Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Like Big Butts and I Cannot Lie

*getting dressed for dinner

Ray: I'm really happy to be on vacation with you. Pretty much anything we do together is awesome. I'm a lucky man.

Me: Wow, that monkey has a big butt.

Ray: Umm, that wasn't the response I was looking for.

Me: What? Oh. Umm...

Ray: I was saying how nice it is to be with you, and how much I adore you. I was thinking you might say something back along the same vein.

Me: Baby. Baby. I totally think that too. (kiss, kiss.) But seriously, look at that monkey's butt, it's HUGE. You know, I expected more towel animals on this cruise. I'm a little disappointed.

Ray: I take back those nice things I just said.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ships Ahoy

Now that the ground has stopped moving and I can finally sit and look at a computer without holding on for dear life, I am back, y'all.

Cruise, check.

I thought I would like being at sea much more than I did. I mean, I love lying around doing nothing. Combine that with my other loves - sunshine, the ocean, endless food and drink - and being trapped at sea should have been heaven. But mostly I was eager to get back to steadier footing and more space than a 12-deck boat.

By the end I was practically on top of the ship with binoculars looking for land - Ahoy! - and prepared to kiss the ground when we arrived back in Tampa.

I know. Gross.

That said, it was great little vacation. The food was excellent and plentiful (my two favorites), and I ended up thoroughly enjoying going to the dining room each night for a little date. And it was like five nights of dates - you get kinda dressed up, are served a lovely dinner and it's all followed by coffee and dessert. Since I rarely have coffee or dessert after meals, I was all, 'This is so luxurious!'

The last night the staff was so sad to see me go they sang me a little song.

The first day was rough seas (arrrrgggh, mateys!) and I spent it about half sea sick and ready to barf. Which is odd considering the two excursions we took were both on catamarans, and I loved bouncing through the water on them. I guess the difference is seeing what is happening on a catamaran and suddenly feeling it happen while you're eating or whatever on the ship.

Going in I thought the excursions would be my least favorite part and they turned out to my favorite. We sailed across waves so blue and so green it looked Photoshopped.

Even the Mexican Navy was excited about it.

But hands down the most incredible experience was snorkeling on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, second in size only to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

I was paddling around in the water following our guide kinda like, 'Yo, when do we snorkel,' and Ray goes, 'Look down.' I shoved my masked face into the water and underneath was a world like nothing I'd ever seen. Crazy colored and shaped tropical fish, outdone only by the vast coral and strange marine plants and animals. I swear I've never swam so fast as to get away from some of the coral in the water, which was staggeringly beautiful but also completely terrifying.

Eek, that is alive! (Said through the watery muzzle of a snorkel.)

I want to go to Mexico/the Mayan Riviera just to snorkel. But I'll take a plane rather than a ship next time.

We got back late last Saturday night and Ray and I did the Heart Mini Sunday morning. Did anyone else notice it was Earthquaking on Columbia Parkway?! No?

Yeah, that's the other thing about the cruise. I had a four day vertigo "vacation" post-cruise, which included a lot of clinging to stable objects and white knuckling hand railings. Eww, hand railings. You can imagine how dry my hands are from all the Purell.

Overall, I'd give cruising a B. Solid value, interesting experience, excursions are a plus, good food and plenty of open, endless sunsets and stars to stare at. But I don't think I'll be getting on another cruise ship any time soon. And if I do cruise again, I'm thinking a 3 or 4 night getaway. The days at sea, eh, I can do without them.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

I'm home from the cruise, insanely tan (post-sunburn), much relaxed, and still feeling like the ground is moving.

But the most important thing is that THIS happened.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Bon Voyage

Umm, maybe you shouldn't look at the front page, Ray told me last month as he dropped the Sunday New York Times on the table.

But it was impossible to miss. Above the fold was the listing Costa Concordia, which had run aground off the coast of Italy, killing at least 32.

The photo was striking, otherwordly in it's incongruity. A gigantic vessel, capsized - misplaced in its ocean home.

Ray had been trying to convince me to go on a cruise for months. This wasn't going to help.

The only thing I thought sounded cool about a cruise was being at sea. To be a speck in the ocean on a ship carrying the population of a small town of people.

The rest, eh.

Buffet food, families, fake night clubs. "Exploring" touristy ports in depressed areas where fancy boaters get their hair braided by locals. No thanks.

But Ray, who's never met a boat or a port he didn't like, stood firm. He fed me homemade bread pudding and plied me with tales of abundant sunshine, shades of blue I've never seen and all the fruit I can eat.

Envisioning myself sitting in the sun reading magazines classic literature surrounded by the endless ocean and pyramids of strawberries by my side, I relented.

