31 August 2010

If wishes were horses ...

When the clock shows all the same number, like 5:55 or 4:44, you make a wish. (I first learned about that listening to Magic 95 back in the day.)

For years, my wish has been "I wish for love." So much that it becomes automatic and I make that wish without thinking ...

My wish has come true, clearly.

30 August 2010

Now We Are Six


I'm in the same time zone, but still feel so far on this, Owen's sixth birthday. Going to do my best to get home for the party this holiday weekend. So difficult with all the job uncertainties and how far behind I feel about 95% of the time.

Auntie M Loves Baby O!

29 August 2010

Living Among the Students

Around midnight early Saturday morning, *ding dong* goes our doorbell. (Why do apartments need doorbells? I digress.) Shawn was asleep and I was trying to sleep so I didn't answer, thinking it was a rowdy kid -- or a mistake. In the morning the rowdy kid theory was confirmed when I was greeted by  an offering of McDonald's French fries thrown against our door -- assault by fast food?

So maybe living among students ISN'T going to be so peachy.

When you see them in the hallways they mostly say hello and nod and act like actual human beings. But apparently on the weekend nights they lose all sense of decorum and scream off the balconies and run the halls ringing random doorbells. (At least I hope we weren't targeted as old fuddy duddies and that it was random!)

This is the first weekend since school started, so maybe part of the issue. But the beauty of the apartment, its location relative to work and the swank amenities still outweigh any unpleasantness brought about by our neighbors. At least so far!

Give me crazy kids over bedbugs any day.

Read: Citizen Girl

Citizen GirlCitizen Girl by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Was enticed to buy this because of its $4 price tag on Borders' Bargain Bookshelf. One of the blurbs was intriguing -- "satire ... highlights key issues (do you have to look hot to get ahead?) for women in today's workplace" -- but is entirely misleading. This is "sophomoric" in that it's the authors' second book (they also wrote "Nanny Diaries") and that it's just so dumb.

The main character's "name" is Girl, and other characters are called by descriptive words instead of traditional names. It took me a few chapters to realize that was her name and it wasn't just someone being awful and referring to her as "Girl" to be dismissive.

The workplace scenes were unrealistic, which I guess is expected because it's "satire" and trying to push things farther than reality to make a point? But the point wasn't taken and the plot, such that it was, fell flat for me. I also didn't care for the inappropriate transportation around Manhattan. When she was an underling she took cabs everywhere, but at least once when she's a VP she was getting on the 4/5 subway! As if. Maybe part of my dislike stems from missing New York. Perhaps.

Otherwise, a fast read with some parts that made me uncomfortable, mostly because it was just so unbelievable and awful work situations. There's also a little bit of high horse feminism that didn't make a lot of sense, even though it's kind of underlying to the message they seemed to be trying to make. Everything just seemed disjointed. Don't really recommend and I'm not sure what to do with this copy. Hrm.

View all my reviews

27 August 2010

FWD: Warning From the Police

WARNING FROM POLICE THIS APPLIES TO BOTH WOMEN AND MEN BEWARE OF PAPER ON THE BACK WINDOW OF YOUR VEHICLE-- NEW WAY TO DO CARJACKINGS (NOT A JOKE)

Heads up everyone! Please, keep this circulating. You walk across the parking lot, unlock your car and get inside. You start the engine and shift into Reverse. When you look into the rearview mirror to back out of your parking space, you notice a piece of paper stuck to the middle of the rear window. So, you shift into Park, unlock your doors, and jump out of your car to remove that paper (or whatever it is) that is obstructing your view. When you reach the back of your car that is when the carjackers appear out of nowhere, jump into your car and take off. They practically mow you down as they speed off in your car. And guess what, ladies? I bet your purse is still in the car. So now the carjacker has your car, your home address, your money, and your keys. Your home and your whole identity are now compromised! BEWARE OF THIS NEW SCHEME THAT IS NOW BEING USED. If you see a piece of paper stuck to your back window, just drive away. Remove the paper later. And be thankful that you read this e-mail. I hope you will forward this to friends and family, especially to women. A purse contains all kinds of personal information and identification documents, and you certainly do NOT want this to fall into the wrong hands. Please keep this going and tell all your friends.

