Tuesday, January 7, 2014

what time is the midnight buffet?

this is me approximately 3 hours into my first cruise:

OHMIGOD, WTF WAS THAT?! DID WE JUST HIT AN ICEBERG????

DM: um, we're off the coast of mexico. don't think there are too many icebergs 'round these parts.

me: iceberg, lochness monster, wtf ever, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEE!!!

DM: did you bring any xanax? for me, not you.

the following is a non-exhaustive list of things that cause me major anxiety: small spaces, large crowds, public restrooms, hot tubs and swimming pools, large dark bodies of water, buffets, "organized fun" and mandatory camaraderie, etc.... add to that a nasty case of motion sickness and, at first blush, a week-long cruise with my in-laws on an enormous ship crowded with 3,000 hungry strangers determined to have a good time so-help-them-god might not seem like the best fit.

i admit, i basically spent the entire time suffering from a constant, low-grade panic attack. i kept having to suppress this feeling that i wanted to, like, scrabble up the walls, railings, or even a crowd of people, like a cat climbing curtains, just to get above the press of humanity, industrial carpet, and formica that was constantly coming at me from all sides. except for the few times that i've been inadvertently caught in an impromptu mosh pit, and a little incident on a junior high field trip involving some amateur spelunking, this is probably the worst my claustrophobia and social anxiety have ever been. i'm getting the feeling again just writing about it. i felt like i was one of those tightly coiled joke snakes that come in a can - like at any moment i might just spring violently open. it was better on deck and sort of okay when i was lying down in our bed, but other than that it was pretty intense, particularly in our room (four humans, three beds, and a shit-ton of stuff in 200 square feet (aka, "thirteen size-eleven Keds long by twelve Keds wide,")) and in the loooooong windowless corridors that were like hallways to hell. one night, DM cornered me in our stateroom to give me a kiss and i started to have heart palpitations and my whole self got itchy, like i just wanted to bowl him over in search of the nearest breath of fresh air. luckily he sensed my animal-in-captivity vibe before i had to resort to fisticuffs, and carefully backed away. ah, love ;)
photo credit: word info (not shockingly, the entry for agoraphobia, though it kind of looks like a flash mob)
my anxiety was also particularly pronounced when we attempted to take Super Why and Squirmy McShrieky Pants to the nightly high school musicals and other "so far off broadway we're in the middle of the ocean" Princess Cruise productions. actually it wasn't really so bad. there was usually enough volume and commotion to distract from the personal noisemakers i had in tow. but one night there was this "hypnotist," and as we walked in (late) he was giving a straight-faced spiel about how complete and utter silence was absolutely crucial in order for him to put the volunteers "under." this was me:
(if you're wondering why we would even consider taking two wildly volatile critter babies to grown-up entertainment that required total silence, ask DM.) needless to say, we failed to comply. which might explain why none of this guy's victims were even good at pretending to be hypnotized. actually, it seems that he may have inadvertently hypnotized Colby. he was trying to get some of his volunteers to "forget the number 6," and while it was a total bust on stage, she's been counting "one two free foy fie seben" ever since. or maybe she just never knew six in the first place ;)

sorry. didn't really intend to go on a stroll down mental health lane but there ya have it.

anyway, beyond (or perhaps, in part, because of) the anxiety, my overall impression was a bunch of happily sedate and dangerously overfed tourists, peering through their peepholes at the "natives" when we came to port. experience all the "culture" you can find within the immediate five block radius! it was pretty surreal, actually. it was like a zoo in reverse, with the same slight but pungent undercurrent of desperation. "we are going to have FUN, dammit!"

another impression: people who say that you can't feel the boat moving and/or you won't get seasick on a cruise ship = BIG FAT LIARS.

however, once i ascertained the proper mix of alcohol, dramamine, and cheesecake to assuage my psychic and physical ailments, it was pretty alright. though perhaps not my preferred method of travel, i think all in all the cruise goes down as a win. the kiddos got a huge kick out of the whole thing, and were able to put in some serious quality time with their grandparents and cousins (and aunt and uncle, too). i also got to do a lot of nothing (my favorite thing), stare at the ocean, sunbathe, read in bed, and love on my munchkins 24/7 for a week straight, which is a rare treat (or trick, depending on the hour ;)) and the littles made friends with the staff everywhere we went so we now have a lifetime supply of pillow mints ;) i also got pregnant. with a giant food baby. seriously. my waistline survived thanksgiving and christmas unscathed, but i think i packed on a pound a day at the all-you-can-eat buffet.

okay, so, i was going to add this tangential part at the end, serving to sort of counteract my snobbery, and, in my humble opinion, it was going to be the funniest part, but then i remembered how my husband says each of my blog posts is like reading a faulkner novel, so you'll just have to wait with bated breath until next time. (not that he's ever actually read faulkner. (or, for that matter, an entire blog post.) my man's "wicked smaht," but literature isn't really his thing. nor is vocabulary. the other day he used "verklempt" in a sentence (correctly) and i reacted as though my 3 year old had said it. (love you, mister cheese! ;))

until then - i'll leave you with this little slice of sweetness:
about to "bark"
*recommended reading:

Shipping Out: On the (nearly lethal) comforts of a luxury cruise, by David Foster Wallace (excerpt in Harper's Magazine, included in the larger collection A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. < Yes. This. All of it.

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