Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Celebrate Me Home

Monday we awoke to find our ship of fools back in the real world.  Bummer.  We had one last breakfast at the buffet and one last visit to the soft-serve ice cream machine.  Then before too long, our assigned Zone number was called and we were allowed off the boat.  As we trotted off the boat, Annette and I were told to go through a different door than all the people in front of us.  My heart stopped. And I'd done so well!  Now comes the weird security stuff, and poor Annette's been sucked into my personal hell now, too!

But no, the people in front of us had a butt-load of luggage with them, so they went to the elevators.  We only had a backpack (me) and a bag (Annette) so we got diverted to the escalator and/or stairs.  Whew!

We then had to pick up our luggage from the holding area.  This was the first of several reminders that for the past several days, we've had people doing everything for us.  And now we have to lug our own luggage!  Sigh.  We, with our luggage in tow and Customs forms in hand, got in line and slowly made our way to the Customs people.  I decided that some of the best words you can hear is when the Customs agent tells you, "Welcome home."  Just made me feel good.

We had arranged for the shuttle to take us to the airport, and the very comfy, air-conditioned bus was a welcome site.  At the airport, we gratefully paid a tip to the skycap people to take our luggage off our hands and check us in.  After hitting the ladies room, we were pleased to breeze thru TSA and we made a beeline straight to Starbucks!

We had a couple of hours before our flight left Tampa.  But ultimately made our way to Detroit where we anticipated a lovely three hour layover.  I will do anything to avoid the Atlanta airport!  Turns out we were pleased we did the Detroit thing, though, because we got to see the coolest tunnel thingee between terminals.  I took a video, but it's too big for me to upload.  You can find it on my Facebook page.

We got home to Evansville about 8:30 pm and Annette dropped me off at the 'do about 9:20.  I was so happy to be home.  And the kids were happy to see me.  Although instead of welcoming me home, Sophie just decided to plop her furry little butt on my suitcase in an attempt to stop me from leaving again.  Such a sweetie.  So glad to be home!

Aye, Calypso, I Sing to Your Spirit!

Sunday was our last full day of the cruise, and would be spent at sea. 

There was one last session of cat trivia and I wanted that stupid trophy so bad I could taste it.  This round of questions was hard - it separated the cats from the dogs!  And I was ONE FLIPPIN' QUESTION AWAY FROM WINNING!!  Sigh.  I was bummed.  But I did learn a few things.  So it was worthwhile.  Grumble..

We discussed the options for the next cruise, and it sounds like it will be in October, and will leave from Miami and go to Key West, so the cruisers can visit the Hemingway cats.  While I would adore seeing the cats, I'm not sure I'll be able to go, for reasons I will discuss more thoroughly later.

Because there was a block of us, Carnival gave some credits that could be used by the group in a variety of ways.  One of them, and the one that was chosen, was a hour-long cocktail party for the group where the alcohol was free.  I've never been a heavy drinker, but after my surgery and it's subsequent screwing around with my metabolism, I really can't drink much.  Plus I don't like not being in control so the whole drinking thing isn't all that fun for me.  Let's just say that some of these cat people do not have the same physical limitations or psychological inhibitions as I do. 

I realize that after reading that last paragraph you're probably shocked by the fact that Annette and I went to the mixer.  It wasn't easy, but we felt like we ought to make a show of participating.  Especially since the cattier (hahahaha!) of the members had notice we weren't joining in all of the fun.  One in particular, said, as we joined the cocktail party, "Oh, sure, when there's alcohol, you show up!"  I do not hesitate to point out that she was already drunk, and, as I said earlier, the alcohol was free.  I'm too cheap to pay $10 per drink anywhere!  We did talk to a very nice couple from the Dominican Republic and we got to hear some about the others' day off the boat.

You will recall that I mentioned previously that we'd made reservations for massages - we had them in the afternoon.  Before the cocktail party.  I had signed up for the deep tissue massage and I truly thought the woman was killing me.  Afterwards, I felt better than I had all day, but during, it was touch and go.  Annette's massage was her first and I think she's a believer.  Of course, like the pedicure, our respective masseuses tried their best to talk us into buying products.  Specifically, I'm supposed to apply seaweed oil to the knots in my neck, lower back, and left shin.  But we held firm.  I was so proud of us!  

