Wednesday, July 30, 2008

They're Taunting Me

By Tori "Mad Sally" Baur

They’re taunting me.

Fish. Big ones that swim languidly in the tidepools just off the balcony of our house.

And it hurts.

There are six of them circling together. Some sort of spotted sea trout. Big ones. Ones that inspire fish tales, only these fish are big enough that lying about their size would be unnecessary. I have been watching them dancing in the clear, blue water circling clockwise together, black fins and tails lifting out of the water, circling, circling, circling together for the last three hours.

They are taunting me with every liquid turn and dip. And it hurts because I don’t have a fishing pole.

They are certainly beautiful. The biggest fish is the leader. She decides the path, mostly clockwise around the perimeter of rocks, but sometimes she chooses to swim counter-clockwise as if to test what it would feel like to swim in Australia where the water does indeed run backwards. The other fish obediently follow along just behind and to either side or under her. Their bodies are all touching as if this is some sort of private love dance among them. And it may well be. I thought at first that the fish might be feeding as the brown pelicans seem to find plenty of fish to eat near this spot as they circle above the water and then take a nosedive down into the water, pause for a moment, and then lift their long pelican bills into the air to let gravity help them swallow the fish they’ve caught. But the longer I watch these fish, the more I think that they are mating, procreating. I imagine the biggest fish a female full of eggs. I envision her dropping streams of her eggs onto the rocks that she has been swimming over and around for hours. I can almost see how she has been leading the other fish, all males in my imagination, around and around over her dropped eggs and in her seductive circular swim, she entices them to fertilize her eggs.

As full of wonder and mystery as these creatures of the water may be, I still want to bait my hook and toss out my line. I want to feel the tug on my pole as I reel in “the big one.” I want to pull it onto the shore, and feel it shake and wriggle violently in my hands as I remove the hook from its mouth. I want to dash its head on the rocks to make it stop moving, and plunge my knife into its belly and clean its insides out with deft handiwork.

I want to smell like fish.

I want it all over my hands, on my clothes, on the counter I work on, even in my hair. I want to find fish scales under my nails and down my cleavage when I take off my bra at night. I want to feel a tingle when I wash my hands and realize I must’ve cut my finger on a sharp fin or bone. I want to bleed with my fish. Just a little. Just enough to say, “I appreciate your sacrifice, big fishy. Here is mine to you.”

And to taste it.
I want to cover my freshly cleaned fillet with butter and lemon, wrap it in foil and put it on the grill for about fifteen minutes on each side. I want to see the look on my family’s faces as they taste the fish that I caught and cleaned and cooked for them, for me, for us.

There is nothing like being the one who brought the big fish unto the dinner plate.

While I may rationally understand that the fish – beautiful fish ¬– swimming below me are possibly fulfilling their predetermined life cycle and it is a miracle to bear witness to such an event as egg fertilization in the wild, nonetheless I still want to catch them, rip them open and eat them.

I’d like to think that living on St Croix in the wild Caribbean makes me feel so acutely hunter-gatherer. “It’s just the sound of the waves crashing so violently against the rocks,” I say to myself as I try to reason with my piratical obsession for wanting to capture and kill these majestic fish.

But I know there is no rationality behind my desire. Fishing is like a drug and I am an addict, an obsessed junkie who needs a fix. This is who I am. Its in my veins. So tomorrow I will buy a fishing pole and as I know nothing about ocean fishing, I will seek out others who are like me and court them until I glean the knowledge I so crave. And over time I will learn how to fish the surf. I will learn the best places to go, what test to use on my reel, which lure works best, how to properly bait my hook and in doing so I will cure my helplessness and feed my addiction.

Tonight my family will eat fish. I will go to one of the many fish markets on St Croix, where vendors sell fresh fish, lobster and conch right off the street. I will pick something up, perhaps some bass, tuna or snapper and I will clean it myself, grill it and serve it.

And although I didn’t catch this fish myself, I will feel a little bit better for having plunged my knife in its belly. It is my methadone until I can get the real thing. I know that in all the ocean there is a fish out there – a big one – who has my name on it.

But right now, it hurts.

Family, Friends and Furniture

By John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur

When you think about furniture, especially when you think about a big dining room table, you think about friends and family, right? A Norman Rockwell image of people gathered around the table on Thanksgiving or something like that.

Well, this is a story friends, family and furniture.

