05/06/07 02:20 - 56ºF - ID#39176
The mighty mississippi... Mmm, nice and brown.
Some pix of the ship [I kept calling it a boat and getting corrected]:
There's this atrium when we first walked in.
There were these cheesy tile mosaics all over the place.
Mini-golf on the 'roof'. (we were still at the dock in New Orleans, so that's the Crescent City Connector in the background).
The main sun deck. Where we spent most of the daytime.
My little room. Those beds are super comfy.
Me and my five adoptive moms.
The guys we met. They brought those suits with them, for the Formal Night dinner. I think people thought they worked for Carnival, because random people just kept walking up to them to pose for pictures.
One night there was a "musical men" contest- like musical chairs- the girls got c-razy running around and jumping on the backs of these guys. (and as the number of people decreased, they went from sitting on their backs, like horses, to stradding them, and eventually the winner was the girl who could make the most body contact with the guy when time ran out.)
The ship in port in Costa Maya. It's freaking huge. And apparently it's considered small by cruise ship standards. "Only" holds 2000 passengers.
The beach right at the end of the cruise ship pier in Costa Maya.
I wanted some of that pineapple so badly. They sell them roadside- 3 whole pineapples for $2. But even the guide warned us not to eat roadside food.
The first temple at Chacchoban. Sort of what I expected when I heard "Mayan ruins tour".
This big hill is apparently an un-excavated, un-restored temple in the city. The guide said that the Yucatan penninsula is totally flat, so ANY hill is a buried building until proven otherwise.
A gum tree. The X's in the bark are slashes made with a machete to harvest the sap, which is made into Chicle (gum), and used for stucco and building. We also saw clove trees (they smell so yummy) and a tree with really soft wood used for most of the handicrafts you buy in the tourist shops. They said they call it a "tourist tree". I figured for that reason. But no- it's called a tourist tree because its bark is red and peeling. And he pointed out some tree, and told us about all these great medicinal properties, and then, almost like an afterthought, added "and the dried leaves have the same properties as cannabis sativa". I was surprised people didn't run back to scavenge the leaves off the ground. ;)
Another temple. The little thatched roof covers a hole they made to find an inner temple, with tombs in it. The tombs had to be sealed over, b/c there was a real-life 'curse of the mummy'. They said they would use cinnabar to preserve the dead bodies, almost like makeup, too- since it's a red paste. But I guess it's some mercury/sulfur compound, and over the years, being sealed in a small chamber with decomposing bodies- it formed some horrible toxic gas, and as soon as they opened the tomb, the explorers were killed.
I don't know if it shows up, but they pointed out a fine line you can see in the stonework- the archaeologists make a visible joint to separate the stuff they found, and the stuff they reconstructed on top.
Some steps that lead to...
Another temple. Unfortunately the tourists clogged up most of my pictures.
A night out.
A drugstore in the little duty free shopping land at the pier in Cozumel. I am fucking astonished at what is sold over the counter! These bottles are mostly antibiotics, but they sell diuretics (usually used for heart failure) and even freaking injectable steroids! (steroids like cortisone, not weight-lifter steroids.) According to the sign they sold viagra and stuff too, but I didn't go looking for it.
My day in cozumel... peaceful and beautiful on 'Passion Island'
Then I got back and found everyone in these palm frond hats... They were pretty funny. The next morning they went to save a bunch of chairs on the deck, and even joked "well it was easy. I just put one of these hats down, and everyone knew to stay FAR away from THOSE idiots."
The guys I met with the B&B in Vermont.
She is a gymnastics coach- probably 5'2"ish but a little powerhouse. All muscle. Very fun, too.
The last night. I straightened my hair and everything. And I ran into one of the guys on his way to dinner- wearing a kilt. This was at about 8pm.
The same night, at about 4am (you can see the clock.) This is after about 6 birthday shots, and a few hours on the deck in the new orleans humidity. My hair is no longer straight. I really didn't think I was that drunk, but this picture sure looks otherwise...
And finally, for Paul, one of my favorite New Orleans treats: beignets and frozen cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde.
Location: Buffalo, NY
05/06/07 11:18 - 51ºF - ID#39174
Reflections on a cruise... (very long)
So my trip was great. The cruise was just about what I imagined it to be- both the good and the bad.
