Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Travel Memories

Travel Stories, Part THREE:

Super sweet!  As I've said, I've been gathering my photos and getting tidbits together for making a scrapbook of my trip (yikes, I'm starting to think this will be the mother of all scrapbooks with all the stuff I have).  Well, after I saw the pictures my dad had printed, I realized that he had everything I didn't!  He had a lot more photos of him and me doing things (because when we asked someone to take our picture, I felt bad giving them MY camera too; knowing I could just make a copy of his), he had pictures of friends we made aboard the ship and staff that were especially nice to us, more people pictures in general.  He also got to see Pearl Harbor while I stayed aboard sick with a killer migraine in Honolulu.  I had walked the deck later that day, taking pictures of the skyline there and of the coast, imagining my scrapbook page reading something like:  "All I Saw of Honolulu."  But now I don't have to do it like that!

So I borrowed Dad's SD card and made a ton of pictures from his camera.  Now I have it all!  I'm going to post a few at the end of this blog, and more will continue to be posted!  (That was an odd, passive voice sentence, huh?)  The only reason I haven't done so yet is that I don't have a lot on this computer.   Still using my old laptop, while the new laptop with all my stuff is being shipped back to me.  THAT is another story altogether, but for now I will say on record that Best Buy and Sony are going to be wishing that they had just fixed it, just went ahead and fixed it, because the trouble I'm going to give them over this matter will be SO not worth it (another time...).

So speaking of the photos and Pearl Harbor, which I very much would have liked to see ... yesterday my dad surprised me with something that really touched my heart.  It was just a little gift, but so sweet.  "Because you didn't get to go," he explained, and presented me with a framed postcard picture.  The postcard was one of those that are separated into four frames, with four different little pictures.  One is an aerial shot of the memorial; one is a black-and-white of the USS Arizona under attack; one is a shot of tourists standing at the wall they have there with names of all the  victims of the attack; and the last is a picture of "Mighty Mo," the USS Missouri, which is where the Japanese surrendered.

But the thing is, he had bought this wooden frame for the postcard, and he goes, "I painted it blue, because I figured that was best, to signify the ocean."  It's awesome!  I don't know exactly why, but it's a special gift.  I love how he painted it for me!  Maybe you have to know us or know my dad or something, I'm not sure.  But I love it.

Another sort of ... touching?... time on our trip was when we went to dinner with 4 other people.  We had the "anytime" dining option.  If you've ever cruised, you probably know how you either choose a dining time or you choose the option to go to the dining room whenever you want during the hours they serve meals.  Well, if you choose a reserved time, you generally are seated at a table with other folks, and there you remain for the duration of your trip.  So it's cool, or it can be cool, to get to know your table-mates and share your experiences throughout the trip.  On the other hand, what if y'all hate each other and think each other hideous?  Well, you are stuck, and this trip was 2 weeks!  I've never had that horrible an experience, but it could happen.  Anyway, Dad chose for us, and so we went to the dining room whenever we were ready each night, and thus, we sat down for dinner with all different people each time.

Now, by the end of the trip, I have to admit, we were both a little weary of the drill.  I mean, on the one hand, it's interesting to meet new people, really fun, to share stories and learn about each other.  But it's also tedious to keep answering where you're from and what your name is and dealing with the difficulty in hearing each other over the din of the room.  And, I don't know how to put this nicely, but ... A lot of this was exacerbated by the fact that there were a TON of really elderly people aboard.  I'm serious, and that's fine, I'm not prejudiced or something against my elders, please understand.  But it was difficult, because if it's hard for me to hear across the table, it seemed about 10 times as hard for them.  I'm not making fun, it really was difficult.  And many people were also from other countries, with language barriers, etc.  

On the last night that we went to the dining room, we both got pissed because we were seated with, well, a bunch of assholes.  But I'll tell you that sordid tale soon enough.  Back to the memorable dinner.

It was Dad, me, a lady dad's age-ish and her elderly aunt, and an Indian-American couple a little bit younger than Dad.  I was kind of wary, because it was one of the days that I hadn't felt well (headache and stuff), and I wasn't sure how this group would get along, but that's the fun of it too.  We started out with small talk, but we ended up staying until the place closed!  They were awesome.  I regret that I do not remember names; we didn't stay in touch even on the ship, but that was sort of the way of things.  Passing moments, passing friendships.  