After securing the house on Friday, we spent Saturday running to garage and moving sales, always a good source of used furniture at good prices, and on the island really the best source for such things.

By 1 in the afternoon we’d found several things, including a love seat, and were driving back toward home with the back of the car stuffed with a wicker set of chairs and a little table. If I can brag for just a second, we found every sale with a minimum of directions and I don’t think we got lost at all, although I was pretty sure we were lost once, before we rounded the bend and saw the place.)

But there was one more sale to visit, and though we were pretty much feeling done, it was close, and the ad had sounded like it was right up our alley. A moving held by a family that after years on island was ready to move to the mainland, in North Carolina to be near family. They had some beautiful things, much too nice for the likes of us. Of particular interest was a Lane cedar chest and a handmade dining room table that the man, a carpenter, had made himself. The table was about six feet long, the top solid African mahogany, the legs Spanish cedar. It was very plain, very simple, just a little scroll work with a router. It was beautiful. It was also a tad more than we were prepared to spend.

Well, both were great pieces, the sort of thing our kids would fight over after we were dead and gone. The chest wasn’t a “must have,” but it was awfully nice, and the price was right. We ended up buying it.

The car was already full of the wicker we’d bought, so we arranged to come by the next day to pick up the chest.

That night, Tori had a dream about the table. I didn’t get the details, but we’ve been married long enough that I know what it means when she has a dream. We would be buying the table.

We went back on Sunday to get the chest. Pulled into the driveway and Daryle – the carpenter – made me pull back out and back across his lawn until I was right against the porch. “Why do you want to work that hard?” he asked, smiling. We got out of the car and their huge dog Beau (a mastiff, and a real sweetheart) lumbered over to be petted, drooling everywhere. We started chatting, Tori and I and Daryle and Arvena Satchell. How we’d ended up on the island. Why they were leaving. Did we have enough plasticware? We’d need it to keep ants out of everything. Moving’s a bitch, we all agreed, especially those last two weeks when you’re seriously just considering setting a big fire. Did we need a desk? They gave us the one Daryle had made. And the matching file cabinet and chair. How about these bookshelves? If they haven’t sold in two weeks we’re just throwing ’em away so why don’t you take them?

What do you do for a living? I’m a teacher, Tori said, and John’s a writer. The Satchell’s older daughter, Avonia, about seven years old with big, solemn eyes, looked up at that, went into the house and came back holding the book she had written about a day at the beach. “You can read it if you want to,” she said. So of course I read it. Handwritten and illustrated an carefully stapled together. A delightful tale. Then while Daryle took Tori in to look at the desk, Avonia took me around back to see the chicken laying eggs.

We weren’t sure how we were going to get all this stuff into our rig, let alone across the island to our new home. No problem, Daryle said. I’ve got the pickup until Tuesday and I’m not doing anything. We’re signing the lease Tuesday morning, so if the rental agent says it’s cool, we’ll just go with him to drop it off that afternoon.

We had driven over to pick up one piece - the chest. We were there over an hour, swapping stories with these lovely people, learning a bit of island lore (the spectacular Flamboyant trees, for instant, are only called that during this time of year when their fiery red blossoms are in full bloom. The rest of the year they’re called something that sounded like “shek shek,’ which doesn’t sound complimentary.) Daryle and Arvena took Tori around the yard pointing out different plants and talking about how to grow them. This was while I was reading Avonia’s story.)

At one point Daryle was explaining “island time,” which often drives newcomers crazy and with which even he sometimes has trouble. Even in the emergency room, he said, people take their time. “Nothing is urgent here,” he said, leaning back on the porch and gesturing expansively. I wanted to say, “You mean, like this now?” but I have better manners than that. Besides, I knew just what he meant. I was in no hurry, and they were nice people. What’s the rush?

And, of course, you have to keep things in perspective. Getting the furniture was important. But these delightful people are leaving the island soon, so we focused on what mattered most.

And, yes, we bought the table.


Monday, July 28, 2008

A home of our own

Well, hardly any posts the last two weeks. Not because there’s nothing happening, or because of the difficulty in getting online – I found a free wireless hub in Christiansted, all I have to do is drive the 20 or so minutes into town and if the laptop’s battery has taken a charge I can take care of most of my business in an hour.

No, the reason we haven’t been posting much is that we’re in a rush. I know that’s not an “Island time’ concept, but we are. When we came here we arranged for a month in a very nice, very posh and kinda spendy vacation villa for the first month. It was more than we wanted to spend, but better that than thinking we’d gotten some great deal only to find we were living in a shithole, ya know?

