Monday, April 21, 2014

To tell the truth...

I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.

I don't ever say or do anything with the intent of hurting anyone.  And, I don't feel good knowing that, despite that, I have said and done things that hurt people.

And I will again.

Know why?  Because I place a very, very high premium on truth.  And, sometimes?  The truth hurts. 

Now, I agree that there are times that the way I speak the truth could, possibly, be approached in a softer, more gentle way.  But...I'm not a confectioner.  To me, it's just so much simpler to start with the bare, ugly facts and work outward from there.

Not everyone can handle that, I get that.  So, I'm not everyone's cup of tea.  And that's ok. 

When I blog or write on facebook, I use shortcuts to identify individuals without actually identifying them.  Sometimes that means using terminology that irks folks.  If I'm referencing someone who daily uses drugs of whatever sort and who will resort to thievery and deception to get those drugs, I will probably call them a junkie.  Or a druggie.  I am fully aware that the people I'm labeling are people.  I have not negated or ignored their essential humanity.

But, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and shits like a duck?  I'm gonna go ahead and call it a duck.  I will not take the time to call it  a Waddling, Flat-billed American.

If someone were to try to describe me and said, "You know, the loud, fat chick wearing teal" would be an accurate descriptor and would not, in the least, offend or hurt me.

I mention all of this because I got a random message from someone who took offense to me calling someone a junkie and said, "It's a disease, just like that teal ribbon on your facebook wall". 

Ok, I'll bite, being a junkie has an element of disease.  But it's comparable to alcoholism, or obesity.  NOT to ovarian cancer.  Get that straight.

I am fully aware that it truly is by luck of the draw that I am not a junkie or an alcoholic.  And I fight obesity every single day.  I know how hard it is.  Maybe even harder for obesity because, while I would be able to live my entire life without ever going near drugs or alcohol, I couldn't live more than a few weeks without food.  It's something I have to be able to deal with.

Only I am responsible for my weight.  100%.  It's harder for me than it may be for others, but it IS possible for me to eat right and work out and get my weight under control.  I recognize that it's the same for those addicted to alcohol and drugs. 

But do not, for one millisecond, equate diseases of choice with a disease like ovarian cancer.

There is not a single choice that my friend ever made that caused her to have ovarian cancer.  And she fought it with all that she had for as long as she could.

Also, when calling someone out for being insentive?  Terms like, "You friggin' hypocrite" come off sounding, oh, I don't know, a little friggin' hypocritical. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Girls Goofing Off Cabibbean Cruise version

L to R:
Tara, Ophelia, Natasha and Farah
 Ever plan something way in advance and then count down the days, the excitement building to a point where you thought you'd just start spontaneously dancing (ok, maybe I actually did start spontaneously dancing once...or twice...)?

I've done that before and then ended up with a reality that just didn't match the anticipation. Not that the planned activity was a disappointment or not great in its own way, but just...not what I'd expected.

The cruise with My Girls was NOT that.  This was one of the best, most relaxing vacations I have ever had. 


I think it may be because I had no actual expectations for this trip other than relaxation, fun and time with people I love.

To cover everything that happened in 7 days of cruising would be impossible, but I'm going to cover the highlights.

For the purposes of the cruise, we all picked code names.  I was Ophelia -- which I love because to say, "I'm Ophelia" comes out sounding like a threat of sexual assault.  Then there is Tara, my roomie, Natasha (previously referred to as Stretch in this blog) and Farah.  Now, Farah always has big, sexy hair, so you'd think remembering her code name would be easy.  You'd be wrong.  Neither Tara nor I could keep it straight for the entire flippin' cruise.

The gals all flew in.  Stretch, er, Natasha was first by a few hours, so we had lunch at PF Chang's and saw a movie.  At lunch, I got the most perfect fortune cookie:

It was raining when we got to the restaurant, and Natasha is having knee issues, so we had the valet park for us.  That ended up in a bit of an adventure when I couldn't find the stub.  I just randomly decided to check for it as we left the restaurant and went into the movie.  I ran back out to just square away with the very busy valet that I would be able to get my car.  He was very nice, said he would recognize my bright orange and blue "Team EMS" key fob when I returned and I rejoined Natasha in the theater.

We, and 27 girls ranging in age between 11 and 14, saw Divergent, which I never read because I thought it would be a rip off of the Hunger Games series.  I'm glad we saw the  movie, though.  The actor who played Four will be making frequent appearances in future fantasies. 

After the movie, the rain had largely stopped.  We made our way to the valet and were able to get my car with no glitch.  For the heavily bejeweled, perfectly coiffed older Southern Belle who was at the kiosk when we arrived, notsomuch.  She said she'd been waiting 20 minutes.  They couldn't find her keys.  Natasha is sort of my hero and just started giving it (in a very calm, sweet but decidedly authoritarian voice) to the valet.  Giving him suggestions on things he should check to find the nice lady's keys.  We had to get Tara and Farah from the airport, so we wished Rue Mclanahan bon chance and were on our way.

Storms caused Tara and Farah to be delayed, so we missed our planned Chipotle carry out and Rickaritas on the couch.  Somehow, no one cared. We got back to Casa de Hammock and everyone sacked out nearly right away.

That night, the Rickster reminded me that, while we have had physical separations due to travel contracts, we almost never go more than a day without speaking to one another, but on the cruise, we may go the whole week. I fell asleep to his voice saying he'd really miss me.

The morning of the cruise, we got up early and the Rickster was our chauffeur to brunch with Panda Girl and then to the boat.  Tara and I got pedicures as the ship pulled out of port and then we just lounged around, checked out the ship and saw a beautiful sunset.  We all turned in fairly early and our room was small but just right and the beds were very cozy.  Slept like a rock.


