Current conditions: Bustin’ five knots, wind whippin’ out my coat.
As the Carnival Exculpation begins winding its way up the Mississippi River, this strange odyssey is nearly at an end. All that remains is getting off the boat (which apparently is quite the production), a morning in New Orleans (which must include the requisite vat of seafood, still), and a flight back to Newark before returning home, hopefully to a new salt-free pump waiting for me. Today, though, was my second and final “fun day at sea.”
I’ve noticed a couple of characteristics that both such days have had in common: A dearth of decent pictures and long stretches with nothing to do. Granted, I understand that part of the appeal of these things is the ability to sit around with nothing to do, but that’s never really been my style. Even when I’m watching TV, I’m usually crocheting something at the same time, just so the time spent doesn’t feel like it was completely unproductive. Today, in contrast, was, indeed, completely unproductive. I didn’t realize this trip would involve so much sitting around, so I only brought enough yarn to keep me entertained on the flights. And I seem to have done a pretty good job of calculating how much I would need, since the 3 hour flight, plus the 1 hour delay, and 90 minutes the other day basically used up my entire supply. The problem today was that I needed to occupy myself for another afternoon, and I still have tomorrow’s flight to fill. Looks like I’ll have to settle for complete unproductivity again. Although I heard complaints about the weather, 65 and windy are my favorite conditions (hence the Boston domicile), so I would have been content to sit outside, had I found something out there to do.
I tried to stay busy today, but I was often unsuccessful. In the morning, we went to a towel-folding demonstration (Carnival, maybe along with other cruise lines, is famous for leaving towels in every room each day in the shape of a different animal). I learned, and hopefully can remember, how to make a rabbit, elephant, and “dog,” which came out more like an aardvark. I’ve already decided that the next time I have people over, I’m leaving a towel animal of some sort on the back of the toilet.
After that, it was a bit of a choose-your-own-adventure for most of the afternoon. There was a chocolate extravaganza that made up my lunch (pump or no pump, for chocolate I can find a way to get the insulin in there). I tried to go up to my spot on the top deck in front of the bridge, but because we were driving through a cold front today, it was closed due to high winds. So instead I watched an ice carving demonstration and used some of my precious internet minutes to get into an argument on Facebook about Miley Cyrus. Yeah. That’s how desperate I was for something to do. Not only was it a Facebook argument, but once I disconnected, I tried to engage real people in the conversation. It kind of felt like the intellectual equivalent of cutting yourself just to see if you still bleed. (Have I mentioned that I can’t wait for law school to reconvene?)
Later on, there were a couple of genuinely nice moments. First, we went to “music and tea time” in the boat’s piano bar, where there was (spoiler alert) piano music and tea. The beverage I could take or leave, but the ambience of sitting in a relatively upscale room listening to broad, sweeping piano embellishments on famous melodies reminded me of the way my grandmother used to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow in my living room every week when I was growing up. I couldn’t help but imagine what she would have thought of the event. Assuming she didn’t manage to get herself a seat at the piano and take over the room, I think she would have happily passed hours in that room, but would have ultimately concluded that the player was pretty sloppy.
Then, at dinner, the entire wait staff ended the meal with a cute rendition of Leaving On A Jet Plane – a song that gets me every time, from the days when it would end every camp session, leaving all 200 of us in tears. Today, while the effect was far less profound, the song, for a moment, convinced me that some sort of community had been built in the dining room over the last 5 days, and that it was now breaking apart. But once I realized I was thinking that, I also realized that that hadn’t really happened, and that I just had a personal connection to the song. Nice try, Carnival Melodramatization.
Finally, as we neared the Gulf Coast after nightfall, lights started appearing in the water. Still dozens of miles from the Mississippi Delta, there was only one possibility of what they could be – oil rigs.
I wonder if it’s intentional that we move through the oilfields at night (as we’ve done both times), so we can’t see just how many of these monstrosities loom out there in the water. Even after dark, with a zoom lens, they look truly terrifying.
For a time, it looked as if they were arranged almost in a grid (since I’ve recently learned that the US leases square parcels of “land” for drilling), but closer to shore they became even more numerous, before giving way to houseboats once we were within the delta.
So that was my “fun day at sea.” Tomorrow should bring a fun day on land, a fun day in the air, and a fun day on the phone ordering a new insulin pump. As long as my fun day involves some crustaceans having a significantly less fun day, it will not only be a fun day, it will be a good day.