Stormy Seas

Well.  In case you don’t have news of any kind for some strange reason, the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean are currently being ravaged by hurricanes.  Right now my home and family are pretty much in the direct path of one of the most devastating storms in history – and I’m thousands of miles away, unable to do anything.

This is not the first time I’ve had to watch and wait and pray they are okay from afar. Thirteen years ago (lucky number!) I watched helplessly from my dorm room in Georgia as Ivan skirted across Florida, as Frances crept up on it, and as Jeanne gave it a double whammy.  In fact, riding out Hurricane Frances with my family was one of the reasons I moved back to Florida.
I even made this whole story about it for my final class project before leaving the school.

 

This is, however, the first time I’ve had to watch it from afar while owning a house there. The idea of losing everything while you can’t do anything about it, is simultaneously terrifying and rallying.

I’ve always found that extreme situations kick me more into gear than anything else.  I secretly enjoy less devastating hurricanes (I stood by through Katrina in Florida, Rita, and Wilma), and I get a little excited every time I have a medivac at work.  It’s not that I enjoy seeing people get hurt.  I think it’s just that at that point I finally feel useful, like I have a purpose, something worthwhile that I can do.  Not many of my skills are directly useful in typical humanitarian ways, but organizing and logistics has always been a strong suit of mine.

In the past year, I lost my job, my dog, and my love.  Now, I sit here on the verge of possibly losing my house, and pretty much everything I own, and in the very same week get a new job offer.  But somehow, part of me is still not satisfied.

How can I even claim to be suffering when so many places have just been completely destroyed?  Many of the islands I’ve spent so many days on are practically gone.  My work has somehow always felt selfish in a way.  Cruise ships will change itineraries, go to less damaged islands, but how does that help those people who depended on their business for so long and now need it most?  I had the idea today that it would be wonderful if someone would charter a cruise ship to bring volunteers and supplies to some of the islands they are so used to visiting but that are now destroyed.  It would certainly be good PR!

At the end of the day, we have to remember that what is important is people.  Not money, not homes, not fast cars and smart phones and Apple Watches, but people (okay, and puppies).  I can’t claim that I’ve done much with my life thus far, but if I could do something good that even just one person will remember forever, I will feel better.  At this cross roads in my life, I might have that chance.  But for now, we must wait and see.

 

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Where do I really belong?

Every time I come “home”, I feel less and less like I belong there.  In my ADD efforts to not do the millions of things on my “To Do” list the other day, I decided to take a bunch of cheesy online quizzes to see in which country I really belong. (Google the subject and you’ll get pages of them, thank you PlayBuzz).

The results were pretty inconclusive, but interesting none the less.

At the top, came in Denmark (3), Italy (3) and India (3).  I already know that I could not live in India, too much dust and dirt and pollution – I’d never breathe again!  And, while I am Italian by heritage, I think it would take a long time to adjust to the “when I get to it” mentality of the bureaucratic country.  Denmark I could definitely see, even though I’ve only ever been in the airport there.

Other considerable options that came up included: New Zealand (if only it weren’t so far from EVERYTHING), Japan (perhaps too formal for my tastes), Sweden (similar to Denmark, but colder), the Netherlands (definitely a possibility, any Dutch friends want to adopt me?!?), South Africa (want to visit, not sure about living there), South Korea (I could actually see this for a few years at least – hello ARTBox!), Canada (duh, eh?), Austria (maybe), Great Britain (been there, could go back), and France (twelve years of French might FINALLY pay off!)

A few that were interesting and possibly way off…. Lithuania (okay, actually I know nothing about the country, maybe it’s like Denmark and Sweden?), Brazil (uh, yeah, no), Ghana (what?!?!?), Burkina Faso (I don’t even know where that is).

So, there you have it folks, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.  But if you too feel out of place where you live, it might open your mind to some places you never considered before!  Also, check out this TED Talk about having many or no homes.

 

Much Overdue Updates

It’s been a while since I updated this blog, I’ve been so focused on my travel blog (ABC TravelEye). I thought about this blog today though, when another “playlist” popped into my head.  Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed much from the one I made three years ago. But first, an update on my bucket list.

In the past two years, I have crossed numerous things off my list, some I didn’t even have on it.

