Thursday, May 10, 2012

Random Thoughts that Will Save the World

I’ve Solved World Problems Pertaining to Politics, the Economy and Health

How about clonazepam (tranquilizer), midazolam (an amnesiac) and Dexatrim (an old appetite suppressant from the ‘70’s)...., an anti-anxiety/amnesiac that curbs hunger? We'll add pomegranate, Omega 3-6 (as well as 13 and 14 because we'll need those in our diet soon enough), Echinacea, ginkgo and fiber- maybe some St John’s Wort for completion. The yuppies will swoon; Oprah will plotz, Dr Phil will recommend it to everyone. Dr Oz will extol the virtues of what it does to your poop! It will be produced in a rainforest town and manufactured with new jobs given to the parents of children not yet adopted by Angelina or Madonna. Win-win!

Proceeds will be used to educate cultures not yet "Americanized" (those without the benefit of American propaganda media to tell them what they should/should not know/believe/think/wear/weigh. We will buy the newly employed, developing country workers TVs that only get FOX and CNBC (from there they can figure it out and fight amongst themselves as to which, if either, is really news.)

Education, jobs, stress relief, obesity and bad judgment recollection. Yep. I believe I’ve just solved some major world issues.

This Pinky and the Brain moment has been brought to you by Amnorexepam- The drug that makes you happy to forget to eat, and stress. Slogan not finalized.

Copyright Suki Eastman 2012

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sex in the Country

According to Jeff Foxworthy, “If you’ve had the same in-laws more than once, you might be a redneck.” I can’t argue with that. How about if you live near your ex-boyfriend’s 3rd wife’s 1st husband? Yep, I’ve gone from city life, where you may be moderately surprised to run into your fifth-grade teacher at a major museum, but you don’t run into your ex-boyfriend’s 3rd wife’s ex-husband. In the city, this would be as unfathomable as getting the same cab driver twice. After years of living in a metropolis without a car, I never had the same cab driver twice. Either there’s a really high turn-over (totally understandable) or there are more than just a shitload of cabs. I digress (a lot).

Sex in the Country- It can often be ex in the country. Ex-sex is probably pretty prevalent around here. I’m guessing this is because the odds of finding anyone better are slim to none. Sure, things didn’t work out the way you planned, but still. There are perks to ex-sex. You already love them, even if things have changed, you can fart if you have to, and they already know you openly hate some of their entourage. Or they do now if they’re reading this. Whoops.

Bar Sex in the Country- The problem with bars in the country include, but are not limited to the fact that they are a) gentlemen’s clubs (v. hard to get laid when you’re not the one with the pierced labia on stage gyrating for dollars), b) gambling establishments (I’ll pass on anyone who is THAT bad at math), or c) the grocery store, which isn’t actually a bar, but they sell beer, so it counts… and I needed a third example.

Work Sex in the Country- WRONG. Letting women enter into the workforce resulted in a serious lack of options, not to mention the potential complications when things go south. Notice I didn’t say “if”. I’m all for working women. I am a working woman. I don’t necessarily want to be, but I am.

Parties in the Country- Most of them look like a hockey audience, so if you’re into diversity (other than White Americans versus White Canadians) you’re shit out of luck there. Also, this is only an option for people who can go to more than 2 parties a year without getting overwhelmed. And! What’s the first thing you do when you are invited to a party? That’s right; you dredge up anyone who will go with you so you don’t have to walk in alone. Now, how am I supposed to know that’s your sister and you’re not dating her (legitimate question in WV)? Wear a sign if you’re single, but only if you’re good-looking and well employed. As a matter of fact, make sure the sign has all this data.

Gay Tea Pool Parties are the best. Not for getting laid if you’re female, but because drinks come in three types of cups: red (taken), yellow (it’s complicated, come talk to me anyway for some threesome potential), or green (let’s blow this joint and then each other). Simple! The world should be like this. Everyone should be required to wear ribbons, or carry cups. Everyone get’s issued all three though, so you can be covert if you’re just not in the mood, or you can switch mid-day as circumstances dictate. Name tags would also be a good idea, but that’s another thought train leaving at midnight, and going to Georgia.

