A Moment of Jen
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Tuesday, February 11, 2003
posted by Jen at 2/11/2003 10:26:00 AM

I'm home, I'm tanned (okay, slightly sunburnt), I'm rested, and I've got lots to talk about.

But first: damn you, Fox TV!

Seriously. I come rushing home through a snowstorm (okay, there were flurries. Whatever.) to find out who Joe Millionaire picks, and what do you give me? Padding. Recaps. Stuff I've already seen before! And don't try teasing me with this "there will be a very special twist" stuff. I'm aggravated. I'm upset. I'm well on my way to livid. Don't toy with me like that!

Okay. Adam and I were in sunny, festive Jamaica for five days, and it was really wonderful. The sun was bright, the skies were blue, the palm trees swayed gently in the ocean breezes. I did water aerobics every morning and swam in the ocean every afternoon, and read and napped and played Scrabble in between, and it was just about the most perfect pre-baby getaway I could imagine, except for what we saw out the shuttle-bus windows on the fifteen-minute ride between the airport and our hermetically-sealed resort.

I'd heard -- from my mother, mostly, who is, politically speaking, an unreconstructed hippie, and from reading Russell Banks' RULE OF THE BONE -- that the poverty in Jamaica is shocking, and that there's an enormous gap between the tourist haves and the native have-nots. And living in a big city, it's not like I haven't seen poverty before -- bombed-out, boarded-up houses, homeless people, all of that. It's just....well, you don't expect that in a place that looks like paradise. There's the sun, there's the sky, there's the beach and there are the bombed-out houses and lost-looking people.

Which made me a little uncomfortable with the level of service at the resort. I mean, look, I'm as happy to be treated nicely as the next girl, but every time one of the maids would give us an elaborately polite greeting in the hall, or one of the waiters would make a big production of spreading my napkin on what's left of my lap, it just felt strange. Nobody ever seemed to be resentful -- in fact, nobody seemed anything but perfectly happy to have us there -- but I guess I was projecting the way I'd probably feel if I were in there shoes (and half-wondering whether they'd get their pay docked if they failed to be fawning).

"So what are we supposed to do?" asked my husband, who's much less of a hippie than my Mom. "Not spend our money here?"

Clearly, that wasn't an option. So I salved my conscience by tipping really well.

And the cool thing was, I saw people reading my books!

I never get over how amazing it is to actually see someone who is not your mother reading a copy of GOOD IN BED or IN HER SHOES at the beach. I'm just still kind of in awe of the whole thing, and a little freaked out (there's a tiny part of me that still isn't convinced that the book is available in stores nationwide, and wants to run up to random readers demanding "Where did you get that?")

In reality, I'm almost always too shy to walk up to someone and say "Hey, that's my book." (The one time I tried -- at my gym -- the woman looked at me really strangely and said, "No, it's my book." Which, technically speaking, it was). And there's always the fear that I'll start off with something smooth like "Are you enjoying that book," and the reader will say, "No, actually, it's awful." So I generally keep my mouth shut. I was happy just to know that the books were there, and to see Wendell's picture on the back cover, because it was sort of like having him there with us. (I'm sure that Wendell, who was stuck in snowy Philadelphia and who is currently curled up in his basket in the corner of my office here, is thinking, "Um, not so much.")

But Adam is braver than I am. He approached a group of women reading the books and said, "Hey, my wife wrote those, and she's here." And then he came and found me sleeping by the pool, and brought me over, and the people couldn't have been nicer. And they were from Philadelphia, too!

Final update for now: we had our twenty-eight-week ultrasound last week, before we left, and have discovered the reason for the whole under-rib-ache thing. The Bun is breech! "See, that's the head," said the doctor, "sort of wedged up underneath your diaphragm...." Ouch.

It's no big deal, medically speaking. The Bun still has plenty of time to execute the flip into head-down position, and the doctor showed us some things to try to encourage a southward migration. Meanwhile, the Bun has demonstrated a marked appreciation for reggae. I'm trying to get Adam to add "Many Rivers to Cross" to the "Goodnight Moon" rotation. No luck so far.
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