On Top of It #19 by Lisa Martens

Diving for iPhones, and Other Things

You may know that I offer a weekly blog for The Drunken Odyssey every Monday, but what you probably don’t know is that I usually write my post the night before it is scheduled for release, which, for any of you who have been the editor of anything, know is an extremely–what is the literary word for this?–dickish thing to do.

Today was slightly different in that I am visiting Orlando, which is where said editor (who apparently actually reads these blogs) lives, so I got to see him and discuss my blog in person as we slathered honey mustard on French fries in a hotel at Disney World.

Contemporary Resort

When he asked me about my blog posts, I wanted to jump into Bay Lake, the man-made body of water apparently infested with brain-eating amoebas and try to swim for the castle. But instead I tried to shove as many fries into my mouth as I possibly could and looked down. Interestingly enough, I employed this same tactic when I was four and a boy in the McDonald’s play pen told me I was pretty. So not much has changed regarding my communication skills.

I fumbled my way through a conversation that went through my childhood, why I felt the need to kill my Sims characters in a horrible fire, the time my grandma tried to sell me, and my general lack of professional literary ambition. If it weren’t for the brain-eating amoebas, I would have gladly jumped into the freezing water, kicked off my sneakers and started swimming…or floating. But, in the words of Kent Brockman: “Little girl likes her brain.”

Contempo Cafe

After we were done refilling our sodas for the third time (the maximum allowable refills), the editor-who-shall-not-be-named and I took a series of boats, ferries, and monorails around the free areas of the park.

Bay Lake Boat

It was then we met a sailor whose job included diving for dropped smart phones in the brain-rotting lake, since insurance companies need to have the damaged phone back before funding a new one.

Disney’s River Country was closed in 2001, more than 20 years after an 11-year-old boy died after contracting amoebic meningoencephalitis, an amoeba that attacks the nervous system. According to the boy’s parents, River Country was the only place he had been swimming. So now, only the smart phone diver can swim in Bay Lake.

There were a whole bunch of questions I wanted to ask, like:

  • How does it feel to risk your life swimming after carelessly ruined phones?
  • Can you feel the amoeba entering through your nose and attacking your brain?
  • Do you have to wear ear and nose plugs? What about…other openings?
  • Do you think it’s kind of funny that you’re risking your fully-formed adult brain to retrieve a device that seems to eat the brains of developing ones?

I didn’t say any of those things, but the epileptic inside me really wanted to know. Hearing about a foreign object invading your head space and turning it inside-out brought me right back to the night I ran into my garage screaming because I thought my own dad was trying to kill me (even though he was only trying to turn my radio), because I missed the places I’d see that I’d never been to, or because I felt the conviction that I was right, and it really was everyone else who was wrong.

People don’t like to think of the brain as the hyper-physical thing that it is, that something microscopic from the outside can affect it. But the fact is, if I had listened to the pretty visions that told me to stop taking my medication, I wouldn’t be writing this. People talk about intuition as though it’s a spiritual thing, something in your soul, something that is true in the face of the physical world. But it’s not. It’s a fragile, sensitive thing, a malfunctioning phone dropped in water.

Bay Lake at Night

As writers, sometimes we must become divers.


Do not climb on rocks

Lisa Martens (Episode 22) currently lives in Harlem. In her past 10 years in New York, she has lived in a garage on Long Island, a living room in Hell’s Kitchen, the architecture building of CCNY, and on the couch of a startup. She grew up in New York, Costa Rica and Texas, and she’s still not sure which of these is home. She completed her MFA in Creative Writing from CCNY. Her thesis, What Grows in Heavy Rain, is available on Amazon. Check out her website here. Follow her on Instagram here.