Vacation Hangover

August 18, 2013 § 20 Comments

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Well, there was no Captain Steubing, and it was not the Love Boat, but we sure loved the boat that took us on vacation.  Here’s a random re-cap.

1.  No wi-fi and/or texting is a blessing.  The end.

2.  Just kidding!!!  There’s more!  Angel (pronounced “Ahn-HELL”) was our dinner waiter, and Marko was his assistant.  I learned halfway through the trip (and that was too late) that I should not ask Angel his opinion about more than one entree.  This is because he would proceed to bring me each. entree.  Five of us at the table, and we routinely had at least seven entrees on the table at one time.  By the end of the week it had progressed, we never arrived at dinner without at least one appetizer already on the table because he wanted us to have them, and it was not unusual for six or seven desserts to appear by the end.

3.  Related to #2 above, our rooms were on the 2nd deck.  The pool was on the 9th.  In an effort to stem the tide of flab resulting from #2, I did use the stairs almost exclusively.  16 steps to get from one deck to the other.  Yes, I counted.  Thankfully, the nearest bar was on the 4th deck.  But even with that, I managed to log at least 20 flights of those steps every day.  Because ping-pong on the 9th deck, that’s why.

4.  Don’t bother with the “Shopping Talk” before you dock.  It is interminable, and almost exclusively about the jewelry you can buy in port.  As with Angel and entrees, I realized this way too late, and was already committed to hunting down a couple of really cute, but expensive watches. Once in Bermuda, I was on a mission, I tell you.

5.  It’s true what they say.  Unplugging from the internet truly does unclutter your mind.  Think about how much multitasking your brain must do – how many times it must change gears, simply going from one friend’s FB status update to the next.  How many times do you click on a link they post to read about revolution in Egypt (of which I remained blissfully unaware) to the next link of a cat wearing a shark costume riding a roomba?  See?  I’ll bet you just clicked on that link.  And now your brain has to go from being all cuted out by that cat to reading my blatherings about my vacation.  Or maybe you didn’t come back…did you come back?  COME BAAAAAAAACK!!!!  Darn it.

6.  With my uncluttered mind, the only thing I could do between feeding my face and listening to the abundance of live music aboard was to either:

a.  read, or
b.  play Polar Bowler on my phone, since it was the only thing I could do on it that did not require internet.

Fighting the powerful pull of a polar bear shooting down a bowling alley made of ice,  I did manage to squeeze some reading in there.  Of an actual book.  With pages.  NOT on an electronic device.

7.  Here, I’m really letting my geek flag fly by confiding in you that the book I spent time reading was… “George Washington’s War (The Saga of the American Revolution)” by Robert Leckie.  My dad gave it to me with high recommendations, and, well, what the hell, right?  Amazingly written, its sentences have craploads of information in each one, which required me to actually read things more than one time.  If you know me, that is NOT my style – I’m kind of a speedy reader.  But I did read it slowly, and some of it several times over, because the writing was so beautiful and artistic.

It’s also filled with frikkin hilarious descriptions of the people in it.  Here’s how he paints Augusta, mother to (future King) George III.

Although Augusta was not beautiful or gracious, but plain with a long neck and awkward long arms, she was nevertheless well endowed with an amplitude of Germanic charms, both before and behind.

In other words, bag the face, but she had tits and ass.  The book surprised me on a regular basis with stuff like that, and I’m sure I raised a few eyebrows sitting by myself and snorting with laughter.  I only got to page 43 before vacation ended, but I will keep going, as I’ve got a renewed affection for reading a book rather than reading a Huffington Post article or a Buzzfeed list.

8.  Karaoke is hard.  No need to go into the sad, ugly details of that one.

9.  It was fun, fun, FUN having my niece, Katie, and her friend, Danielle onboard the ship with us!  (They had tickets – we didn’t smuggle them.)

10.  Most of the ship’s talent was extremely entertaining and skilled.  For example, one of the show nights had music by the decades, and the duo who sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” brought tears to my eyes, literally.  However, some of the ship’s performers lip-synced, which I found distracting and annoying.  And on a show night featuring Broadway music, I wanted to strangle whoever decided it was a good idea to change the time signatures of “A Boy Like That” from West Side Story.  Don’t – DO NOT – mess with Bernstein’s time signatures, is that understood?  Gah.

11.  I break the rules when my kids aren’t around.  One of the days in Bermuda Dave took them snorkeling, and I went to St. George to further geek out on history.  I walked all around by myself, taking in the whipping posts from the 1800s

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and brick-lined streets, and ended up at the Unfinished Church at the top of a hill.  They began building it in 1874, and abandoned it when they ran out of money.  Anywho, there was a flimsy sign that told me not to enter,

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but this other chick found a way in,

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and her cab driver seemed unconcerned,

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so, naturally, when she left I decided I couldn’t go back to the boat without trying to get inside this place, either.  I slunked around the outside of the church, and finding this weak point that would allow entry, I began to climb.

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I got a few scrapes, and landed a little harder than I would have liked, but I got in!  (Through the window behind me in the picture!)

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It was pretty.

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It was harder to get out than to get in, but I managed to climb up that gate a few pictures up and squeeze over the top.  And now I can say I’ve trespassed in a church.  Awwwww, yeah!

12.  Showers can be perplexing.  Picture a triangle 2′ x 2′ x whatever length that makes the 3rd side.  Then picture one of those shower heads at the end of a hose, propped up in a flimsy clip that was just a leeeeeeeettle too big for the hose.  Then picture it without warning popping out of that clip and flying (water on full-blast) all over the shower stall like a balloon with the air just let out of it.  That may have happened to me.  I cracked the code around 5 days into the cruise on how to keep it in the clip, but I still kept turning around to check it so it would know I was keeping my eye on it.  Also, picture, if you will, the act of shaving one’s legs in such a shower.  Somewhat akin to Ralph Maccio in The Karate Kid.  Only with a razor in one hand and a shower head whizzing all around you because it has popped out of its clip.

