I’ve got a major case of the post-vacation blues and the fact that I still have that weird vertigo thing where I feel like I’m still on a moving ship (What is that anyway? Is there an official term for that syndrome?) does not help.  Maybe this little memoir of our 2 days in South Florida, followed by 7 days on Carnival’s Glory cruising the Western Caribbean will help.

We spent the first few days before the cruise in South Florida.  Our first day we went to the Everglades and then Jerry satisfied my long awaited dream to see the Florida Keys.  Here’s the first thing I saw when we arrived on Key Largo: 

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The next day we went to Miami Beach.  Not my favorite place in Florida, especially after it became the site of an unfortunate Mojito incident henceforth deemed Miami Beach’s Mojito Mayhem of 2010.  I am now well aware of the fact that 2 1/2 mojitos + hot Florida sun do not make for a pleasant afternoon:

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Needless to say my taste for rum, and all hard alcohol in fact, was ruined for the rest of the week….which actually turned out to be a good thing because I now know what all the hoopla about ice cold beer on a hot day is about. 

We actually made it to the ship the next day and spent the next 36 hours at sea.  Unfortunately I have no photos of this.  Even more unfortunate is the lack of video footage documenting a nasty, but entertaining incident involving one mean old lady, her husband and a rascal.  

Our first port of call was Cozumel.  Here’s Jerry in Cozumel: 

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*Note: video footage of Jerry listening to Mariachi will be available at a later date when Jerry finally maps my computer to the Jessopland data server (I’m sure I said that all wrong). 

Our next port of call was Belize.  Here’s Jerry in Belize:

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Here’s Jerry in Roatan:

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No pictures available for Grand Cayman.  It was pouring rain. 

If you are now thinking, “Gee, it looks like they didn’t do much of anything” you would be correct.  While Jerry obsessively checked work email on his crackberri I had plenty of time to sit on deck chairs and read.  In fact, I went on a Meg Cabot bender and within a week’s time read the last two installments of The Princess Diaries series as well as The Boy Next Door.  All in all a fun and very relaxing time. 

I spent a good portion of my life assuming I would one day get married and have children.  I used to think about it all the time.  I’d picture myself as a happy cheerful mom, standing in a spotless kitchen, holding out a plate of fresh baked cookies for two adoring perfect children.  I never thought I would be one of those women who’d say “I never had a desire to have children.”   Oddly, it turns out I am. 

When I was a senior in high school I was already on the “get married and have kids” track.  I was dating a good Catholic boy who was diligently working on a business degree from UC Berkley so he could begin his climb on some corporate ladder, marry me and have children.  He was completely devastated when I hit age 21 and broke up with him because I decided I wasn’t ready to settle down.  Looking back I’m impressed at how mature I was to know I was too young to get married.  At the time I just thought it was because I wanted to hang out in bars more.

A few years later my friends started getting married.  The getting married part seemed like a great idea, but then they started having babies and I thought they were crazy.  (The ones who started having babies on their own  were outright ludicrous.)  Sure, I was in a relationship at the time as well, and I talked a lot about getting married and having babies, but not right now.  Marriage and babies were still far off in the future and certainly not with that guy.  Turns out that guy was…well that’s another blog post. 

Then I hit my 30s.  That guy was out of the picture and my friends were still having babies.  Some of them were kind of smug about it and I started getting wistful.  The babies were so cute and I started to panic that I may never have one.  I was meeting plenty of men who wanted to get married and have babies but yuck none of them appealed to me.  The only guys I seemed to like were…well that’s another blog post.  

The panic lasted for a few years and then started to fade away, right about when the babies started growing into children.  My friends weren’t smug anymore.  Now they were tired and stressed out all the time.  Turns out that having children is a lot of work and there is not much time to be baking plates of cookies in spotless kitchens.  The children are far from adoring and perfect too.  Turns out that children are individual people with their own personalities and problems that parents have to deal with on a constant basis. 

Now I started to be the smug one and my friends began to look wistfully at my life.  I got to take long baths whenever I wanted in a bathroom, which was attached to an entire apartment that I got to myself.  I got to spend Sunday mornings drinking coffee and reading for hours on my couch.  I still thought about the possibility of having children, but now the assumption was gone.  Apparently there were other ways of living and I was currently doing it.

By the time I got married I was 37 years old.  I’d realized by then that maybe I too, never had a desire to be a mom or have children because whenever the opportunity presented itself I rejected it.  Turns out that having children was just a fantasy that I enjoyed daydreaming about.  The truth is, I never wanted that to be part of my reality. 

carnival gloryOh. My. God.  Exactly two weeks from today Jerry and I will be  boarding a Carnival Cruise ship (the Glory I think) destined for the Western Caribbean.  I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. 