For once, travel went smoothly. And in the airport in New Orleans, I got in line to get a shuttle from the airport to the cruise ship dock, and noticed the two girls in front of me were going too, so I said hi, and right there I had new best friends. :) They were a group of 5 women there celebrating a friend's 40th birthday, and they were looking for a sixth, so I was adopted. Which was great luck, because first- they were totally fun, and second, it alleviated a lot of the 'on vacation alone' anxiety. I was the baby of the group by about ten years, but it totally didn't matter- some of these women were a lot wilder than I am! They were all 40ish, 4 had kids, 3 are married, and two are divorced. And, when I saw the alternatives for potential friends- it was a lot of Chippewa looking girls just hanging on the buff tan college dudes- not my scene.
But so I had a few hours to kill before boarding, and I was hoping to check out New Orleans a little bit, since I haven't been back since Katrina, but once the Carnival behemoth sucked me in, there was no going back.
We got on the bus from the airport, and the driver said that if no one minded, she wanted to take a little detour and show us where the 17th stree levee broke. God... it was very eye-opening and depressing. She drove us through lakeview, which is one of the neighborhoods that was flooded- but not nearly as badly as some of the other areas (that we didn't see). There are a LOT of gutted, trashed houses still standing. And, a lot NOT standing. And some new builds going up. Lots of lots for sale- dirt cheap, because no one will insure them any more. You could still see water lines, up at the second story windows sometimes. All the houses had a big X spray-painted on them, from when the military had to search all homes for bodies, etc. There was code on them about what they found. I didn't see any that had bodies- but a few had "one cat" painted on them. Lots of houses had these white FEMA trailers in the yard- families of 6 have been living in these trailers for almost 2 years now- many don't expect to ever move out. Apparently there's a FEMA trailer park in Biloxi of 40 THOUSAND trailers- and most of the people see it as their new permanent home. The city wants to tear down the abandoned houses if the owners don't come back. And some owners don't want to come back, so that's fine- but some DO, but just CAN'T. There are "houses demolished- CHEAP!" flyers on the telephone poles- a whole new industry has sprung up. And the break in the levee itself- you can see where it's being repaired- it's a MILE wide. Wow. So I'm really glad I got to see that. Because the tourists come to New Orleans, see the French Quarter, see that it's fine [it was never really hit], and assume the city is fine. Which it is not.
So then we got to the ship... Yeah... that's a big ol' boat. But within five minutes of boarding, I had a drink with an umbrella, and a deck chair. My entire goal for the trip, met within minutes. ;) Of course, I didn't have my bag yet, so I was in jeans, and didn't have any sunscreen. I think I was buzzed and sunburned within an hour of arriving. ;)
Later that night I guess the other women met this group of guys... I found them later, and they introduced me to two of them. One of whom thumb-wrestled me, and (I say) let me win, but the whole rest of the trip kept saying he couldn't believe I beat him.
Then the next day by the pool, I noticed a guy on a balcony wearing a Tulane tshirt, and thought he was kinda cute and looked nice... but I wasn't going to do anything about it... well next thing I knew he was sitting with us- apparently he was the third friend of the guys they'd met the night before. This guy, S, was a RIOT.
So, we spent our mornings in the sun trying to sleep off hangovers, then eating too much for lunch, then eventually getting ready for dinner, which was at the geriatric time of 5:45. Then we spent the nights drinking our faces off. Actually, I didn't drink all that much. I was pretty good.
During our days in port, we had all booked our excusions in advance, so we weren't together. The first day I went to the ruins of the Mayan city Chacchoben in Costa Maya... WOW. It was really fascinating. Made me realize I knew NOTHING about it. I just figured 'oh yeah, gotta see the mayan temple" and just had an image of those stepped pyramids. But the guide taught us so much stuff about their mythology etc- it's really amazing. For example- they don't just use archaeologists to find/restore the cities- they use archae-astronomers. Because apparently buildings in mayan cities are built according to constellations. So the city I was at- they found two, and then astronomers compared them to star charts, and realized the city was based on Orion, and then they found a bunch of other structures right where they should be. I mean, how cool is that?! And the temples are built so that on a certain important day (summer solstice, etc) the sun comes through a little hole and lights up in a way that the common people think is the gods giving them a sign- and it means plant/harvest your crops, etc. So amazing.
And the other day, at cozumel, I went to some little private island where they served us an awesome lunch and open bar... it was beautiful. And I met this great gay couple who run a bed and breakfast in Vermont and were there celebrating their 18th anniversary. They were adorable...
But so both times I got back to the ship, only to find everyone else had had some sort of wild adventures on booze cruises and beach parties. At one of these, S's alter-ego, "Kevin" was invented. They had me going for a while... I thought Kevin was some friend they met b/c they kept saying how fun he was... Well Kevin was two eyes drawn on S's fist. That was all. Yet somehow Kevin was endlessly entertaining.
