1

About 30 minutes from our destination, we notice the brakes getting louder and louder. They are screeching at every turn, wailing at each gentle touch. Since I just recently got my brakes fixed, I knew it was bad news. The car wouldn't make it back to Falmouth nor would I want to risk our lives that way. So, what to do? Enter guardian angel #2 - Peter. Thankfully, a friend of ours back in Falmouth had a childhood friend in Port Antonio who knew everybody and everything in that town. Once we arrived to Port Antonio, we immediately called Peter and he came to see us. We told him about all our car troubles and he assured us that 1) the guy who loaned us the car was a trickster and 2) that everything would be alright. I had to stop myself from burrowing in his shoulder to cry. First, though, he took us out to a nice restaurant and we ate well. We were so tired from the harrowing day though that we just decided to go to bed and get a fresh start the next day.

We woke up to beautiful weather and just walked around town. We ate breakfast at a popular and super cheap restaurant. I fell in love with peanut porridge. For $3, we ate like royalty.







Then we called Peter to deal with the car business. He made some calls and took us to different mechanics. First, we went to the tire shop. If anyone can fix a tire, it'd be those guys. We were hoping they could just patch up the blown tire or something, but no dice. Instead, they retrieved a 7-inch nail from it and marked it for rubbish. Well, we couldn't afford a new tire (which would have been about $50) so the next alternative was to buy a used one for $8. It wasn't perfect, but we did the best we could. Next, we had to get those brakes fixed. So Peter called up his friends and they fixed our brakes, which were worn down to the metal in front, for the low price of $20. Angels - all of them, I tell you!

*working hard*


*not a brake pad in sight*

So, finally, after spending half of our day dealing with the car, we had time to actually enjoy the town. We didn't get to do nearly as much as we had planned, but I wanted to see a beach or something! So, Peter first took us to a secluded lagoon. I nearly broke my ankles walking down the steep hills, but it would have been worth it. Gorgeous. So G went snorkeling off somewhere, I waded by the shore and watched kiddies splashing around. Then I got some sun. After about an hour of that, I was starving so we headed to try some Boston Bay Jerk chicken, a specialty of Port Antonio. Talk about gorging myself...we got jerk chicken and pork, festival (a fried dough stick), roast yam, and 2 Red Stripes. Rolled over full.









By that point, it was time to get back on the road to Falmouth. We did have a long trek ahead. But before we said goodbye, we had to have one last car problem lest the trip wouldn't have been complete. As we were driving with Peter, the car began to cut out every time we stopped. At stoplights, stop signs, anytime the engine would idle for a few seconds. Whhhhhyyyyyyyyy?!?!? My nerves were totally shot, my hair was standing straight up, blood boiling, the whole bit. So, we took the car back to the tire shop and had them look at it again. The only comedic relief was an old rasta mechanic who kept singing and smoking (near the engine). It was just too funny that I had to laugh. We finally got on our way, said goodbye to Peter, and booked it all the way back to Falmouth.




It was dark about halfway through our trip and people were driving like maniacs so I sent up a few more prayers. Luckily, we got back safely. I called the guy and told him to come get his car...and do you know what he had the nerve to say??

"Oh, you guys are so late..."

I hung up the phone and just screamed my head off. Then I gave him an earful when we got back....he may be Jamaican, but I'm Jerseyan...and we don't play that.

Jamaican Adventures Pt. 2....