Out here in Terra Firma, WV, there’s also the hillbilly-factor. The only reality show that hasn’t been made: Finding a Man in WV Who Meets Your City Specs. Subtitle: It is way harder than it looks folks. I’m onto something here. Hang on while I call RFDTV.

Copyright Suki Eastman 2011

I hear voices and they are all my mother

I hear voices and they are all my mother.

"I heard that three women with dyed blond hair were in a car accident the other day... they were wearing clothes that don't require ironing". Ouch! Does that mean this will happen to me? It's a thin comparison, but Mother finds this to be very real. If it happened to them, it could happen to me.

"Sit like a lady". Okay, no problem, I can live with this one. I don't have the energy to wear matching panties or anything from the 21st century anyway. Underwear is underwear.

"Never butter a piece of bread bigger than you intend to put in your mouth". I can see the logic in this and it makes it easy to separate the old money from the new money if you're looking for old money in a restaurant. I am always looking for old money and am loathe to commit to anyone who butters an entire piece of bread (especially using the knife that is supposed to stay with the butter).

"A woman from the Mid-Atlantic was robbed at gunpoint on the sidewalk outside her gynecologist’s office... she hadn't checked her tire pressure for 17 months". Oy. I assume they check my tire pressure when they do anything to the car; if they don't- my bad. When I am at the point in my life where "never spend the principal" is a common phrase, I will hire someone to make sure my tires are okay all the time. Right now, it's anyone's guess.

As I grow older, there are more things I hear my mother say in my head, or, more frequently, on the phone. She thinks I don’t listen, but I do. Some of the things are good. Most are good. I will NEVER make the faux pas of using the wrong fork or buttering an entire piece of bread. I will never sit "like a man" with my knees akimbo and I know to take the closest item of food that is presented to me. It wouldn't occur to me to dig out the bottom of a chocolate to see what's inside and put back the rejects. First, that's just disgusting, and second, it's chocolate- there are no rejects.  This is useful stuff, that when drilled repeatedly into the head of an impressionable person, sticks.

Other stuff sticks too; like flat out neurosis, which does not get as watered down through the generations as you might think. This is only one of the reasons I chose not to procreate. That and there seems nothing "natural" about having a 10 lb anything come shooting out of my coochisnorcher. EGADS- it's like elective surgery! Further solidifying my decision to stay barren were the words "cracked nipples", "hemorrhoids" and "mucus plug". None of these words came from my mother. They have been shared by friends who state "it's all worth it". 

When I was 17, Mother just told me that if I had a child I should not plan on dumping it at her house for free babysitting. She also reminded me that twins run in the family. That didn't keep me abstinent, but I was on The Pill for at least a year before I had sex. Scared straight, before scared straight was cool.

Not having kids means I don't have to read What to Expect When You're Expecting. I wouldn't have to read it anyway because I have friends who have shared every last detail of their gruesome trips into motherhood, and I'm not buying the whole, “BUT IT'S SO WORTH IT” thing. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But frankly, most of your kids would make me nuts after about 24 hours. They say it’s different when they’re yours. It probably is, because you have no one but yourself to blame when they act like Charlie Sheen (off the wagon) in public.

Regardless, I obviously have a mother. You don't get that choice, and if I'm going to be honest, the one I have is pretty good. Very good. However, she's a thinker and a worrier and that apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

So, to all the kids I never had (other people's)- for the sake of your futures, read books, take the piece of candy closest to you, dress properly when going to the doctor or getting on an airplane, eat what is put in front of you and at least try a bite. If you don’t care for it, you may state that politely, if questioned. Be curious and courteous. Respect those older than you, even if they are acting your age. Coffee won’t stunt your growth, but no one is sure about Ritalin. Have a cup of coffee, it’s been around longer. High school is a gateway drug. Join the glee club. It’s okay if you are Gay, love who you want and tolerate; if not fully embrace differences in people.

Thanks to my mom and all the other moms who helped make me who I am today.

Copyright Suki Eastman 2012

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Online Dating- My Free Advice

Online Dating- My Free Advice

Here’s the wave of the future, or near distant past in most cases. Online dating is not so much about finding your dream partner as it is finding a partner that is NOT like your last one. Clearly that didn’t work out and now you’ve lost your focus. Your list of wants, must haves and needs are only based on the list of things that drove you crazy about the last person. Online dating rule number one- the new person is going to have a whole different set of issues that will annoy you as much as the last. If you’ve dated enough people, as I have, the list of what you don’t want can be pretty extensive. Pick the cream of the crop of dislikes and keep it to five or less, lest you jilt yourself out of a free dinner.

