Sunday, April 30, 2006

It's the little things... - April 30, 2006

It's the small victories in life that make me so happy.

For example, I just struggled with this stupid internet connection at the coffee house for 20 minutes.

We wrestled and wrestled, it rejecting my connection over and over until....

I won.

~ ~ ~

My mini-philosophy is that if you let the little things in life bring you joy, then you'll always be happy.

Then, when the big things come along, you can feel EXTRA blessed.

Friday, April 28, 2006

3 sea cucumbers, 2 pipefish, and a yellow spotted stingray in a pear tree... - April 28, 2006

It might as well be Christmas in April!

~ ~ ~

Yesterday and today were SO much fun!

Yesterday we were in Grand Caymans, a port we have to tender into port, (ten-der: a verb: to be shuttled back and forth from the main land to your boat in little boats, taking so much longer than really neccessary and generally being a hassle all around) so that was a pain.

Judy, Matt from Youth Staff (AKA Kid Wranglers), and I went to Seven Mile Beach, the only beach in Grand Cayman that wasn't completely destroyed by Wilma. It's a beautiful stretch of what I'm assuming is seven miles of white sand and crystal clear blue water. I, of course, brought my snorkel, because frying myself silly on the sand doesn't much appeal to me. (AKA laying out)

I didn't see much, but it was beautiful. I did see a bristle worm, two dead conchs, one containing a tunicate of some sort with bristles, and a diadema urchin with long, banded spines. (I could get really nerdy and explain all of what that was, but I won't bore you with the details)

Then we came back for Rock on Broadway, which went fine. I'm in over 50% of it now, so next week I think I'll be back in all of it, or so. I'm not feeling 100% dance-wise because I've been fighting a cold since I got on board (it's winning- I sound like a man) and my back's been angry with me for ever dancing again. (So it's decided to hurt all the time right now. grrrr)

Today, after a little bit of rehearsal, we met Gareth, Catherine, Judy, Dario, Franchesco, Matt and Kelly at Paradise Beach, which was beautiful. Oh! And I finally got to live out my dream of sipping a margarita on the beach! (It's just as wonderful as I imagined!) Angela, my friend from South Africa (who we've decided I'm going to go visit and swim with a great white shark while I'm there someday, my #1 thing I must do before I die...) came, and we split some nachos too.... yum. Today, I like guacamole, just so you know. Most days I don't, but some days I do. Today was one of those days. (That kills Levi- he can't make heads or tails of my on-again-off-again liking of things... heheh, gotta keep them guessing!)

Then Gareth wanted to borrow my mask, so I taught him the basics of clearing his mask and off he went. Fifteen minutes later he came back and was GLOWING. "I love this so much Selena!" he said in his perfect Essex accent. "No, I really, REALLY love it!" So he was hooked. He wanted to buy a mask right then and there, but there weren't any for sale, so he rented one and he asked me to go with him.

Sooooo.... I did! We saw a bunch of great stuff. Impatient sea cucumbers, french grunts, doctor fish, two spotted boxfish, feather duster worms, a parrot fish, lots of little wrasses, a school of about 30 fish, and lots of mermaids bottle brushes. I pointed it all out to him, in between him draining his mask of water. (It didn't fit him too well since it was a rental) Gareth had a blast! He even saw a snake eel on the way back in himself! He said it was so much more fun with me. (Look Ma! My geeky, life-time obsession with the ocean and that $100,000 education finally paid off!)

We got back on land, and I couldn't resist buying some jewelry. (Anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for unique shell jewelery!) $40 later, Angela rented some snorkel gear and we went into the water again. (She got excited by how much fun Gareth had!)

We saw a lot more than Gareth and I did. After teaching her the basics too, we saw another cucumber, and bristle worms, french grunts, doctor fish, some blue tangs of some sort, two pipe or trumpet fish, a brittle star, a baraccuda, and what I thought was an octopus turned out to be a beautiful yellow spotted sting ray! (In my defense, it was buried, and when I just saw his siphon and eyes, it looked like an octopus, but then I touched it and it unburied itself! Shhhh, don't tell my professors!)

(And all the while I'm thinking: "So THIS is what ship life is about.... or at least what it's going to be about for me!")

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Week One: Done -April 26, 2006

Only 14 or so more to go....

~ ~ ~

Not much to report here. Same old, same old...

