Sunday, March 27, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Cruise Five/Adventures

-I’m learning to look nice more than one night a month. I have to look nice. There is a dress code after 5 PM. And I have time. Every commute is a five-minute walk. I never cook. I guess I have a moment for lip gloss.
-Last week was a dessert explosion. I chose to cut back this week by trying not eat after 10 PM and cutting out all desserts. I feel so accomplished. You do not know the siren song of the soft serve bar.
-Who’s got two thumbs and won the Rummy match Monday night?
-An ocean swim hole in the back of a bar in Cozumel. I had the quesadillas. The side of guac divine. I kept trying to journal but watching snorkelers.
-It feels good to have a to-do list for the internet. There’s no slack for goofin’.
-It’s easy in a small pod to feel like harmony is so key it may mean you bend in the wind. But as I was reflecting on one day I realized I ate up garbage someone else fed me. Ensemble is king, but you are always yourself. I have to leave this ship as myself.
-Bran muffins are my food of the week. Two bran muffins every day keep the cheese constipation away. #ShipDiet
-Is there anything better than getting home early, snuggling into your roommate’s bed, chugging a Pelegrino, and watching the illegally downloaded American Crime Story episode your boyfriend sent to you?
-One of the dancers ran into me while I waiting by the Personnel Office. She asked what I was up to, and I said I would be spending the day writing. “What are you writing?” she asked. “Oh, a lot of things,” I said. “So that’s why they call you Smart Alice,” she replied. My second week a bartender told he he always saw me working in the library and nicknamed me Smart Alice. Apparently it has spread. I hang out by the evening lounge singer on Wednesday, and when I get up to leave my boss says “Goodnight, Smart Alice.”
-One morning I am writing and see two girls come out of their cabins, turn the corner and see the ocean. They throw their hands up and scream in glee. Oh yeah. I forgot how majestic our house is.
-Wednesday afternoon I’m on the promenade deck and see a family waiting for a dinner they wish they were eating. And then snip snap, suddenly the parents are full-on cursing each other out in public. Mom stomps off. Dad waits. Follows. The two preteens sit silently next to each other for twenty minutes. No one returns, so they finally leave. #SpringBreak
-And then we tried to go to the waterpark in Costa Maya for MB’s birthday. We asked the tram driver three times if we were going to the waterpark. He said “yes, yes, yes.” Twenty minutes later we’re dropped off in the middle of town. We ask around, “Waterpark?” “No,” everyone says. And the tram doesn’t go back to port either. Huh. Okay. Okay. We could go to the beach, but I am ill-prepared. I specifically brought nothing but a towel and sunglasses. We go on a hunt for iced coffee and somehow get beach chairs right on literally the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. We swim. I put seaweed in my hair like a ribbon. We try cartwheels. We couldn’t have planned this day if we had tried. For her birthday, MB wants a massage. Little ladies come up to us in an endless stream asking to give them. We find three little beds far down the stretch, away from music, surrounded by ocean. Three one hour massages for $60. We get a lunch rec, and I eat way too many nachos. Number of coconuts I’ve drunk from rises to four. We have to take a cab back, but whatever whatever whatever.
-Early calltime on Belize day, but I have an important errand. Last week I saw a necklace I liked at a local woman’s stand. I told her I would buy it if it were longer. She says she would have done it while I had walked to the water if I had told her. I say I am crew and I’ll be back. This week I rushed past all the self-made tour guides and hair braiders to the card table. She was there. I didn’t have to say anything. She picked out a necklace from a box stashed away. It’s perfect. And then it’s back onboard. I read the book Dizz has recommended me from my iPad, so the tender trip isn’t even that bad.
-The family friendly show is a nightmare. I love most of the sweet children watching with wonder, but three boys sit in the very front and scream at us the whole time. We run offstage and I ask, “Where are their parents?” Tail snaps, “WHERE ARE THEIR MANNERS.”

-The adult show is a dream! The audience gives me and MB “Romeo and Juliet” as a suggestion of relationship. She plays him like a bro, and I am a vocal fry’d nightmare. She says, “If I live to be fifteen, we’re gonna get married.” I ask, “What could possibly happen to us before we’re fifteen?”

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Ahoy Family

This was a special week because my mom and aunt were on board! They booked a cruise for a relaxing vacation and, of course, to witness me firsthand entertaining the masses.
A Sr. lives her best self 
These updates will be getting less exciting seeing as I will have significantly fewer new experiences each time I repeat the exact same itinerary. I am in Middle America Vacation Groundhog Day.