Other sage advice regarding online dating- Craigslist is for hooking up with people who have the requisite body parts you’re in the mood for. This is not where to find the love of your life, so don’t whine to me if your dinner date started with sex and ended with DiGiorno. You’re lucky you were offered the DiGiorno. Any port in a storm- get it?

E-Harmony is for Christian right-wing heterosexuals. If you’re not all of these things, get thyself on Dems looking for ‘Dem, Jewdate, or some other respectable and possibly made up site that fits your needs. You aren’t going to turn a bible thumper into a viable match by teaching them the ways of Moses or Krishna- get over yourself. is expensive. Make sure you get at least 3 free dinners out of it and order top-shelf liquor. If you don’t know good Scotch from bad, may I suggest a Kahlua and cream? If you are a man, and a woman is paying, well, then man-up and learn about Scotch. If you are a gay man, order Belvedere. Whoever pays gets to pick the apartment later. If you are a gay woman, don’t drink- it will lead to instant bonding and potential plans to move in together… the following day. Women don’t play when it comes to commitment. Three drinks and you’ll be online adopting babies from Rwanda.

If you meet on Men4Men, don’t be shocked if your date takes place in a park after sunset. Like Craigslist, it’s not really a “dating site” per se; though I have seen some temporary relationships last as long as Sunday brunch (from Saturday evening).

Other advice for online daters: Writing “I am funny” means you’re not. Sorry about that. Men who write, “I’m outdoorsy” mean they live in a house that needs a LOT of work- like a new roof. Women who state they have a few pounds to loose, have 40 minimum pounds to lose- so look within (and look for a BetaMax in the background of the “recent” picture.

It shocks me that people write that they are looking for marriage. Clearly this was added to make women go, “Awww,” so men can get laid with the pretense that as of the first date they are technically engaged. Be honest. You might be looking for marriage down the road, but are you really going to delete your profile after the first act of the play/sunset/hike you say you love to attend? I’m guessing, no.

The two big things to avoid: pictures of you in front of, or (worse) only of, your car or other vehicle. As a single woman, I want to see that you can afford the note on something that appreciates, not your crotch rocket. Your BMW means Bye! Money Wasted! Show me the deed to your house, bars of gold and silver, or something that stands a chance of appreciating in value if we ever learn to manage the country correctly.

CAPITOL LETTERS MISSPELED WORDS WITH BADLY GRAMMER NO PUNCTUAYYION AND RUN ON SENTENCES ARE WRONG BECAUSE YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER! If you cannot read or write, this dating medium is not for you. Might I suggest a bar with Keno and pickled eggs? This will better afford you the chance for love before they realize you are illiterate.

If there’s a person in the picture with you, explain who they are and include the waiver they signed to put their picture up on Plenty of Fish. Don’t cut out your ex-wife from a picture, but leave her arm (with wedding band) draped over your shoulder because you’re inept at Photoshop. Tacky.

If everyone liked hiking as much as they say they do, I’d be bumping into people out here in the country, day in and day out, and I’m not. So I suspect this is a lie. Don’t lie. You will be caught, or worse, you will have to hike.

Don’t say you went to 10 universities. Discuss whether you are in default with any household utilities, student loans or credit cards. As a matter of fact, cut the account number off and take a picture of your last 4 Visa statements. One could learn a lot more about where you’ve been and the amount of debt you consider acceptable. One of the biggest things people fight about is money. For instance, I am fiscally responsible, so if you came home with a superfluous vehicle, or say, a pool table, I would hit you over the head with it. Good to know up front, right?

Come forth freely about kids and ages. People (okay, me) have serious rules about who we will date based on these data points. Additionally, if you’re 48 and state you are “undecided/open” about having kids, I (at 48) shouldn’t be seeing your profile. Go back to Craigslist or lower your upper age limit to someone with a uterus and the correct hormone level to make this happen. Don’t be wishy-washy to gain potential- at your age you should certainly know whether or not you want to change poopy diapers again, or ever. Note- don’t include acceptable dating ages for women who require regular facial waxing. We expire- you don’t.