But the month is nearly up. We’re not going to get thrown out on the street – the place we’re at will let us stay since no on has reserved it for August, but we’d rather not pay the price. This is about transitioning from island newcomers to island residents.

It took us almost two weeks to find a car. It was worth taking the time, because Bertha (named for the hurricane/tropical storm that passed by while we were searching) is reliable. A ’97 Nissan Pathfinder, not great mileage but sturdy and it’s already broken in, which on these roads means something. After our last car (don’t get me going about Volkswagens, they’re crap) reliable is a very good thing. And we got her insured, which on the island took the better part of a day. No, those online insurers don’t cover St. Croix.

Then Tori and I – and sometimes Millie and I can’t tell you how happy I’ve been to have her along, showing an interest – spent two weeks looking for a longterm rental. We drove almost four hundred miles – no small feet on an island that’s only about 30 miles long and five or so wide - in the course of two weeks looking at neighborhoods and areas, checking out houses for rent in the papers, getting lost more than a few times but that's always an adventure, getting shown really inappropriate things by Realtors who – I don’t want to cast aspersions but it’s true – heard our stateside voices on the phone and assumed we were rich or something. It had to be that, or else they were just really stupid because we’d tell them exactly what we were looking for and they’d show us things that cost twice as much. One was three times the top range we said. Really nice houses, and everyone a Realtor showed us had a pool. But not what we were looking for.

Well, we found it at last, because Tori is just bound and determined to succeed. Driving into Frederiksted she told me to drive straight instead of making the turn into town. Then she told me to take a right at the market on the corner. Then she told me to stop. There was a for rent sign on a nice little house, sort of Spanish style. The neighborhood is okay, not great, but it’s close to town, close to where we’re pretty sure Tori will be working, and the price was lower than we’d hoped. We called the agent, two days later we looked through it and were amazed. It was nicer inside than out,. No air conditioning (with the price of power on the island that’s not necessarily a bad thing) and it’s very breezy. The agent had opened all the windows and doors, and the doors kept blowing shut. We filled out an application and after a brief discussion of our shitty credit and our suggestion that perhaps they’d like us to pay a couple of months in advance, we got the house.

It’s unfurnished, so we’ve got a lot more to do between now and moving day. Yea! Another adventure! And we’ve got a place to move into.


Still not used to things

By Kate Baur

Okay, a few more weeks here and the others are beginning to develop niches on the island. Dad’s doing his pirate thing, Mom is being…kinda weird in certain places, Millie is doing her thing of bossing us around, Max is being hyperactive, and Alex is watching Law and Order.

Though the things with Mil, Al and Max aren’t anything new.

I myself am trying to write a bit, not to mention get used to a few more things. I have difficulty adjusting to ‘Island time’ AKA ‘No need to rush’ I can be a tad impatient, and tend to get nervous if I think I’m making people wait. On the other hand, with people like us who are generally late for pretty much every other thing, it might come in handy.

I also still have a bit of trouble with the heat. I don’t really like wearing shorts all the time, and the heat tends to force this upon me. I also don’t like going out all much as the other members of my family. (Please note that it doesn’t mean I don’t go out at all, I don’t want anything to be put out of context) It’s more my own problem though, and I can deal with it in my own way.

And finally, I still don’t have a job or my drivers license. Heck I have yet to receive a freaking library card. I need some access to books, my head is melting from more then heat over here.

Let’s see, nothing more to report other then the fact that I need my own computer very soon.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random bits

Just a few random observations of how things are going.

Made a rookie mistake a week ago. Set out for the rental agent’s office armed with nothing but an address. Had I learned NOTHING in the first week here??? I should have had the address, the nearest cross street, a couple of landmarks, a description of the building and the phone number so I could have the agent step out on the street and wave at us.

We found it, but it took two passes down the short street, and since it was on the ocean front, we only had to look at one side of the street so that helped. We finally resorted to getting out of the car and walking into any place that looked likely. That worked.


Tori and I left the house Wednesday without the map, very certain I’d have no trouble finding what I was after. Like the book says, pride goeth before a fall. Just needed to pick up a couple of things at the store and make copies of Tori’s resume. I’d been to this particular grocery store a couple of times, although I’d always approached from the opposite direction. How hard could this be?