Annette and I also had decided that we would make one appearance in the formal dining room and since this was the last night, it had to be tonight.  The group had gathered a thank you gift and had a card for Anna, the girl who coordinated the whole Cat Cruise, so the timing worked nicely. 

As for the formal dining room - I am not a formal person.  I do know what fork to use, and when, but that's about as far as my couth carries me.  The ten people at our table were probably the most sober of our group, and so it was a pretty nice group.  The food was good, but it wasn't any better than the buffet where we'd been grazing all along, and it took forever.  The waiters started taking orders at one end of the room and by the time we ordered, there were some who were already eating their main course!  The waiter was very nice and told Annette and I that he was glad we came for one meal so he could meet us!  After almost two hours, I was glad for the experience, but next cruise, I'll stay with the buffet and the common folks.  Plus we had and self-serve soft-serve ice cream machine!

After dinner, we returned to our room to start the long chore of packing our suitcases, shoving the dirty clothes that somehow had gotten bigger that they were when they were clean AND the loot we purchased.  And we had to fill out the everlovin' Customs Declaration Form.  Arnold, our cabin steward rewarded us with one last towel creation. 

I watched a movie on Carnival TV and turned in for the last night at sea.

Cozumel (I Can't Stop Groovin')

Saturday morning, when we woke up, we were docked in Cozumel - an island just off the Yucatan Peninsula.  We really aren't that far from Honduras, but what we saw when we stepped off the boat was light years from Honduras!  Of course we had heard the sales pitches from the Ship Shopping Guide about how they have ship-approved shops where your purchases are guaranteed- the cynic in me says that they're also going to be more expensive, but...

We had a variety of choices for excursions on our day in Cozumel.  We could have swum with the dolphins, dived among the coral, or a whole slew of other things that just would not have been me.  We chose to go see the ancient Mayan ruins.
It was a 3-4 hour tour, by air-conditioned bus.  Our tour guide was a man named Miguel.  He told us he had been doing the tour guide thing for 28 years and it showed.  He was very knowledgeable, entertaining, and he shared all about the history of the Mayan's in general and the ruin site in specific.

It took about an hour to tour the ruins, and then just outside of the site, there were some shops that were not in cahoots with Big Souvenir, and according to Miguel, were more likely authentic made in Mexico stuff.  I purchased a fire opal pendant, which according to the salesman, are found only in Mexico and not exported.  They keep them for sale only in Mexico.  Whether or not that is true, I don't care, it is very pretty!

After they tour of the ruins, we hopped back into our mercifully cool bus (God bless Joseph Carrier!) and the bus drove us around the island to sight see.  At one point they stopped by the beach so that those who were interested could put their toes in the ocean, or gulf, or whatever.  I did not do so because I knew that once I had my tennis shoes off, they weren't going to go back on easily.  But I took some beautiful pictures and just stood in awe at the beauty.

Eventually our tour ended up back where it began, at the port where the cahooting shops were.  We had been told of this cool shop, Del Sol, that sells things that change color in the sunlight and I wanted to go there to get me and Mom t-shirts.  I also ended up getting some sunglasses that change color - super cool!  At this point, my feet and my Capital One card were tired, so we got back on the boat, took a shower (me, not the Capital One card) and got some food, drink and found ourselves a chair back on our deck to watch the water while the rest of the people slowly found their ways back to the ship.

After dinner, we attended the "Hasbro Game Show" in one of lounges.  It was fun, although it would have driven me mad to have been chosen to go up on the stage.  There were a couple of more game-type shows after it, but I was just so tired I couldn't keep my eyes open, 

The cat people didn't have any official events scheduled for Saturday.  Some of them did go into town, instead of on an excursion, and visit the local humane society to give the cash and other items donated/collected by the group.  I'm not sure we knew this was going to happen before we scheduled our excursion, but I'm a sender, not a goer, so I think I'd have still chosen the ruins.  Plus I'm pretty sure I would have had to make small talk with these people, and Rose doesn't do that very well. 