First I had myself a ball laughing at the scenario that unfolded between Dad and Blondie (let's call her), the lady about his age seated next to him.  It became obvious that she was interested, you know, interested.  She perked up when they discovered they both had retired from police-related occupations.  Her aunt was extremely clever and personable, although she was very hard of hearing.  I tried hard still to talk to her, because that sucks not to be part of the conversation just because what?  people are too lazy to make the effort?  So she was really cool.  But the funny thing was that somewhere between the salads and the main course, Blondie announced that she felt very strongly that "there should be a lot more [Sheriffs] like" the infamous Sheriff Arpayo of Maricopa County in Arizona (?).  He's always in the news and sometimes interviewed, and he's known for doing "innovative" things like having NO amenities in his jails like TV or whatever.  He makes prisoners go out on the road and clean up while wearing hot pink prison suits, stuff like that, to be humiliating.  

I died laughing inside.  This lady had no idea how she just signed her death wish as far as any romantic notions with my dad!  It was like if she WANTED him not to approach her EVER, and asked how she could be certain he wouldn't, well, that is what I would tell her to say.  Oh my gosh, it was awesome.  My dad looked like he'd choke, and indeed, he later told me he was biting his tongue.  Basically, he hates that Arpayo guy.  He doesn't believe in stripping county jail inmates (many of whom are not convicted prisoners, you understand) of basic ... stuff.. to bide their time, to occupy their minds, etc.  He doesn't think it's right to humiliate people for any reason.  And, as he blasted once we got away from Blondie:  "Over half of those in Arpayo's jail are awaiting trial!"  I have to agree with him on these principles for the most part.  

So that was funny, but then we got this Indian couple talking.  The wife was a cancer researcher, the husband a professor of physics.  I thought at first that I shouldn't speak, lest I reveal myself a dumbass, or at least a Liberal Arts major.    And, while I am proud of my education and my craft / sometimes profession, I have found that there are many in the science field who look down on those of us in the artistic fields.  But I shouldn't have judged.  Judging is never good.

The wife was the more social one, and she spoke enthusiastically about their daughter who is an oby/gyn in New York ... she asked us about ourselves and told interesting stories.  The husband was quiet and interjected awkward comments, but it was endearing in a way.  You know, like, you could tell he just wasn't especially socially comfortable, but he was real.  And finally, we got into some topics that interested him, and he just lit up!  We got to talking about storms and earthquakes (this was about a week after the quake in Chile).  My dad was telling about a terrible storm system he once traveled through on another cruise.

The professor was awesome; I could see him teaching a class or whatever!  He was telling us some stuff that I don't think anyone at the table knew previously about how the stabilizers on the ship operate, how storms and earthquakes affect one another and when they don't.  Then he told us about a PBS (maybe?  I have to check) series about the evolution of the human race.  He told how he worked really hard to get the documentary's lead researcher to come and speak at the college where he teaches (and he got him!).  He was absolutely electrified as he talked about this series (available at Netflix apparently... I'll find out its title if anyone is interested) and meeting the speaker and all this stuff.  It's great to meet someone and talk to him or her about what they love, you know?  

We all ended up talking and sharing knowledge and stories and asking questions.  Dinner was well over, coffee had cooled, by the time we got up and left.  It was my favorite dinner by far.  Just meeting people is my favorite thing about traveling.  I mean, there can be ugliness in that, people can be very unkind to one another.  My dad actually complained that he saw a lot of that, but I didn't.  My tours and my experiences were mainly beautiful.  People were kind and they looked out for each other when we went on shore and they were genuinely interested in both learning about me and telling their stories to me when we met.  

This is one reason I have always loved to write and do interviews and reporting.  I just love to meet someone and learn about their life, their work, whatever their passions are.  One time I wrote about a historically intact farm, which I knew nothing about.  And I recall that the manager of the farm was so, so consumed with his work and believed so much in protecting the species of animal and plant life there (all in their original forms from the 1800's) ... I just loved it.  I knew nothing about it, and personally wouldn't be able to get extremely passionate about the work probably, but to meet someone who IS ... and write his story down ... beautiful.  Traveling allowed me to do that, just for fun, with a gorgeous environment on top of it!  GLORY!

(this is too long, as usual, so I'll put just the pictures in my next one)


Barbara said...

You are so good at telling stories! Loved the dinner with the woman, old aunt and Indian/American couple! And I like your dad! I agree about that sheriff and his tactics - totally WRONG. "Oh lets humiliate the prisoner, piss them off and dehumanize them, maybe that will motivated them to better themselves if we treat them like crap". NOT!

Still looking forward to pics!

Tatyanna (and Dorian too) said...

Thanks Barb; you are always so complimentary of me!!!! Yes, my dear ol' dad is a complex character, but definitely has good qualities. He is brilliant and opinionated and also likes to meet people and travel (like I do). Pictures coming tonight!

Big Al said...

Awesome story!! Loved reading about the dinner. I felt like I was there.

Tatyanna (and Dorian too) said...

Cool! Thanks for the feedback, "Big Al"!! Ha ha, we would have had a blast if you WERE there :)