Wait. I'm living on a cruise ship. So I guess you wouldn't know what was involved in the daily routines, huh?

Right. I guess it's my job to inform and enlighten then.

I guess I'll try to fill you in on a few aspects of ship life every blog. I'll start on Sunday. In the morning we're in port, so I get off in Galveston and go to an internet cafe, or TARGET, my favorite place around! I also talk to Levi most of the time, since it's one of the only places to use my cell phone. Meanwhile, the ship is picking up gobs of passengers in the Galveston port. When we get back from our morning off, we have to have a passenger boat drill. Boat drill can be fun, but a little tedious.

When all the passengers are aboard, we get them on deck with their life vests on and everything. (So they all feel funny together) I'm a muster station leader. (A muster station is where they go to get onto their life rafts. Don't be like one passenger, though, and ask me why they call it a muster station... -Goodness, the questions these people come up with...-) Anyway, the company chooses entertainers to be the leaders because if there's a real emergency, we have to do what we do best- entertain! (Otherwise, within two hours, people lose the will to live. Or so we're told. No pressure, right?) We count how many people are here, and then listen to the captain mumble things to us over the intercom.

Then we tell them to come here if they hear the emergency signal. (horn blasts seven times and one more loooong blast to finish) Then we tell them to have a nice cruise and not to drink too much. (But they never listen)

Sunday afternoon, right after boat drill, we have a Sail Away party on the pool deck. Sometimes I have to go up with a few other dancers and lead the guests in silly line dances. (Mostly they just watch us do them and sip passively on their drinks that we warned them not to drink too much of, though.) It's hot and sweaty, since we have to wear our "uniforms." (Bright blue, heat retaining jumpsuits. Yuck) Then, that night, we perform in a Welcome Aboard show in the theater. That's pretty fun, and the guests seem to like it. We give them a peek at all the activities in the upcoming week, and we dance a little thing, a few bands play that will be on board, etc. etc. So that's pretty much what I do on Sundays.

~ ~ ~

There's nothing much to report really. Everything's really strict right now because there's someone on board from the corporate office who's checking up on everyone. So all the departments on board are really minding their p's and q's. (whatever that means... they're doing it) So we all are behaving this week, probably a reason why there's not much to report....

Thursday, April 20, 2006

My Top Three - April 20, 2006

Due to a clerical error, this blog is brought to you by the fact that I was supposed to be in stupid new hire training today, but I wasn't on the list, so I pretended like I had already had that part of training while I was on board before. Yesss.....

~ ~ ~

My favorite things about coming back:
1. My WELCOME HOME post-it notes on my door from my cast mates, who all missed me, apparently.

2. Random people welcoming me back as I walk around the halls. (I don't even recognise some of them!)

3. Starting to dance again.

My least favorite things:
1. The fact that those cute post-it notes were supposedly a "fire hazard" and were torn down by some cleaning person and thrown away. (Stupid flammable pieces of paper..)

2. Getting the "Welcome Back" stare-down by random crew. One word: Eww.

3. Feeling my body begin to ache all over from stiffness and out-of-shape-ness.

But all in all, I love being back. I miss Levi a lot, and we're having technical difficulties in talking for some reason. His texts aren't working on his phone, or something... so that's tough.

But I love hanging out with my castmates and getting comfortable on the ship again. It's happening much faster than last time, naturally. We watched tapes of American Idol that Kristen's mom tapes for her and sends every couple of weeks. It's so cute- they try to avoid seeing the outcomes on the internet or in supermarkets when we're in port, but when the next American Idol is crowned, I think it'll be hard to avoid seeing who it is before her next installment of tapes arrive...

We swam in the pool today too! We can only swim when there's less than 5 guests in the pool, so Grand Caymens day is the only day we can do it. (Everyone is off ship in this beautiful port)

And we have our first show since I've been back tonight! I get to do Hair and Rent, so that's cool. Not my old track though, so that's a challenge. I'm glad I"m going in gradually, though, seeing as how sore I am already...

Well, as my friend Dan put it so perfectly, "On with the show!"

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Back in the saddle again... - April 19, 2006

Well, it'll take me a little while to get my sea legs back, that's for sure...

~ ~ ~

I'm finally back on board, and while part of me feels like I never left, another part of me felt like an intruder from the moment I stepped on board.

