July 4, 2004
I have big, mega-severe news for this entry, but let me start at the beginning (and no, the beginning part has nothing
to do with the mega-severe news). A few weeks ago I was sorting through an old box while doing my laundry, and I found
all my old pictures from my highschool Senior class trip to England. I thought they had been lost and destroyed long
ago, but to my amazement, they were right in front of me. I was quick to search for the pictures of me and my friend
Ruth, who I had recently reconnected with after an extended hiatus in our closeness. She was more beautiful in the pictures
than I remembered, but the point is that I was just happy to find them. And other stuff has happened since I last wrote.
Melissa went home yesterday... meaning back to New York to live with her fiance. I don't know what to think. I
miss her tons, but it's like we're all moving on in our lives. More on this to follow. Speaking of moving on,
I finally got a new job. Now, it's only ten hours per week and it's mostly office work, but I love it, my boss is a
good friend, and I feel appreciated... and better paid than ever in my whole life thus far. But there's more!
Oh so much more! Well, I asked my parents a couple of weeks ago if, for my birthday, they would be willing to contribute
toward a plane ticket to Mexico. Ever since my friend, Marma, was killed in the car accident, I've felt a big need to
return, and for the longest time I've wanted to wait until I was "ready", both mentally and physically. I wanted to
look significantly thinner than how I looked when I was in Mexico last time. That was a feat in itself, because I first
had to lose the ninety or so pounds that I gained in the year between coming back to Vermont and getting the surgery.
Well, I now feel comfortable that I am at least looking a lot better these days. But anyway, when I asked my parents
about it, my dad told my mom no way, and that he thought I should just get twenty dollars in a card. I couldn't
really argue with that, and even though Mom told me to talk to Dad about it, I wasn't going to beg him. It's not like
I had earned it, or anything. Well, last night a large part of my family, including both parents, came in saying they
wanted to talk about my credit card problems. I was less than enthusiastic to even go near that topic, when Mom pulled
out a card. I opened it and it was surreal. Inside was four hundred dollars and a printout of an airplane itinerary
to Mexico City. So I was going. But it didn't really sink in until I got online and bought the tickets.
I really was going to go back to Mexico, and my entire family had helped. Not just parents and siblings, but friends,
uncles, aunts, and even several cousins I either hadn't seen in years or I thought had hated me, contributed and had all signed
the card. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. So now I'm in the process of trying to find places to crash while
I'm there for A WHOLE MONTH!!! And I'm also trying to raise as much spending money as possible between now and then.
I decided to finally have the stinking yard sale my mom has been begging me to have for the past few weeks, and she said I
could keep all the money from it. Just today I made about a hundred and thirty dollars. I guess I still can't
believe it's even true. I am just so excited for this to be happening. And on top of that, I'm going with Heather
before I leave to see Brad Paisley in concert. I'm not a huge fan, but I probably could be if I just listened to his
music more often. And before I forget, I finally went a second round with that damn gorilla at the zoo in Granby, Quebec.
I took my two sisters up there last Wednesday. I was looking forward all day to facing down that big lummox. Well,
he was the last animal we went to see. I was a little anxious to see if he would charge the glass again after what happened
last year, but I thought that maybe he wouldn't because I've lost so much weight. Well, when I got there, he was in
his own cage this time. I had to wait about ten to fifteen minutes for this other woman to move so I could get close
enough to the glass to see him. He was just lying down in the back of the room, almost as if he were dead. Other
people were tapping and banging on the glass to try and get him to do something, but he wasn't about to fall for that trick.
Well, when I finally got up there, I tried to wave him over. I knew sounds wouldn't work, but I figured most people
probably didn't try to communicate directly with him. So once again I tried out some sign language. I just told
him to come here and asked him how he was. As soon as I started signing, he got up and started pacing back and forth,
just staring at me. I tried to come off as non-threatening by avoiding eye contact and making faces I had learned from
documentaries years ago. If you smile as wide as you can, it's a subconscious primal sign that you are not a threat.
