Phlegm! I want to live forever!

So in what would set the tone for the few weeks following Ships ‘n Dip, what I’d presumed to be a sore throat from shouting over and to music turned out to be an actual cold. The cough was productive; I was not. Nevertheless, things happened. Here are some of them.

Demonstrating my poor understanding of physiology and exercise in general, my cold-addled brain was determined to ride the exercise bike but thought the hill program I did would be too strenuous, so I went for the constant tension instead. It turned out to just kick my ass in a whole different way, but I liked it and haven’t looked back since. I leave with my heart feeling less on the verge of attack, but more drenched in sweat, which is probably more what I need. (And today, I moved up another level. Look out, fit people, I’m gaining on you!) Also, because I no longer am constantly staring at the monitor to see when my break is coming, I’ve had to bring my workouts into the 21st century. That’s right, folks: I’m now exercising with an iPod Shuffle (not to be confused with an iPod Shluffie, which often ensues.) Between this and Facebook, I’m starting to suspect that I’m not actually a Luddite, but actually just kinda slow. Oh well, better late than never.

I also took advantage of this cold to polish off the second seasons of Friday Night Lights and The Tudors. In both cases, I think I preferred the first seasons but I am certainly looking forward to the thirds. (I also recently rented the movie Friday Night Lights from Jewelbusters. I prefer the TV show. Of course, now I have to read the book, and finish off the obsession. That, and the DVD extras.)

I also read Carry On, Jeeves, by P.G. Wodehouse, as recommended by and borrowed from Megan. I don’t think I’m destined to be quite the devotee she’s become, but a fun read, and at least one inspired moment per story, so that’s something. I am also as of now at about the halfway point of The Source, so it looks like that goal will be met. So far, so good.

In terms of actual activities, on our first sea day, I took in my first onboard art auction. And quite possibly my last. An auction where no one’s bidding is a surreal experience to be sure. That night, we hosted an improv jam, where various crew were invited to come out and jam with us and be put through their paces. We had a fair number of guest entertainers show up, as well as a YC and tech or two, as well as our cruise director Brett, who stole the show with his character Surf, whose response to “When did you know you’d hit rock bottom?” was “I lived in a dumpster for a week. It was alright.” Gold.

In Tortola, I did the Norman Island Snorkel excursion. Some lovely coral, a very lovely guide by the name of Ria, so loveliness all around. I believe the British Virgin Islands remain my top recommendation to potential travelers of the places I’ve been. (Mind you, I haven’t had to factor in price. Not to rub it in.)

I went to bed that night thinking I could sleep in. I’d requested several excursions for Antigua, but had received one I hadn’t asked for and had no real interest in, so I’d written the excursions desk a nice little note saying that there’d been some kind of mixup, so I was going to take a pass. Then I woke up to the phone ringing at 7:30 and was informed that my excursion had been swapped with someone else’s by mistake, so if I could be ready to go in half an hour, I could go on the Tropical Forest Hike I’d requested. Since I was already awake at that point, I dragged my ass to a quick breakfast and then a-hiking I went.

As it turned out, Megan was on the same excursion, and it was quite a lovely hike. It actually turned out to be fairly taxing, which was actually a pleasant surprise, as we tend to be coddled on these things. It was also nice to hear our guide go off on how Antigua had recently renamed their highest peak Mount Obama, as he had no real connection to Antigua. (Partially, this was pleasing to me because it was honesty where the path of least resistance would have been to placate the Americans who made up the tour group, but also because it’s a sentiment I share and indeed reminded me of my own well-practiced “Toronto Raptors” rant. For those of you who haven’t heard it, all you have to do is ask…) Oh, and we saw a dead horse. And heard what sounded like a donkey-in-pain mating song. Nature!

Barbados saw me take the 4×4 Adventure & Green Monkey excursion. I will upload the pictures I took when I am in a better internet situation, but for now, suffice it to say, monkeys and turtles and snakes, oh my! As it turned out, my particular 4×4 had the guide and I sitting up front, with a family of eight from New Hampshire in the back: Mother, Father, three daughters and their beaus. Vaguely reminiscent of time at Camp Mitchell, except the guide was talking about sites we were passing and not his dog.

The next day was St. Lucia, and I was all set for the Tree Top Canopy Adventure excursion. And I get there and who should be there but the same family, minus the parents. At this point, they adopted me as one of their own, which was lovely, because they were a charming bunch. (Plus, in theory, they should be emailing pictures of me in full-flight, which should be fun to have.) The time with them actually turned out to be kind of the highlight, because zip-lining turned out to be duller than I expected. Maybe I’d built it up too much in my mind that it was going to be terrifying…But it was scenic, and hey, now I’ve done it.

Having not satisfied the death-defier in me, and having talked about Montreal times with the New Hampshirites, I decided to jerry-rig some poutine for lunch. I went to the fry station, then the salad bar where I threw on some fairly random cheeses, then topped it off with gravy. I ate about a quarter of what I’d prepared and had some serious heartburn. Is it still death-defying if a little part of you dies?