After driving past what I thought should have been the turn at the gas station at La Riene, ,I began working my way back. Or thought that’s what I was doing. There are a couple of roads I feel sure about, so I just kept working south and west and I knew I’d come to Sunny Isle.

And kept driving. And driving. Look, this is a small island, I couldn’t go TOO far, could I? No, I was sure now. It’d be right down this road. I drove a little longer, and sure enough, there in front of me was ....

The gas station at La Riene. I had managed to drive in a fairly large circle, one that included most of the central part of the island, and never did figure out whether the shopping center I was after was inside that circle or not.

So we didn’t get the stuff for Millie to make chocolate rum cookies, or make copies of Tori’s resume. But we sure did find a roadside fish stand and for $20 headed home with a big damn red snapper, at least four pounds head and all.

Sometimes the journey turns out to be better than what you thought was the destination.


Because we couldn’t find the store, we didn’t get the things Millie needed to make her rum balls. But we scoured the pantry and came up with the ingredients for her to make the pineapple rum upside down cake. She had pulled a cookbook off the shelf and was bound and determined to cook something. I was bound and determined to let her.

Let me tell you, the pineapple rum upside down cake – with fresh pineapple, mind you, not canned, and bits of mango and just the right amount of rum (the local brand, Cruzan, made here on St. Croix and a LOT cheaper here than in Oregon) to offset the sweetness – magnificent! And the perfect topper to the grilled snapper we’d had for dinner. I could get used to this.

Tori has been posting teaching applications at all the schools we can find, and has a good feeling about the openings at The Good Hope School. It’s a beautiful campus with several openings she’d be perfect for. The woman in personnel was very encouraging.

Did I mention it’s a beautiful campus? I did? Well, let me say it again. It’s beautiful. Bright yellow buildings on a lawn strewn with trees and bushes. It has a theater (with fly space!) that is apparently one of the best on the island. For those who know us, this is obviously a big draw. We met at the theater, all our kids act, and the three youngest (Kate, Millie and Max) were all on stage in utero. The school’s mission statement emphasizes that academics aren’t the only thing in life and that they need to be augmented with “arts and athletics” – and lists them in that order. How often do schools get that right?

And it sits with its back to the most beautiful stretch of beach I’ve ever set foot on. Seriously, I don’t know how they get kids to concentrate with that outside the classroom windows. It’s just beautiful.

We’ve got our fingers crossed for this one.


When discussing the future, we often cross out fingers and say, “Cmooooon Chance!” Chance is the young adult novel I wrote that is under consideration at a pretty big publisher. (The book biz moves exceedingly slowly, so we’ve been saying “C’moooon Chance” for quite a while now.)

Yesterday while driving I changed it – discussing Tori’s job prospects I crossed my fingers and said, “C’mooon Good Hope!” for the school she wants to work at.

She smiled ruefully and said, “Isn’t it kind of funny that we’re pinning our future on Hope and Chance?”

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur

Monday, July 14, 2008

Reflections on my first week in the Caribbean

Note: This was written last Wednesday, but because our rental doesn't have Internet access it's not getting posted until today. Sorry. One of the things we're looking for in a long-term rental is access to Broadband. That'll make all the difference. And cell phone coverage. The lack of bars on our corner of the island is driving Millie in particular crazy. Anyway, on with Tori's post.

We made it.

All the planning and packing and stressing and wondering and doubting and assessing of my mental state has paid off. Here I am on St Croix USVI, sitting on the upper balcony of a beautiful house feeling the cool – but not too cool – tradewinds blowing over my sun-drenched skin, listening to the waves of the Caribbean dash themselves against the rocks below in thunderous, lulling crashes and the only thing I can think to say to my friends is... nyah-nyah, nyah, nyah-nyah!

To say it is beautiful here would be an injustice of vocabulary. It is stunning. So many different hues of blue in the sea and sky, and the landscape mixed with vibrant orange trees, hibiscus blooms, mahogany trees, pelicans, lizards, tiny skittering shelled creatures, black bees the size of a lime, and the stars! My god! How the stars shine and even fall across the sky nightly; my personal wishing well from the heavens. I could go on and on like a tourist’s manual about the beauty and mystery that is the Virgin Islands and no doubt I probably will. But I’d rather talk about other things - like the old drunk Crucian that sang a reggae love song to me in the cereal aisle at the grocery store.

