Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Right Stuff

I went to the New Kids On The Block show last night not because I have any desire to relive 1991 (which, I believe, was the year Adam V said I would never have a boyfriend because I smelled bad (not true.)) but because the new kids reunion sounded as plausible and as awesome as riding the subway sans pants.

I don't remember my junior high years as being particularly New Kids heavy but perhaps I am just repressing my fandom out of a sense of self preservation since last night I had zero trouble remembering all of the words to "Didn't I Blow Your Mind this Time (Didn't I?)." In fact, I was so moved that I may even write a response number called "Obviously You Did (My Soaking Panties are Proof)." The band was.... good? I don't know. It was certainly the most *enjoyable* concert I've been to in forever but that's probably mostly because they kept doing crazy shit like wearing more than one hat at once or wondering out loud why so few dudes accompanied their woman to the show or PULLING DOWN THEIR PANTS. In comparison to NKOTB he majority of concerts I attend are seriously lacking in smokin' dance moves, pyrotechnics and spinning stages and while I obviously enjoy swaying wistfully to Dar Williams or bobbing my head to the Magnetic Fields I'm starting to wonder if in all my college radio coolness I've seriously missed out on the real concert gold. Perhaps I should work a little harder for tickets to Miley or the Jonas Brothers.

In other news: I have been cautiously trying out the world of twitter (and tumblr) and spent much of last night's concert obsessively poking at my iphone expressing my shock and awe to the 4 people who bother to follow me there so if you want a play by play check out my tweets! For those of you too lazy (or technophobic) to click over to twitter here are the highlights:

1. The video homage to "those we've lost" since the last time New Kids took the stage this included not only a disproportionate number of NKOTB family members (do I smell a deal with the devil?) but also shout outs to Tupac and Kurt Cobain both of whom I'm sure were so honored to be part of the New Kids concert experience that they plan on rising from the dead to personally thank the "band"

2. The (I believe new) song in which Joey and a choir of black people encourage the listeners to have high self esteem. Those of us who paid $50 for nose bleed seats to see a boy band from 1991 even though we are 30 years old especially appreciated this attempt to distract us from reality.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Vacation Was Fab But I Know You Really Come Here To Listen To Me Complain

They speak Spanish in Guatemala. Of course I knew this before I arrive. Just like I know they speak Spanish in Costa Rica and Mexico where in reality most people speak English thus supporting my arrogant American view of the world. Guatemala seems much more committed to the language than other countries. People seriously do not speak English. For reals. To add to the confusion they sometimes decide to mix things up by rejecting commonly accepted Spanish words like when the Guatemalans decided that rather than stick with coche meaning car they'd make coche mean pig (probably just as an excuse to force tourists to travel by swine ("Travel by Swine -- it's mighty fine! A message from the Joint Guatemalan Tourism Board and The Campaign for Making Fun of Foreigners") .

Most of my travel to Central America was done with my friend Sky who, as far as I'm concerned, is a fluent Spanish speaker. She will likely argue with this label but I am confident that she knows how to express past tense and flirt with boys in Spanish. Now in theory I also speak Spanish. Just like I, in theory, can differentiate equations and play tennis and sew a dress from scratch as these are all things that I spent at least 3 years of my life studying in high school. And it's true that I know all about about popular names in Spain (fun fact: everyone in that country in called "Pepe") and can obtain directions to the discoteque or order snacks that my teacher claimed were super popular in Spanish bars like olives (acetunas!) or peanuts (cacuates!) (should I wonder about why my teacher thought that high school kids really needed skills for ordering at bars?). Shockingly these skills did not make navigating life in Guatemala all that easy.

Despite my meager grasp of the language Guatemala was amazing and I heartily recommend a visit but there was one day in Flores when the whole damn country seemed backwards. This is not really the fault of Flores, a charming island city that is finally, after (one assumes) years of a life without fried chicken not to mention a ball pit, getting itself a Pollo Campero, but can be squarely blamed on my boyfriend. The problems began with me letting G pick the hotel and him deciding that this was a great chance to rough it lest we return from vacation and be questioned by our hardcore backpacker friends about the lavish hotels we stayed in with private bathrooms and hot water and staff that would shape your towels into a myriad of delightful and romantic animals while you were out gallivanting. I could almost relate to his fear that we'd be seen as softie richie rich Americans who likely voted for W and are probably at least 63 years old and who might be part of a tour that makes you wear a color coded tag around your neck so that the locals know exactly who to try to hock plastic necklaces at for $15 a pop (mostly because this accurately describes all of the other people who stayed at our hotels). But none of that justified our stay at La Casa de Grunge.

I have learned that regardless of the GDP of whatever country you happen to be traveling in your expectations for a hotels that charged $13/day should be very low. The bathroom wall didn't extend up to the ceiling, the entire room was weirdly damp, the bedding was florescent yellow. However, I should probably stop whining. I saw no vermin or bugs in our room (the same cannot be said for the fancypants Jungle Lodge in Tikal where I spotted a cockroach while showering and was forced to reconsider just how important cleanliness might be.) The nice Australian couple who we met during the (admittedly stunning) sunset on the porch even went so far as to call the hotel "homey" (but one should remember that their home for the past few days had apparently been a seat in one of the aptly named Guatemalan "Chicken Buses"). I think it's possible that 30 is the age when you become uncompromising on the standards of your sleeping place and while I usually shun signs that I am fast training it towards the dying of the light (one assumes dementia and incontinence should set in around 32) I am happy to embrace this little oldster-ism: No more crappy hotels for my richie ass.

