Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Looooove Boat....well, for some anyway.

Mike and I recently went on our first cruise. It was on the Carnival ship Conquest to the Caribbean. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Did I mention we loved it?

We needed to trade some vacation points or lose them, and this was the cruise that had space. When we found out we could scuba dive at 2 of the island stops, we were on board - so to speak.
We weren't sure what to expect, but decided, no matter what, we would have a great time. No cooking, no cleaning, no cell phone, no computer, no way could it not be great.
Our flight was delayed several times, so getting to the ship was a bit stressful, but we made it. We explored the ship, watched the shore disappear as we left and, for the first time ever, dressed for dinner. There were 6 others at our table, and we were having a great time with them within minutes. I hope they didn't get tired of us asking them for tips about the islands we would be visiting, and how to get the most out of the cruise. We never lacked for conversation at dinner. We also got some dinner dancing in.
We loved walking around the decks at night, watching movies on the big screen under the stars, seeing a new towel animal in our room each evening after housekeeping came to (get this, another first) "turn down our bed".
One of the best moments for me was our first day at sea. We found a fairly calm area on one of the upper decks, slathered on the sunscreen, arranged the chairs, and laid back. Within minutes, I saw Mike visibly relax. This continued for most of the week. A few days before we returned he mentioned a small concern about his work, and I said, "No no no no no! We still have a few days. No work, no job, no stress!" He did the same thing for me when I mentioned a concern about family. That ship was our stress free zone.
Not so for everyone.
Here are some things heard and overheard during the week.
10:30 a.m. We were relaxing on deck. A waiter was walking around with a tray of specialty mixed drinks for sale. A couple walks up to him.
Man - What is this? Is this drink strong?
Waiter says something softly which I can't hear.
Woman - Yes, this is strong. I just had one.
Man - I don't want something strong this early.
Woman to the waiter - Give me another one.
Man - Honey, don't have another one. You just had one. It's early.
Woman - I want one. I'm having it. Give me one. Now.
We saw this same couple a few days later, in the afternoon, by the elevators while Mike and I were walking up the stairs.
Man, pointing at the stairs - Let's go this way.
Woman, pushing elevator button - We were just up there. Why go back up. I'm going down.
Man - We were just up there. Let's go down this way. We can go this way.
Woman - I don't want to go back up. We were just up. I'm going down. Why do you want to go up?
Man - We were just up there. Why won't you come down with me. We don't need to go up.
Mike and I to each other - I guess not everyone is having as much fun as we are.
Another day a kid was running past us with some other kids, about 11 or 12 years old. He said to Mike, "That was the best! You gotta try it!" Then he threw his hands up in the air to high five Mike and hurried on before we could find out what was "the best".
I won't go into all the conversations we heard between people who were drunk and beyond. They can all be summed up in a word - Incoherency.
I was concerned about gaining weight. I have worked hard this year to lose 40 pounds and want to lose more. I had put on some weight in the weeks before the cruise and did not want to gain more. So here are 10 things to do to keep from gaining weight on a cruise:
1. Never take the elevator, only the stairs. Since I live at 6000 feet, this was easy at the beginning of the week, and got harder after day 2.
2. Get a room on deck 2 aft. The gym is on deck 11 forward, pool is deck 9, track is deck 10 (see #1)
3. Go workout at the gym before breakfast, it has a great view.
4. Go workout at the gym before lunch.
5. Go workout at the gym before dinner.
6. Only do shore excursions that involve lots of physical exertion, such as swimming, hiking, or riding a bus on a narrow winding road.
7. Eat fresh fruit, not waffles and syrup for breakfast.
8. Drink water, not soda. Not even diet soda. But I did see people who were drinking more than a days worth of calories in one sitting, and they weren't drinking soda.
9. Avoid carbs! Carbs are evil. Carbs will destroy the world!
10. No matter what your mother told you, you do not have to finish everything on your plate.
I did all of these things, except #9. So I still gained weight. It has been hard work, but I am finally down to my one-month-before-the-cruise-weight.
But few things got me to be careful about what I was eating more than what we saw near the end of the week. Mike and I were eating lunch at a table in the buffet area. We were tasting things on our 2 plates. A few feet away, there was a young woman eating by herself. I noticed she had 7 different plates in front of her, and she was eating from all of them. She was not large, but she was eating as if this were her last meal, and she had 5 minutes to complete it. Fries, burgers, pasta, pie, cake, brownies were all combined in her mouth while she chewed constantly. After a while, a few other family members joined her with their own plates. She said she had teased her grandma for eating 3 times in one hour. I didn't have much appetite after that.
Some of my other favorite moments:
Mike getting on the disco floor to take "Thriller" dance lessons with me.
Mike getting on the stage to take ballroom dance lessons with me.

Going to 100 foot depths on our first wall scuba dive in Cozumel. I have never seen water so blue.
Seeing dozens of schools of fish all at once on the reefs at Cozumel.
But I think the favorite moment for both of us was when we put a deposit on a cruise for next year.
That's much better than Love Boat reruns.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The End Is Not Near, You Must Learn To Cope.

I must have missed the rapture. I was busy doing service. Then I went on a date with Mike.
I have no problem with those who want to be prepared and really want to know the exact day and time for an important event. I am one of them. No matter what religion, philosophy or creed we follow, we humans want to have specifics. If nothing else, we have another source to blame if things don't work out.
For those who use the Bible as a guide, it can get confusing. If you want to look, you can find plenty of conflicting messages. I read it so the the main and simple message of Christ's gospel is what I look for. Anything that does not encourage me to line up with that becomes a cultural study.
Putting huge effort and resources into trying to figure out the day and time falls into that area. There are several places where scriptures say no one knows that except God, and I can understand that.
This is not like the prom, or your 40th high school reunion. It is not going to work to diet in drastic ways to lose weight and fit into that outfit, or get a makeover so you can present a different face for the weekend.
Those things are not transfiguration proof. The person who moves on is the person you have chosen to be in this life.
My dad had a great cartoon from the New Yorker posted on his office door. It showed a bearded man in robe and sandals carrying a picket sign through the city. It said "The End Is Not Near. You Must Learn To Cope".
Since I think the need to cope will not end with this life, I think this is a good skill for me to develop. What I really like is the way so many people around me help me see that this life is not something just to endure, slog through, cope with. It is a time to learn, grow, make a difference and have a great time while doing it.
I call it following the Spirit, looking for God in everyone, At-One-Ment. Others might call it Karma, positive vibes, the Golden Rule.
I just find that I like getting a taste of heaven while I am going through mortality. It's a nice way to pass the time.