Saturday, April 12, 2008

travelers diarrhea

(Written several months ago, while traveling in Mexico.)

I have traveler's diarrhea.

It's been about three days now, and I feel like shit. (No pun intended.)

If things do not improve by Monday, I will seek medical attention. I brought antibiotics for just this eventuality, but I want to talk to a local doctor "just in case" I have a parasite or virus instead of the "normal" bacterial infection.

From now on while traveling in Central America I eat NOTHING that has not been boiled, peeled or cooked. Packaged lunch meats, bananas, packaged cheeses, cooked vegetables, well cooked meats, well cooked eggs. I don't care WHERE it's served. I trust nothing.

From now on I wash my own hands carefully and often, just in case I touched something in the environment that could carry diarrhea-causing bacteria.

After three days of diarrhea, upset stomach and nausea, my sense of humor and equanimity is pretty slim. A friend who has traveled widely claims the best thing to do is just get sick, let your body build immunity, and go on about your business. I hope to hell so.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Courage #1

Today I talked to a woman who came to the U.S. alone, to study. She left family, job, friends, home, everything to come here and study with a teacher she admires. What admirable courage and determination.

Note taking -- Philip's advice

I asked my writer/publisher friend Philip for advice on note taking. (Good note taking is essential when gathering material for a book.) His reply, which follows, is brilliant:

OK, Different kinds of notes work for different people. My take is that you record the audio portions if you can, then take notes later. If that isn't acceptable, jot down he salient quotes sparsely and write your impressions and observations aggressively. Was it hot in the room? What were the odors? Humid? Comfortable? Crowd mood? Overall reactions to/reception of the speaker/trainer(s). Was the food good? What were the dominant spices/flavors? What did you FEEL like before/during/after the course/sessions/practice? Was it 'worth it' to you? Would you tell someone else to go go for it or warn then away? Who was the archetypal participant? Did cliques form? If so, what was the inter-group dynamic?

Take your reporter's notebook to a coffee shop and practice. Who's in the place? What's their story? Are they well dressed/clean/rich/poor? What are they driving? The idea is to suss out the cultural and motivational clues that suggest people's lives.

Is the coffee any good?... fresh? Did the barista treat you well? Is the place busy?...on a main drag?...well lit?..have free WiFi? Would you go back? Would you send a friend there? Do they know your name if you are a regular customer? If so, would you rather have remained anonymous?

All that being said, the final product shouldn't hit your reader in the face with all of the factoids, rather it needs to be apparent that you have a high degree of comprehension about your subject.

Notes can take up a whole notebook, but then I think the trick is to find one or two vignette(s) that characterize the events or places.

Also, for more, and more divergent, ideas about notes re-read 'Telling True Stories'

I hope this helps..

Author's Guild accepts

The Author's Guild accepted my membership application.

How cool!