Despite the hotel debacle and due mostly to a sudden urge not to be the planner in our relationship I let G pick a restaurant for dinner. He picked out an "archeology themed restaurant serving authentic Mayan cuisine" which sounds like either a very cool cool life experience or a horrible tourist trap but I'll never know which one it might be because we couldn't find the place. Upon leaving the hotel I ask G if he wanted to bring the map and made the grand mistake of actually believing that we didn't need it.

So we're tromping around the street of a foreign country starving when fate chooses to remind us that we traveled to Central America during the rainy season. Umbrella-less we had no choice but to duck into the nearest restaurant. The Cuba Libre I ordered tasted a little weird (not in that lip smacking Belizian rum that tastes a little like cloves but in the "can rum mold?" way) but as I watched the deluge outside and felt the grumbles in my tummy I had no choice but to soldier on with ordering food. Guacamole "nachos" (which we had learned meant "just chips!") and beef tacos took roughly 25 years to come out of the kitchen and when they did G caught the plate of chips out of the corner of his eye and noted that they were red! He began preparing for some local and likely homemade Guatemalan chip delicacy. Instead we got two corn tortillas filled with ground beef that might have been cooked in some Old El Paso seasoning which was bad enough but the "nachos" were the reason why G broke out the camera and interviewed me about the state of affairs. You would think that a country so committed to a refusal to speak English would have the cultural pride not to serve me Doritos for dinner but you would be wrong. Let this be a lesson to all who argue that spontaneity reaps just rewards -- it does not. Spontaneity reaps nacho cheese chips for dinner. Sadly this video has no sound but I think you can tell from my erratic hand gestures and glum expression that I have either just been served some super awful food or am heading up the Republican presidential ticket.

More vacation pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/briannalk/sets/72157608227171391/

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Music of the Night

As a child I remember a camping trip where every night the kids tent that housed myself, my younger brother and my friend Jennifer filled with the sounds of fake snoring. This little rebellion of "honk-shoe-me-me-me" was our way of saying "you can banish us to bed but you can't make the party stop!" and we found it hilarious. We could barely get through a refrain before the me-me-mes were broken by peals of laughter.

Real snoring is nowhere near as funny.

G snores. Not every night. Not all night. But, when he does, it sounds not like the pleasant sing song snore of my childhood but more like this, "HRGURMPHGRRRHAAAAEEEEN" and my response is not a girly giggle muffled by my pillow but a high pitched wailing noise that translates to "oh my god I think I woke up in Guantanamo Bay." When the whining doesn't work I sometimes hit him. I also sometimes get out of bed, stomp out of the room and cry on the couch about how now we have to break up because I like sleep way too much for this bullshit to continue. I am not exactly rational at 4am.

We are about to embark on the first long term vacation of our relationship (Belize and Guatemala!) and while other more serious folks would worry about if 13 straight days together will lead to petty arguments, after the past 2 nights of Snore-a-Palooza, I mostly just worry that I'll die of sleep deprivation. I purchased a set of earplugs but I'm not confident that I'll be able to sleep while wearing them not because they might be uncomfortable but because I fear a disaster like an errant howler monkey entering our cabana to attack me with a coconut in the middle of the night and with the earplugs in I'll be totally vulnerable!

I also bought G a box of Breathe Right Strips even though I doubt they actually work (the enjoyment I will get from laughing at how ridiculous he looks sleeping with a mini band aide across his nose will likely be cold comfort). Snoring remedies seem to fall into the same infomercial territory as baldness and ED relief. Why is it that male ailments are so often met with outlandish mock medical solutions? You don't see 3am infomercials on vibrating belts that sooth cramps or laser beams that let you birth a child painlessly.

After 5 minutes of skulking around the drugstore looking for the snoring relief section I eventually was reduced to asking the pharmacist to point me in the direction of "aids to help you resist murdering him in his sleep." Breathe Rights come in two sizes "small/medium" and "large" which means you have to sit in the drugstore thinking about the size of your boyfriend's nose or you could do what I did and rely solely on the old wives tale connection between nose size and nose size *nudgenudgewinkwink* if you know what I mean*.

G likes to claim that the drop in my blog posting can be directly attributed to him -- certainly no girl lucky enough to date G (and the sunshiny goodness of his amazing man tool*) could continue to support a blog dedicated to snark. So now, while he is not exactly thrilled to have the details of his nocturnal concert performances broadcast for the entire internet, G is trying to lay claim to this post as if his snoring were a sacrifice he made to free me from the prison of writer's block. If this is the case I have to hope that he'll have the good sense to give himself and his gargley, fitful, midnight wheezing a rest in honor of our vacation since snoring or not this blog will for sure not be updated for 2 weeks. It is also possible that I won't update again ever, you know, if the sleep deprivation or the monkeys get me.

* Note that certain members of the snoring population may have only permitted the advertisement of their annoying night time habits in exchange for suggestive claims that imply that said member of the Proud Snorers of America (PSA) is in possession of a HUGE penis.