And in spite of my months of hesitation and resistance, I am excited. People keep asking me where I am going, phhsst. Who cares where I'm going… someplace tropical. The real thrill is I'm going to be on a giant boat!

I went deep sea fishing a few years ago and could have cared less about the fishing. Surrounded by water on a big fishing boat, it was beautiful. The water was perfectly clear and there were gorgeous blue fish in skools all around us. I idly ate cheese and peanut butter crackers and pretended to fish while I daydreamed of being first mate to fishing boat captain... Ernest Hemingway.

My reverie came to a crashing halt when our shark bait finally got a nibble and the actual boat captains - neither of whom were strappingly handsome like the young Hemingway - sprang into action.

Given that my mind was everywhere but on that boat, I panicked when the captain strapped a fighting harness around my waist and excitedly exclaimed, "It's big a one!"

I started exclaiming too.

"Isn't there someone more qualified?! I don't think I'm big enough to reel it in!"

I envisioned myself tumbling head over heals off the side of the boat, right into the mouth of Jaws. Being bitten or eaten by a shark I could probably handle, but I DID NOT want to see it's big dead eyes or scary pointy razor teeth. Yuck. 

My hesitation caused the boat to lose the fish and everyone was disappointed. Everyone but me, that is.

I calmly wiped the orange cracker dust off of my mouth with something like: "I said I didn't want to. If you'd have listened you'd have that big fish ... It was probably a tire anyway," I quietly added.

But I digress. The best part of the whole thing was being in the middle of the ocean. So look out cruise, I'm practically an enlisted Navy boatsman. (Or whatever they're called.)

I'm sure the ruggedly handsome captain of our ship (Jacques Cousteau, in my head) and myself will thoroughly enjoy the seafaring next week. We are explorers, Jacques and me.

I hope he likes magazines and strawberries.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012


Last week I fell down these stairs at my apartment and slid down three steps on my shins. My legs got pinned between me and the staircase and as I slid painfully down the narrow, wood stairwell with my ankles twisted underneath me I thought, "Oh no! My running career!"

Because that is what is keeping me from being a great runner. Falling down the steps. If it weren't for that, Boston, y'all!

Minus some minor swelling and tenderness, I was totally fine. Which is the real bitch of the whole thing.

Not that I wanted to be hurt, but why is it you can tumble down some steps and not have a single bruise to show for your pain and humiliation, but you can end up with a giant bruise on your arm or somewhere and have no idea where it came from. Like the incident involved in actual bruising was so inconsequential you can't even remember it, but BAM, fall down the steps and nothing.

If there is a God and I get to heaven I'm going to ask him what kinda horseshit this is.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

A Story About Subway - Eat Fresh

It's been the best of times, it's been the worst of times.

In the best of times, the new Subway at the UC College of Medicine is a delicious, warm, veggie-packed sandwich of goodness when the cafeteria has sucky lunches or soggy, greasy paninis.

In the worst of times it is baked bread temptation as I'm going to the gym, so that all I can think about while I'm running five minute miles on the treadmill and performing ridiculous reps of unassisted chin-ups is the thought of warm baked bread housing cheese and bacon.

Conveniently/horribly, my gym is located directly under the Subway.

The other problem is that the Boss Man is completely obsessed with Subway, yet he refuses to go over there himself. Instead he hovers around my desk several times a week demanding sandwiches and throwing $5 bills at me, and when that doesn't work he litters my desk with photos of Subway's "endless creations."

He's very subtle.

It's no surprise then that I go there so much that the staff calls me hon and sweetie. Ok. They call everyone that. But I think they like me better because I am nicer and I always know what I want right away.

The sandwich makers are all pretty nice. But my favorite is the dude who works there who calls me "miss."

What would you like, miss? Miss, do you want this toasted? Do you want jalepenos, miss?

He's probably in his late 20s, early 30s... and I am totally in love with him.

He's not like, "Whoa! Works at Subway and is totally doable!" He's more like, "Nice guy who works at Subway who calls me miss and is therefore totally lovable." (Every guy's worst nightmare, right? To be loveable, but not doable. Ouch.)

You know how in the Princess Bride when Wesley tells Buttercup "as you wish," but what he is really saying is "I love you" to her?

It's just like that with me and Subway Guy. He's all, "Would you like cucumber... because you're awesome, miss." And I'm all, "I would love some cucumber... but not as much as I love you."

Sure, on the surface it seems like I'm just ordering a sandwich and he's making it, but there is actually A LOT going on there... in my head.

I'm always getting attached to these random, peripheral characters in my life who have no idea the little roles they play in my imagination. I'm sure if he knew Subway Guy would be like, "Umm... here's Betty. She'll be making your sandwiches from now on. Ya freak."

And I'd weep into my bag of Baked Barbecue Lays.

You can't see him in this photo, but you can probably feel our bond.