The towel animal for Saturday, we think, was a monkey.  We could be wrong about that, though.  Either way, I was asleep earlier Saturday evening than any of the previous nights.  Rose was pooped. 

Rock the Boat! (Don't Rock the Boat, Baby!)

On Friday morning, after a very restful night's sleep, I woke up and took a leisurely shower, not once thinking about the water I was wasting or where it was coming from.  Seriously, including the staff, there are about 3,600 people on this ship.  For four days.  Where is all the water being kept?

The first evening, we couldn't feel the movement of the ship all that much.  This morning, as I motored around, I was walking like a drunken sailor!  I can't imagine being drunk and trying to walk on this ship.  I've been told it is unusually wavy today and it really isn't normally this bad, but I'm glad I don't suffer from seasickness.

Annette and I were suffering, though, from a slight case of guilt over not dining with our cat people  the previous night, so we went to go see if they were having breakfast in the formal restaurant.  They weren't, but we did.  I'm afraid that after four days of having someone at my beck and call, being back in the real world will be rough.  However, Gizmo has the tie.  All I need to do is train him to be a waiter and life could be good!

After a breakfast of bacon and cheese grits (if it's good enough for Brittany Spears...) and juice and coffee, we found our way to what I now consider my home away from home.  It's an outdoor deck, covered, so it's shaded, at the end of the boat (aft) -
I'm just a few feet away from the buffet of my dreams, a restroom, and a never-ending fountain of tea and lemonade.  And don't get me started on the chocolate chip cookies!

About 11:30 we joined the cat people for cat trivia and crafts.  We introduced ourselves and told about our cats.  Played the trivia where I learned that I know a lot of esoteric crap about cats, and yet, I didn't win.  :(  Bummer, I know.  I came closer to winning the second trophy that evening at round two of the cat trivia.  I got all the questions right but missed the tie-breaker.  I didn't know that Sassy, the cat from the movie Homeward Bound, was a Himalayan.  but I won't forget now.  I can't explain why, because they appear to be uber cheap and even "broken", but I really want one of those trophies!  I have one more opportunity to win one.  I'll cross my fingers and newly polished toes!

During the afternoon, after lunch and some time lazing in the shade, we went checking out parts of the boat we hadn't been to yet. 
I spoiled something for Annette.  I had noticed that all the doorknobs seemed to look as if it was giving you the finger.  And when I asked her about it, Annette had to agree.  Of course, after that conversation, I saw it everywhere and could only think of that!  Tell me I'm wrong.
We found a coffee shop.  I ordered a chocolate lovers coffee, without the vodka.  It still had chocolate flavored liqueur so it tasted like it had alcohol in it.  The guy behind the counter was the only staff person on the ship who wasn't completely nice.  I didn't leave him a tip - don't judge me!  He was snarky and borderline rude.  PLUS, the boat automatically tacked on a 15% tip for him!  I just don't see why they do that.  I mean, if we, the customer, do not have a choice it, just raise the freaking price!  Then, leave the actual tipping up to us for those who deserve it!  This may be my only gripe about the cruise, so it's over quickly.

Friday night was "elegant" night in the main restaurant.  People dressed up quite nicely.  Annette and I decided that we are not "elegant" people, and stayed in our same clothes and ate in the Paris restaurant (buffet) - the same place we ate almost all of our meals.  It was very good and was different every meal and had quite the selection.  The frozen yogurt was very yummy, the honeydew melon was ripe and delicious, and I didn't have any of the "real" food that wasn't really good! 
However,  I do have to say, the first night - I got a piece of fudge truffle cheesecake for dessert and it was good, but not has good as MY fudge truffle cheesecake, and I did not - and brace yourselves, you probably won't ever hear these words from me again, - I did not finish the cheesecake!  I know!  I'm pretty sure that's one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Night owls that we are, after gelling on the deck for a while, we went back to the room where a new towel creation awaited us - this time, it was a bunny rabbit!