All attempts to direct my excited energy to productive things like getting work done have failed.  I have made some good progress on shopping for evening gowns and bathing suits though. 

This cruise is a Valentine’s Day gift from Jerry.  Jerry isn’t big on Valentine’s Day gifts (or any formal gift giving for that matter) but when he does give, he gives big. 

This particular gift, similar to the Vancouver repositioning cruise of ’05, was announced late Saturday night, February 13, 2010.  It was after a week of late work nights that had worn my patience about as thin as the brakes in the Acura get before Jerry finally gets them replaced.  And similar to Jessopland cruise booking tradition, Jerry told me about it by asking my favorite question, “Honey, what’s your passport number?” 

We are going to be very busy in the next several days getting ready to leave.  (Jerry even gets to spend the next week on a business trip in beautiful Laredo.)  It will likely result in extra trips to our friend, The Liquor King which will surely help out because without us for 10 whole days his sales revenue for the month of May will likely be low. 

Last weekend Jerry upgraded my MSI Wind with Windows 7.  He also did a bunch of other technical stuff to it which for me means my sweet little netbook is not only faster but I can now also play Restaurant City while watching DVRd episodes of The Ghost Whisperer.  But even before the upgrade, when the rigors of Facebook games were too much for my MSI to handle, I loved this thing.  It’s as good as any laptop as far as I’m concerned.

So this post is actually a test run to make sure I properly set up Windows Live Writer.  If I did screw something up I’ll know I’m more technically inept than I realized because Windows Live Writer is a very simple desktop blogging application that makes even me feel smart.

Here’s a very blurry picture of Mrs. B supervising my activities:

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OK, here goes! 

I know the ash cloud over Europe is generating havoc for travelers all over the world, but for me, it’s one of the few things I have no complaints about.  Thanks to the lovely ash cloud Jerry’s business trip this week was canceled. 

No, Jerry was not scheduled to go to Europe.  As per usual he was scheduled to go to meetings in Tokyo.  Yes, I know the ash cloud is not over Japan.  But as luck would have it, key attendees at this week’s have been grounded in the U.K. until further notice.  Since these folks are unable to attend in person the meetings have been rescheduled and Jerry will be home for at least another week. 

So sorry if this sounds a bit insensitive, but considering how much my husband travels, I say “Yay for the ash cloud!”  

I first heard about Eckhart Tolle about a year ago.  Actually I’d heard of him way before that because of Oprah and all, but I didn’t know what this whole “Power of Now” was all about until my family member starting talking to me about it.  My dad was first one to start talking about “being present.”  I had no idea what he was talking about so I just tuned him out.  Not having to listen to the lectures of one’s parents is one of the benefits of being 43 and living away from home. 

The next family member who started talking about Tolle was my youngest brother John.  I gave John slightly more attention than I did Dad, but otherwise wrote the whole thing off.  I just figured this was another one of those new agey things my brother and his wife were into. 

The family member who actually got me to stop and think was my brother Harlan.  The idea of Harlan actually reading–an entire book no less—got my attention.  When he told me how simple the whole thing was and how it changed his whole perception on life I decided to give it a try.  

I got about 100 pages into A New Earth before I put it down.  Where was all the simplicity everyone was talking about?  The book made absolutely no sense to me.  This Tolle fellow actually suggested that people stop thinking so much, which seemed incomprehensible to me.  How could one simply not think?  If anything I felt like I didn’t think enough.  I put the book away (or rather, I removed it from my e-reader) and went back to reading vampire novels. 

It wasn’t until a few months later when I had a revelation.  Whether provoked by what I had already heard and read or simply something I discovered on my own I will never know (and Tolle would probably say it doesn’t matter anyway) but in the very un-dramatic moment it happened something inside me clicked. 

I was at home washing dinner dishes and as per usual I was fretting about a work thing.  Anyone who knows me knows that I always have a work worry.  Work worries are a constant thorn in my side.  They keep me up at nights and ruin entire weekends.  I hate them!  And that night as I was doing dishes it suddenly occurred to me that I should stop thinking about work all the time because it was a real drag.  And so I did.  I simply turned the work thoughts off.  It was amazing! 

Granted, the thoughts would eventually start creeping back in, but when I noticed them I would turn them off again.  I kept this up for a few weeks and then started mentioning it to my brothers.  “That’s what Eckhart Tolle is talking about,” they said. 

So I picked up the book again.  Well not really.  I picked up a copy of The Power of Now because I found out that Tolle wrote that book first and I always like to go in chronological order when possible, even with self-help books.  And suddenly the whole thing made complete sense…not thinking so much…concentrating on the present moment…even the concept of being present.  It all made complete sense to me and I’ve been practicing it all ever since. 