  • I have made progress on my continents, by visiting South America and Antarctica, only Australia left to go!
  • I made progress on my Disneylands by visiting Tokyo and Hong Kong Disney parks.  Then they went and opened one in Shanghai, so still two to go!
  • I have ridden numerous animals, including Camels, Horses, an Ostrich, Elephants, Dolphins, and a Yak.  So I guess that’s a thing of mine.
  • Dancing happened. I learned how to Tango, and did it a few times in Argentina.  I also salsa danced in Peru, swing danced in London, and two-stepped in Ft. Worth, TX.  And I danced on a few mountain sides, so I guess that’s also my thing.
  • I did a multi-day trek in the Himalayas (something I hadn’t even dreamed of before!)  It wasn’t the summit of the mountain, but it was the highest mountain pass traversable by foot – at over 5400m high!  Next, Kilimanjaro….
  • I also reached my dream of spending more than a couple weeks in another country by spending five weeks in Scotland and six weeks in Nepal.  Still want to move somewhere new (but not there).
  • I managed to shop for shoes in Quebec in French and in Chile in Spanish – language win!
  • O yeah, and I got a new job, again.

So yeah, needless to say, you can see why I’ve been too busy the past couple years to post!

Packing

I’ve spent just over the past year of my life packing and unpacking and repacking.  Constantly trying to organize and compartmentalize my belongings.  Dresses in this box, shoes in that box, books in this one.  I try to make my belongings smaller and smaller each time I come home.  At some point, I started compartmentalizing my life too.  Family over there, school friends over here, ship friends on Facebook.  It gets hard to balance all those boxes.  Some people get more time than others, and not always the ones who deserve it.  It seems the bigger my life gets, the smaller I try to make it because it’s the only way to balance it all.  The more people I meet, the more people I lose touch with.  Maybe that’s just the natural cycle of things.  The people who are meant to stay part of my life will. The rest will fade. Who can say who will fall into which box. Certainly though, it’s a two way street.

Wearing the holes in the soles of her shoes

Today was the kind of day where I just couldn’t stand not to be outside.  The sun was shining, but still merciful.  For once, I regretted that I do not live closer to the beach.  At first, I felt the urge to just run – to nowhere in particular – which, for those of you who know me, is a bit unusual.  And so I ran.  I ran for as long as I could – which was halfway around the block.  Then I returned home and collected my purse and decided to walk somewhere, anywhere.  I walked to the library, but couldn’t stay inside for long.  When I left, I had a hard time walking.  My shoes were rubbing my feet raw (they, it would seem, were not made for walking).  I’ve spent a lot of time the past month trying to find the perfect fitting shoes – ones that would keep my feet from aching after a day of walking, and ones that would hold up for more than a couple of months without getting holes in the soles.  But as I stepped out into the fresh winter sunshine, I wondered – why wear shoes at all?  If they hurt, take them off.  And so I did.  I walked the two miles back to my house barefoot.  I thought of the dozens of strange cities and beaches and mountains I’ve walked through over the years.  I walked across hot asphalt and cool concrete and soft, scratchy grass (where I inevitably found a patch of prickers) – the whole while musing over the various song lyrics and old adages about shoes.

They say that to know someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.  But sometimes, I wonder if that would really work.  I wonder how many of us forget even to walk in our own shoes.  Our shoes contain us.  They cage and compartmentalize us.  Polished black shoes for working that cushy day job; bright white trainers because we swear we’ll make it to the gym this time; strappy sandals to go with that new sundress that was just made for flirting with strangers – each pair of shoes is only a part of who we are.  No, I decided, to know someone you must walk a mile in their skin.  In their feet.  In your skin.  In your feet.  Why do you think they call it “baring your soul”?  I don’t think it is a coincidence that we speak of both souls and soles being bared.

Homeward Bound (A Case of Schadenfreude)

First of all, I would like to admit that I am writing this about three weeks late because my entire post was deleted from my computer (silly technology, tricks are for kids!)

Have you ever gotten the feeling that the world was preventing you from doing something?  That perhaps you were not meant to do something?  Or that in doing it you would face the trials of Job?  That has been my “vacation”.

My job entails making sure all of you enjoy your vacation as you sail around the world.  It’s a fantastic and exhausting job.  Naturally, my vacation is more akin to your everyday life- sitting at home and watching TV.  But when the world seems to be keeping you from getting home, consider it an omen of what is to come.