One other topic to address... when I told people I was going on this trip, many people's FIRST comment was 'I hope you're taking a lot of condoms!'. And my first thought was "what kind of girl do these people think I am?" and the next thought was "and is there something about cruises I'm missing?" Sure, I wondered if I would meet some amazing guy... but I certainly wasn't expecting it, and it wasn't the point of my trip. And I did meet people... and there were some chances to hook up... like one night, one of the [married] women (who was making out with 22 year-olds left and right) told me 'now is your chance! He's really drunk! Go for it already!" And it just made me realize- that is not what I want... some random makeout session with someone so drunk he won't remember it... I've realized lately that sex is just infinitely better when it's not random... when it's with someone you care about... that cares about you... and it's almost not worth it otherwise. So, even though I'm not (really) seeing anyone, and it wouldn't be a matter of 'cheating'- I just found I didn't want to.
Who knows... call me a prude... but I was pretty horrified to see these married women carrying on like this. But, who am I to judge, I guess.... Vegas rules applied. At first I was so naïve about it... this one woman was flirting with this guy all night, and I just kept thinking 'she's married! What is she doing?' I almost felt like I needed to tell the guy 'you know she's married, right?' Then it dawned on me that everyone knew exactly what they were doing, and I needed to just stay out of it. No one was hurting me... I'd just leave them alone. But I certainly never thought that I would be the conservative one of the group.... And I just think cheating is unacceptable. Period.
Then the last night we went to dinner then the bars, per the usual routine... But we had to pack our bags and set them out the night before, so we were living out of carry-ons. And we all thought we'd go to bed early since we had to get up early to leave in the morning... But then it was midnight and I had to do birthday shots... And I chose SoCo and lime- which everyone but me hated, apparently, so I felt bad that one guy bought this round of like 10 shots and no one was drinking them... so I think I had four... And since these guys were Texans, tequila shots were always inevitable. And they had the band sing me happy birthday... and their version had an added second verse, which went "we all hope you get some tonight." But so then finally things were winding down, and people started going to bed... and one of the guys asked if I wanted to go somewhere quiet to talk. I thought 'heh, I've heard that line before'- but we really did just go talk. On the bow of the boat, as we were pulling in to the Mississippi river and you could start to see lights coming up... And the wind in our hair... It really was pretty spectacular. And we just talked and talked about all sorts of stuff. (what? Me? talk?!) Really, an interesting, charming guy. But not at ALL in an "I want to get in your pants" kind of way- he really was just genuinely kind and liked getting to know people. So he walked me to my room and was a perfect gentleman and said goodnight and that was that. And it was 4am.
It was a nice way to end the trip... until, of course, two hours later when it was time to get up. Ouch.
So I got off the ship, got my bags through customs, and stashed them at a hotel. Made my way to the French Quarter, only to find that the only place I wanted to go has closed. So I had coffee and beignets at Café du Monde (mmmm), and wandered around. Got to the aiport, and made it to Chicago. Started making some phone calls, since I had been making such a big fuss about people going out for cinco de mayo... but then all of the sudden I started to feel crappy... And by the time I reached my house I was shivering and felt dizzy and had an earache and it was all I could do to get to bed. What a bummer! Fortunately I feel better this AM. I guess that just means I'll have to do a belated bday celebration.
Ok, since this post is already way too long, I will save pix for later.
Oh, but one take home message:
Two ways to go from HOT! to not hot in two seconds flat:
1: put a cigarette in your mouth
2: open your mouth and say something asinine- for example be a rude jackass to the staff.
I witnessed both of those things several times, and it was really amazing at how fast my mind was changed. By the end of the trip, the vast majority of the eye candy had proven themselves to be idiots, not worth two seconds of my time or energy.
Happy Sunday peeps!
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/30/07 08:26 - 54ºF - ID#39100
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/30/07 08:15 - 54ºF - ID#39099
on my way...
See you saturday!
Addendum: ok, this is why I hate southwest. Hmm ok I can't add pix from my phone. But it's of a little old lady in sensible travelling shoes barricading the A gate with her bag, so she can be first on the plane. The freaking flight doesn't even start boarding for an hour. This is not good for my type A competitive (neurotic, compulsive) side, b/c now I feel like I have to stand here for an hour and not move. Even though it REALLY DOESN'T MATTER and I know it. Damn you southwest and your open seating... you stress me out. But you're so cheap....
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/28/07 06:07 - 41ºF - ID#39076
heh, see! It's not all in my head!
It may not be the most scientifically valid research, I know... but still interesting.
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/28/07 01:00 - 43ºF - ID#39072
what are "friends"?