Yes, I do freelance profiles for people on dating sites. If any of these issues are plaguing you and you don’t know how to remedy them on you own, I will help if you’d like (it ain’t free, but you won’t have to write “I am funny”. I will even vet photos for you. Hint- if you’re arm is out or the bathroom mirror is involved, it’s gone. Sorry. If you have a life, you have friends. Get one to take 10 pictures of you standing, sitting, knitting, boxing (no boxing, you can’t see the face), whatever. Then pick the best few out of those 10. Face, ring, butt. These are the three things everyone wants to see before they commit to coffee at Starbucks. Include pictures of your face, ring finger and butt in your pictures, but for god’s sake, make sure everything is covered up.

Copyright Suki Eastman 2011

A Thanksgiving Story about Family

True story- the day before Thanksgiving, my step-brother was out with his family for dinner when his 17 year old son (whom I’ve known his entire life and then some), asked his dad what I was doing for Thanksgiving. My step-brother told him I was probably going to Ohio to see my dad. After a confused moment, my nephew said, “But Grandad lives in Delaware.” (This would be my step-father he refers to, and he has very much been a part of my life and a father figure- but I also have a genetic dad who does the same thing in a slightly less conventional way).

Okay, so I have a step-sister with my same first name, giving these children every reason to ask why they have two aunts with the same name from the same family. My brother asked him why this would be. No answer to that question. So he asked why I have a different last name- this my quick nephew had an answer for. Since my (real) last name is a noun, he predicted that I was called such because I used to work in a restaurant…. So, I have a 17 year old nephew, who has missed, for his entire life, the fact that there are indeed not “5” siblings in his father’s family, but 4 and 1 (genetically and only on that side of the family). Yeah, it’s complicated, I get it; but how on earth did this child go for 17 years not questioning why his father had two sisters with the exact same first name, and different last names. Though in my step-sister’s defense, the other one with my first name, she has had 3 last names to date and approximately 7-10 people who her children have called “Daddy”. In my nephew’s defense, he’s seen a few name changes over the years, but everyone has pretty much stuck to their original first names.

This is a message to all the kids who should not read my blog anyway because I like bad words- Get your heads out of your collective assholes and look up from whatever gaming thing you do. Introduce yourselves to your relatives. There may be surprises for you. Like the 253 people Mommy has listed as “sisters” in Facebook, may not actually be your aunts, and your aunts may be your aunts, but with a different set of parents. Ask why.

I think I need to take my nephew with me to Ohio sometime. It will blow his mind when he finds out I have a whole “secret” family out there too, and he’s never met them. So, while you’re getting together for the holidays this year, ask questions. I forget who said it’s better to be interested than to be interesting, but it’s a good idea from time to time. I rarely subscribe to this personally, but I still think it’s a good idea. I also rarely turn the other cheek in favor of bitching until the assailant leaves me the hell alone, but still, that has its merits as well. An eye for an eye? Gross. But if you touch a hair on my cat’s head in a malicious way, I will glue your knees together with Krazy Glue so you can’t pee without dribbling down your leg.

Dear nephew- read the Bible, not because it’s true (you can decide that yourself), but because if you can get through Numbers, with all the begats and begots, you’ll have our family tree nailed in no time. Our tree in fact, is more like a field of bushes.

Copyright Suki Eastman 2011

North and South (Bi-Polar) Holiday to You

So, the holiday season is upon us and naturally my thoughts turn to my stepfather’s ex-wife’s husband and too many other “relatives” and friends whom I miss terribly. Old age should kill more people; disease, less.

I come from a family of few- three originals, my mother, father, and myself. Then there were divorces that rang in the 60’s and 70’s, silences that rivaled the moments we stood still quietly when Viet Nam was over, the Wall came down, and the Mafia finally killed Kaddafi, Hussein and Bin Laden. Second marriages eventually seemed like first ones, There were live-ins, dates and significant others. Now my family is huge, and there’s not a marrow match in the bunch. By the way, be a bone marrow donor if you’re not already. You could save someone like me who doesn’t have viable family members. Not me particularly, just someone similar. I’m good.

