Sunday and Monday, 05/22 and 05/23 2011 Journal Excerpts
Sunday morning: I'm up before 9:00 and am sipping English Breakfast tea whilst writing in my journal. My steward, Bianca, will be upset, if I'm not out of here before noon. (One day I dawdled until after twelve and she knocked on my door and asked me if I was okay. She is a good steward. She leaves me presents.)
I'll probably make it out of here by 11:15. I'll go for a walk after showering. Perhaps get my nails done. I'd like to see “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Rogue Theater tonight. It's the only Shakespeare that they are doing. I did not enjoy the percussion dude last night, xylo-synth guy, David. The sound of the xylophone was not that interesting and he played all old music. Liz pointed out that it is nice to hear classics reinvented, but these songs were not so much reinvented as replayed. I was bored. And his performance annoyed me. As soon as he jumped on stage he seemed like a crazy monkey. A tall and muscular-looking monkey. More like a maniac. A human who has gone off his rocker as only humans can. He grinned madly the entire time he played. Yes, he had a lot of energy, but was I supposed to be entertained just by his zeal? And then there was David's wife who danced around him in skimpy costumes the whole time he played. Not impressed. Perhaps the entertainment director felt I needed a wake up after a large dinner, or that my cruise was intended as a distraction from my dreary existence which is solely made up ofwatching too much television and having my cutlet cut into tiny slivers for me so I don't have to chew it with my non-existent teeth.
Yeah, I am definitely not David's main audience. Cheers!
Monday morning (last day before disembarking): Slept in because I was so, so tired. I heard Bianca outside my door shoveling ice into buckets and I knew I should get up, but I didn't want to.. I rolled over and fell back to sleep until 10:30am. Nothing new here. I can't get breakfast because I'm too late. It's ten minutes until lunch. I could bring some food back to my room from a cafe, but that would interfere with Bianca's schedule and it's important to keep up with it. I have recently become familiar with the King's Court cafeteria. I don't think I want to eat anything they have on order, but I think I'd better go see what I can find.
Ugh! The music in the background here at the King's Court is quite boring, monotonous, generic. I feel it is pushing me to enjoy my journey, but that isn't all. It seems to be insinuating that I should enjoy it in a certain way – to think of it, affectionately, as a relaxing and full of nostalgia. Before the trip is even over. I am in the wrong place. And now the cafeteria is filling up for lunch. There is the Captain's noon announcement. I'm off!
In my room now. Bianca has come and gone. Room service has been called. My hangover is now clearly showing itself—I only had three glasses of wine last night, which is usually nothing to me. I have heard that drinking while traveling isn't advised because it is so hard for your body to recover. So I choose to believe it is more the latter than a pure hangover. The rooms are also very dry and I feel a pressure headache through my sinuses. Glancing in the mirror, I see I don't look as horrible as I feel. But I will definitely be taking a nap after I exercise. I will pack up most everything before I go to dinner. I probably won't put it outside my door until I get back from dinner because I will be wearing an outfit that must go in the suitcase. I'll go directly back to my room after dinner and put it on top and roll that final set of clothes up, stuff it in a bag, and then stuff that in my suitcase.
Ah! Breakfast has arrived. I can be alone and enjoy the meal. It is quiet here. I have my little notebook, my felt-tip rollerball pen, and my squirrelly hand writing—pure me. Simple. Clear. Clean.
Coffee and hot cereal has chased my headache away. I feel energized again. I must now open my laptop to get online and then hurry to read any emails that I might need to respond to and get ready with any pictures or essays I want to post. The WiFi is expensive on board ship, so I want to move quickly. Keeping up with correspondence takes a chunk of the day, but I don't have anything else more important to do right now. I wonder, how will it be when I'm on the road? Will I want to settle in and write in the evenings? I'll be writing on Eleanor, too. I'll get up early and try to be in bed fairly early. I plan to take some days “off”—have down days when I can rest, read, or really get into my writing, whatever I wish.
Monday evening: I am glad that this journey is coming to an end. I feel bored with "crossing," for that is truly what this sailing has been for me: A journey to get from point A to point B. Albeit, I have had advantages that don't usually come with a simple passage from one specific place to another. I have had entertainment, excellent service, and activities that I could choose to participate in or not. But ultimately, my purpose is other--to seek out things not directly in front of me; things that do not dance in the now-ness of today, but shimmer in-between here and there, now and then; things that move me more deeply, both intellectually and emotionally. And to seek out a means of expressing them. Floating on the ocean in a cruise ship has been distracting and amusing, but it isn't enough. I need to hole myself up in my room and write. And read. And gather my thoughts about the rest of my journey.
And as I do so, I get excited. I will be in Paris tomorrow! My first time in Europe and my first time in the city of Jazz, the City of Lights. And it is only the first stop!
When I first stepped onto this floating hotel, I couldn't believe that I was doing an eight-week journey through Europe. I couldn't believe I was really traveling by myself through several foreign cities, seeing only a couple people I knew and knowing I was bound to meet many I didn't. Now as I sit here on my final day at sea, I am so ready to embark on the next phase of this trip. I want off this ship!
I did discover a lot about the ship and its amenities and activities. I now know what interests me and what doesn't on a Cunard Crossing. For example, the music and dance shows I can forget. Of the two I saw, one was horribly cheesy (David, who played xylo-synth renditions of classical, folk, and pop tunes backed by a full orchestra) and one was good (the Royal Cunard Dancers and Singers, who danced and sang to songs from the 30s and 40s including Big Band). But nothing I experienced was too grand to miss. I enjoyed an hour version of Much Ado About Nothing set in WWII and complete with Big Band Tunes (which got silly after a bit). They kept the text very much the same and the acting was quite good. But again, I can see as good or better productions in Boulder. These shows are entertaining for people who need entertainment, people who are bored and have nothing better to do with their time, which is not necessarily a bad place to be when you are on vacation. But I have not felt "on vacation" much during this trip. Because it's truly not a vacation for me. Admittedly, I did get into the night life, dancing and karaoke, on Wednesday, but it wiped me out. The rest of the time, I felt myself seeking shelter in nooks and crannies in the ship. Not to say I am not drawn to the idea of a vacation on this ship. I was tempted to go to a rumba class at 12:30 today. But I don't want to expend all my energy that way. If I did, I wouldn't be able to sit here and write like this or to think about how best to spend my time in France. My plan all along was to participate in some activities (like the the Royal Ascot Ball because I had brought a hat specifically for that reason). But that was it. I am done performing and now, as Greta Garbo supposedly said, "I vant to be alone!"
I am looking forward to getting more sleep, going to bed and waking each day at the same time instead of an hour later. We've been inching up to GMT all trip, losing an hour a night, and it's wearing on me. I want to feel the ground underneath my feet. And I can't wait to discover the bookshops along the quay on the left bank of the Seine, to see the medieval Lady and the Unicorn Tapestry, and to hang out in the haunts of famous authors such as Henry Miller. And to finally see the Eleanor Vase up close.
Show me the gang plank, Captain!