Saturday, February 27, 2010

A message from the sickly

Being sick is boring. I always get in trouble for doing things like texting and emailing while I'm sick. People seem to think that when I'm sick I should just watch TV and sleep, maybe wake up to eat some soup and drink some orange juice. I hate being sick. I like doing all those things by choice, but force me into it and I become downright belligerent. It annoys me that I can't walk to the bathroom without feeling like I've run around the block. It's frustrating to see my dishes pile up when I haven't got the energy to be up long enough to do anything about it. It's been almost a week that I've felt sick, four days that I've been stuck in this apartment. I went out Thursday to go to the doctor, who cheerfully let me know I have walking pneumonia, and to fill my prescriptions, and it about did me in. So of course I went out again yesterday. Now yesterday was a very important errand, because I really needed to get something to chase my cough syrup, which has a taste that is indescribably nasty. Really, I was trying to think of something with which to compare it and came up empty. I need to take another dose and I'm avoiding it. Other than those times out I've been mostly staring off into space or watching movies. OH and I finished my 19th book this year. But reading makes my head wonky. See how boring being sick is? It even makes this blog more boring than usual!

I did watch an interesting movie called "The Invention of Lying." It's just recently come out on DVD, so I'm sure most people have heard of it. Such an interesting idea, a world where everyone tells the absolute truth, not even lies of omission. It made me think about how many times we lie or stretch the truth day to day. Even at the doctor's office, when the doctor came in and asked how I was, I was like, "Oh, I'm okay," when couldn't have been further from the truth. In the movie, every time someone asked how someone else was, they got an answer like, "Not so good, I'm really depressed and actually contemplating suicide." When this guy discovers his ability to lie, he actually helps people by telling them there is hope, even if he doesn't believe it. Really kinda made me think. But not too much, because my brain is fuzzy these days.

I'm watching a movie adapted from a Jane Austen novel, and I can't decide if I like it or not. I'm not really following though. Maybe I should stick to reading the books first so I at least know what's going on. But I still sometimes want to live in those times. And I want to go to England. And to the ocean. But mostly I'm just ready to get off this stupid couch. And sleep. I kept waking myself up with my wheezing while I was breathing last night. I tried to stop, but that probably wasn't the best idea either. It kept working its way into my dreams. I dreamt a woman was crying, but I woke up and it was just my lungs. Crying.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

A fat baby with a weapon

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope everyone had an enjoyable VD. My VD was alright, not too exciting, I just laid around for most of it, although I did see my sis and fam towards the end. I hope you all celebrated VD with the ones you love, because, single or attached, VD is all about love. What do you mean, I shouldn't use that abbreviation? What do you think it means? Huh? Oh... Ohhhhh... Color me embarrassed! Heh heh...uhh...ahem...

(Okay, deep breath, just keep going...)

So this is the day we have set aside each year to let our loved ones know that they are, in fact, loved. Good thing we have a day for that, because otherwise we might be forced to do nice things for our loved ones on our own, without the pressure of card, candy, flower, and jewelry companies. Phew.

Really, as far as holidays go, Valentine's Day is really strange. I laughed really hard the other day at a skit that Jimmy Fallon does called "Robert is Bothered." I believe there is a website, Anyway, this latest one is about Valentine's Day, and it was hilarious. Some of the high points:
-> "Here's an idea, let's give pictures of our internal organs to other people we love. That's not weird at all. Here honey, happy Valentine's Day, here's a picture of my kidneys!"

-> Cupid. "Am I supposed to find this romantic?...A fat baby with a weapon?"

-> Chocolates. Pieces of poo covered with a maxi pad.

Much funnier if you watch it, but you get the idea. So funny. I did get one Valentine this year, from my friend Kaija. It made me smile. I kinda suck at sending things like that, sending out nice cards. I have a bunch, but I forget to send them. I even have one with Kaija's name written in it, but that's as far as I got.

So...Valentine's Day... I'm pretty cynical about the whole thing. I'm not sure if I would be less so if I weren't single. I think I'd still find it kind of silly. I would much rather get surprises, flowers, whatever when I'm not expecting it. In fact, when/if I get married, I hope we start a tradition for Valentine's Day like sitting at home in our pajamas and watching a movie with a big bowl of popcorn. Mmmm. There's a good time.

