In Our Corner of Madras

I'm up late, victim again of a malfunctioning air conditioner in the desert. The last three times (in not even five years) it's been The Freon, but I fear this time it is The Fan. I can't say for sure, though, as today (yesterday) was The Holiday and they were Swamped and no one came out to even look.

In Las Vegas, no one worries about the heat until it hits the triple digits, and even then the first two better be "11."

For a little relief, we went to see Angels and Demons tonight (last night). I enjoyed the book, in a "beach read + hey, they mentioned CERN" kind of way. The movie was okay for general big budget escapism, helped by the lack of a contrived romance and the presence that is Ewan McGregor, although the best bit was when the new pope puts on his hat. If I say "Peter Rabbit" and you know what I'm talking about, then I dare you not to wee all over the movie seats when this scene comes up.

Unfortunately, this now-rare foray to the cinema reminded me of why we never go to the movies any more. People suck. How could I forget. Showtimes are just a suggestion, feet can go anywhere, cell phones pierce the fourth wall, and every group of four or more must include a person so special that some committee has apparently given them the go-ahead to upstage the movie.

But, again, it's impossible to be cross for long, even here in the unmitigated desert of our living room. Five more instructional days. Three exam days. Two staff days. And I've already sorted out my planned curriculum for one of the AP classes. Kind of. Which is to say I have a notion that King Lear can be paired with The Joy Luck Club, but I haven't tested it yet. (But doesn't it just sound fabulous, thinking about it? It's almost as if I didn't abandon grad school, like I never load up the "We've Missed You!" Mensa renewal page in dark moments of insecurity, like I still have some grey goo of value despite putting aside teaching so I may better process today's paperwork for tomorrow's most promising criminals.)

Too awake to turn out the lights and Kindle my way to sleep yet, I'm hanging out on the Cruise Critic boards. Whenever I visit the site, I load up the forum's "Advanced Search" in another tab. For every thing I learn, I think of two more questions to ask. (Not that I've actually asked anything myself - each time, tens have already done it for me.)

So, below is a list of things I've learned since starting the cruise planning. It will be fun to come back to this post later in the summer and see what was a laughable lie.

Speaking of planning, the other night I grabbed Mike's hand and said, "I'm so glad we're going on this cruise. Thank you. Thank you for giving me the gift of so much research." In fact, this isn't really planning at all. I don't like to make plans. We haven't booked a single shore excursion. I guess I like "informed spontaneity"?

Recent New Knowledge about Cruises (and Stuff)