My omen started when I had to arrive at the airport in Seattle at 10 am for a 9:40pm flight.  I figured I could check my bags and take a train downtown for the day and see some sights, but no, the air line will not let you check-in until four hours before your flight.  So I instead spend ten hours sitting in the one little sandwich shop on the outside of security.  I finally go to check in, only to learn that the entire staff is on dinner break and will not be back for two hours.  So I am forced to wait some more, and just as the time is finally approaching, I receive an email notification saying my flight is delayed until 12:03am.  Now, I have to wait longer to check in, and I will have 10 minutes to make my connecting flight in Miami.  After an anxious call to my family warning them I may need them to drive to Miami and pick me up, I receive another message of a further delay.  Now I won’t make my connecting flight at all.  I go to the counter to see what they can do, and since the plane is going to keep being delayed, they book me on another flight on another airline.

I go to check in with the new airline so I can finally dump my bags, and they inform me that I was booked on a full flight.  Feeling generous since I share her birthday, the girl cuts me a lucky break and keeps me on the flight (although she doesn’t cut me a break on the baggage fees, even with my Seaman’s book!)

I finally make it through security, get some much needed hot food, and proceed to my gate.  I find a friend from the ship and also make friends with a nice airline employee.  We board the plane and they announce that the pilots are MIA but should hopefully be there soon and we should all applaud when they board the plane.  What the?!?!?!?  Thank goodness they are only fifteen minutes late or so, and we are finally on our way.

My connection in Atlanta goes off without a hitch, but upon arriving in Tampa, I discover they have forgotten one of my bags.  At least they know where it is – still in Atlanta.  They inform me it will arrive on the next flight and they will deliver it to my house.  I take a tracking number and head out to my ride, anxious to get home and sleep off my horrible 24 hours.  No such luck, I’m locked out.  After twenty minutes of trying to break into my own house, I finally get my brother to wake his roommate up and let me in.

There is to be no rest as immediately upon getting home, I learn that my car won’t start at all.  There is no food in the house and I am starving so I resolve to walk to the store.  Unfortunately, my missing bag is the one that has all my shoes in it save for the cowboy boots I was wearing (which are not acceptable for walking half a mile in 95 degree heat and humidity!)  So alas, I simply pass out on the crappy green couch that is to be my bed for the length of my vacation.

After a week of fruitlessly trying to get my car fixed, I give up and take a train to visit my parents for a week so I can put it out of sight and out of mind.  Unfortunately there is to be no rest for the weary as other anxieties pile on instead.  The icing on the cake?  I get an email begging me to go back a month early!  This would mean missing seeing most of my friends, my cousin’s wedding, and Thanksgiving with family I haven’t seen in years.  And if that were not enough, they want to change my ship to one with a much less exciting itinerary.  They have yet to confirm said dates, and so I sit here knowing that I could POSSIBLY be leaving in less than a week and knowing that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to take care of all of the things I needed to before leaving again.  Perhaps next time I should just skip vacation all together and go straight to another ship.

My life would make an excellent “comedy of errs” type film.  Schadenfreud!

 

 

New Bucket List for Cruising

Working on ships has opened up opportunities for me to do so much new things!  Here’s a few I hope to do on this contract and my next…

  • Dog Mushing
  • Spelunking
  • Hike up a mountain
  • Bike through a town
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit a Beer/Rum/Liquor factory
  • Horseback ride in water
  • Horseback ride bareback
  • Stand under a waterfall
  • Ride a camel
  • See Mayan ruins
  • Pub Crawl (in a foreign city- Key West counts!)
  • Kayak
  • Visit the Ice Bar
  • Lumberjack show
  • Help in a beach cleanup

     

    Sidenote:

    It’s hilarious to read Shore Excursions for Tampa- they go to UT and Ybor city- in other words- they do about $100 what it costs thousands of college kids thousands of dollars to do.

#WordsofWisdom … in Other Languages

You know you spend too much time studying languages when you answer “Keyfa haluuk?” with “io sto bene”!!!

Those who can’t do- teach. Those who CAN do- CAN’T teach.

#wordsofwisdom #fromships

These are a few of my most missed things…

Things I Miss:

  • Waking up to sunlight
  • My soft sheets and mattress
  • Turkey bacon
  • My puppy
  • Boneless buffalo wings
  • Fast internet
  • Cooking (esp. grilled cheese and quesadillas!)
  • Days off

Right Thing, Wrong Reasons?

President Obama has decided to support Gay Marriage- it has been the headline three days in a row now. While I support gay marriage, I do it because I actually believe in it, not because it’s my best chance at reelection. I’m not sure how I feel about the fact that he is unsure of his decision over it. Would we rather have a president who does the right things for the wrong reasons, or who does wrong things (or rather, things we do not agree with) but fully believes in them???

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