It seemed to work at first, and so he just went to the other side where I couldn't see him, because the new room he was in
was sort of split into two sections with a big dividing wall down the middle. So all the kids and a couple adults, excited
by the sudden and surprising liveliness of the gorilla, all went and huddled on the other side to gawk at him. I new
he was waiting to see if I would come over, and sure enough, when I did, he stared only at me out of all the other people
that were there. After a few seconds, I noticed that I was sitting identically to him, because I was in my wheelchair.
Most other people are standing prostrated, but I don't know if thought I was mocking him, so he rushed back to the other side.
So because I was behind all of the other people on the left side of the division, I was the first back on the other side.
When I got there, he was fuming and pacing back and forth, and I just knew what was going to happen. So about three
or four kids crowded right up to the window, parents completely unsuspecting in the background, and he charged full throttle
right for me. He was screaming and pounding his chest and banging on the window, with obvious frustration that he couldn't
get at me. Even though I saw it coming, it still jolted me. The kids ran screaming, and one little boy even backed
up and fell off the little ramp into some damp mulch. The parents were so shocked and started grabbing their kids and
heading out as fast as possible, and I just headed for the door. I couldn't believe he did it again! So I guess
I still am so similar-looking to a male gorilla that I am threatening to his territory. Just great. So I've lost
the first two rounds, but I will certainly be challenging him again in the future. This fight is not yet over!
So that's been an overview of what I've been up to the past few weeks. Tonight I went to Heather's house for an Independance
Day party. Her parents throw the absolute best parties. People were drunk, there was lots of food and fireworks,
and we talked late into the night around a fire while roasting marshmallows and joking about old times and new ones.
You can't ask for more than that. And I also met their neighbors of several years. They are just the nicest, most
normal, but very worldly people I've met in ages. And the father in the family, Ted, works as an international community
and business developer, and told me all about the field. He is very well paid, and he travels all over the world all
the time. It's exactly what I've been looking to do, and from what I told him about myself, he said that if I got walking,
I'd never be out of work, because it's really hard to find people who do what he does. I'm certainly going to look into
it, but probably not until I get back from Mexico. He's going to Macedonia in a couple weeks, and he does that sort
of thing all the time. Man, that would be for me. Well, from the past few weeks, all I can say for sure is that
life is great and prayer really works if you just give it a chance and be patient. Now if only I could get out of doing
that stupid yard sale tomorrow... just kidding!
July 7, 2004
I am just eating and eating today. Man, I hate it when I get like this. It's like I just have so much on
my mind that the basic act of consuming food somehow sooths me... and I'm writing this as I heat a frozen dinner in the microwave
that I don't really want. Damn, I really hate this. I just keep thinking about Mexico, and how it's only eleven
days until I leave. Eleven days! A week ago I was wondering if I would ever get to go back ever again! I
mean, it's a dream come true, but now the waiting and all the preparations are making me a nervous wreck. I've been
doing everything in the world to try and raise money like a mad man, and what for? I've already got over eight hundred
dollars in spending money, and I'll probably only need around three or four, even for room and board. But I'm simply
freaked that I won't have enough, or my friends won't show up to let me stay with them, or everyone will be too busy to meet
me at some point, or nobody there really wants me to come. They are probably stupid things to worry about, but I do.
And I still have to clean my room. It is in its worst state ever. Seriously, if you didn't know somebody lived
in there, you would think it's a filthy, over-stuffed storage closet. And of course it doesn't help the nervousness
of my friends when I emailed a bunch of them a week ago that I was coming, and only one has written back. But the other
night, I did call my friend Luis. He invited me to stay with him for a few days, and when I go, he said we could take
a short trip to Belize, which is only a three hour drive to his house. But it's an eight hour bus ride to his house,
but I don't care. I can't wait to see him again. And I also have to think about packing, and how much I will be
able to carry and pull at the airports, and what I can bring on my shorter trips. It's just nuts! Nuts I tells
ya! Well, could be worse. I could be going nowhere and just stuck in this rut. Honestly, I cannot wait to
go. It's just pre-trip jitters. I always get them. It's retarded, I know, but I can't help it. I love
travelling, but I hate flying. I get so nervous. Oh well, if I want to travel for the rest of my life, I had better
get used to it, huh? I guess that's the news for now. Oooh! My frozen dinner is done!