25 August 2010

Break it Down

LOVING this Gen X station that exists in BR. And also really glad I went out late to the grocery store (a certain someone needs milk for his cereal!). I heard Oasis' Wonderwall and then MC Hammer's Hammertime. I never thought of myself as Gen X (I thought I was on the cusp/too young), but obviously I like/know Gen X music!

I look younger than I am I guess. The movers asked if Shawn and I were students. And in the elevator leaving "headquarters" on Monday night a codger complimented me on my suit, said he wished they'd enforce the dress code more (he was in a sloppy almost-jeans outfit) and then asked if I was a student! I guess I could be a student. Hard to imagine doing that again though. We'll see.

Work is slowly gelling in my mind. I was super ... uneasy, I guess, about it on Sunday. The trip and then getting some actual work to do makes it feel a little more real and less traumatic. But there will certainly still be some rough patches in my future. I just hope to keep my head above water and make it to the time when I feel comfortable and confident in my outputs. Still a lot to learn.

Tomorrow I have to go in early (~7:30) so I need to start the countdown. Shawn is right -- sleep is easier and better in a room without a TV -- as much as I hate to admit it (because you know I love my TV!). Now if only I could cut down on my Internet time!

23 August 2010

Run On...

On a business trip for new job training. My evening plans fell apart, which made me sad BUT I got to spend some time in Silver Spring wandering around.

The trip here was pretty annoying. Transfer in Atlanta is never fun, and of course the second flight was delayed, I was seated in the middle of two rather large young men. I then took a taxi to the hotel ... and the taxi didn't have A/C. It was almost 10 p.m. and I hadn't eaten dinner, so I asked the hotel guy for a suggestion. He said the bar would still be serving or I could get room service. So when I went down it was just about 10 and they wouldn't serve me. And it was Sunday night, everything closed ... so I went to bed without supper! Woe is me. I made up for it tonight though! I ate at Austin Grille, the very restaurant that I took my mom, sister and nephew to when he was just a tiny kid sucking on lemons. What a weirdo.

Work is feeling a lot better, although I'm still a bit uneasy and trying to figure everything out. I know it will fall into place ... or it won't and I'll figure that out too. I just have to stick it out and forge ahead anyway.

Missing Shawn but will see him tomorrow. It's going to be a long day -- about 12 hours total, give or take. Ready for some semblance of normalcy and routine.

21 August 2010

Baby Love

Baby Shawn, 1979
While in Danville I looked through all the photos of Shawn growing up. And there are some CUTE ones. I fell in love with my husband even more! I had her scan a few for me to have here. Shawn probably doesn't want me posting them all up on my blog, but I couldn't help it with this one.

19 August 2010

Missing

I lost my favorite keychain -- the one I took so many pictures of as we were leaving New York. If it's not at my inlaws' house it must be in the U-Haul. At least it only had the Masterlock key, but it makes me sad that I can't use my same lock at the gym. And I really like that picture of Owen and the purple leather of the keychain! Maybe it will turn up.

So for now I've just got my keys together. The Honda key is big enough to act as a keychain itself! I also bought a combination lock for the gym. We joined the one nearest our apartment. It's practically connected to the complex. Convenience won out! So far so good, and there are plenty of cardio machines with personal TVs. Right up my alley. Hopefully I can keep up my exercise routine and even build upon it with some weight lifting. Dream big, I guess.

These days without work have been pretty long, and I've been missing Shawn. A one day workweek won't be all bad though. But a work trip on Sunday is a bit sudden, no? I'll push through and hope that next week I'll feel a little more settled.

I changed the blog title and banner for now. I just wasn't sure what to do, so & co. it will be for now. Still open to suggestion I think.

17 August 2010

Book 'Em

I avoided going to the state police department to be fingerprinted by having the fingerprints taken at the LSU police department. The only other people there were students and faculty on line to get parking permits! So it didn't feel intimidating at all. The whole thing took about 30 minutes and the woman was relatively nice. I learned I have a lot of space between my ring and pinkie fingers -- basically my pinkie is short relative to the rest of my fingers, or something.