I arrived in the Keys and got a taxi from the airport to my ship with an interesting character. (Aren't they all interesting in Key West?) He said that he spent half of the year in Thailand with his girlfriend, and the other half here in the Keys driving taxis. Fascinating life, I'm sure.

But I wasn't there to mingle with the locals, I was there to get on with my own interesting life.

I arrived at the pier and immediatly started to recognise people. A guy from the Crew Office actually picked up my cab when I got out and was the first to officially welcome me back. Then, I ran into a few crew members, some security guards, and Catherine, our Girl 1 singer, and Fransisco, our new Italian dancer who replaced Todrick.

This was all exhilirating and all, but the real excitement began when I ran into Judy, one of my closest friends on board. We tackled each other with our usual fervor, but she was in a hurry to catch a jet-skiing trip with her friends. (Ahhh, that's the life, huh?)

I signed on board and reclaimed my ID card and key, and began the process of moving back into my room. I had to check in with the medical staff, who all knew me by first name by now and were happy to see me, and met a new doctor from Columbia.

Now Levi would be mad and want to punch this guy's lights out if he knew how much this guy blatently hit on me, so I won't go into too much detail, but he did ask me point blank if I was married. ("No..." I replied, "but for all intents and purposes, and as far as you're concerned, I might as well be." I clarified for him...)

Anyway, after clearing the medical, I unpacked, with no sign of my new roomie, and changed to hit the town. (I must admit, I did look at her passport to see what she looked like. She's a pretty blonde from Utah, and that's about all I got out of that passport. Snoopy ol' me...) I saw Dee, my dance captain, and her fiance Miles, our vocal captain, as I unpacked, so I attacked them and she updated me on the shows and everything. She said that my track would change drastically, and my heart sank. I'm not sure if that means I've lost my duets, but she was hinting at something like that. Sad. But then she mentioned switching off, so I hope she at least lets us do that becuase I really loved my parts and had worked so hard on them all...

Anyway, I walked out of the ship to catch some dinner in Key West when I ran into more of my favorite people: Kristen and Gareth were just coming to the ship from shopping. It was another energetic reunion, with promises of meeting up later at a club.

I had dinner alone at the Hog's Breath Pub, a famous Keys establishment. It was pleasent enough, with live music to keep me company. Then I hit the local CVS to re-stock on essential ship-board supplies (like a pop-light for my dark upper bunk!) and headed home to change and hit the town with my friends.

I found them at a bar in the Keys called "Aqua." Appropriate, since we're always surrounded by water, I guess. There was a drag show going on, so that was funny. I got to see another one of my most favorite people there too- NATHAN! (Our boy 2 singer) He's my friend who makes me laugh the most, so that was nice to see him. We had a few drinks and headed home as to not miss the boat- literally!

Everyone went to the crew bar, but I was beat and I was starting to have a sore throat, so I headed in for the night.

Today we ran through some of Rock on Broadway and Dee put me into a few pieces, so I think I'll get to dance a little in tomorrows show! How exciting! Then Judy and Mike and I had our own little class in the gym to work out a little, so once again, I'm beat.

So, that's been my first 24 hours on the ship, pretty much minute by minute. Not the most hilarious blog ever, but I kinda feel out of practice. I didn't write nearly as much while I was in therapy.

I still kinda feel weird and awkward at times, like I"m not supposed to be here still, but it's fading. I mostly miss Levi and my family and friends. I'm trying to get a hold of Levi now, we're trying to work out a cheap way to chat on his phone, but Cingular is bound and determined to make us pay for every sentence of converstation we have together... grrr...

Oh well.

It's at least nice to be back and dancing again.

Monday, April 17, 2006

T-Minus... - April 17, 2006

The wait is over.

And the 'hurry' is on.

I have 22 hours left here.

To those I didn't get to see, forgive me. I love you and you know it.

To those I did, I'm so glad I saw your faces. I love you guys too, and you all know that as well.

~ ~ ~

Such a strange feeling, leaving one home for another.

I'm still sad to leave my friends, my family, and very, very sad to leave Levi again.

But this time it's different.

It's not exciting.

It's not nerve-wrecking.

It's not anxious or scared or nervous.

It's a relief.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The waiting game, pt. II - April 15, 2006


My passport officially arrived.

My "Fit For Duty" note was officially sent in.


My bags are officially NOT packed.