Seriously. There I was in the cereal aisle trying to figure out if I should pay 6.99 a box for “Honey Bunches of Oats,” which everybody in the family would eat, or 2.99 for a box of “Zucharitas!” which roughly translates to “”Frosted Flakes,” which only Max would eat. I am swaying a little to the reggae beat playing over the loud-speakers, trying to make up my mind, when a small, old, shriveled and probably very drunk toothless man spotted me dancing in the aisle. His eyes lit up when he saw me and he started to sing with a soft, clear voice to a made-up reggae beat:

“Hey mama!
You look so beau-ti-ful,
Dancin’ in de supermarket!
I like your body,
When it dances,
You are so lov-e-ly!”

He then blessed me many, many times and then blessed my family, and then blessed the island, and then blessed the rum, and blessed my beautiful body one more time. He told me his name was Tomas, and told me to” keep dancin’ in the supermarket, mon.”

Now, I know that a drunken old native singing to me about dancin’ in the supermarket isn’t necessarily a fantastic tale. But something about the experience will stay with me for a long time. Maybe it was the many blessings. Maybe it was because he saw me as truly beautiful, or perhaps Tomas’ song feels so precious and fitting because all the other times in my life when I have danced in the supermarket either alone or with my husband Ol’ Chumbucket, people looked at us as if we were crazy. Here, on St Croix, people sing our praises, and bless us for our whacky, unconventional displays of love and happiness.

So the landscape is absolutely beautiful. And the people... well, they are crazy. As crazy as we are. Bless them all.
By Tori "Mad Sally" Baur

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quick Tip for Pix

Jezebel, our friend the Web Wench ar
has the following advice for those who want to see the pictures.

"Direct link to the Flickr gallery is

Fans can look for the "Pirates in Paradise" set."


Posted by Kate, 18.

Keep in mind this is the opinion of a girl who is old enough to drink here but not back in the states, and a person who prides herself in being as much of a freak as possible.

Thus far, living here is a bit of a love-hate thing, there are things I love and things I hate.

I love the experience of living in a different place, I hate having to have left all my manga and everything else behind.

I love the nice breezes, and that is because I hate the heat. I’m more of a person who can take to slightly colder climates. (Not arctic cold or anything, but I was used to Oregon winters)

I love the swimming, I hate the humidity! I hate to sound like a whiny little Paris Hilton-y prep girl who wears skirt-shirts and elbow bags, but I have a hard time managing anything in this humid air.

I love the seclusion, I REALLY hate being cut off from the internet most of the time. I admit back in the states I was slightly addicted, but now it’ll cost me ten bucks to check my sites per hour.

I like the friendly environment, until I remember that I was a bit of a wallflower back in the states. And I hated leaving my old friends.

In any case, there are things I like and things I hate, I’m sure things will pick up for me, but until then I’ll cope. Me and Al are planning on getting our own place eventually.

But to be honest I eventually want to see the U.K. when I’m old enough. It’s a plan, though a very in-progress one. I might do it after I write my own novel, another work-in-progress, but hey, I’m working on it, right?

I hope to get there soon, but right now, I got to get a job. I wonder if the bookstore is hiring?


Monday, July 7, 2008

Fire in the Sky

Our Internet connection at the rental house is kind of flaky, so the ability to post regularly is a guess at best. On the other hand, the urgent need to post regularly is fading in the face of what local's call Island Time (which is where we got the name for this blog.) Each day is pretty much like the next, gorgeous, warm, laid back, and time moves languidly. If something didn't happen today, there's always tomorrow. We post as often as we can, but we're not going to kill oursleves, you know mon?

Fourth of July
This is a double holiday on St. Croix. The Fourth, of course, is Independence Day. July Third is Emancipation Day, the day in 1848 that the Danish governor of the island declared all slaves free. So this is a big deal here.

I needed to go into Fredericksted on business Thursday the third. Don’t bother, I was told by the person I needed to see. The entire town was closed down. The roads had been blocked off for a parade, nothing was open. No business was being done on the third.

So we didn’t get into Fredericksted, the island’s second largest town (also the island’s smallest town, there’s only the two of them) until the next day. That’s where the Fourth of July fireworks are fired off.

Never having been there before, when we got into town we decided to park where we could and go where the throng on the beach left room for us. It’s part of the learning curve – learning by following the path of least resistance – and it worked for us. It turns out, there’s really no bad place for watching the fireworks. They fire them off the pier and you can see them from anywhere in town. So we pulled up a piece of sand and waited.