This is a hard time of year for many, and I’m going to share the reasons it’s difficult for me. Lots of family: check. But I am inherently an only child who grew up entertaining me and sometimes entertaining others. A few select, also entertain me. Mostly, I was either on or off, and this hasn’t changed, only now it’s more pronounced. I can spend a certain amount of time with friends and family, all of whom I adore, but then the gate shuts. There’s an expiration date on my ability to socialize, then I’m done. People who only see me “on” think I’m evading them when I’m off.

The window doesn’t stay open long. I can live through a party and have a great time, but I will not see people the next day. The next day is for books, TV, gardening, or playing with the cat. Things I can do alone (except for the cat). This is what bipolar disorder is to some. Highs and lows; extremes, if you will. It’s okay, and I’m lucky that the extremes have never led me to buy multiple houses (okay, I have two, but that’s not excessive, that’s investment), or bags and bags of dog food (no dog). The lows have never made me suicidal. They have caused ridiculous amounts of crying, which I’m sometimes afraid won’t stop. That’s the scary part; thinking that your heart is breaking so badly that you could literally cry until they take you away. It does stop though, and maybe it’s normal, but no one talks about it.

The holidays tear me asunder because there is never the correct mix of off and on. There are either too many parties, or not enough. Or I have to drive far to get to them- I hate driving and if it wasn’t for books on tape, I’d be completely agoraphobic. Books on tape let me take my love of reading on the road. Other than that, it’s just assholes driving badly, fear of deer running out in front of my car, breaking down on the road, getting stuck in the snow, or a not-so-paranoid feeling that people on the road may not be sober, or conscious of what they could do to others by not paying full attention.

Snow freaks me out, yet I can’t abide living with giant cockroaches, or 3 million dollar mortgages, or more hillbillies than I currently share geographic space with. If there’s a Utopia with my name on it, take me there. I understand that a personal Utopia may be an oxymoron, but I can dream, can’t I? It’s always 70 degrees, there’s a light breeze, bugs and snakes are banned, deer eat out of your hand (and don’t have ticks because of the bug ban), people who think, question and don’t argue, but listen, are everywhere, cars are Nerf and mortgages are reasonable. I’ve ruled out most of the 50 states for one reason or another. Oh, there is no crime of course, and everyone loves their pets very much.

Here’s my point for the holidays, and maybe it applies to others. If I’m alone, thank you for the invite. If I can make it I will, but this is not my season. It’s cold, the weather is unpredictable, and I have a bear’s instinct to hibernate until things grow again. I’m sad, but I’m okay, and I’ve pulled out of 48 winters so far. I will again. Sweaters help. If I attend your party, I will do so because I know I can be on, comfortable, and maybe even funny.

I have no religion. I am atheist with Jewish and Buddhist philosophical undertones. Christmas does not mean anything to me. I understand that it does for many, but I would like to see more good will towards men and less ridiculousness at Wal-Mart and the other big box stores. I’d like to see less pressure over whom to buy gifts for- if it’s in your heart to give, give, and never expect anything in return. If someone buys something for you, don’t feel guilty. Say thank you and move on. Holiday cards fill my mailbox and I read each one and smile, laugh and feel awesome that someone is thinking about me. Unfortunately, I can’t consolidate my thoughts about so many people into small cards, and the deadline is something I can do without in my life. It would take me a year to compile holiday cards to everyone I wanted to tell how I feel. And I’m sorry, but Christmas letters are like listening to your dreams (in most cases) or what you’ve eaten down to the crust on the latest fad diet. Plus, most cards have religious overtones I don’t subscribe to. I’d rather send you an email, a FB message, or a tweet, that says “Hey, it’s Tuesday afternoon and I’m thinking about you.”

I’m not an evangelist for my lifestyle, but I’m a proponent on living how I live because it works for me. It’s my Utopia. Share in any parts of it that you’d like.

Cheers and happy everything to everyone I love, and who I’m lucky enough to have love me back.


Copyright Suki Eastman 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Ship that Launched a Thousand Faces

The Ship that Launched a Thousand Faces

Actually, it was more than a thousand faces, but like the Minnesotans say, “We have more than 10,000 lakes (as depicted on their license plates), but it says 10,000 because that’s where we just stopped counting”. Well, there you have it. Before I go on about ship travel more on Minnesota. The “Twin Cities” in Minnesota, don’t look anything alike. They aren’t the same shape and the Great Mississippi does not separate them as one city is on both sides- I can’t remember which. An amateur hypothesizer*, suggested they were called that because “they are next to each other”. Huh? Aren’t ALL cities next to other cities? Even East L.A. must have something to the right of it.