On the Road Again! - and - Anchors Aweigh!

In order to continue my tradition of blogging while on vacation so that the peeps can live vicariously through me, I will now begin to tell you about my epic seafaring adventure.

Long time fans know that I firmly believe I come from seafaring folk ...or at least beach dwellers ... Despite what my mother tells me about our ancestors.  Also, I am nothing if not a crazy cat lady.  So about a year ago when I discovered information about a "Cat Cruise," I decided that it was meant to be.  I rounded up my friend Annette, who has been on cruises but lost her cruising buddy (her daughter) when she, the daughter, had the audacity to get married and have children.  Personally, I think her priorities are obviously out of whack, but her little girl is adorable, and I don't suppose I get a vote.  Plus, the end result is that now I get to be Annette's cruise buddy, so if I did get a vote, it would be yeah kids!

Our trip began Wednesday at the butt crack of dawn when we flew out of Evansville.  My first fear was getting through security.  Not because I had any evil plans, but I clearly remember my last trip, to Honduras, where I was "randomly" picked for being swiped for residue of explosive materials, frisked, fingerprinted, AND had my bags searched - you will recall I was taken down to security to go thru my bags and answer questions about the mystery bottles of vanilla I had in my bag. 

I held my breath as I walked thru the metal detector - whew!  I have secretly wondered if it is the red hair... Especially since the hair in the picture in my passport is blonde!  But..  Success!  I took this as a sign that the trip would be a success!

We arrived into Tampa Wednesday afternoon - the ship was leaving Thursday afternoon - but we felt it wise to come the night before lest there be any problems with flights.  We didn't want to miss our cruise!  The crazy cat lady in charge found a fabulous hotel that fit our requirements - clean, relatively inexpensive, and free shuttle!  The hotel itself sort of reminded Annette and I (me?) of the hotel we stayed in during the trip to Honduras, only the air conditioning worked!  The hotel also met Annette's exacting standards of being near a Chick-fil-A and a Trader Joe's. 

There was a meet and greet at poolside where we got to meet some of our other cat ladies and a couple of cat gentlemen.  I'm not sure what we expected, but they all seem to be an acceptable mixture of weird and normal.  No one too out of the ordinary and a lot of them had really cool cat shirts on.  Annette and I, both introverts, didn't stay too long, but for us, it was a very respectable time.

Thursday, we slept in.  First thing on the to do list was to arrange for the shuttle to the boat.  Next, breakfast at Chick-fil-A and hit the Trader Joe's before we met the shuttle.

Getting to the boat early was wise.  The lines were not long, and we were in the 4th group to be let onboard.  Once onboard we were able to steak out chairs in the shade and get our drinks on the Lido deck.  I don't know why it's called the Lido deck, but Haley is supposed to be Googling that.  Maybe she'll let us know in the comments.  Wifi and Internet is a very expensive commodity, so other than a few minutes a couple of times a day, I'll be incommunicado.  Therefore, while I'll be blogging in real time, I won't be posting until 1) we get to Cozumel where there's free wifi, and B) we get back to Tampa, where my blessed 4G works.  Not that the 4G wouldn't work onboard, I just figure it's not worth the money so that you can read this 24 hours sooner.

So, the cat cruise.  Well, the woman herding us cats has planned events for everyone - cat trivia and games, eating together in the formal dining room, etc.  Unfortunately, Annette and I, again - introverts, well we may hit the trivia, and we'll try to eat with them at least once. 

Anyway, after the obligatory safety session about where the lifeboats are and how to put your life jacket on, we lifted off!  No, that's the wrong mode of transportation.  We dropped anchor!  No, that when you want to say put, right?  We lifted anchor? 