Anyway, as I said, I hope you all spent your day celebrating all the different kinds of love present in your life. Who says your Valentine has to be a romantic love? Happy middleoffebruarymeansspringisgettingcloser!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Chapter 3: The rest

Okay, these are getting tedious even for me. I was all about doing one day at a time and being all descriptive, but if you know me you know I have a short attention span. So I'm going to just cover the everything else and do my reflections tomorrow. K? Good.

Day at Sea:
-> Angie and I ordered room service for breakfast (did I mention we were spoiled???) but forgot to put milk on for Angie's cereal. She ate Raisin Bran with chocolate milk. She was not impressed.

-> The ship rocked a lot this day, and it was pretty cloudy, some rain. We attempted to sit outside and actually both fell asleep for a while, then fell asleep in the cabin and almost missed dinner

-> Went to the first official show, saw a lot of girls in thongs. Talented performers, too much skin!

-> We were going to do karaoke, but when we got there it was "Karaoke Idol" with judges and stuff so we just watched

-> R-rated comedy show was pretty funny but not sure why he had to use quite so many swear words.

Cozumel (2/1/10):
-> At breakfast, our server Marie An saved us a table and we offered to share with these two older ladies in front of us in line. They were named Rosemary and Rose and had been friends for 35 years. They were from Jersey and Brooklyn (though Rose now lives in FL) and were hilarious. They were possibly my favorite people we met, and I want to be them when I grow up.

-> It was sunny for part of the day, which was fabulous.

-> Our excursion for Cozumel was going to play with stingrays. The guy in charge was hilarious. I was a little nervous, even though he told us they clip the stingers. We fed them, pet them, held them, and even kissed them! After that we got to snorkel. which I've never done. I kept thinking I was going to inhale water, but I never did. Also, this was my first taste of the ocean, and I forgot that it would be so salty! Still cool though. I look hot in flippers and snorkel gear.

-> It was terrifying being driven through Cozumel in a taxi. They drive super fast between speed bumps and then slam on the breaks. Scooters are weaving in and out and cars go bumper to bumper. Insane. I will never complain about Des Moines drivers again. (Okay that's probably a lie...)

-> It POURED for a while during our stay. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

-> Shopping is insane in Mexico. Crazy good deals, but the vendors are super pushy. We got our picture taken with a guy in a strange feather outfit and this guy was like, "Okay, he had his turn, now you come see what I have," and opened up this door. We got out of there pretty fast. You gotta be good at saying no!

-> Back on the ship we hit up the hottub. I was enjoying it until some older men got in and started making suggestive comments. Not to me directly, but it was still pretty uncomfortable. People are weird.

Costa Maya:
-> Ang and I got up to catch the sunrise, but it was cloudy. Sad day. The sun finally came up over the ship and we got some cool shots though.

-> At the port, there were military guys wandering around with big guns. I made Angie pretend to pose for a picture so I could capture them on my camera. They were a little intimidating but didn't even look at us twice. Guess we don't look suspicious!

-> In line for our excursion to Jungle Beach, we met a man named Scott who is 7'2. We talked about his height and I commented that he must get it a lot. He's like, no you're the first to mention it. In all fairness, he brought it up first!

-> The sun finally came out full force at the beach. It was beautiful. We sat in the sun for hours, went swimming for a bit, and took advantage of the open bar. I also made friends with a sand crab. So cute. Rosemary and Rose were there in all their glory. Lol. Still so spoiled. There was a bathroom attendant who opened up the stall for me, turned on the water, got my soap, and got my paper towel. I almost thought she was going to follow me in the stall and offer to help. I felt a bit of the American privilege guilt. Some things are just unnecessary.

-> Loading up to leave the beach, a bunch of drunk people got ahold of a megaphone. Instead of taking it away, the workers just laughed. We were slightly embarassed to be Americans. Of course we had to sit near them on the 30 minute bus ride back to the port. They were soooo wasted.

-> Vendors were even more pushy here, and would yell insults if you didn't stop at their store. I was glad to get out of there actually. I'm glad we went to the beach instead of spending the day in town.

-> We got our picture taken with a monkey and a pirate. Best. Day. Ever.

-> The serving staff did a dance after dinner. It was so great. I loved our servers. Plus, Von showed us some toothpick puzzles I will definitely use again.