July 10, 2004
I'm really getting excited, but it still has that feeling that maybe it's not for real and I'm going to wake up any minute
to the ultimate cruel joke. But on the lighter side of things, tomorrow I'm going to Burlington with Heather for the
second time this week (we went yesterday for shopping purposes) to see Brad Paisley and a couple of other people I can't remember,
in concert. It should be a lot of fun, so I should be getting to bed as I'm pretty tired. On a downer note, I've
been eating chocolate and sugar like a fiend, and I know it's because I ran out of beef jerky. It happens this time
every month because I don't have enough protein, so I start craving junk food like there's no tomorrow. So earlier tonight,
I gave it all to my sister, Camisha, except for one half full box of Gobstoppers that I'm going to savor. I have to
have some self control if I'm ever going to lose weight. And what kind of diet is this supposed to be where I binge
on potato chips and chocolate? I'm never going to lose weight at this rate. But tomorrow is a new day and a new
chance to start all over again. I've gotta reclaim some control if I want to become who I want to be.
July 16, 2004
"And I would walk five hundred miles, and I would walk five hundred more..." Well, that's about how I feel right
now. Yesterday, after I got done at my job where I where my leg brace all day, I found that I had stupidly left my lights
on all day. The engine wouldn't turn over in the slightest. So I started a trek to the neighbor's house across
the street. I was pretty tired when I made it up their giant lawn and onto the deck to knock on the door. Nobody
was there. Only one car was parked in that driveway, so they must have taken the Bentley, I guess. Anyway, I headed
to the house next door to that one. This driveway had about five cars parked in it. Hey, people having a family
BBQ are generally in good spirits, and why else would that many cars be in the driveway? Well, nobody was there either.
That, or they were hiding from the creepy fat guy standing on their porch. So I started back in the direction of the
house that now appeared to be five hundred miles away, not knowing what I was going to do. On the way back, I saw a
guy working on his own vehicle in his driveway, way down the road. I yelled to him and asked if he could boost me.
He replied that he might be able to in a while after he finished putting a battery in his own car. So I headed back
to the car. The situation was getting desperate as far as my walking was concerned. I still don't know how I made
it all the way back without collapsing. I sat in the car for a good fifteen minutes, breathing very heavily and sweating
profusely, when he finally showed up. So he boosted me, and I sat in my boss' driveway for about a half an hour before
heading back home. Wow, what an adventure, huh? Moral of the story is I slept about nine hours last night and
I'm still completely exhausted. My body is killing me. But being the glutton for pain that I am, I decided to
take Tyrone to pizza last night, still walking in my brace. I'm glad I went, though, because I ran into an old friend
from highschool that I hadn't seen in years, and we sat with him and his mother, who is just about the nicest lady in the
entire world. We must have talked for a good hour or more by the time we left. So anyway, I have to talk about
the concert that I, Heather, and Kathy went to. Craig Morgan, singer of Almost Home, was the first "real" act.
He was pretty good, and he was having a signing after the show. So as soon as he was done singing, we headed over to
the tent where the line had already started. It was long, but not that long. As soon as we got there, some guy
came up that worked there and said that he was telling the guys inside that he was cutting the line at the girl right in front
of us, and that it was almost a guarantee that we wouldn't get in, or the twenty people behind us. Heather didn't really
want to wait just to be denied entry, but I told her that I would get us in. All she had to do was stand there and let
me take care of it. After about fifteen minutes, we got to the door. Sure enough, Big Jerky was standing there,
gladly pointing out that the few remaining hopefuls were not to be let in. It was stupid because it wouldn't have taken
the singer more than five minutes to go through the rest of the people still standing there. But the man he told to
cut the line was this older man, and I totally played the part of the pathetic kid in the wheelchair. I put on my puppy-dog
face and told him that I had paid twenty dollars for this CD. He said that all of the people there had paid a lot (which
wasn't true, as almost all of them were holding free newspapers to be signed that they had picked up on the way in).
