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Meg's Blog

KEY WEST

Oh my gosh! You all are so worried about my cat! I didn't mean to alarm you with that photo I posted. I know she looked stressed, but wouldn't you be if you were on a pink leash in an airport?

Anyway, to soothe the worries of those of you who wrote to me expressing concern over Henrietta's mental state, here is a more recent photo of the two of us in our new master bedroom. Note that Henrietta still looks a little stressed, but that's only because she hates holding still to get her picture taken. I, on the other hand, look much more relaxed than in the last photo I posted, right?

PS For all of you naughty-minded people, that is a FLASHLIGHT on my nightstand, because the lights go out here a lot due to storms—which I didn't anticipate. I have never lived in a tropical place before, and I have to say, it is very strange. Besides the frequent, super intense, but very short storms (where the thunder actually shakes the house), there are these giant cruise ships that pull up every 12 hours or so and disgorge all these people who wander around in T-shirts that say WHO FARTED?

This is, of course, my idea of paradise. Not.

Fortunately, it is also not the idea of paradise of everyone else who lives here full time. So the locals pretty much avoid the cruise ship area, and you can actually get away with not even knowing its there, a lot of the time (sometimes, of course, it's still cool to go down and look at the giant boats. I fear I will never get sick of this. In fact, here is a photo of one of them…you have to admit, cruise ships look pretty cool, although of course I will never, ever set foot on one of them, having seen Titanic one too many times):

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I was reading this biography of an old lady who lived here back in the 30s, when Key West was a huge port town (it also used to be a haven for pirates. The name Key West is supposedly taken from the Spanish Cayos Hueso, which roughly translates to Bone Island, because early settlers found huge amounts of bones on the beach…human bones). The old lady went to college in Philadelphia and everyone up there was all, “Wow, you grew up in Key West? You must be freaked out to be in such a sophisticated city now,” but she totally wasn't, because Key West was so cosmopolitan, with all the cruise ships and Havana just 90 miles away. So she was all, “Um, no. Mix me another cosmo, dude.”

This was the same old lady who said that when the big nameless hurricane in 1935, which killed more than 500 people in the Keys, was rumored to be heading their way, all Ernest Hemingway, who lived down here at the time, cared about was getting his boat safe. He ran around battening it down, and then he saw this rum runner's boat the police had impounded, really close to his, and he was all, “Dudes, that boat is going to hit mine if the hurricane comes” (although maybe he didn't say dudes).

So the police were all, “Yeah, whatever, dude, if it looks like it's going to hit your boat, just cut it loose.”

So Hemingway cut it loose right then, before the storm ever even hit.

But it was okay because after the hurricane came and wiped out the very train that had been sent down the Keys to rescue all the veterans FDR had working for the New Deal, killing them all, Hemingway got in his boat and sailed up the Key and helped deal with the bodies. So that was nice of him.

Anyway. Where was I? Oh, yeah, hurricanes. I guess it's hurricane season, so I have to figure out how we're going to cover up our windows and everything. Plus I found out today they don't let cats in the storm shelter across the street. So I guess I'll just have to grab a plane back to New York if there's a hurricane.

To get into the local frame of mind, we started subscribing to the local paper, The Citizen, which covers all the news in the Keys (the Keys, for those of you who don't know, are a series of coral reefs off the coast of southern Florida, which are the continental US's southernmost point, about 150 miles from Miami, and 90 miles from Cuba).

The Citizen is the possibly the finest newspaper I have ever read. Not only does it have Dear Abby AND horoscopes, but it also prints all the random messages that people left on the newspaper's answering machine the night before. Most of the things are like this one:

“Could someone please explain to me what is the purpose of having a noise ordinance in Old Town when every single morning I am blasted out of bed at 6:30 a.m. by someone with a leaf blower?”

Or

“The picture on Friday's page 1 of the boys jumping off the pier looked like a wonderful way to beat the heat. Too bad on page 3 it says the beach is closed to swimming because of pollution.”

But sometimes you get ones that make you go Hmmmm. Like this one:

“What this town needs is some squirrels. Squirrels make people smile.”

My favorite so far, however, is this one:

“No one should be allowed to raise children or write soap operas until they've played in a band first.”

This is something I've never thought of, but you know, having played in a band WOULD make you a better parent AND soap opera writer, I think.

Recently, I was disappointed to read this:
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Five States Have More Sun Than Florida

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – The license plates proclaim Florida the Sunshine State, but the National Weather Service says five other states catch more rays.

Arizona is No. 1, followed by California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, according to the weather service, which monitors about 265 weather stations nationwide.

“We ought to call ourselves the Partly Cloudy State instead of the Sunshine State,'' Miami-based meteorologist Jim Lushine said. “But it probably wouldn't get the Chamber of Commerce's vote.''

Florida has more days where between 20 to 70 percent of the sun is blocked by clouds than anywhere else in the continental United States, weather officials said. Weather experts said warm water surrounding the state, high humidity and a long rainy season make for cloudy skies.

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While this was disheartening, to say the least, I was cheered when the article went on to say that Key West gets the most sun–an average 76 percent of its available daylight hours–in the state, and that it is also warmer than anywhere else in the continental United States, with a mean temperature of 78.1 degrees.

All of this might go a long way towards explaining the many migraines I've had since moving here, most of which I presume to be barometric pressure related. Hopefully I will acclimatize soon and not have to spend the rest of my sojourn here in the southernmost point on prescription meds.

In other, non-Key West related news, we have our first live book discussion coming up on www.megcabotbookclub.com 7PM EST Friday night (tonight), so I hope you'll all be there. Remember, we'll be discussing Susan Juby's fabulous book, “Miss Smithers”. Our next live chat should be July 25 or thereabouts, and since I haven't had a chance to figure out what we're going to read next, it may just have to be a discussion about my new book, “Teen Idol,” which will be out around then.

I know a lot of you have been writing in with suggestions of books you'd like to see us discuss, but please remember that at the Meg Cabot Book Club, my rule is the opposite of Oprah's rule: no sad books are allowed. I'm sorry, but I spent all of my teenage years and much of my
twenties being sad, and I don't want to spend another minute that way. I will make the big announcement about what HAPPY FUN book I'm picking later.

In the meantime—The Princess Diaries Engagement Calendar goes on sale next week: Get your copy before they sell out, because, since it's a 2005 calendar, it won't be around past October or so—maybe even earlier than that. I'll be giving away some copies on the book club website, so check there often!

And hey: Don't forget the sunscreen. It's sunny out there.

More later.

Much love,

Meg

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