My first day on the job has shifted from Thursday to Friday. And I have to travel on Sunday! It's for an orientation type thing, but still. I'm going to suck it up and do it. And hopefully I won't gripe too much. I read something today that venting is actually bad for you. Hrm.

On the positive side, I'm really happy with how my driver's license photo turned out -- they let you smile here! (I had to scan it for all the HR paperwork.) We got those taken on Friday the 13th, and it wasn't as bad as we had expected. Shawn got our tag (singular!) for the car on Monday, so we're set as far as the guv'ment is concerned.

Today was the first day of no swimming because it rained cats and dogs. I drove around in it doing the errands (fingerprints, key duplication and FedEx). I even went and picked up Shawn from work. Probably the first of many such times!

16 August 2010

Separation

Shawn is in the bedroom, and I'm in the living room. Imagine that!

Lots of paperwork involved with the new job. Trying to figure it all out. Plus I've got to go get fingerprinted for background check! That's going to take a few hours and will be crazy. An experience though ... I would rather stay home and organize the bathroom! I should still have time to do that anyway though.

I went to lunch on campus today, talking with someone about some possible extra/contract work. I walked a LONG way in this oppressive heat. But I've got to get used to it somehow! Anyway, on the walk back I spotted someone walking along the quad doing a distinct "fiddling-with-his-wedding-ring" movement and striding quickly on long-long legs. Who could it be? One husband o mine! SWOON!

So that was a fun little treat to see old Shawn mid-day. I hope my eventual work schedule will include a regular lunch hour so I can sneak away and eat lunch with him every now and then.

I'm a nervous wreck still waiting for my first day at work. I feel like a freshman new on campus. I hope I can keep it together!

14 August 2010

Hello, Baton Rouge



Preliminary photos of our new digs and ride. Things are looking even better now that everything is inside and we've got most of the unpacking done. We just need to arrange, get a couch and a few more polishes. But we are golden!

Sorry for the onslaught of posts tonight. I just got the blogger bug and let it go. Hopefully the post separation is logical enough and my loyal (three...four?) readers don't mind ... especially after a bit of a dry spell. I am sure that when work starts on Thursday I'll slow back down, but I should have more to write this week. And new photos/video to post once we've got the place completely in order!

Moving to a new place is lonesome. Hopefully church tomorrow will be a step toward combating that, and I know once work starts I'll be begging for some alone time. There's a difference between lonely and alone though.

Goodbye New York


Goodbye NYC Apartment from Mari W. on Vimeo.

Not sure the sadness fully comes through on this video. It's echo-y like my heart felt. I'm not feeling so sad now, but it was certainly traumatic to end our New York lifestyle.

Also, some photos of my key ring, getting ever lighter ... down to only the key for my gym lock (incidentally a Masterlock that reminds me of Gpa Max, so I think of him before every workout):

keys1 keys2 keys3

And some packing and last-few-days-in-New-York photos on Flickr ...

Somewhere in Georgia


Driving in Georgia from Mari W. on Vimeo.

Goodbye Broadway



Goodbye Broadway
Taken after seeing Race the Thursday night before we left.

A Couple Weekends Ago

We were on Governor's Island, riding rented bikes and having a blast in the unseasonably comfortable New York summer weather. Seriously, minimal humidity and low 80s. It was heaven!

It wouldn't be New York without a celeb sighting, and although he isn't a super star it was still fun to spot him: Willie Garson, looking just like Stanford Blatch, although I'm not sure the character would be playing Frisbee on Governor's Island! I couldn't get a better picture, but at least I did get one!

Earlier that day we went to the UN and I mailed some post cards:


Mailing from UN


And some photos of us on our bikes and the ferry and the view of downtown from the island:


U-Haul, What?

I took this in the parking lot of the U-Haul in Baton Rouge, but the REASON I took it was because of the back imprint of that middle truck.