But that just made him look like a big jerk as he told us to go around this little fence. Well, I ever so conveniently
got my wheelchair stuck on a piece of wood, and dear me, I couldn't get out of the line very fast! What tragedy!
What horror! What cunning! So the way this guy had talked to me, you just know that he would have gone home and
felt awful for the way he treated this poor, crippled fan, when all he would have had to do is let me in, so he said "We'll
just cut the line right here." And he motioned behind me, Heather, and this other girl that he thought was with us.
The girl had been standing very close to us the whole time we were in the line, and she wasn't sure that the guy had said
she could come with us. So we got in to see Craig, and I thanked him, and he was really nice, and I don't even think
he knew that they were cutting the line right behind us. But I got my CD signed. And I also managed to snag the
very last signed CD of Terri Clark, which the guy had to pull out of the tape on the table. She was really amazing.
And Brad Paisley was great, too. Now, of course, I just want to be a country music singer that much more after seeing
them up there. Every time I go to a concert, I think about it day and night for weeks afterward. I've already
written three songs since that day, and that is after not having written any songs for a good month or two. And on top
of all that, Cara wrote me yesterday and told me that she is moving two weeks early to Mexico City, and that when I go there,
I get to stay in her boyfriend's dead grandfather's old ghetto house, which is apparently badly haunted by him. Fantastic.
Seriously, is there a place in Mexico that isn't badly haunted? Well, Cara told me that within her first five minutes
of being there, old Abuelito tried to attack her and she had sworn not to ever go back, but now she has no choice but to move
in. Just wonderful. And Luis' family is all excited that I'm coming. I've never even met his family, but
I talked to them on the phone, and they just get all happy whenever they talk to me. I can't wait to get there!
Only a two more days until I hit the road for Ol' Mexico!
July 20, 2004
I arrived in Mexico City two days ago. It was crazy, but I got through it. I flew without an extended seat
belt! I told the stewardess, when I sat down, that I would probably need an extention, and she just looked at me like
I was crazy and said, "I don't think so! Why don't you try it?" So I did, and it fit with length to spare!
I couldn't believe it! I also used the tray with no problem, and it was easily the best flight I've ever had.
So when I got to the airport, I got lost some. Then I finally found the immigration office. Of course there were,
literally, about five hundred people in line already. I was really worried that I would be late for meeting C ara, and
she would think I hadn't come, and that fear only got worse when I got to the final baggage check. I was carrying a
pile of beef jerky in my suitcase, and it's against the law to bring it across the border. But I needed it for my protein!
So I just prayed she wouldn't find it. Well, not everyone has to have bags checked. Everybody pushes a button
as they go through the metal detector. Green means you can go and red means you have to get your luggage searched by
hand. Of course I pushed red. So I just started envisioning the headlines about my big beef jerky smuggling scheme.
But once again, the wheelchair worked to my advantage. People here assume that I must be an idiot because I'm in a wheelchair.
So the woman doing the search seemed more annoyed than concerned about having to search my obviously non-terrorist luggage.