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(photo courtesy of http://www.myfoggybrain.com)

13.  I am totally going on another cruise.  The family was dreamy, the downtime was downtime, and the water was so, so blue.

 

A Jewish Kid in Catholic School? Nothing But Nachas.*

April 18, 2013 § 3 Comments

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My son Nicky loves baseball. He’s really, really good at it.

Despite the looooong list of Jews who made it big in baseball, we were shocked to learn our town was not overflowing with Jewish schools that have viable baseball programs. My husband’s old Catholic school, however, (“The Hall”) has a very well-respected baseball program. So does another Catholic school nearer to us (“The Mount”). Mark Teixeira is a hometown boy who went to The Mount. We forgive his playing for the Yankees.

Nicky wanted to apply to these schools because of their baseball programs. So he took the Catholic School entrance exam, applied to, and toured both schools. He struggled, though, with what to put on the part of the application that asked for his religion.

You see, right after we were married, Dave and I sought out counseling from both a priest and a rabbi, and they both gave us the same advice. They felt that which religion we chose for the kids was much less important than that Dave and I agreed on which religion we chose. Twenty-two years into the marriage, it’s pretty clear that even though we decided back then our kids would be Jewish, we did next to nothing to raise them with religion. I’m sad about that, but we’re still incredibly proud of the people they have become.

So when it came to Nicky’s school application, Dave suggested “Jewish, non-practicing.” That worked. Nicky got into both schools and chose The Mount.

The kink at this point was only in my conscience. I had a hard time reconciling the fact that I’d be sending my son to a school whose governing church preached certain views I found abhorrent–especially regarding homosexuality, the role of women, and legalized abortion. In fact, I had written a blog post that ran in my local Patch, called “An Open Letter to Pro-Lifers.” Hilarity ensued. (Not Really.) So, not only was I uncomfortable supporting this organization financially, I was reluctant to be viewed as a hypocrite in my local community.

To whom could I turn for guidance? Naturally, John Shore–a powerful voice in the Christian Left movement. I enjoy his blog, and am always impressed with the advice he gives to people facing situations ranging from sticky (mine) to downright gut-wrenching. He offered me the following guidance:

“…Personally, I don’t think you should lose a moment’s sleep over the choice you’ve made….My understanding is that…local Catholic-affiliated institutions are…self-sustaining, grassroots entities. They’re not funneling money upwards to the Pope….

“Life is complex. Needing to do what’s best for your son isn’t. As long as he understands the complexities and subtleties involved in the decision to send him to the school, and he’s cool with it all, then…boom. Done.” Leave it to the unfundamentalist Christian to help the non-practicing Jew make sense of sending her son to Catholic school.

While Nicky’s likely the only Jew in his class, he’s not the only non-Catholic. He’s got company when he sits out communion. He’s not feeling any pressure to convert–only to learn. No pressure to actively participate, only to be respectful of his Catholic surroundings. Enthusiastic teachers, many of whom graduated from The Mount themselves, have clear and deep loyalty and appreciation for the school and the kids. There are high expectations and a loving community. There’s the fact that when anyone asks how he likes high school, he answers, “I REALLY like it!” We couldn’t be happier. Baseball tryouts were in February, and he made the 9th grade team.

Here’s a clip from the second game he pitched for the Mount.  (Music, courtesy of Billy Joel at Shea Stadium.)

This post originally appeared on Kveller.com.  I’ve updated to include information since it was published in October.  🙂

*Nachas is Yiddish for the joy children bring to their parents.

A Belated Jump onto the Blogging Bandwagon…

September 24, 2011 § 8 Comments

What do “Where the Wild Things Are,” stranger danger, and the death of Osama Bin Laden have in common?

Come on – guess.  No…they have no relation to Kevin Bacon.  Try again.  No…they aren’t new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors.  One more try?  No…James Franco is not involved in any kind of artistic project about any of them.  That I know of…yet.

Okay, I’ll tell you.

These are my writing roots.  These are subjects that spurred lengthy notes on Facebook that I published for only my FB friends to see.  Moments and experiences that could not be compressed into a FB status update.

A rather boring series of events led from these notes to my starting to blog on Catonsville Patch.  About what, you ask?  The editor asked me the same thing.  ”What’s your angle/focus/topic?”  To which I have a tendency to reply, “Anything.”  I have always been the kind of student/friend/daughter/wife/mother/human to operate more as a hub with spokes reaching out in many directions.  Fingers in many pies, as it were.  So, it stands to reason that my inspiration and source material should come from many different directions as well.  And they do, indeed.

I’ve been so encouraged by responses to my notes and Patch blog posts, that I’m venturing out on my own with a blog on WordPress.  Hopefully I can get past the techno-moron phase of this and become adept at formatting the page layout, pointing the whojiwhatsis to the right browser-thingie, getting a picture up, and other extremely advanced computer functions that I am sure my 7-year-old son could help me with.

Eventually, I will have my previous writings settled in either the Archives section or on static pages – trying to figure that out now.   (Do I really deserve archives if this is only my first post on WordPress?)

To begin with, though, here’s a link to my first blog post on Catonsville Patch, in which I come out of the (writing) closet, and post a link to a TED talk by Clifford Stoll – the guy I want to be when I grow up.  Wish me luck, and please share your thoughts!

http://catonsville.patch.com/blog_posts/the-worthington-post

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