Grrrr... going through the goodbyes and packing rituals again is testing my procrastination talents to the extreme. Any day now they could call and send me back on the ship, but I haven't packed a stitch yet. I just left my bags packed from when I came back.


Once again, torn.

So excited to return to life on board, to my wonderful friends, to my tiny cabin and new roomate, to my shows that I love, to the flying that I miss...

yet so sad to leave again.

I'll admit, this time is a smidgen easier.

And a little harder too...

But life rolls on, and me with it. I'm sure I'll feel better once I'm there.

But for now, the waiting game resumes... only this time in reverse.

Friday, April 07, 2006

She's ok, folks... -April 7, 2006

Well, in the ongoing saga of.... me.........

not much has happened.

I've been in a wrestling match with the federal government concerning my identity. (I'm winning, but only because of my signature WWE-worthy moves...)

Let's see:

License, check.

Passport, in the mail.

Social security card.... next week.

Vet appointment... today.

Yes, in my ever eventful life, the big event of today was traumatizing my cat a little more by taking her to the vet.

I'm so cruel.

But she's fine, in fact, better than fine. She's as healthy as a geriatric cat can be. And that's great.

I realize that most of you don't know about her, but she's my best friend, my confidante, and the darn-best lap-warmer this side of the Yangzi River.

She's about a foot tall, around 8 pounds, and as round as a football.

And she's the best cat in the world.

Yes, I know this claim is made my people around the world, but I have UNCONTESTED PROOF that she, in fact, is the best, most amazing feline to ever grace our presence. (When she feels like it, of course...)

"Why is that, Selena?" You probably aren't thinking at all, but I'll assume that you are anyway...

Well, to begin, she's a survivor. Her name is Ocean Cat, a name given to her by the Humane Society where I got her 13 years ago, when I was a wee lass of nine...

She was huddled in a tiny cage in the corner. She had arrived the day before. "Was plucked from the ocean." The gruff Humane Society attendant explained. (Hey, they're not all little old ladies working there, ok?) "She was found paddling her little paws for her life. A couple found her in knee deep water in New Symerna Beach and turned her in here. We think she was in a bag with her other brothers and sisters, but we never found the bag. She's got some salt in her eye, and it'll be black and water for the rest of her life. But she's a scrapper, that one. Aye." He explained. (In this version, the worker is Irish too... just go with it.)

But none of that mattered. The moment I saw her, I knew. Dad forsaw the medical complications of adopting a water-logged kitten and asked if I wanted to look at the other cats first. "Sure," I replied. "But I want this one."

Ever since, she's gone on to prove that she is, in fact, the best cat in the world.

For example, she follows me around the house. She's always got to be within two feet of me at all times. How cute is that?

Secondly, she's a great paperweight. Whenever you work on homework or taxes or something, she's always right there, on top of your work, lest an errant breeze rips through your house and mix up all your work.

Thirdly, she's a great distraction from all that homework or tax work you don't want to be doing anyway. I mean, who can resist not petting her football shaped head when she's just sitting there on top of all of your work? No one, that's who.

Finally, she's always sticking out her tounge. Yeah, always. She sticks the tip of her tounge out of her mouth at the world all the time, as if to say to all the other inferior cats... "Nayah... I am clearly the best cat in the world. So there."

So there you have it.

Undeniable proof that:

A) My cat is the best cat in the world


B)I have little to nothing else to do with my time off the ship, now that I've tracked down my own identity, finally sent off my passport application, and aquired my license,

but sit around with my cat.

Goodness, from being too busy to breathe to being bored beyond belief.



Call me.

Let's have dinner. Lunch. Dog park, whatever.

I'm obviously spending WAY too much time indoors.

With my cat.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

I yam who I yam... April 5, 2006

Aquiring all the documents to prove who I am again is a tricky business.

To get a passport, I need a licence.

To get a licence I need a passport and social security card.

To get a social security card I need a passport or licence.

To prove that I am who I am... I need little pieces of paper that essentially prove nothing, since anyone could steal these from me too.

AND, on top of all that, to get back on the ship... I need all of those things...


~ ~ ~

I've been home for a few days, but it's felt like seconds.

I've been busier than I've been since I was in college.

(And those of you who knew me then, you knew me as "That Blur" that whirred throughout Rollins on a daily basis...)

But I'm getting things done... s l o w l y....