Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SBBS: Day 12 ~ Hilary Weisman Graham



Spring Break Blog Spectacular ~ Hilary Weisman Graham Guest Blog 

Today's Spring Break Blog Spectacular guest Hilary Weisman Graham, her debut novel Reunited will be released by Simon & Schuster on June 12, 2012. Please welcome Hilary - and enjoy her guest blog!

Spring Broken

I never did the Spring Break thing in college. At least not the kind you see in the movies. Sure, there was the time I road-tripped from San Francisco to Disneyland with my roommates sophomore year. But there were no raunchy wet T-shirt contests or indiscriminate hook-ups on our trip. And not once did a group of drunken frat guys impel us to “chug!”

It wasn’t that I never took part in these prototypical college activities (aside from the wet t-shirt part) it was just that the classic American Spring Break was never really my scene. Back in college, I was the girl who wore a lot of black and listened to the Cure. I wrote depressing poetry. I was a film major! The jocks and sorority girls weren’t exactly in my circle of friends on campus, and I had even less desire to spend my vacations with them.

So, it was with slight trepidation that at age 25, I applied, at the suggestion of my friend Sue, to be a Spring Break travel representative. According to Sue, Drunky McGee’s Spring Break Travel Company (not their real name) was looking for people to assist their clients in Cancun with any needs that might arise. We’d also be responsible for making connections with local nightclubs and restaurants in order to arrange parties and discounts for the Drunky McGee Spring Breakers.

In other words, it sounded like the biggest blow-off ever. At least to Sue and me—two intelligent women with actual career ambitions, who considered this more of a free vacation in Mexico than a job. And having just finished writing, directing, and producing my first feature film, five weeks in Mexico with my best friend sounded like the perfect way to transition myself back to the world of “regular” employment.

Both experienced travellers, Sue and I easily nailed our interviews. Two weeks later, we boarded a plane to Cancun, Mexico along with 250 overexcited college kids from various Boston-based universities and in various states of inebriation. If you’re too young to remember what it was like to fly before 9/11, it was way more relaxed than flying today. And the few rules that did exist only applied to the major airlines and not to Drunky McGee’s privately chartered jets. Which basically meant that you could roll a keg down the center aisle of the airplane, and as long as you fastened a seatbelt around it, nobody said a word.

But while the college kids were pulling flasks and mixers from their carry-ons, Sue and I were focused on another liquid—namely, the de-icing solution they’d been spraying the outside of our jet with (it was late February in Boston) that was leaking through the airplane’s main door. Little did we know that this alarming incident was merely a harbinger of things to come.

Five hours later, we hit the ground in Cancun and the mierda hit the fan. Apparently, when some of our Spring Breakers went to check in to the five-star hotels they’d reserved—and paid for—they were told there’d been a “mix up,” and the hotels were “over-booked.” So, our first job as Drunky McGee Spring Break representatives was to set them up in new hotels of “similar value” while convince these disgruntled (and usually inebriated) customers that even though they wouldn’t be diving into the infinity-pool of the luxury oceanfront hotel they’d been promised, their new motel’s pool would probably have water in it by Tuesday.

“When in doubt,” the boss told us, “just give them drink tickets.” And so we did—passing out vouchers for Senor Frogs all weekend long as more and more college kids arrived from Boston on Saturday and Sunday, excited to settle in to five-star villas, only to be moved the two-and-three-star dumps, some of which, could charmingly be described as “swamp-adjacent.” It was only on the second weekend of new arrivals that we realized it was no coincidence that all of the nice hotels were mysteriously overbooked, while the flea-bags inland always seemed to welcome our clients with open arms. Drunky McGee was pulling the ol’ bait and switch, and we were the ones stuck doing his dirty work.