-> Entertainment for the evening was the "Love and Marriage Show" with GARY as host. So hilarious. Probably my favorite show of the trip. After that was a talent show, and people were...well...not that talented. But it takes a lot of guts to get up in front of so many people! One of the ladies sang "Like a Virgin" and did a very suggestive dance. We could see Gary backstage from where we were sitting and he was on the floor, it was hilarious.

-> We had tried the dance club the night before and it was lame, as it was this night as well. However, there was a party under the stars and we did all the cheesy wedding dances (led by Gary!) and conga lines and all that. It was awesome. This was probably my favorite night.

Last day at sea:
-> I didn't take notes on this one, so I'm winging it. Yes, I took notes on what I wanted to remember. So?

-> Slept in. Beautiful. I slept so well with the rocking of the boat!

-> Went to debarkation talk. I only mention this because it was with GARY. And he's hilarious.

-> Went to find food. Got fried chicken and tried to dip it in ketchup. It tasted weird, so I looked down and there were bubbles in my ketchup. Like it was carbonated. That's just not normal. Of course I took a picture.

-> Tried to sit out on the deck but it was FREEZING! We were both wrapped in towels and finally gave up the fight and spent a couple hours just vegging out in our stateroom. That's what vacation is for, right?

-> We started to get sad about having to leave the next day. Took some final pictures on deck before dinner. Took in the show after dinner. Leah and Tara made us sit waaaay up front. Way too close for such skimpy outfits! They are definitely better when seen from a distance. Lol. Pretty much just hung out in our room after that, organized and got ready to leave. We were kinda lame and went to sleep earlyish since we had to get up so early the next day.

Final morning:
-> Up at 5:30. Last breakfast.

-> About 7:30 Gary told us we could debark if we were taking our own luggage. He looked all cas as we left the ship. Bye bye, Gary.

-> Customs was a joke. This is how my conversation with the officer went:
Officer: Passport?
Me: *Hands it to him*
O: Who are you traveling with?
M: Her *points to Angie*
O: *Ignoring Angie's passport* Anyone else?
M: Nope
O: Where are you headed next?
M: Back to Iowa
O: Going back to school?
M: Nope, I wish. Back to work.
O: What do you do for work?
M: I'm a family therapist
O: *Immediately averts eyes and gestures for us to continue on*

LOL. Apparently he had no interest in continuing a conversation with a therapist. I really need to learn to start lying when people ask what I do for a living. Probably it was good I didn't lie to a customs officer though...

-> Saw the weird/awkward guys from dinner one last time. They skipped dinner a couple times. Much less awkward without them there. Lol.

-> I found my new bodyguard in the bus driver. He was huge! Crazy driver though. I should have just closed my eyes.

-> Many hours at the airport. Not fun. Saw Leah and Tara once more. Switched seats to sit next to Angie. Kid screamed on the whole plane ride to Minneapolis

-> Had to say goodbye to my dear Angie, not knowing when I would see her again. I almost cried when I walked out into the cold and snow. It was nasty weather all weekend.

Okay so that's it for now. I will maybe post some reflections, but no promises. I have research topics to begin on...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Chapter 2: The boat

Clearly my last entry was scintillating, judging by the number of comments. Wait... Lol. Remember, this blog is as much for my own memory as for the entertainment of others (although you guys definitely come first. Really.).

So picking up where we left off, Ang and I got to sleep in a bit the next morning since our shuttle didn't leave until noon. I got up first, and walked into the bathroom, and found the toilet seat had been left up. Obviously I was a little disturbed. We're still not sure what happened, but this launched us into calling Angie "Mangie," since she has a low voice sometimes and apparently left the toilet seat up. Lol.

Anyway, we checked out and caught our shuttle. Let me tell you, driving through Miami is frightening! And the port was CRAZY! We got into the building and they herded us through like sheep. Of course there was bright music fit for a fiesta playing in the backgroung. Cha cha cha baaaaa! It was pretty cool in the building where we checked in though, because there was a whole wall of windows through which you could see the ship. Of course, being me, I took a couple pictures of the ship and of the people waiting in line. It was only after I'd snapped the pix that I saw the sign requesting that no pictures be taken in the area. Uhh...whoops? As we got closer to the ship, I realized that from the outside the ship kinda looked like a rundown hotel. You know, those types that you drive by but would never stay at unless you were seriously broke? Good thing it didn't look like that on the inside!