Music and the smell of cooking food wafted up and down the strand as we waded in the surf of the amazingly warm Caribbean. Maybe this shouldn’t have come as a surprise, but we had become used to the Oregon Coast. The Pacific shoreline in the Northwest is stunningly beautiful, but the water is equally stunningly cold. Wading even ankle deep is actually painful. We knew the Caribbean would be different, but your body has its own memory unaffected by the person who tells you the water temp is usually around 80 degrees. My flesh flinched as I lowered my first foot into the water. It needn’t have, I have had baths that weren’t as warm as the water.

Meanwhile the sun began setting, leaving the most spectacular oranges, pinks and purples streaked across the sky. People who see the pictures will assume we were standing in front of some phony “Caribbean Sunset” backdrop, because it was just too amazing, too beautiful to be real. But it was.

Finally the sun stopped showing off and the sky grew dark. It was time for the fireworks.

Setting them off from the long, cruise ship pier did two things – it made it possible for everyone to see them, and it created a second show. As the multiple bursts went off in the air they were reflected off the water in a mirror image display that was truly breathtaking. It was really the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen – no singles, all multiple sky bursts painting sky and sea flaming reds, whites, greens, blues and purples.

But still not as spectacular as that sunset. That would have been worth driving over for all on its own. (Check out our Flicker phoro page with the Caribbean sunset photos by going to and follow the link to Flicker on the lower left of the page.)

The drive home was not without incident, as police rerouted traffic so the thousands of islanders who had flocked to the small town weren’t all trying to take the same road home. I followed long lines of cars snaking out of town in every direction on roads I wasn’t sure of. I just stayed in line, assuming we were all going somewhere and that eventually I’d get to a road I recognized. It took a while, but in the end I was right and we got home eventually.

I’m still not comfortable driving on the left, and the lack of signs is still problematic to me, but I’m learning. I get where I’m trying to go, although I’m not always on the street I think I’m on. But with Tori manning the map they give newcomers as a security blanket, we usually get where we’re planning to go.

And if not, where we end up is interesting too.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Many,many thanks

Before we get too far removed from the events of the last couple of weeks, let me offer some heartfelt thanks to our friends in Oregon without whom we'd NEVER have made it. Hell, we wouldn't have gotten out of the house, which would have annoyed the very nice people who bought it.

The Web Wench, Bill and Phil and Linda, Marina (who let us use her car for more than a week as we dashed around doing errands,) Lorraine and Christi (who also made us a welcome dinner) The Coopers, Cap'n Slappy (who let us camp out at his place for two weeks while we made the final arrangements. Chad who lent us his truck, the friend of Alex's whose name I can never remember (Deera? Dina? Something like that – shameful of me, really) and many others I'm sure I'm forgetting in the whirl of activity.

Special thanks to our Realtor, Karen Stutheit, who sold the house for us at last and stuck with it tenaciously when things kept trying to cause trouble. We'd have been in a world of hurt without her.

It was not easy deciding to leave friends like that – and many more – to try something completely different. The fact that, even though we were leaving them, they rallied and helped us do so, speaks volumes about the value of their friendship.

Unless ... you don't suppose they were eager for us to go, and when it looked like we might not make it, got together and hurried us out of town. "How can we miss them if they won't go away!"

No, I'm pretty sure not. They're great people. Thanks to all of them.

Ol' Chumbucket

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Teenager's Lament

It is currently 8:40 in the morning on Wednesday. I haven’t slept since 5:30 in the evening on Tuesday. This is my disclaimer for anything I am going to be saying in the next few minutes. I warn you. My thoughts jump.

Mom told me she wanted me to be completely honest in this. No faking. No making others happy.

But I don’t know exactly how I feel.

I know I miss Jesse.

That’s the predominant feeling I have had since I watched him drive away on Sunday. I want to cry every time I think about it. Sometimes I do.

I want desperately to be with him right now, and to see him and hold him and kiss him.

All of the lovey-dovey novels I have finished in the last three days definitely do not help ease that feeling.

This all seems like a dream. Not in the sense that “everything is coming true”, but in the sense that I keep thinking “Its about time to wake up. I have been asleep for too long.”

It I didn’t have the ocean pounding away in my ears day and night (it really makes you have to pee, which sucks ‘cause you can’t flush unless you... well, yeah), I would think I was going to wake up in my garage room, in my crappy bunk bed, and then call Jesse to tell him about this strange dream. He would say something like “That’s really weird, Baby.” And I would laugh and say, “I know.”