If that wasn’t bad enough, our own accommodations were far from ideal. Yes, we were staying in the four-star beachfront hotel they’d promised, but because “the hotel had overbooked” all seven Drunky McGee reps were crammed into one room, forced to share beds, couches, the floor and one single bathroom. Back in Boston, we’d also been assured they’d pay for our meals for the entirety of our stay. What they failed to mention was that these meals would all come from a dive bar on the beach, known more for its frozen alcoholic concoctions than for its fine cuisine. Which is how, in the middle of my eight-year-stint as a vegetarian, I ended up eating cheese nachos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for three straight weeks.

Some days were spent negotiating with hotel managers (in very broken Spanish) begging them not to toss our clients out on the street because they had busted a window, or slept in the hallway, or pissed in a lobby plant. Other days were spent writing kids plane tickets home because they had sun-poisoning or alcohol-poisoning, or often, a combination of both. Though I have to admit, having the authority of being able to write somebody a plane ticket did give me a bit of a rush.

Then there was the “good” part of our job, where we got to babysit our clients at the parties we’d set up for them, forced to bear witness to boys puking on sand in broad daylight, girls hell-bent on self-degradation of the boob-contest variety, and even worse—their Cro-Magnon-like mating rituals.

Or perhaps I’m just being unkind. Perhaps my memory of these innocent, young fun-seekers has been sullied because I was tricked into working for a corrupt Spring Break travel company that would ultimately come under investigation by the MassachusettsAttorney General’s Office (Sue called the AG’s office to offer her testimony). Or maybe it was the nachos that finally got to me.

I do have a few good memories of Spring Break in Cancun. It was in there that I learned to drive a stick shift (courtesy of Sue) on a 1970’s Mexican V.W. bug—a memory that makes me smile every time I think of it because the car was filled with water from the windows being left open in the rain (blame Drunky McGee), and every time the it bucked from my shifting ineptitude Sue and I were hit with a tidal wave. There was the night we played the best pool games of our lives and beat the pants off some tough-guy frat dude, Color of Money-style. Once, Sue and I even got a day off and drove to Tulum to see the ruins, capping our day with dinner at Playa del Carmen. And they did finally give us our own hotel room after the first week, and even though it had a few less stars than the first place we’d stayed.

But ultimately, Sue and I couldn’t stand being in collusion with such an unethical company, and despite the fact that we were only three weeks into our five-week commitment, we felt not an ounce of remorse the day we wrote ourselves plane tickets home. Drunky McGee never even complained over the fact that we’d mysteriously vanished from Spring Break. But if we had, I just would have handed him some free drink tickets.


 - - - -

author bio:
Hilary Weisman Graham is an award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, and novelist.
She lives in rural New Hampshire with her husband and son, roughly thirty minutes away from the nearest grocery store.


find more about Hilary Graham on: her websiteblogFacebook@HilaryGraham on Twitter or on Goodreads


Reunited is available for pre-order on Amazon, IndieBound, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble - or you can add it to your Goodreads page.

Want to know more about Reunited:
1 Concert. 2,000 Miles. 3 Ex-Best Friends
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends. Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3. But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books. Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show. Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse.  And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?

and here's the trailer:




what old-favorite band of yours would you road trip across the country for? Or, if not a band, would you do it for an author? (Which one?)

Want to win a Road Trip Mix CD? Hilary has graciously offered one up for giveaway!




a Rafflecopter giveaway

6 comments:

  1. I probably would have gone across the country for nsync or backstreet boys or even hanson back in the day. my friends and i definitely had an obsession with all of them : )

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  2. I would definitely go an cross-country road trip to see Coldplay if they come to my country even though they don't live near me :D

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  3. A Perfect Circle. And if I could I most definitely would.

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  4. Probably Briteny spears- but the one of the first cd, which I love when i was younger.
    Now I'll probably choose cassandra clare and shannon delany. Hell, I'm actually trying to plan my trip to the US so I can attend one of their future signgin

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  5. If Rage Against the Machine reunited and had a tour, I would drive, take a train, fly, walk, bike, or swim to get there.

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  6. Blink 182 - IF they ever decide to come remotely closer.

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