Our usual perch overlooking the pool
I woke very early Monday and the ship was nearly deserted.  I watched the sun rise and enjoyed some coffee in total solitude.  I managed to be up early all but one morning and it made for a few amazing runs around the track. 

No ports that first day, we were in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean with nothing around but blue water, blue skies, sunshine and joy.  Oh yeah.  Joy.  In the afternoon, there was a Calypso group playing at the bandstand by the pool called the Joy Band.  The musicians were good -- a bass and steel drums -- and the male singer was decent.  The female lead singer, presumably Joy, had this annoying habit of being awful.  The band would move on to another song, but Joy, in a grating monotone seemed to just keep "singing" the same song over and over.  The Joy Band was our punishment for sloth.  Most time spent vegging  out by the pool was accompanied by Joy and her foghorn voice. 

However, I also caught a glimpse of a tall, dark gentleman of unknown rank wearing a naval uniform that looked like something out of An Officer and a Gentleman, only 10x hotter than Richard Gere ever dreamed of being.  This guy had just the perfect amount of swagger and I would admire him from afar for the whole trip, mostly as he wandered about the pool, apparently a manager of some sort. I named him Lt. Swagger.

Monkey Lala!
There was a variety show to get a glimpse of all the onboard entertainment options.  There, we learned that we really wanted to see Tim Kaminski - a comic - perform but had ZERO interest in ever having to sit through Joe-say and Patty's kitschy, Catskills musical talents.  Kaminski is more a sketch guy than a standup and he pulled members of the audience to participate.  One such was a gentleman who didn't immediately proceed to the stage, rather he seemed to be searching for something near his seat.  Kaminski teased him about it and the gentleman carefully made his way to the stage, someone assisting him up the stairs.  A few minutes later,  the gentleman's wife was holding something out to Kaminski and asking him to take it to her husband.  It was his cane.  The gentleman was blind.  Oops.

We were adventurous in Roatan, Honduras and it paid off in the form of entertainment from our very young, charming and startlingly frank tour guide, George.  The primary take-away from that day was "Monkey Lala". 

In both Costa Maya and Belize, we didn't really stray far from the port and just shopped and drank...drinking was a running theme throughout the trip, actually. 

Costa Maya's port was clean and bright and had a pool with a swim up bar and Tara and I hung out there watching people, dophins and pelicans.  And having a random local come up and attempt to "amaze" us with a card trick.  It was reminiscent of my niece when she was 4 and learned the "pick one from this row" trick.  It was interminable.  Belize was the one place the Rickster has wanted to go for years and I've resisted because of its reputation for crime and political unrest.  That was the only port where we had to tender in and that was fun.  Our hosts on the tender boats there and back were cheerful and told us to have an "Un-Belize-able" time.  The port gave a definite feel of gratitude for the guarded walls that surrounded it.  I bought several souvenirs (especially for the Rickster) and then Tara and I hung out at a cool open air bar and just chatted for a couple of hours.  It was pretty awesome.

In Cozumel, Tara and I had pre-planned a snorkeling and beach trip. 

We got up and, as per Tara's usual, she worked out.  I did as well, and then we both showered up and got ready and went into the port to our assigned spot for our excursion.  Natasha and Farah were also doing an excursion where we expected to hook up with them at some point.  Tara and I eventually joined about 50 other people on a catamaran where our host told us the plan for the day, including no alcohol until after the snorkeling lest we "feed the fish" (aka hork).  We were meant to snorkel for about an hour and I suppose we did, but it felt like a lot less. It was amazing.  The water was an impossible clear blue.  We started at the "shallows" which were about 20ft deep and swam into the deeper section which was about 80ft deep.  There was coral and there were colorful fish and a few stingrays. 

With my head in the water, listening only to the sound of my breathing through the snorkel, it felt like frequent dreams I have of being able to breathe underwater.  It was an experience I will never forget. 

Tara's underwater selfie
The best thing about Cozumel, though, was getting free wifi and being able to call the Rickster and hear his voice.  After nearly a week, I really did miss him. 

The last day at sea was literally spent sitting by the pool, here Tara and I had spent a great deal of our time.  There, during the cruise, we got to know Cesar, a tiny Filipino who was funny and talented (one brief time, he sat in Joy's usual spot playing guitar and singing and was just amazing).  We had taught him our game of "Do, Not Do" -- which is how Natasha/Stretch and I had first bonded on our first Vegas trip.  You just people watch and pick out someone who catches your eye and decide on the spot if (hypothetically) you would or would not "do" them.  Cesar thought this was hilarious.  Especially when I pointed out Lt. Swagger.   Cesar threatened to tell said gentleman of my admiration...ok, I guess what I actually said was, "I'd do him till I broke him".  Still, what's said in "Do, Not Do" should stay in "Do, Not Do".

That last night, we all (minus Farah) went to a martini tasting event.  Guess who was hosting?  Yup.  Mr. Swagger.  I got to watch him up close for an hour or so and he was quite entertaining and the martinis were tasty.  And copious.  The ticket price entitles you to 5 martinis.  They were not just shots, FYI, they were about 1/2 the size of a regular martini and each had 2 oz of vodka.  We were told by Lt. Swagger that there would be extra martinis to the persons who could correctly answer his trivia questions after his History of the Martini lecture. 

We took notes.

So, Tara and I each ended up with 7 martinis.  It was fun.

Then Farah rejoined us and we all made our way to dinner.  Dinner was filled with one of the most marvelous conversations between the four of us.  I love these girls, but I have to say that this cruise made me love them even more.  Vacation of a lifetime.  It was...epic.