It is beautiful here though. I can’t deny that.

It’s the kind of place where I would love to have a vacation home. I don’t know how I am going to do here yet. I haven’t been out of the house enough.

The room I share with Kate has its own balcony. It’s upstairs in the eastern wing of the house.

None of us expected the house to be this nice. No, its more than nice. Its fucking gorgeous. (Yeah I just said fuck. I said it on national television, I will say it on the internet. Go me)

This morning, I walked outside at around six (Yeah, I said morning, and I meant it.) It was very odd to feel that the air wasn’t cold. I keep expecting to feel a sudden chill blast across my path. It never does. The air stubbornly remains at around 75°.

One of the things I am going to have the most trouble with is the lack of activity. Usually, I have a million things to do. Too many places to be, too many people to see, and too little time to do it all.

The people here don’t rush. I miss people calling me to find out why I’m not there yet. Hell, I miss people calling me.

I have absolutely no reception here. It is driving me insane.

I suppose many people would assume that I haven’t really had my new phone long enough to get an attachment to it yet, but they are very, very wrong.

I want to be able to send all the texts and call all the time. I would, if I could. Unfortunately, zero bars.

Have you gotten sick of me being the whiney teenager yet? Too bad.

I’ve got plenty more where that came from. I’m fifteen. I am totally allowed to bitch.

Of course, I will never bitch to my family. I don’t think they would really get it. None of them had any reason to stay. They will just tell me that they don’t think I did either. Or say something about how worth it this is.

Being fifteen, all of my emotions are hormone fueled and multiplied. But that just means I feel them harder. Yeah, I know that I’m not the only person in the world who has ever moved. Yeah, I’m not the only person who has ever been 4,000 miles away from her boyfriend.

Does that comfort me any?

No. Of course not.

I am going into town soon to buy a phone card and several other things that the family needs. The phone card is clearly for me.

I suppose I will write again soon, if Mom and Dad remind me. I mean, I finished my books and pretty much this is the only thing to do besides sleep and sit in the hot tub.

It is 9:15 now. I am going to go sit outside in the glaring sunlight.

Millie Baur

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Driving Blind

So here’s the thing about getting around on St. Croix. Very few of the roads have names, they mostly have numbers which seem to have been assigned randomly and mysteriously change from point to point. So that you’re driving on Road 69, and suddenly without any apparent transition, you’re on 705.

And if few of the roads have names, far fewer have signs. And the maps are sort of speculative. So, on my first full day on the island I had to drive to the airport to pick up Tori, Janet and Max, it was an adventure. I had been led to the house by the rental agent, driving in the dark trying desperately to find one or two landmarks. Not much to see.

I allowed myself an hour and a half for the 20 minute drive. As I approached what I knew should be a turn, I had no way of knowing if this was the right junction until I noticed the painting on the roadway. I had seen that last night! I made a left and yes! That was the right road!

I got myself lost once on the way, but not badly, in straightening out I managed to get back on the right road but going the wrong way, then got myself – not lost so much as challenged, but ended up in the right place – I’m not sure how. Made it to the airport with 50 minutes to spare, not bad.

Oh, I didn’t mention the other thing about driving here. We drive on the left, mon. American cars, with the steering wheel on the left, but everyone drives in the left lane, a holdover from almost a century ago when the islands were still owned by Denmark. Mostly that’s not a problem, although the first time cars approach and pass on the right you hold your breath in shock. And making right hand turns is just unnatural – as you cross the intersectio0n and turn, cars are turning INSIDE the radius of your turn. It’s very disconcerting, although you get used to it.

After picking up my family at the airport, we had to run into Christiansted (the main island) to get Tori on the rental car. Again, that wasn’t too bad. I’d been there the day before and it’s on one of the main roads, pretty much a straight shot across the island. Just get on 70 and stay there. But then leaving Christiansted to get back to Cane Bay, where our short-term rental is, was an adventure. Took a wrong turn and ended up in downtown Christiansted and fairly confused. Maybe it’s th whole “learning how to drive on the left side of the road” thing, but it just didn’t feel as if the water could possibly be on my left. But as I circled around, I could feel my inner compass shift, and suddenly it started making sense.

We got home, after an uneventful drive past some extraordinary coastline. I would hardly say I’m driving like a native, but I’m driving.

Ol’ Chumbucket