We saw one just like this while we were rolling in Virginia, en route to the inlaws' place. And from a distance it really looks like the door is half open. I can't imagine a stupider design! And I'm sure the people driving it get stopped several times a day, or at least get honked at and flashed with lights to tell them their back is open! Also - who packs like that anyway?!

Crochet: Laura's Lace Baby Blanket for Jamie

Laura's Lace for Jamie SAn easy stitch that I bordered in a small shell stitch. It is a small blanket, but hopefully can be used for security … or at least to wrap her up while she’s an infant. (Baby girl was born on Thursday. Her name isn’t Laura … that’s just the pattern name from the book.) It turned out really sweet and was done in Bernat Baby Coordinates in Lemon Custard. It has a little sparkle in it too. So precious!

Oops

I had the camera cable with me the entire time! I'd been so smart in stashing it with my iPod. But I didn't get my iPod out at all during the trip. A lot of things are like that but we know everything is with us somewhere, even if we haven't uncovered it yet!

While my videos get uploaded and organized and everything else, here are some photos of my first motorcycle ride. Geez Louise, Shawn could have told me to pull my shirt down so I didn't look so rubbery around the middle. BUT this will have to do, because if I cropped you'd lose the effect of the motorcycle!

Nerves of Steel
Pre Ride

Post Ride

12 August 2010

Pretty Different

I'll put some more thought into how much things are different now once I have a chance to fully immerse myself into a routine. Also some things will be the same ... I hope? At the very least my husband is a constant! Oh, and all my stuff.

You don't realize how much you have until you move it!

Anyway, we made it here and now face the unpleasant task of unpacking. It's not entirely unpleasant really. Just daunting.

BUT Internet, phone and cable are pre-set up. All I need to do is figure out DVR. Because TRUST, I cannot go back to a time of VCRs.

The Baton Rouge movers were less efficient than our New York movers. I have a feeling that may be the tone for a lot of things! But they finally got everything unloaded and we only had to open about 90% of the boxes immediately to find the essentials (shower curtain rings, birth certificate, TP, etc.). Will be nice when everything is back together ... plus there's still shopping to be done!

I took photos of the empty apartment and some of Shawn among the boxes. It's a mess ... and I am still not sure where my camera connector is, although I have a good idea and maybe soon I can get some photos posted. Until then ... or sooner.

10 August 2010

Scenes

Here's my pen collection -- an image that I had transferred while we were still in New York. I have way too many writing implements, but it doesn't look quite so insane here. I didn't do much weeding out before packing.

We are in Auburn, Alabama. Free wi-fi and we had a swim after eating at a nearby Waffle House. It was SO CHEAP and moderately tasty.

The trip so far has been fine. Shawn does all the driving, and I know if it's boring for me it has to be triply boring for him. Ugh. We'll be there soon enough. We're staying one more night on the road, and on Thursday we pick up our car, get the truck unloaded and return it. Then the real fun, unpacking, begins.

It was hard to leave Danville and Shawn's folks. We have such a good time with them and it's easy and relaxing. But I have to keep steeling myself and be prepared for the good that's coming. I just have to let it.

Shawn doesn't have any anxious feelings and remains calm, cool and collected. I've never seen anything like it. I'm freaking out ... at least internally ... about how I'm going to adjust (to everything including the heat), if I'll remember how to drive well, if I'll like the people I'm going to work with, if I'll be good at the work, if I have enough work clothes that fit, if I'll be able to keep up the exercising once I figure out the gym situation, if ... if ... if!

09 August 2010

Patience, My Dear

I would post some video and photos BUT the USB cable is packed somewhere in the back of the truck ... so words or nothing for now. Although maybe I could get some of Dale's photos on here before then. We'll see if I put forth the effort. We also have looked through some childhood photos of Shawn and she is going to scan a handful for me. He was and is the cutest!

Waiting, waiting, waiting. One of my least favorite things to do. Waiting on a phone call and everything's going to be OK ... once I get the call, I can button up everything and be fully employed once again.

I am a nervous wreck, of course, and probably will remain so until I'm firmly settled into the new position. I do not plan to write about it publicly, but I will update my LinkedIn account and send an email to my "so called life" list with details and my updated address. If you'd like to be added to the list and/or be my pen pal let me know.

