Better Than Eat, Pray, Love

Warning/Admission of Guilt: I have never read Eat, Pray, Love. I have not seen the movie “Eat, Pray, Love.” I have had many questions about whether or not to underline versus quotation mark movies, and I have landed on the side of putting them in quotation marks, if only because Roger Ebert did it…and if anyone should have known, it would have been Roger Ebert. Roger Ebert wrote, “‘Eat Pray Love’ is shameless wish-fulfillment, a Harlequin novel crossed with a mystic travelogue, and it mercifully reverses the life chronology of many people, which is Love Pray Eat.”  Even though I was told I should read “Eat, Pray, Love” before my trip to Bali, I didn’t.  I took my sister’s advice. My sister said, “I hated that book. The movie was worse.”

The Love portion of “Eat, Pray, Love” took place in Bali, where my sister was living when she met her end.  I had just visited her a few months before her death, getting the chance to spend two weeks with her.  It was the longest time we’d spent together in years.  Probably over ten years.  Ever since she graduated from college she was either living abroad, or at home for a short time while she finished up her next big plans to work abroad.  She was the incredible, unstoppable Hulk when it came to travel and experience.  Whenever we would Skype she would tell me the most absurd stories, some of which I garnered after our trip together.  “I lost my flip flop to a monkey today.  We were in a monkey sanctuary, and the little jerk just came and grabbed it off my foot WHILE I WAS STANDING ON IT.”  (Quotation is real, taken right out of one of our Gchat conversations.)

Of course, when I was visiting her, we had to visit the monkey sanctuary as well.  Who has two thumbs and doesn’t want to visit a monkey sanctuary, anymore?  THIS GUY.  (Points thumbs at self.)  It started out great.  There were amazing views of a cliff, and adorable monkeys wandering all around, and I had heeded my sister’s warning to keep a close watch over my phone as I took pictures, because monkeys were known to steal them.  Thank goodness nothing happened to my phone.  I was taking a picture of one of the monkeys when I saw him look at me.  It was a devil stare.  And I looked right back and said, “You’re not taking this phone, sucker!” and quickly pocketed it as I watched the monkey walk by.  Success!  Victory!  And then my glasses disappeared–ripped off my face from behind, that sneaky little jerk grabbing them by the earhold and running off with them.

There are locals around who basically just have bananas to sell to tourists who want to feed the monkeys, or who bribe the monkeys with food when they’ve taken something of the tourists.  It’s a scam.  But, I was a little bit blind and the monkey has disappeared.  An old woman with some teeth (I didn’t take the time to count, but I’m guessing…seven…eight…maybe twelve on the outside) dove right into the trees and started gunning away, eventually getting my glassed back.  Completely ruined, scratched, and twisted out of shape.  So we paid the woman 50,000 rupiah.  About $5.  My sister thought we were getting ripped off.  She was initially offering only 5,000 rupiah.  I was amazing.  I couldn’t see through the glasses for all the engravings the monkey made on the lenses, but I had a backup pair.  I bring my old glasses whenever I travel internationally.  You never know when your glasses are gonna get stolen by a monkey.

This, I’ll admit, was a poorly told story, but my sister was so funny, and had so many stories of absurdities of living abroad.  I always encouraged her to write because she was a talented writer, and we both agreed she could write a book better than Eat, Pray, Love, at least I assumed she could.  (Still haven’t read it.  Probably never gonna read it.)  I settled on the title for her: Better Than Eat, Pray, Love. It would be a best seller on title alone, although I’m guessing there might be some copyright infringement issue with a title like that.  But who, really, cares, atall? Exactly.  She said she had started writing the first chapter a month after our trip together through Bali.  I was looking forward to reading it so much.

Since, I can’t read her book, I’ve decided to find happiness in my own writing.  Not through this blog.  I don’t consider blogging “writing.” (Please Interwebs, don’t crucify me.  I hear the hatred in the pounding of the keyboard as you rattle off a diatribe of modern media valuations and historically biased backwards hayseeds, which I admit I am up front. I’m just saying…I have my students blog.  And I’ve read some of them.  And really…a good amount of blogging is not really writing.) I’ve started to try to write a novel.  I’ve been in various stages of a book for years, but Ideas (big I) for books come and go, and most never seem to settle the right way.  But I’m gonna stick with something because I want to write a book.

Alex was always the great harasser of my writing.  She would always ask me how it was going, how the character were developing, how the plot was coming, how the conflict was rising, how events were progressing, how the theme was being developed, and she’d always do it in the obnoxious Stewie voice.  Re: Stewie and Brian.

I always hated her a little for the harassment, but she would always get me back in the frame of mind to write, and to try and realize that dream.  With her death, I’ve realized she was such a proponent of my writing, it would be a disservice to her memory if I didn’t at least write a personal novel to myself.  Even if I never send it off to publishers.  I would write hundreds of pages.  Give it a title page, definitely a dedication page.  Alex always made me better, so I’m going to find my happiness in trying to become the better person she always believed I could be.

I’d want the book’s dedication to read thus: Because of Alex.

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