I had a pedicure secured for the first evening and I wasn't 100% sure where to go.  So we went in search of the spa.  We discovered that there was currently a thing where if you take the free tour of the spa, you get a chance for a drawing for $500 free spa services.  So duh, we took the tour.  The purpose of the tour was to sell us on the spa services.  Annette and I already had massages scheduled and I had the aforementioned pedicure.  But hey, I wouldn't be adverse to more, right?  One of the sales pitches still blows my mind.  It was for something called Ionithermie - and all Annette and I can figure is that it's like a body wrap.  And she's telling us that she can help you lose 1-8 inches in one treatment - ok, I can buy that.  But then she says that it will last for FOUR TO FIVE YEARS!!  I'm like, does the FDA know about you?!  Because we were still docked as she's making these incredible claims. 

Unfortunately neither Annette nor I won the freebies.  But that's ok.  I really enjoyed my pedicure.  I took my own polish, so my toesies match my fingernails, and the girl who did it was named America and she was from Jamaica.  As per my usual, I entertained her while she did her thing. 

Post pedi, I and my toes ambled back to our room.  Tired.  It was a long day.  Time to turn in... It was 9:30!

Before I close, I have to comment about the towel creations.  Annette had told me that each night, when the steward turned down the beds, he would leave a towel animal or something.  This first night's creation was a flower.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Fire Marshall Rose

I realize that it has been three almost months since my last post where I dropped the bomb about my eminent change in jobs.  I am frequently asked how the new job is doing, so I figure it is time for me to sit down and let those of my peeps who are not fortunate enough to have semi-regular contact with me in "real" life know how it goes.

It goes well.  Very well.

The first week, especially the first couple of days, can only be described with the phrase "culture shock."  Having worked in a law firm environment for 25 years, going to a corporate world where even the language spoken was different - well, it took some getting used to.  In the law firm, everything has to do with the law - either lawsuits or avoiding lawsuits.  Clients come to the law firm because they, well they don't necessary want to, but they need us.  Therefore, they listen to what we tell them.  In the corporate world, the legal department is only one of many spokes in the wheel, and it seems to be more of an inconvenience than anything - making the sales people (and others) do what they can only see to be totally unnecessary things in order to do their job.

At the firm, the daily ins and outs of life were controlled by an (un-)Holy Trinity of managing partners - keeping their fingers in all manners of pie.  In the corporate world, there's the alphabet soup of VIP's - the CEO, the CFO, the AFL-CIO.. no wait.  See, I don't even know who!  And then there is this vast ocean of division P's and VP's and EVP's!?  Other than the "Big" guy and the "big" guys in my personal sphere, I have no clue who is who.  All of this is only made worse by my genetic weakness for faces. 

And the vocabulary...  What the hell are "metrics!?"  Why not just say statistics?

Additionally, there was just the sheer size of the place.  The law firm was a big law firm, for this geographic area.  But yikes, if you walk around the outside of the Berry building/compound, you've walked over a mile!  There's like almost 2,000 people working at Berry in Evansville.  Finding a parking space that isn't two blocks away is a daily challenge.

Initially, the legal department was in what I like to refer to as the "big house."  On the corner of First Avenue and Franklin Street, there's this bright shiny new 3 floor building.  Due to growing pains, various departments had people scattered around within other departments.  The legal department was one such department.  The bulk of the others were in an area on the southwestern part of the building.  Me?  I was put in a cube farm on the, relatively, opposite corner with Accounts Payable.

There might be those who would not like that situation.  Being the introvert that I am, however, I enjoyed it to no end.  People had to go out of their way to come talk to me, and I was able to learn at my own speed without the fear of a trainer or boss breathing down my neck.  Midway through the first week, I realized that the Accounts Payable people had accepted me as one of their own when I was offered a portion of one of their native food dishes.  I think it was called a brownie.  It was good.

As I think I've mentioned, in my previous posting, I know that the Lord provided this opportunity for me to move into the next stage of my life.  Although there are some people at my old firm who I miss, there was no real doubt that it was the right move.  So as I began to settle into my new life, the devil began to do what he could to make me start doubting.  A co-worker, let's call her Betty - not to be confused with the Betty from previous postings - was the instrument he chose to use.  Again, I am an introvert, and shy to boot!  As an aside, if you've only known me for the last 15 years or so, you only know the Paxil version of Rosemary.  Praise God for Paxil!  Before that ... well, I was the type of person in high school who walked down the hallways with my head down.  Ostensibly, I was doing it to look for change... and found some, too.  But..  Betty.  Now Betty is and extrovert.  I've always said that my niece Natalie could talk to a brick wall.  Betty makes Natalie look shy.