  • David Foster Wallace's "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" is accessible and hilarious (and all about his first cruise). I'd never read more than a paragraph of DFW before, and it was always him being edgy and thoughtful and ever so smart, but not funny. If there actually is any jest in Infinite Jest, I may have to rearrange my entire summer reading list.
  • I don't have a summer reading list. Again, no plans! But you know what I mean. I do have 20 pages of lists of books and New Yorkers in my Kindle, although 60% of that is free romance novels that I keep deleting after five pages, and 20% is free classics I should read but won't, and the rest is a hodgepodge of samples and things already read and things I can't find because - despite being The Best Gadget in My Life Since, Like, Forever - the Kindle has a sucky organization system.
  • If you tweet with the #cruise hashtag, even just once, all kinds of skeevy travel agents will follow you for 24 hours before stomping off because you don't reciprocate. Weirdly, it has been about one per day for the past two weeks. Like they are politely taking turns.
  • My first @reply on Twitter was to our cruise line.
  • Speaking of @replies, there are all these British people who confuse me with some friend of theirs. I like reading the messages they send, wondering what I have against Gordon Ramsey and why I haven't made Zippy breakfast yet, and whether I should go to that tea, and whether there are worse professions than mine, whatever it may be.
  • So then I peeked at these new friends until I found the real person they meant to be talking to, and she's about 1000x more geeky and book-lovin' and has no grey in her hair. Damnit. BUT! Apparently none of them are British after all, so... nyah.
  • I have also learned that it's really pretty much impossible to get a make-it-yourself model of a our cruise ship. This is too bad, since I already played this whole thing out in my head where the guy at the hobby shop wouldn't sell me model glue because he thought I was already high.
  • (Right. Like the kid behind the counter at Michael's would even care.)
  • On The Love Boat, and we are now up to disc 6 in the first season, everyone stands on the deck and night and enjoys the serenity. In real life, it may be quite gusty. (I think of this now as I see the curtains lift a whole 10 inches in a passing breeze. It may be 89 in here by sun-up, if this continues.)
  • The refrigerator in your room, if you have one, and a tiny part of our incentive to pony up a little more for a "partial suite" was because a fridge sounded useful, does not make warm things cold. Instead, it keeps already cold things cool.
  • But we'll still have a balcony, so who cares?
  • A tiny balcony, where there isn't enough room to sit down and face forward.
  • But it's a balcony! So who cares.
  • You have to leave your luggage outside your room the night before, by 8 p.m., unless you want to haul it off the boat yourself.
  • "Anytime dining" in the main dining room is Satan's way of trying to kill everything that is Good and Decent about cruising. They say. (Not only did we request "anytime dining," we plan to ask for a table for two, and if we don't get it, it's 24-hour goat cheese pizza for us!)
  • Twenty-four-hour pizza. Endless free food. I'm sure I've heard people talk about enjoying the food on cruises before, but no one ever really spelled it out for me. I feel like a sham of a fat person, not knowing about this. For the (unlikely) last person out there to know, this is the deal:
    • All food is included in your cruise fare.
    • Yes, all food.
    • Mongolian BBQ station, three meals a day in the dining rooms, ongoing buffet on the Lido deck, soft-serve ice cream, fruit, sushi bar, 24-hour pizza and salad, and 24-hour room service - this is all included.
    • Yes, room service is included!
    • And you can have all you want.
    • All. You. Want.
    • Many waiters even encourage you to order two of each course in the dining room.
    • You can call room service 17 times in one day if you like.
    • Eighteen times, even.
    • Nineteen times.
    • And it can be six desserts and a sandwich each time.
    • Not that I would want that.
    • Not that quantity is as appealing as it is fascinating.
    • But again, as an overweight woman in a judgmental world, I feel like someone should have sent me a memo about this.
    • Photos will be taken.
  • You have to come back to the ship from port at a stupidly early time, at least on our cruise. If you don't, you may have to rejoin the ship at sea later via tugboat. And all of the other passengers will stand on the deck and laugh and say nasty things. It's true - I saw it on YouTube.
  • The best cruise-related video I've seen on YouTube so far is this:
  • The worst cruise-related video I've seen on YouTube so far is this:
  • In fact, I think that's the worst video I've ever seen on YouTube. And just when I think it's "so good it's bad," it dashes my hopes and remains simply bad. Seven-and-a-half minutes of bad.
  • But I won't deny that it made me think about buying a tarp. And a model of our ship. But then we're back to the imagined glue scenario.
  • Some people bring tarps on their cruises and use them for cover on their private balconies. So no one can see them eating ice cream.
  • "Eating ice cream" is, apparently, a known euphemism for the nautical equivalent of the Mile High Club.
  • Which is putting a new mental spin on the ship's "unlimited sundae bar."

I've learned lots more than this, but it's 2 a.m. and I have to "tender" myself to port at 6 a.m. and lead five excursions on a fun tour called "Everything You've Forgotten about Prepositional Phrases since Last Week and Don't Plan to Ask." The mountain breeze coming through the porthole has picked up a bit, so I may even get some rest, here in my spacious solo suite with the "good thing I'm not a hair past 5'6" sofa. (Mike has an adjoining cabin tonight, for where two gather where there is no climate control, only a crabby stickiness can result. At least when it's the two of us on a stupid double bed. So stupid, it is almost as stupid as the time we went to see Angels and Demons - with soft drink and popcorn and slurpee and other food we've never bought before and I'm not going to admit to now, but we were feeling sorry for ourselves - and the whole shebang cost more than a cheap room on the Strip. With a king-sized bed.)

Five instructional days. Three exam days. Two staff days.


26 May 2009 |






Carnival Elation (2009)
Carnival Splendor (2009)
Carnival Spirit (2010)
Carnival Spirit (2011)
Carnival Splendor (2011)
Norwegian Pearl to Alaska (2012)