Before we could get on the ship, we had to have our picture taken. Photographers were ALL OVER during the entire cruise. I felt like a celebrity being followed by the paparazzi. It was crazy. The first was my favorite though. Every time a couple was in front of him, he goes, "Huggy huggy huggy!!" except in a really funny accent. Hilarious. He didn't say that to me and Ang though. Go figure. That was the one picture I bought. So we got on the ship, and it was like immediate sensory overload. Kinda like a casino, except the actual casino was nowhere near where we entered. People were everywhere, lights were was overwhelming! We weren't sure what to do, so we decided to try to find our room. We tried a couple doors and found where the staterooms were, then walked down the loooong hall to find ours. We thought it was a little strange that there were no other passengers, just housekeeping people in the hall. But whatever, right? We found our room, took pictures, and were sitting on the couch when the announcement came over the loudspeaker that passengers were now allowed to go to their rooms. Whoops!

We explored the ship a bit, ending up on the top deck to take pictures of the port. It was really windy, so we got some great pictures of us with hair in our faces. Then we settled in to wait for the ship to leave port. It was there, on the top deck at the back of the ship, that I first heard his voice. Gary, the cruise director, came over the loudspeaker. It was like an angel's voice, complete with English accent. Beautiful and smooth. I was instantly infatuated. He welcomed us to the ship, explained emergency procedures, and then told us to go to our muster stations to be briefed. I would go anywhere Gary said. We lined up at our muster station like good little soldiers and watched while the crew demonstrated the life jackets. I concentrated on Gary's voice. *sigh* After that, we were free to roam. Angie and I had a drink and then went to get ready for dinner.

We sat at a table in the back of the dining room with a bunch of other younger people. There were two girls, Leah and Tara, who were cool. We hung out with them quite a bit actually. There were two guys who just seemed to make things awkward. One of them gave a different name two nights in a row. Weird. There was also a couple who came, but they usually came late, ate quick, and left. No conversation except the guy talking to the guy with many names about football. We had the best servers though, Marie An and Von. They were so friendly and hilarious. We were very lucky. The first night at dinner there was also a pirate running around making everyone take pictures. Papa-paparazzi! Also at dinner I managed to spill water down my front and drop my fork. Neither of which was noticed by anyone. I made up for it later though. Just wait...

After dinner we explored the ship a bit more and then went to the opening show. Let me tell you, it was CHEESEtastic. The singers and dancers were super talented, but sheesh. There was a blow up ship bookending big letters that spelled out "F-U-N." Wow. But it was all worth it, because I got my first look at GARY. He is a small man. I could put him in my pocket. And I'm okay with that. He's hilarious and his voice...ahh! So great. Enough about that...for now...

Went to one of the bars after to listen to "Adam" play and have a drink. (The daily schedules always put the names of the performers or facilitators in quotes. Of course I used air quotes to talk about them all week.) It was pretty empty, and this is where I really drew attention. I was gesturing with my hands and I knocked my glass (of Sprite) over onto the bar. Of course, everyone looked anyway, but then the bartender was like, "That's it! I'm cutting you off!" Good thing I don't embarass easily. I just laughed. A lot. While everyone looked at me. And laughed.

All in all, a good first (partial) day on the ship. We were so very spoiled. Servers offering drinks constantly, room cleaned twice a day, room service day or night, and food food food. It was awesome, but I did feel a little bad sometimes, especially when people were rude. What those servers must think of Americans sometimes! Anyway, more on that later. For now, I must put myself to bed. There may be a snowstorm coming (or here) but I must return to work tomorrow regardless. Thanks for reliving my vacation with me, one day at a time. :)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Chapter 1: Arrival

So. I'm back. (From outer space. Da da da da da da da da da da da da da da your face...) I had an absolutely amazing time on the cruise. I have never felt so spoiled in my life. I have been contemplating for days on how to best recap my experience, share my stories, whatever. I wondered if I should do it chronologically, or by topic, or just a whole mishmash of things. Would I do it all in one entry, or in several installments to give people a break from the awesomeness. Clearly, I have way too much time on my hands ;) Ultimately, I decided to go fairly chronologically. Sorta. We'll see how it comes out. So without further ado (haha what a funny word), we begin the adventure... dun dun DUUUUUUUUUUUN...