If you are an amateur hypothesizer who wonders a lot about what else I’m wondering, another is why more men seem to like Miracle Whip, and more women prefer mayonnaise. Seems weird since people were probably brought up with one or the other, leading to an adult preference, but certainly there are both boys and girls, or men and women in households where people grow up, so why the split? I have not documented any of my findings, and they are probably based on too many cocktails and a wandering mind, but I have asked a significant (if not statistically) amount of people which they prefer and the hands down winners, with an insignificant variation, is men=Miracle Whip, women=mayonnaise; for what it’s worth.

I love Minnesota and it’s winter. A vacation there seemed silly so I didn't even suggest it. I must hand it to the state of MN; however, for they KNOW it will snow every year and never act surprised about it (Nords are notorious for not really seeming surprised about anything, but still…) My point is, that unlike the entire Mid-Atlantic (or the 4 states I’ve lived in that qualify for that title), Minnesotans know it will snow, so they PLAN for it and act accordingly. If anyone at the Department of Transportation (DOT) is reading this, please tell me, before I add it to my mayonnaise/Twin Cities quandaries: Why do you wait until it has well started to snow before treating the roads? We know it’s coming. It’s been grossly sensationalized and over-exaggerated in the media for a week; we’ve been scared half out of our wits; we’ve started filling tubs with water, filling snow blowers with gasoline (or whatever liquid makes them run), and we’ve brought wool sweaters, snow pants, boots and warm coats to the front of the closet. We have long forgotten in which drawer we keep our bathing suits (bottom left). We are not surprised! We’ve been buying bread, chips and toilet paper for a week in anticipation of not being able to leave our homes because we know full well that the DOT is not going to plow until they damn well feel like it, and throwing down some salt or gravel BEFORE the roads get dangerous is unheard of. Where’s the sport in that? I think DOT invests in companies that buy ad spots during the 4-hour weather reports we’re forced to watch (unless someone famous dies, in which case, they’ll say, “It’s snowing; the roads are crap. Now, onto how many pills were found in Brindyessica’s* stomach!”)? I smell a conspiracy that has not reached areas involving many lakes, great or not yet great. I was a Girl Scout. I’ve been prepared (neurotically, contingently-aware) since the age of five. Are Richard Lewis, Larry David, Wanda Sykes and Woody Allen and I the only three people in the world who think, “What if?”

Back to the vacation (you thought I completely lost my train of thought didn’t you?) Don’t you love trains? You can see things go by that you would never see, like the backs of tire warehouses and real estate that has to be free, or sold exclusively to the hard of hearing, and the grafitti! How delightfully insightive of the artists to entertain us with random mispelled words while we zoom along!

Okay, I’m serious this time. After having just returned from a 9-day cruise, I can honestly say that 1) there are too many free cookies on boats, 2) Boyfriend and I CAN share a 4’ square space and not be tempted to throw the other one overboard, yet we can’t manage this at home, which is okay because we live in a ranch-style house, so it wouldn’t be a big fall 3) the term “butler” is underused in my house, and used liberally on a cruise ship, and 4) I am not a sailor- and I have a new appreciation for the joke Never Again Volunteer Yourself (NAVY). However, if I have to stay dizzy and completely off balance for 9 days to have butlers taking care of my every whim, then maybe it’s not so bad. Eventually I would get used to the feeling of having taken a large handful of blood pressure medication; correct? Who needs to think (or walk) straight or gaily forward? It’s overrated, and there are people telling you what you can do, all of which is optional and there are banisters everywhere. Of course you shouldn’t touch the banisters because thousands of people who have weird diseases, have just picked their nose, or wiped their butt have touched those same banisters moments before you.