It hasn’t been a complete transformation.  I have a long way to go. I won’t bore you all with all my thoughts on being present and acceptance.  I’ll save that for future postings that people are free to ignore.  My point is at least now I know what all the hoopla is all about. 

I discovered a great new recipe for tomato soup last night.  It’s super simple and your spouse will be so amazed with the results he’ll tell all his friends: 

  • Empty one 10 oz. can of condensed tomato soup (Campbell’s is best) into saucepan.  Add 10 oz. of milk (measure in the empty soup can).
  • Stir to combine then place on medium heat. 
  • Turn away to make ham sandwich to go with soup. 
  • Listen to sarcastic remark from husband about “how lucky he is” to get such a great dinner. 
  • Glance at clock on wall an note that it is 8:15pm and you just got home from work.
  • Check pot of soup.  Milk should be curdled. 
  • Pour soup down drain. 
  • Cut sandwich diagonally and place on plate.  Serve with pickle to make up for missing soup. 
  • Tell husband you ruined the soup and wait for reaction.  If you are lucky enough to have a particularly insensitive spouse you will hear something along the lines of “You can’t even heat up a fucking can of soup???”

The best thing about this recipe is it will give your husband one more thing to complain about for the next several days.  Because god only knows, he doesn’t get to bitch and moan nearly enough. 

So in addition to all the other things I need to get done at work, I now also have my self-evaluation to complete since it’s that lovely time of year called Fiscal Year End ie: Performance Review Season. 

I hate writing my self-evaluation.  I spent an hour on it today and it was like being in excruciating pain.  The part of me that was trying to write kept saying “You’re great…you’re great…you’re great! Think of all the things you’ve done this year that are so great.” While another voice in my head (the loud one) kept saying, “You suck…you suck…you suck! You can’t even write a good self-evaluation!” 

It’s times like this I wistfully think how nice it would be to be one of those people who think they are always right and everyone else is wrong.  You know, arrogant.  Ah to be arrogant. 

I just read something completely disturbing from one of my outdated issues of Women’s Health Magazine.  On the back page of the October 2007 issue they give random statistics from about The Average Woman (“AW”) concerning health care.  For example, the length of time the AW sits in the waiting room per visit is 21 minutes.  And on the subject of TV docs (an important topic on the subject of healthcare), the AW would most want to play doctor with Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy.

But also on the subject of TV docs is the disturbing fact I just saw which is the TV doc the AW would want in charge of her health.  According to the AW polled by Women’s Health Magazine it is Gregory House.  Are you kidding me???  I’ll admit that Dr. House is a brilliant physician but hello?  He’s also addicted to pain killers!  Do you really want a doctor addicted to pain killers in charge of your health care???

Oh…wait….OK, yeah I guess I can get that. 

Last month when my Grandmother died I posted a top 10 list of the things I learned from her.  It was a list I put together for her memorial service and while it seemed a bit on the light side, I realized as I was putting the list together that each of those things did have a deeper meaning than what they may have seemed on their surface.  Number 10 was: Be a member of the clean plate club. 

I’ve actually spent the past several years cursing Grandma for this lesson.  I was a pretty fast learner when it came to cleaning my plate.  At age 5 I felt proud to hear Grandma describe me as a “good eater.”  At age 35, not so much.  But in her defense, Grandma had a reason for this attitude. 

I didn’t realize until much later that my Grandmother spent the majority of her childhood years hungry.  She lived in a home where food was in short supply which is probably unheard of for many of us.  It’s something that I can not even imagine. 

It also explains a lot about my Grandmother’s attitude about food and why she was such a good cook.  She loved food and nurtured it like a treasured pet.  She always had something to eat in the house and it was always good, no matter what it was.  Granma could make liver and onions taste good.  And she never wasted a bite.  Brown bananas were turned into banana bread.  Last night’s leftover corn was mixed into morning pancakes.  Grandma once called me a “rich bitch” when she caught me throwing out mushroom stems, lamenting the fact that I didn’t know what I was missing because I had never tasted real cream of mushroom soup. 

But the thing about using the last little bit of something was Grandma made it seem like that was the best part.  I always felt like the lucky one when I got the sandwich made with the heel of bread because Granma told me, “I used to love eating the heel when I was little.”  When our morning cereal was a mixture of raisin bran and Cheerios we thought it was a special treat.  It never occurred to me until years later that the real reason why Granma mixed the cereal is because she didn’t have enough of one kind to go around. 

So in honor of my Grandmother, I will gladly be a member of the clean plate club.  Because being a “good eater” is not really a bad thing.  It just means you know that the last bite is always the best one.