She quickly opened the bags and closed them back up without really even looking, and I was on my way. Now the crowd
of people waiting for incoming flights is ridiculously large and unorganized. It looked more like a mosh pit of groupies
than loving friends and family. Somehow I managed to find Cara relatively easily. So we got my bags, I changed
some money, we fought with some cab drivers who didn't want my wheelchair in their cars (which really pissed Cara off, though
I was just glad to be out of the building), and we finally got one to take us to Cara and Juan Carlos' new place. I
actually like it, though Cara isn't exactly impressed. Juan Carlos' uncle, Vincente, though we all call him Uncle Fester
when he's not around, lives upstairs. Apparently he's been single his whole life, hates Cara's cats... for being cats...doesn't
speak English, and loves to live in his own filth. Because the house belongs to Juan Carlos' father, Uncle Fester's
living here is the only familial condition of them getting to stay rent-free. He is a little creepy, but he's been decent
to me. I guess he just talks about getting rid of/drowning in a river, Cara's animals, which are all very small, quiet,
and loving. The old man's just used to having the place to himself. So anyways, even though I had slept less than
three combined hours in two days, I pushed through and managed to stay awake until two in the morning, talking with Cara and
Lacy (Cara's sister). Lacy's okay. She's eighteen, but a bit starved for approval. She spends a lot of time
fishing for compliments and talking about her new self-identity as a lesbian. I don't mind that she's a lesbian (which
I'm not so sure she is because she's attracted to women, so much as wanting the attention that comes with it). Honestly,
she's nice, but the way she acts and dresses, you would think she's only about twelve years old. I'm sharing a surprisinly
comfortable bunkbed with her. I slept about ten of the most deep hours of sleep I've ever had, that night. Then
yesterday we poked around the house while Juan Carlos, his brother Daniel, and Uncle Fester went on a mission of fixing two
doors in the house. This place is nice, but it does need some serious work. The ceiling is falling down in almost
every room (it's made of plaster and cement), and every room could use some scrubbing with bleach. And everybody keeps
telling giant roach stories, but I have yet to see one. So last night, we went grocery shopping. I bought a bunch
of junk food I didn't need, as well as some Oaxaca cheese (yay! can't buy it in Vermont!) and turkey ham, which was
a divinely melted combination from the heavens. And speaking of Oaxaca, I think I'm going to head out there tomorrow
morning and stay at my friend, Lalo's, hostel, since Luis flaked and went to his grandmother's house for a week. I wasn't
really upset, though. I looked at a map, and it would have taken about ten hours to go to Belize, not three, and we
would have had to go through Guatemala. Luis really had no idea what he was talking about with that one. But probably
the best part about all of this is just being on vacation without family and finally getting a chance to relax. I love
them all, but I really needed this break so much more than even I knew. And I get to have adventures on top of it!
I think three, and possibly four, major trips will be my itinerary while I'm here. Oaxaca, Puebla/Cholula, Cuernavaca,
and maybe Acapulco, because Juan Carlos' other uncle has a house there. I'm just so happy to be back in Mexico!
July 21, 2004
So I had a slight change in plans. I decided to tour the capital a little today, and wait to go to Oaxaca until
next week when Cara get paid and Lacy has gone home. Honestly, I like Lacy, but her constant need for compliments and
approval gets extremely annoying after a while. She just talks and talks about the famous women she'd like to date,
while forming this very Junior High-like relationship with Daniel. But she'll only be here until Sunday, and I feel
so ungrateful to Cara for feeling this way about her sister. But guess all I can do is grit the ol' teeth and bear it.
So today we're supposed to go to La Zona Rosa. I guess it's just a section of the city that has a lot of shops
and clubs. Cara doesn't really want to do much because she doesn't have money, but my days here are numbered.
Well, last night Cara, Lacy, and I played road trip games in the back bedroom. We were all tired, but it was a rip-roaring
time. I also told the girls about my family. They laughed their asses of through it. They're from California
and live in such a different worl from mine, but I can't deny that I started laughing pretty hard after a while. I've
always known my relatives were a little eccentric, but some of them are downright out of their minds! But anyhoo, my
Mexican odyssey goes on. Yesterday at the Internet cafe, I met a girl named Priscila. Her parents owned it.
We started talking and really chatted it up for some time. She was very pretty, really smart, and super nice... and
dating someone. But around this place, that doesn't seem to mean all that much. Let's just say I'm pretty sure
I'll be going back for another visit real soon. Well, time to eat, which most of the time is an adventure in itself.
July 22, 2004
Planning things just doesn't seem to be in the cards. We didn't go to La Zona Rosa, but we did go to a
mall not too far from here. It was really big and fanned out in all directions. The ceiling over one part of the
mall had holes all through it, and the rain was dripping everywhere. I didn't buy much, but I picked up a couple things.