Now the cruise ship (oddly unaffiliated with the Department of Transportation), has THOUGHT of this! You can’t swing a dead mouse on that ship without getting accosted by a person whose job it is (!) to stand there with hand sanitizer and squirt unsuspecting recipients, much like those obnoxious people in department stores, who I can only guess must have failed 3rd grade, making them the optimum choice for that profession. Of course you can recognize the nose pickers as the ones who don’t partake in this particular assault of their manual dryness. Me? I could have performed surgery during most of the trip for all the hand sanitizer I used. I voluntarily walked up to these people and stuck out my hands over and over, throughout the day and night. You can’t SEE germs- therefore they may be there, or they may not. I’m not a big risk taker when it comes to the communicable. There are people from countries I’ve never heard of before (and I've heard of a lot of countries), and like the mongoose in Hawaii, their particular set of germs are not indigenous to my body. My motto is, cleanliness is next to hygiene- in the thesaurus.

The cruise began with 3 days at sea, which is apparently about 30 days less than it takes to get used to being on something that constantly moves under your feet. I have recently ruled out space travel, and anything else that involves weightlessness, other than, of course, Weight Watchers; which is good. Cruising is not a bad way to travel from the standpoint of cookies and butlers, but wouldn’t you think a floating 14 story hotel would stand a better chance of warding off some little 4’ waves? It’s doesn’t. It rocked like the rock of ages (note to self, ask Carrie Fisher to ask Paul Simon what that meant). Ironically, the 1,000 or so folks who likely were on too much blood pressure medication, thanks to new diagnoses such as “pre-hypertension” (allowing pharmaceutical companies to interfere with your biosystem in advance of actual indication), seemed fine. Maybe it was the hovercrafts (“We’ll work with Medicare to make sure you never have to exercise again!”), or the oxygen tanks that kept them moving faster and more lithely than moi, but regardless, I was a head-floating mess and not a butler on board could fix the problem. C’est la vie, or la sea, or le mer, which doesn’t rhyme at all.

Wouldn't it be more useful and clean, if those hovercraft things also vacuumed while people rolled around?

If you are using this as an actual travel article (and, seriously, why would you), I’ll recap the highlights so there is some usable data. From Baltimore, MD, you are on this ship for 3 days and then you dock in Miami. Miami is okay, but it’s big, so you need to find something to see or do and go do it. You cannot just wander around Miami and see stuff that is interesting like you can do in smaller cities or cities where “culture” means “museums” or “opera” and not “Cuban” or “pink and green”. We headed to South Beach since none of us had been there, and let’s face it; my “magnetic north” leads straight to South Beach, Dupont Circle and Poodle Beach. South Beach is a reasonably sized area with expensive, Euro-type stores that eventually lead to a beach. So far, so good, and the people in the South Beach area are relatively good-looking, which is always nice. It might be the antithesis of the DMV (in any city), where it seems that the unattractive gather. That’s another quandary. I know almost everyone drives, yet I have never walked into the DMV to find anyone other than the unkempt and underdressed. Next time you go, please wear eveningwear and don a little makeup or whatever it takes to make you better looking. And for god’s sake, don’t wait until the 30th to get your tags done! I think this could lead to World Peace. I’m not certain, but it wouldn’t hurt.

So, after an espresso bar that I thought was going to tell me what I owed in Euros, a trip to the beach, and a nice outdoor lunch, we were back on the boat (SHIP!) and headed to Key West (compass was happy). Now, I’ve been there, but there was a hurricane called Irene, so I didn’t get a chance to see everything on account of the brown outs, torrential rain and winds, and the fact that they kept telling us to evacuate. What they didn’t tell us, was how to evacuate when we arrived by plane. I’ve seen flight delays that stemmed from far fewer deadly causes than flying a little tiny airplane over the ocean during a hurricane, so I imagine that wouldn’t have been an option even if we could get a water taxi down Duval and over to the airport. This time we had great weather.

With limited time, we decided on a trolley tour so we could see as much of the island in the shortest period of time and learn something useful along the way. Hemingway drank! Our Terry Bradshaw-look-alike driver was funny, if a little droll and we actually did learn things- though none come to mind immediately because I keep picturing free roaming chickens and polydactyl cats. I also confirmed some personal things. Normal people do not move to Key West. It’s small, and the industry is completely dependent on tourism. Completely. This means that if you’re not in the service industry or an alcoholic writer FedExing* stuff to your publisher regularly, you ain’t going to make it there. However, it makes for a great visit and Sloppy Joe’s really does make really good Sloppy Joes! Apparently, they invented the sandwich. It was a good lunch and only 90 miles from Cuba; so there you go!

