Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Week on Cruise Control and Not Yo Mama's Mama

First, the cruise.

We sailed out of Miami on the Carnival Glory, our first time on that particular ship. The itinerary was a blend of old and new, so with four stops we decided to sign up for shore excursions at the two new locations, Amber Bay in the Dominican Republic, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. That meant two days at sea plus two days in port (St. Thomas and Grand Turk) wherein we stayed onboard. Staying onboard is a big part of our vacation; having the ship mostly to ourselves, picking our favorite seats to hang out, read, knit, and sample the different food venues. Most importantly (to us, at least) the food was fabulous. Yes I said fabulous. On a Carnival ship, no less. The only items that were less-than-successful were the frog's legs (sauce was oddly bland) and the corn bread that accompanied my frankly fabulous barbecue ribs. The rest of the food (and we ate a lot) was prepared perfectly. The desserts and baked goods were utterly sublime. Way to go, Carnival!  

Both of our shore excursions were extremely enjoyable. We have traveled around the Carribbean a number of times and taken many excursions where we climbed onboard a nice, cool tour bus to see and hear about the particular island - it's history, people, economics, infrastructure, and food. Somehow I never gave a coherent thought to the Big Picture involving the aboriginal peoples, the not-so-pristine actions of Christopher Columbus, the Spanish Catholic royalty, the Dutch, and a couple of wars we never really studied in the Lawrence-Cedarhurst school district. I've always  admired the various styles of architecture, but never really thought about the "how?" and the "why?". And although I have gotten into the habit of thinking of Puerto Rico as a southern outpost of Florida, our tours of Old San Juan and Amber Cove consolidated the rich back story of the Caribbean in my admittedly cognitively-impaired head.  Loved every minute.

These photos are from Amber Cove in the Dominican Republic. Then came Old San Juan, but by that point, I was seriously wearing down, and left all of the picture-taking to Robert. Once he gets a chance to download them from camera to computer, I'm going to steal a few to share with the blog, but until them, I did snap just a couple from our stop at Princessa for lunch:

Mojitos and mofongo - one of the best lunches ever.

In addition to being our annual post-tax season cruise, this was a celebratory cruise. Robert turned 70, an exceptionally special birthday, plus we had an anniversary fall out during the week. I was all about making the birthday special and had made some arrangements via the Internet prior to sailing; cake and room decorations, a bottle of wine and glasses, and all the birthday cards a dad could want. To our surprise, Carnival got in on the act, birthday and anniversary, possibly because we are at their frequent cruiser platinum level. Extra cake, messages on the mirror, special towel animals, cookies (really good cookies), champagne and a special dessert at our Steakhouse dinner, and I probably forgot something. Thank you, Carnival. It was all rather wonderful.

Of course the fibromyalgia came along for the ride, but I managed. Moved at a comfortable (read: slow) pace, maintained a positive emotional attitude, took my prescribed medications faithfully, took all time necessary to rest and relax. I napped often, put my feet up when I wasn't using them for walking, knit comfortably on one project that was just the right degree of complexity to avoid causing me to rip the yarn off the needles in crazed frustration and hurl big handfuls into the nearest garbage pail (don't giggle; my knitting experience in South Korea was less than stellar, resulting in my leaving piles of shredded bulky red yarn all over Korea except in Busan. That was only because we didn't stop in Busan.)

And perhaps most importantly, I practiced my Tai Chi, at least as much as I could remember. Tai Chi has really helped me live with fibromyalgia; look, there's no cure, medical, pharmacological, or otherwise. All I can do is find what works for me and use it to obtain a few more lower-pain hours and to keep the really dark depression a little bit at bay. This is where Tai Chi shines. My memory is still crashed and my overall cognitive ability just ain't what it used to be (and will never be again) but I can calm myself when I feel a panic attack coming on, or focus better, at least for a short while.

It was a very good cruise, I can't emphasize that enough.

Lots of birthdays this week! Yesterday was my cousin Steve's birthday, and I am sure his beautiful family celebrated accordingly, with much joy and laughter and cake. Gotta have cake.  I truly believe that the measure of a man is what kind of family he has helped to make, and Steve is at the top of that list. I wish I had known you while growing up, but I am so happy I did find you. Happy birthday cuz, and may you have many more happy and healthy birthdays.

Today is my sister's birthday, which still feels strange (but very nice) to be able to write. Happy birthday, Nora! So glad I found you and so grateful to your daughter/my niece, for helping to put us in contact. Have a wonderful day and a blessed year.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day. Lilacs are blooming in my hometown of Brooklyn as they always do in time for Moms Who Live In The Northeast. I miss lilacs so much. A relatively new phenomenon, public declarations of love and appreciation are all over my Facebook News Feed. So many of my friends and relatives have been posting lovely photos of their mothers and it is very clear that those mothers are much-loved and in some cases, missed terribly. I think all that sentiment is absolutely heartwarming but also terribly foreign to me. I don't understand people who proudly announce that their mother is their best friend. As long as I can remember, my mother was my worst nightmare.

Don't get me wrong; I am truly happy for my friends and family who have clearly experienced the type of childhood I never imagined existed. I won't deny there is a twinge of envy there. Okay, maybe more than a twinge. At the same time, I am woefully aware that my experience is not unique. Toxic parents like my mother have sadly left a trail of tears and huge therapy bills.

But then there are mothers-in-law and I've got the best. Thanks for everything these past 45 years, Mom. Happy Mother's Day, with love.

Mother's Day will always be a mixed bag for me, with the very best part being that I am the mother to the Best Son in The World. All grown up now, but still my crowning achievement as a human being. So many wonderful characteristics that sheer modesty prevents me from recounting them all; however, I can tell you how I did it: I simply did everything the opposite of how my mother raised me. Worked like a charm.


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