06 August 2010

Briskly

Last post from New York. About to make my way to Time Warner and return our equipment/cancel our account so no more internet unless I go to Starbucks or something. Then I think I'll swing by Pearl River one last time and come home to sleep and get up in the wee hours of the morning to depart.

I have a huge decision to make, related to employment. I have two offers and one of the main differences is money. There are other factors, and I've received the advice "go with your gut." I don't trust my gut, since it feels like rotten jelly or something. Ugh. I really am conflicted and sick over it.

Anyway, wish me luck, pray for me and look for some posts from Danville, the road and finally Baton Rouge. I have some photos of the packing (truck was loaded in just under two hours thanks to great movers) and other finishing-in-New York stuff to post, but probably later.

05 August 2010

Mari’s Tips for Cruising

(Or, what I wish I’d known before I went on the cruise)
  • I felt like the new kid at camp … whose mom hadn’t packed the “right” underpants! It was certainly a learning experience, and we’d feel more comfortable about what to bring now that we’ve been once if we ever chose to go again (unlikely at this point). So, to help myself and possibly others who stumble along this post, here are my tips for cruising – what to pack for a cruise and what you can leave behind. Add your suggestions and additions in the comments. And as always I’m sure things vary by cruise line and trip length.
  • You don’t need to bring a lot of water – even if you don’t get the unlimited soda option (which you shouldn’t, for health reasons alone). Bring a reusable bottle, like a Nalgene, and refill it on the ship. There are plenty of water stations. If you prefer bottled you can bring up to 12 per person. We brought the max and didn’t drink it all – plus it was heavy and limited what we could pack in our large suitcase on the plane (it necessitated a swap of clothes for water between the big and small suitcases because you had to hand carry the water on the ship, but had to check the water on the plane). They also give you ice in the room every night, which melted to make drinkable water quickly. If we’d brought non-water drinks (also allowed, up to a 12 per person limit), the ice would have been a great way to drink those.
  • Bring a reusable coffee mug – likewise you can keep refilling it at the coffee stations and have hot coffee with you in your room and/or poolside without worrying about breaking a ceramic mug. Maybe bring a baggie of dishwashing soap to clean it in the bathroom sink.
  • If you hate washing your hands with a bar of soap like I do, bring a small bottle of liquid soap. Even a 99 cent drug store version would have been better than the psychological ick factor of lathering up with a wet slimy slab of soap, no matter how fancy it might have been. I persevered though. This might be especially important if you have kids – anything to encourage them to wash their hands, especially on the ship, would be a good investment.
  • DO bring some nicer clothes – one or two outfits. We didn’t, so we didn’t have the option of getting dressed up to go to the special dinners, including lobster night. I’m sure they would have let us dine in our shorts, but they were so adamant about the evening’s ELEGANT dress code … and so many people were in ball gowns … that we just ate at the buffet on most nights. Bring several shoe options. A lot of people wore heels, although I’m not sure I’d feel safe walking in heels, especially on the decks.
  • Bring at least one warm outfit – like a sweatshirt and jeans. The theater and dining rooms are kept very cold. Some people were wrapping up in the beach towels, but I just made do (due?) with my pashmina wrap.
  • Bring more sunscreen than you think you’ll need. I’m glad I did, even though we didn’t even break into the second bottle. We were able to stave off any sunburn. We slathered it on before we got dressed on the ship/in our cabin and then reapplied frequently throughout the day.
  • Bring a travel alarm clock. The room does not include any type of clock. Your cell phones won’t work because they’ll automatically update to local time (in our case all central time ports), and you want to stay on ship time at all costs. Avoid confusion and having to set up a wakeup call and leap out of bed when the phone rings.
  • You don’t need to bring beach towels. They will be provided for you – and every time you leave a wet/dirty towel, there will be a fresh one in its place when you return. Not exactly worth $10/day, but getting there.
  • Bring a small umbrella. Maybe that will ensure that it won’t rain. We got caught in a rain storm in Cozumel. Wasn’t a big deal because we were in our suits and planned to get wet that day anyway, but still not pleasant to not have an umbrella – and I was surprised they weren’t selling them!
  • The shopping seminars are just advertisements for stores that have paid Carnival boatloads of money to bring boatloads of people in the door. Don’t waste your time.
  • Similarly, the “limited” watch sale on the last full day is baloney. There were not limited quantities, and I ended up buying three watch sets because I was in the crush and figured since I had to elbow and fight to get three I liked I was surely going to buy them. Of course when we walked by 3 hours later, there was no crowd and plenty of choices, including the three I selected. Really not the way to build trust with repeat customers, in my humble opinion.
  • Bring ear plugs, in case you’re in a noisy room or are a light sleeper. Sometimes at the pool they can be useful too – hello, boozing 20-somethings in the hot tub!
  • Also be sure to bring empty plastic bags. They’re good for any wet stuff you have to pack on the way home. This is a kind of no brainer, always pack kind of thing. But worth mentioning, I think!
Things that could be better (or ideas for Carnival)
  • Communication – in advance, including packing, and on the ship
  • Weather reports overlayed with our position map
  • Put clocks in the room, or at the VERY least, be clear up front that clocks are not provided
  • Provide clarity on the length of time in the ports
  • Better organization in terms of excursions (although know lots of moving parts)
  • SPELL CHECK the “Daily Fun Times” and other signage. One day’s itinerary had the restaurant Emile’s spelled as Emilie’s.
  • Digital photography should be all digital – let people review their images on screens. The initial investment might be more than printing them, but environmentally it would be better AND you could probably sell more pictures – I don’t want a print photo of Shawn and me in front of a random scenic background, but I might be inclined to pay a few bucks to get it for my Facebook page/blog. Could sell branded Carnival Also on some of the photos I’d like to do a little Photoshop work – hello hairy gorilla man in the background!
  • Encourage social media … internet use was so expensive, so I guess that’s part of it, but they didn’t even ask people to post photos of the cruise/stay in touch via a social network – be it a Facebook fan page or their own network. I think that’s a real missed opportunity, especially among the teenagers on board.
  • Better service – I could be at the pool for hours and not be offered a drink. The wait staffers were slow and ineffectual, probably mostly because their huge gratuities are guaranteed.

