Hat on Top, Coat Below


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January 14, 2003

Not only did time fly when I was having fun this last week, it flew both before and after the fun, accounting for the gap between my last entry and this one. Pre-fun, there was a lot of work to get ready for a big showdown meeting with the albatross customer as well as preparing and packing for the fun. Then there was the fun itself, when Mr. Karen and I took a trip to warmer climes for our very first cruise. Post-fun, my sleep-deprived brain had to deal with everything that happened at work while I was away as well as the most urgent of the personal tasks I’d put off pre-trip. Now, two almost full nights of rest behind me and most crises reduced to simmer, I can finally take the time to reflect.

The less said about work at this point, the better. It’s enough to know that soon the albatross customer will be someone else’s primary responsibility. I’d feel a lot better about that if I were handing it over in good shape, but there are way too many loose ends that I won’t have time to tie up. Even though my boss isn’t taking me off the project because I’ve done a bad job but because he wants me to work on customers that are more important to our company, I feel like I’ve failed. I hate failing, so work is not a happy place for me right now. It’ll get better once the transition is complete, I hope.

Now, the cruise, that was a happy place, even though it was not nearly as relaxing as we’d hoped. I suppose we should have known better; it was a Disney cruise, and we always have trouble relaxing at Disney because there’s so much we want to do. We’d avoided cruising until now because we didn’t think we were the kind of people who’d enjoy it, but when one of Mr. Karen’s cousins announced she was planning to celebrate her 40th birthday with a land and sea Disney trip and invited family to join her, we decided that was a sign we should finally try it. We skipped the land portion of the tour because we’ve spent a lot of time at WDW and know that four days is nowhere near enough for us, so we met them at Port Canaveral on Thursday for a three-day cruise on the Disney Wonder.

The Wonder was definitely the best looking ship in port that day, much more attractive than the boxy white behemoths at the other two docks. I liked it inside, too, especially our stateroom. We’d splurged and gotten one with a verandah, which meant we also got a split bath, with the toilet and a sink in one room and the tub/shower and a second sink in another. Having two sinks is one of my definitions of luxury, so I was a happy sailor. I was also pleased that there was room to store my suitcase out of sight once I’d unpacked; it’s a big hard sided valise and I sometimes have trouble stashing it in normal hotel rooms, but it slid under the bed nice as could be in the stateroom.

Friday, we docked at Nassau. Mr. Karen and I had booked a snorkeling excursion, so we got to troop to a catamaran with about thirty of our shipmates and motor to a nearby reef before entering the just slightly too chilly water where the pretty fish lived. The only other time I’d snorkeled was in the pool at Typhoon Lagoon at WDW, but that was enough to make me think I’d like the real thing, which I did, once I got past the first few moments of panic about not being able to breathe. Yes, I was wearing a life vest and at any moment could pull my head up out of the water and breathe just like I do on land, but logical thoughts like that have no power in the panic brain. Once I settled down and saw my first lavender and teal fish, I was fine. I loved looking at all the different shapes of coral and all the different colors of fish and took almost a whole roll of pictures on the waterproof camera we’d bought for an only slightly exorbitant price on the boat after Mr. Karen realized he shouldn’t have moved the one he’d brought from his carryon bag to his checked bag before we boarded the ship; they x-ray the checked bags same as the airlines, and I was not going to risk having no pictures of the fishes. Of course, when we get the film back from the developer, I’ll probably find I have pictures of rocks and coral with no fishes in evidence, but at least we made the effort.

Saturday was our Castaway Cay day. We slept in and got off the boat rather late, but we still had time to bicycle and kayak and play in the water before we had to be back on board. On the bike path, I spotted a shell that I thought would make a nice souvenir, which it would have if the legs of a hermit crab hadn’t shot out of it when I picked it up. I set it back down and watched it scuttle away, wondering if it shouldn’t be closer to the water. When we spotted the second crab, this one with a shell house that was a little too small, I felt reassured that I didn’t need to start a crab relocation program. Between getting back from the island and dinner, we had our first ever spa experience, something called the Surial Bath. An hour was way too short a time to enjoy the mud and the steam, but they don’t offer it in longer blocks. Maybe next time we’ll try the massages in the beach cabanas instead.

My least favorite part of the cruise was Sunday morning, when we had to be at breakfast at eight and off the ship by nine. That’s not a vacation. At least we didn’t have it as bad as the early dinner seating people, who had to be at breakfast at 6:45. That would not do at all. We took one last walk around the ship that morning and I looked longingly at the teak chaise lounges on the deck; I’d really expected to have time to stretch out on one and read sometime during our cruise, but I never managed it. This probably won’t be our last cruise, so maybe I’ll be able to fit it in next time. First, we’ll have to save up more money; this trip was one of our pricier vacations. I’m glad we went, but I think it’ll be a while before we go again.

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