That night, we opened up the crew show which Joe Yannetty and the Cat’s Pyjamas were headlining. While the best material we came up with never saw the light of day (as we tend to lean towards the inappropriately sardonic behind closed doors), the show went over pretty well, though not without some technical difficulties appropriate to the rush. Personal lowlights included sending my mike-pack flying during some improvised cabbage-patching and hurting myself running into a speaker during a blackout. But the crowd enjoyed, and I got to wear a makeshift chef’s hat, so all’s well.

On the sea day, I played some basketball with my adopted New Hampshire brethren. We played American 21, and let’s just say my best game saw me get to 15 and leave it at that. (The game really went downhill for me when a fourth joined us. Suddenly, cheap and sneaky baskets were harder to come by.) As it turns out, one of the guys had played college ball, so I could lick my wounds with slightly less shame.

Then into Miami, where we bid a fond (and temporary) farewell to the Cat’s Pyjamas (or, as they’re affectionately and esoterically known to us, Brogan Social Scene). They’re on tour for awhile, so godspeed, lads, eat some cheese for us!

The five day cruise saw us get a fairly young crowd, as it was Presidents’ Day. I don’t know if that’s why, but we had some pretty rocking shows. I was all happy, because it was supposed to be taped, and for whatever reason, the idea of taping a live comedy show always fills me with anxiety. And of course, Murphy reared his or her ugly law, and there was confusion over the show time, so it didn’t get taped. Here’s hoping the next one is just as rocking!

The next midnight, we had a screening of Night of the Living Dead in the Stardust. A solid midnight movie, and kudos to tech god Luke for doing it. (They’ve been watching new episodes of Lost in there with some regularity, but since I don’t watch that particular opus, this was my first screening experience.) We’re hoping to get in at least one more movie before he leaves us. My initial pitch was for The Neverending Story, but time will tell…

So, in Cozumel, I finally got out to Tulum and the Mayan Ruins. Spectacular, and there will be pictures. That said, I must confess that I was less swept away than I’ve been at other historical landmarks. I don’t know whether it’s ethnocentric, egocentric, or both, but I definitely connect more if I can picture myself living at that time or in that place (even as a foreigner), and try as I might, I couldn’t imagine myself among the Mayans. (Maybe I’ll have to rent Apocalypto. I assume Mel doesn’t blame the Jews for the fall of the Mayan empire?) But even without the personal connection, there was certainly history in the air and architecture to marvel at. (Again, I’ll upload pictures at the earliest convenience. Convenient for me, that is.)

Then some pretty fun improv shows to close out the cruise. Continuing our tradition, we had our departing cruise director join us for some Hero Freeze, which was fun. And Nate’s parents were onboard, so I think we sent them home impressed (if slightly taken aback by our late adult-content show.) Good times abound.

Then back in Miami, where we went to the mall as a group. (Minus Nate, tending to his folks, minus Rodney, who rarely leaves the ship, but plus Luke.) I started at Borders, where I did indeed buy the book Friday Night Lights, as well as the first season. I have far too many books already, and probably won’t even open the DVDs until I get home (they were on sale), but what the hey, I’m excited. Then a quick haircut, then met the gang at The Cheesecake Factory for lunch. The portions were ridiculous. I thought I was ordering reasonably by ordering an eggplant sandwich. Barely made a dent.

Then the exciting moment we’d been talking about all week. I bought pants! As I’ve lost a significant amount of weight, and my belt has had to do more and more work, Ashley and Megan, in the spirit of, well, something, had offered to take me pants-shopping. Armed with a $25-off coupon Ashley had earned on a previous trip, the two of us went into Express with twenty minutes and a mission. We went over to the rack, and Ashley asked me what size I thought I was. I said “Maybe a 36 now?” She looked at me and said “Really?” I dejectedly offered “I guess I could still be a 38.” But no, gentle readers, what she actually meant (and suggested after laughing at me) was that I looked like a 34. A size I probably last saw in high school. A salesman concurred with her assessment. Oh, how I blushed like a schoolgirl!

Then it was off to the change room, with Ashley bringing me her preferred choices. It turned out for these purposes I was right about the size, though I successfully managed to fit into the 34, which was crazy for me. (And apparently, were I a gay man, could have pulled that look off.) I stepped out of the dressing room in my 36-30, Ashley approved, then I went over to Kris Geddie, head JAR, who happened to be in the store, gave him a quick spin, he approved, and having the approval of a straight woman and a gay man, I made my way to the register. At this point, Mike wandered in, and was able to give me the metrosexual approval of the look (if not the fit, which is probably sufficient for a metrosexual third opinion.) I got two pairs, one grey, one black, and between a discount for the second pair and the coupon, paid about $75 for $110 worth of pants. For someone who hates shopping like I do, it was quite the experience. (The fact that the whole thing took about fifteen minutes and someone else was doing all the thinking made it play. If I ever come into money, hello, personal shopper! In the meantime, though I don’t intend to abuse the privilege, Ashley may be getting a call or two back in the T-dot…)

So that’s where we are now. In two weeks, Evan comes for his visit, and then in six weeks, home. Where the heart is. And good Chinese food. But mostly the heart.

I’ve got a secret.

It beats for you. (In the love way, not the tell-tale way, in case that was unclear.)

p.s. Apologies for yet another epic post. I’ll try to be better. Remember that nice thing I said about the heart?

Leave a Reply