04 August 2010

Chopped

Today I got my final NYC haircut (although I guess I could get a haircut here as a tourist). Look how short it is! I should have taken a before ... I'll just say my hair was well below my shoulders in the back and chin length-ish in the front. There was too much discrepancy for my liking and I wanted to bring everything up to around the same length. This is better, but the front pieces are still a lot shorter (although not bang-length short). I can do a mean Justin Bieber with this blowout the hairdresser gave me, but the hair's too long/in my eyes for it to really work for anything but a joke.

Also got a pedicure today and did some shoe shopping. Not Carrie Bradshaw-style shoe shopping. My stops were DSW and Aerosoles not Manolo or Christian Dior (I can't even spell any of the other names)! I thought about trying to make it to a museum but I gave up and came back home to do some packing and try to be a little productive in that realm. Tonight Shawn and I will drink wine and pack. And maybe we have a taker on our desk. That would be nice to get that out of here since it's so big. Everything is closing in.

I webcammed with Owen one last time, and he was a little sad today too -- nothing to do with me, just general summer doldrems I think. I know the feeling for sure, and certainly could use a little kiss on those sweet cheeks to lift my spirits! But really, why should my heart be sad?!

My Summer Vacation

Some more thoughts on cruising. I have one more post besides this one, which I'll schedule for tomorrow. Then moratorium on cruise talk and we'll shift gears into MOVING talk ... maybe a little job hunting talk (things are heating up) ... and finally nesting and settling talk ... a girl can dream!

I slept a lot better than normal on the ship, probably mostly because I didn’t watch as much TV (only turned it on to look at the map of our progress). But also the rocking motion of the ship made it peaceful and easy to drift off, and the cabin got pretty dark with the block out curtains and very little light pollution – just what the ship itself created!