I have just realized that some of my "friends" are not my friends, but my drinking buddies.
I mean less to them than a bottle of wine.
I can not, and should not, count on them for anything. They will not be there for me when I need someone, and they will not change their plans for me.
Not that they don't enjoy my company- they do. We have a great time together. I really enjoy hanging out with them; it's always a blast. And I do believe they really do like having me around.
But why? what am I to them?
A chick, first of all. A chick that will hang out with them and drink and let them act like pigs. I get points for that.
I am someone to grope when drunk that will not kick them in the balls. (but I'm ok with that, b/c I'll grope back most of the time.)
And I might be some sort of weird status symbol- in that they get to introduce me to their friends as "our friend, THE SURGEON". It's like they're really proud of me. It's almost cute. Which is fine, except that it usually leads to the assumption that I will foot the bill for the rest of the night. Ironic, since I make less than all of them.
So, this realization is kind of depressing- but maybe liberating at the same time.
Now that I have a better grasp of the situation, maybe I can adjust my expectations accordingly, and stop being disappointed all the time.
p.s. T-2 days!!!!!! (though due to some crap at work, this is suddenly about the worst time I could possibly be out of town, and will lead to me getting fucked.)
Next saturday is:
1: a saturday
2: cinco de mayo
3: my first night back in town
4: my last night of vacation
5: my birthday
Everyone should come out!! I don't know when or where, since I don't even land til 10:30. But somewhere, fo sho!
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/25/07 12:18 - 46ºF - ID#39036
paul is a google master
We took out FOUR appendixes (appendices?) between 11pm and 3am. Every time we finished the ER would call "we have another one".
But so before the shit hit the fan we decided we wanted sushi, and we decided to try Fuji Grill. So I googled it to try to find a website and hopefully the menu online. Well, they don't have a website. Lame.
But when I googled them, (e:Paul)'s journal was in the top ten hits.
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/23/07 10:43 - 49ºF - ID#39021
First of all, the computer nonsense. They fixed my hard drive, but in the meantime seem to have broken/disconnected the isight camera. After a week of phone tag, they are sending a guy to my house on wed to fix it. In the meantime, the wireless card seems to be dying. Apple doesn't seem to believe me, b/c every time I call them it miraculously works, and then of course dies five minutes later. I talked to them today, from work, and they said "call back tonight when you're in front of the computer". But of course all night tonight it was working. Then it died, so I called- oh, "call back tomorrow during business hours". Unfortunately I do not have the kind of job where I sit at a desk all day and can make all sorts of phone calls.
Then there's the crap with my car- also scheduled to be fixed on wed.
And the new one tonight-
I just got three emails from Vonage.
8:48 PM "here is the RMA# for your vonage equipment"
8:49 "your account has been disconnected as you requested"
8:50 "Welcome to vonage!"
Nothing asking for a password or account info. Nothing from fake-looking email addresses. I.e. doesn't look phish-y.
So I called: they say they got some call at 1pm from some man who said to cancel the account and that he was in a hurry and not to ask a lot of questions.
WTF. I said clearly that was not me.
The response "call back tomorrow"
What is the point of 24/7 customer service if you can't actually do anything?
And the girl said "well to make any changes to the account, he would have had to know your account info". I asked WHAT account info, and she said "your email and billing address."
Gee, so if someone knows my email address and my home address they can just cancel my phone service? Yeah, that's secure. No PIN#, no mother's maiden name...
The thing that's weird is that today is 30d after I signed up, and the first month is free... i wonder if the account was just transitioned from "free trial" to "paying customer" and technically has to be cancelled/reinstated? But the chick on the phone said no.
What a PITA.
I can't wait until all my technology is behaving itself again.
and PPS paul/estrip: congrats on the artvoice nominations! This is your/our year! I can feel it!
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/19/07 10:16 - 54ºF - ID#38965
Here's a teaser quote:
"Doctors in New York have removed a woman's gallbladder with instruments passed through her vagina."
Location: Buffalo, NY
04/19/07 12:58 - 51ºF - ID#38957
Oh, the things we become immune to...
So I got home, and found this image sitting on my desktop- leftover from my presentation. Sitting there with some cute pix from st. patrick's day, a "sample activity schedule" PDF from carnival.com, was "anatomy_of_the_anus.jpg". Ahh, my glamorous life. ;)
But for the hell of it I'll also put up a few st pat's pictures and some cute face paintings.
Me and my friend.
Me and my-friend's-boyfriend's-boss - who knows why we were asked to pose together. Random!
p.s. T-10 days!
Location: Buffalo, NY