In addition to being on opposite ends of the intro/extrovert scale, Betty is also one to tell you like it is.  If you screw up, she tells you you screwed up!  Me, well, I'll tell you that, too, but I try to phrase it a wee more delicate like.  Remember my personal motto, no, not the one about always using the restroom when you have the chance.. the other one... not to ick other people's ooh, and it's inherent corollary of always trying to consider the other person's feelings first.  Ok, there may be those out there who are saying, "well, she was snotty to me back on...."  I said "trying" to consider the other person's feelings.  You probably caught me in a mood.  Step off!

Part of the reasoning behind my motto is my tender feels.  I am very sensitive and get my feels hurts easily.  So, during the first month or so, Betty was Betty and Rose was Rose and the devil was stirring the pot and adding in my natural insecurities and fears about the new job, new people, etc., and the resulting dish (nice metaphor, eh?) was a steaming bowl of Rose beginning to doubt, with a side of Rose beginning to hate Betty.  All of which was tarnishing the shine on what I knew God had arranged.

About of month in, the legal department was told that it would be moving into what used to be the old cigar factory in Evansville - I didn't realize there was one - next door to the Big House, but a 100-ish year old building.  We'd be on the third floor in an area where we could all be together and still have room to grow - there being three more attorneys soon to be hired as well as a paralegal transferring in from North Carolina!  Yeah....I was going to lose my safe existence away from the rest of the crowd, AND we were going to be in a building with no elevator.  Did I mention it being on the third floor?  In the big house, we had elevators, and ice machines that made that really good crushed ice like you get at Sonic?, and the restrooms had toilets that flushed by themselves, and the water and soap dispensers were automatic.  It was like working at NASA!  (Or what I would think working at NASA would be like.)

Anyway, the day that we were packing to move, I must have allowed my burgeoning dislike of Betty show in my tone during a phone call because she asked to speak to me privately.  She asked if she'd said or done something because she was getting a tone from me.  As she spoke, and this all happened almost instantaneously, it hit me like a lightning bolt.  She was right, of course, I'd had a tone.  But she'd done nothing wrong, nothing to deserve it.  She is what she is and I am what I am.  And odds are that we're never going to be close, mostly because I have no way of understanding her, just like I'm probably a foreign object to her.  During this epiphany, I knew that it has all in my head and the devil was at work to make me hate my new life.  At some point, Betty stopped talking and it was one of those things where you know you're supposed to say something and you're just hoping that she hadn't been waiting too long!  I did the only thing I could do.  I apologized and told her that no it had totally been me, not her, and that I was sorry and it wouldn't happen again.  I felt very adult.... and embarrassed, so I made like a tree and leafed that room as soon as I could!  I thank God that Betty is the direct type of person to have confronted me with it.  Otherwise I (not a confronter) would have stewed and hated.

Long story short, we are all happily stashed away on the third floor of "Oakley," Betty and I are getting along fine.  She is a perfectly nice, hard-working co-worker who, due to her extrovertedness, probably isn't as clam happy as I am because she only has so many people to talk to.

I am learning my job and enjoying life at Berry.  The other day I was informed that Betty and I are "Safety Wardens" of the third floor.  This means that in the event of fire or tornado (or more likely fire or tornado drills), we don very fashionable orange vests and "sweep" the floor to get all personnel to the appropriate muster site.  I pointed out that one time, at the law firm, there'd been a tornado warning and we were all told to go to the basement of the building.  I got up and promptly trotted down the stairs to the basement.  About ten minutes later, Boss Man came down.  He'd been on his phone and didn't realize there was a tornado and even though I had to walk past the door to his office, it never occurred to Rose to say anything to him!  Oops!  Anyway, Fire Marshall Rose will attempt to do her best.  Although I'd feel better about it if I got to wear hard hat.