My favorite port was Cozumel. We took a really fun speed boat ride, the Twister, to Isla Passion for lunch, swimming and relaxing in hammocks. Then we came back, got cleaned up and went out for Mexican -- margaritas in Mexico YUMMO! We took a sunset cruise (although the sunset was covered by clouds, the water was still amazingly beautiful) and then it was back to the ship for departure! We had the most time in Cozumel, so it was the most relaxing. I didn’t worry about getting back to the ship on time because we had plenty!

Cozumel was the first stop, and after a “fun day at sea” we were at Grand Cayman. Unfortunately our "fun shore excursions" that we booked through Carnival weren't synced up with the time we'd actually be in port, so we ended up only being able to do one there. And that was OK. We were able to go down in a submarine and see the coral reef, which was pretty fun. We were scheduled to do a bus tour around the island but instead ate seafood (but not turtle – the national dish!) at Paradise CafĂ©, went to the National Museum and did a little shopping. I saw some sea salt, but didn’t get it, thinking I could find it again. Of course I never did, so now I’ll have to buy sea salt like everyone else. Oh bother.

It only took an overnight sail to get to Jamaica, and my first impression: GREEN. We only had time for one excursion, but it was about five hours long – we were pretty much scheduled to be on the island for only ~six hours! First we went by bus to an 18th Century plantation. We rode on a tractor-pulled open-air cart and learned a bit about Jamaica, the plantation and its exports (lime and all spice). We toured the house and got great views of the sea from up high, plus all the greenery around. Was really vibrant. We got to sample Jamaican coffee, I bought a shell necklace and we also got to drink rum punch. We saw a man climb a coconut tree and we got to sample coconut water and fresh coconut meat.

Then it was off to the beach – Dolphin Cove. We saw some dolphin swimming, but we didn’t pay the extra to swim with them. We got to the beach, which was a little disappointing in that it was small and cramped and just a tiny swimming area. BUT it is something to be able to see the big ship in the distance, surrounded by blue green water. We were fed lunch at the beach, including some jerked chicken – spicy and YUMMO! Then it was racing back to the ship … and I was too worried about the time to try to go back to the shopping center (walking distance) to get anymore souvenirs.

I’m glad Shawn and I got the time alone together. And after being off the ship for a week-plus and worrying about all the hassles of moving and job hunting … I appreciate the vacation time more, and the fact that we got to relax and put off the real world changes that are coming at us so quickly was invaluable to our sanity and relationship stability.

Some thoughts from my vacation journal:

Cruising seems like such a weird thing to do -- American excess on display. I don't know that I can fully leave my troubles behind -- immerse myself in vacation mode -- but I'll do my best to avoid writing about that here. 

It feels like I'm at summer camp -- but with my best friend as my roommate! We don't know what we're doing, where to go, etc. But we'll figure it out together, just like we have our first 2+ years of marriage, which we're celebrating on this trip.

We're really lucky to be taking this vacation. I'm trying to keep up a good face and leave the snarky, gloomy, Eeyore-ish Mari back in New York. But I am who I am -- a white trash product who can't quite get it right in higher society. (Not that this was really high society, but it was masquerading as such!)

Now -- gentle rocking, rain clouds, Shawn on my shoulder, funny family to watch and listen to (who needs TV? "Shut the front door!"), ambient restaurant clatter, ink on paper, sun peeking through a bit. In love with my husband, deep breaths, holding eyes closed to capture my memory. 

I am humbled by the scope of the sea -- the expanse of the sky. Water and heavens as far as the eye can see. Soak into my soul the power and majesty of our Lord and King.


A little bored during the days at sea -- and overwhelmed by the pretention. Giving you hamburger and telling you it's steak kind of thing -- and the people are eating it UP!!! 

Shawn: "Being uncouth is a requirement to be on this ship."  after I told him he wouldn't want to be uncouth while he buttoned his shirt amidst the den of adults playing Marco Polo -- in an indoor pool -- at the top of their lungs -- screaming and squealing all the way.


Weird there isn't a chapel on board, although the majesty of sky and sea is definitely a worshipful experience.