January 29, 2009: Trip to Miami
I had traveled to the cities the night before since I had a morning flight to Atlanta to catch. Also, it was my birthday on the 28th, and I very much wanted to hang out with my homies up there. (What, you don't think I have homies? Totally do.) I stayed with my darling Kristen, and of course we stayed up way too late chatting, so I was a bit groggy on the way to the airport. And it was COOOLD. I refused to wear a coat because I wasn't going to deal with it during the trip. Who needs a winter coat in the Caribbean, right? At the airport, I bypassed curbside check in since it was cold, took one look at the check in line, and walked right back out those doors and checked in in -4 degree temperatures. Lines are lame. I met my first interesting person in the security line. She was actually the security lady, and she commented on everyone's name and made sure to say it at least once or twice. I love people, especially when you can tell they enjoy their job so much.

I think airports are funny. They have evolved so that now most airports seem to resemble malls that just happen to have airplanes. Really. Stores everywhere, food places. Of course, the prices for everything are ridiculously inflated, but I guess that's just good business. If you have people waiting for hours, give them something to do, and then force them to pay more. People will do a lot to escape boredom. I blame television.

(I am at Kristen's, and Zach is playing this assassin game, and I keep getting very distracted by it, so if I'm a bit disjointed, blame the assassins.)

My flight to Atlanta was a little bumpy. I was happy to be leaving the snow behind though. I sat next to a nice couple from Wisconsin who were on their way to the Bahamas. They had been delayed several times, but were actually going to make it to their destination about the correct time, which was pretty impressive I thought, since they left about 3 hours later. They were telling me about all the fun things they do in the Bahamas, and then what I should do in Mexico, because they'd been there several times before too. They also warned me that bad weather was coming to Atlanta, which worried me since Angie was headed through late. No worries though, it wasn't as bad as they said, although I heard some flights did end up cancelled. Not Angie's though. Phew!

My flight from Atlanta to Miami was uneventful except for an exceptionally rude passenger right when I got on the plane. I'd already noticed that people were more rude here than in the ever-friendly midwest. One lady was trying to put her luggage in the overhead bin and tried to move aside for another passenger, and the guy was like, we're waiting for YOU to move, all snotty like a middle school girl. The really rude passenger, though, was supposed to sit next to me. I walked to my seat and he took one look at me and said, "This just isn't going to work." He then spent all the time until takeoff moving from empty seat to empty seat until he found one that actually was available. He was a jerk. Joke's on him though, because I had a very pleasant flight with lots of room. ;)

The Miami airport was pretty disappointing. Hardly mall-like at all. I called for a shuttle and waited 45 minutes for it, which was kind of annoying, but I was enjoying the warm weather so much that it didn't bother me too bad. I entertained myself by..well...this is a bit strange. For some reason I got the "Superman" chant in my head, like, "SuperMAAAAN." So I started reading the shuttles in that chant. It worked pretty well for most of them. "Hampton INNN!" "Employee SHUTTLLLE!" "Hyatt PLAAACE!" Oh that was mine! Of course I did that for a good half hour with every car that passed ("Small red CAAAAR!") Don't judge. I got another taste of obnoxiousness when I got in the shuttle though, which was full of a group from Michigan, I believe. They were going on the Carnival Liberty for a 7 day cruise, and they actually got to go to Jamaica and Grand Cayman, as well as Cozumel. They were super rude though, constantly making comments to the driver about his driving and talking about the cars people drove. Just those sort of people who think the world revolves around them. Glad they weren't on my ship ;)

The hotel was super nice. Very fancy, huge rooms, good service, overinflated prices. I checked in and ate at the hotel grill, then just chilled. Angie showed up at about 1am. We went pretty much straight to sleep.

Well Day 1 ended up being longer than I planned. I would like to continue, but I believe I'll wait. Perhaps later in the day I'll make another entry, or tomorrow...or the next day... Promise I'll get to it all though! (Because you all care so much ;))

I'm sitting here feeling like I'm rocking back and forth still. Wonder how long it will take to feel normal on solid ground.