Next on the itinerary was Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. I was unaware that there was more than one Bahama*, and I’m still not sure how many there are but Nassau is, well… sad. We went to the dock/shopping area and it was as any tourist trap would be. There’s junk for sale to anyone who wants to buy things like shells and you don’t have to ask twice for the hair braiding opportunities, which were plentiful. This baffled me because even those who have only laid eyes on me for 2 seconds can tell that braiding my hair into cornrows would not solve any of my hair problems. Though my hair does lean toward the African American side of texture, unlike most of my Black friends, I have given up completely and take no pride in spending time or money on trying to tame, lengthen, straighten or cover my hair with wigs. The thought of extensions particularly cracks me up- more frizzy hair for a couple of hundred dollars? No, thank you. So, we all passed on this endeavor.

After Tourism Street from hell, we headed to Cabbage Beach, where we were very efficiently accosted by a Bahamian willing to sell us temporary chairs, weird cocktails in real coconuts that I’m not sure they wash between uses, and lies. Yes, they sold lies. We confirmed later that a) 16 is NOT the legal drinking age in the Bahamas, b) “it is [not] better to get hammered with your parents than with strangers” and c) we suspect that the islands we saw off of Nassau were maybe NOT where they filmed Gilligan’s Island and Blue Lagoon. We suspect there were Hollywood sets involved in the latter, but we don’t have the energy to confirm these stories, probably due to the coconut-tourist-germy alcoholic beverages that we had. This can remain a mystery, but the mayonnaise thing still stymies me.

Back on the ship for more vertigo-inducing travel with nice scenery, cookies and butlers. We’re off to Coco Cay (pronounced Coco Key). This is a private island owned by the ship, so it’s swank and the food is brought in by the ship staff and therefore inclusive. Inclusive is my new favorite word, but it comes with a lot of asterisks. This island is beautiful and they have limited the tee-shirt/shell selling natives to a select few who were actually fun. Best part for the family? The snorkeling- they loved it. I chickened out knowing that I have a bad gag reflex (no jokes), and honestly I was perfectly happy on solid land a couple of inches above sea level in a non-rented beach chair with a native island cat I called Sandy. I named it after petting it half bald (I missed our cats terribly). Sandy was very friendly and seems happy on the island. I am NOT going to worry about what the cat eats, where it gets fresh water, what it does in a monsoon, or what keeps it company when I’m not there. There was a chicken roaming around; presumably they are friends. Sandy was a lovely cat and if I wasn’t worried about having to quarantine it for 6 months in the US, I would have smuggled it in. Note to Customs- I would have easily gotten away with this cat-jack. I think we were profiled. They didn’t ask what we bought or ask for the card I painstakingly filled out with minutia the evening before. The ship told me to fill out the card, and if nothing else, I’m a rule-follower. It saves worry, and I have enough of that (see mayonnaise references).

On board life (for those who still insist on using this as a gauge for future travel plans) - Well, there is the feeling of just having smoked a lot of dope, but without the benefit of everything being funnier. You are definitely hungrier, which I believe is a direct correlation to the price, proximity and availability of food (inclusive, everywhere and abundant, respectively). There were gobs of things to do, but balance was required for many of them. I worked my core everyday by getting from place to place without falling down. The spa packages offered no help for green gills, though the warm stones for the massage may have been helpful if I had put them in my pockets to weigh me down.

Can I just break for a minute to tell you I’m eating the leftover baked sweet potato I got last night at a place called Logan’s Roadhouse (where cleanliness is next to peanut shells all over the floor and two of the many neon signs on the wall that are next to each other (like Minneapolis and St. Paul, or Odenton and Dundalk) read, “High Balls” and “Restrooms”. This was the best mistake or clever placement of landmarks I have seen since I realized that Mother Seton Catholic Church is on Father Hurley Blvd. So, in essence, many people (or 4 families consisting of 85 people each) can include in the directions to the blessed wedding, “Right- Mother Seaton’s on Father Hurley”. Who edits these ideas? I’m thinking the DOT, since we KNOW they have a sense of fun!

Ramble out-

* Don’t use these words in sentences

Copyright Suki Eastman 2011