And it's kind of a running joke that everybody here thinks I'm mentally defunkt, so as a joke I started acting like it.
I rocked myself back and forth while moaning, pounded on my forehead with the palm of my hand, kept biting my hands and twisting
my gingers up. I also kept screaming for my friends to ¨Stop laughing at me! It´s not funny!¨ but that just encouraged
them. People in the mall were scared out of their minds and were trying not to look at me. It was hilarious!
Then we all crammed into one taxi. Daniel and Lacy were in the front passenger seat while the three largest of the group
wedged into the back. Cara and Juan Carlos kept tongue kissing to gross me out because we were packed so close together.
I kept yelling for some kind of deity to help, b8ut it was a while before help came. When we got back, the powerhad
gone out. It took forever to get the lights working again. The girls were freaking out because we had been telling
personal ghost stories in the cab, and this place is supposedly haunted anyway. After the power was back on, I watched
¨Los Simpsons¨with the guys. Then we sat around for a couple of hours listening to the blaring crap music that Lacy
had. I put a giant pillowover my head to block out the noise, and Juan Carlos announced to the entire room that he had
found a virgin, because I guess I looked like the Virgin Mary. Har har. Then later still, I played a couple rounds
of Dominoes with Juan Carlos, then he and I just sat up talking until almost 4:30 this morning. Today, I already took
a shower, and then we are supposed to go the Internet cafe where Priscila is and then go to the Ïntervention Museum¨where
Juan Carlos used to work. Sounds like a blast...from the past! Lame, I know. Well, I guess that´s it until
July 28, 2004
I finally got to Oaxaca. getting to the city limits was the easy part. As soon as we got into town, we were
caught in gridlock on a giant ass bus for over an hour to go the equivilant of less than a mile. Apparently today was
the last day of some huge festival that I have never heard of. I couldn´t find my way out of the town center to get
to my friend´s hostel. Finally I decided to just find a place to stay for the night. I had been waiting to go
to the bathroom for about eight hours and the situation was becoming dire. At the thrid place I tried, I found the dumpy
hotel in which I am currently writing. They charged me 250 pesos (about $22.00), which is a hefty sum in this place,
for a double room with no television, phone, clock, toilet paper, or toilet seat. So I left my stuff, reluctantly, in
the room and wandered the streets looking for something that didn´t look dangerous to eat. I finally wandered into what
turned out to be a Japanese restaurant. I don´t know anything about japanese food, but the place was really clean, the
owner was super nice, and I was sick of wandering. I had asked about a hundred people if the had heard of my friend´s
hostel in hopes they could guide me in the right direction, but no one could. I took one last chance because I was thinking
of packing up and leaving back to Mexico City tomorrow. So he said yes, of course he knew where ¨Casa de la luna¨ was.
Only about four blocks away. Well, he drew the directions on a map, but I didn´t think it was right. I had been
there a couple times before and I was sure it was in the other direction. So he said there was another hostel only a
block away that had the workd ¨luna¨in it. It was exactly where I thought it would be. So I ate really quickly,
maybe five bites that I still feel sick over, and I headed out the door. It was getting late by this point, so I figured
I would call it quites for the night if that wasn´t it. As soon as I turned the corner, I recognized two telephone poles
that are abnormally close together. I knew then that I had been in the wrong part of the city from the beginning.
I went into the hostel and sure enough, there came Lalo running up to meet me. He said he was full for the night, which
didn´t matter because I already had this ritzy place, but that he had room for the rest of the week. Score one point
for Danny! I hung out there for a while talking with Lalo and this girl from Belgium named Natalie (total coincidence, I swear!)
I also met some Americans at the bus station in Mexico City and an Israeli couple who couldn´t speak Spanish, so were more
than happy to share a cab. The girl was really nice and chatty and the guy was tired but insisted on paying for the
cab because I had helped them find their way and translated for them. They were both very beautiful people. Must
be nice! Well, I´m completely drained or tonight and this room wreaks like ass, so the sooner I fall asleep, the sooner
I can get out of here.