Some highlights of my fourth cruise in the Western Caribbean:
-walking around Belize with my family while we all drank out of coconuts a dude hacked up right in front of us, shavings flying wildly
-my cast taking advantage of Mom and Aunt’s dining package, getting to dine at the “fancy”* Italian restaurant with unlimited apps and ‘zerts!
-my aunt winning the spa lottery on Sunday and booking an hour massage for me! I live on a cruise and somehow the masseuse told me, “You are incredibly tense. Especially your calves.”
-Over two scones, ZPill and I contemplated how greatness happens. His metaphor is there is a huge dogpile of humans, and one finally stands on top, making the best thing. But, that person couldn’t be there without stepping on a million other people. My idea is societal needs show up as big holes, and we all create rubber band balls of our experiences. Sometimes because of who we are and what we have, our ball is too big or too small and either slides through the gap or rambles over it. But someone out there creates something just right that gets lodged in place. That’s greatness.
-drinking a peanut butter latte on a porch in Cozumel
-I’ve been wearing my pearls and my pearl shimmer lip-gloss a lot. At the pool is Costa Maya my cast tells me I look like a Kennedy.
-ZPill and I walk down a hall on Deck 6. A girl whispers as we pass, “That girl is so funny!” ZPill turns and smiles at me, says, “I just love getting compliments.”
-I’ve finally started wearing my jean shorts. I’ve been avoiding them because sweatshorts are also a thing. Everyone comments as they see me, “New shorts?” We all know every outfit.
-serving as a “celebrity judge” of the dance off competition for the first time. An old man won mainly because he successfully executed the lift in the Dirty Dancing number.
-wearing my new chocolate perfume on show night. MB asked me if I was eating a brownie every time I went offstage because when we passed each other in the dark I reeked of cocoa.
-the night the cast passed one slice of pie around the single we all crammed into, the night ZPill was sad and wrapped an éclair into a pizza slice and ate all of it
-the time I locked myself out of my room and couldn't get to my laundry for hours--when I arrived in the facility, it was all out of the dryer and folded

Another note: Very consistently I am finding when men come and talk to me after shows they talk about their own experiences. Ex: how much they like SNL, their favorite sketch, the work training they did once with improv, their college theatre group. Women ask a lot of questions. They rarely think to mention anything about themselves besides the initial "I enjoyed the show." Then they launch in to learning. So far, there are no exceptions to this rule.

*still on a cruise ship

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Week Three

-Sunday was frightening. Suddenly, the ship went from average age of cruiser 65 to 22. Spring Break is here and the swarms of college kids have descended upon us. There were so many bikini-bods holding pink frosty cups running around the pool deck. This is a new era. MB and I holed up in our cabin putting on face masks and eating the wasabi peas from crew mart.
-A few of us went to a sit-down restaurant one night, and I realized just how blas√© I feel about ship life suddenly. A photographer asked if I would get up from my seat to pose for a photo and I just honked, “No.”
-This go ‘round in Cozumel I had the major urge to find a donut. I hadn’t had a donut in almost a month. Tuesday morning I got a major bee in my bonnet and was determined to find one. I Yelped around on pirated Wi-Fi until I found a bakery a mile up the coast. My gang wanted to visit the cemetery, so I conceded to that stop. It was colorful and kind of cute with wild lizards roaming about.
-Finally we got to this hot room full of pastries. I bought a cheese pocket and a sugar donut. I ate them with spiced ice coffee. We meandered and I felt the fuss creeping up in all of us. Only three weeks in and irritability rises. MB and ZPill want stuffed peppers. I wonder if I should go on my own for a bit. I am right on the edge of saying “I’ll leave you here,” but I don’t. I sit down in the restaurant and the clouds open. It pours.
-Tuesday night I was in the library trying not be distracted by the pack of middle schoolers who were lounging on the couches when Bril came rushing in and told me we had a show in half an hour. The seas were rocky, so it wasn’t safe for the aerialists to perform. I zipped up my stuff, ate four bites of a calzone, and rushed to get into costume. My hair was in knotty braided pigtails, but no time for curling iron. I slapped on lipstick and sped through the finale song. There were a lot of drunk frat boys, but it’s good to have a challenge. Every audience shouldn’t be good. Then I’m not getting all I should be out of this job.
-My eating has taken a bit of a tumble this week. I’ve had late night pizza three nights of the week. ZPill explained it well, “At home there’s the difficulty of getting junk food at night and a financial drawback. Here it’s like ‘Oh, do you have sixty seconds?’”
-Beach day in Roatan. Frazzled ship exit. Security telling me I couldn’t get off the ship, my roommate already off and calling from the gangway, finding a cab, paying for the beach, but finally we were there. The sand was soft as silk under my toes. The ocean warm and welcoming. The sun drying my hair in minutes. I drank out of a coconut and answered emails about an essay I am publishing in spring.
-Once a month the spa is open for crew. The hot tub is splashy in the rough waters. I take off my suit and wear a towel in the relaxation room. Ah.
-I finally set foot in Belize. It’s the hardest port for crew to get to because passengers clog the exits for hours. We take a tour with a woman who has never known another home. She tells us about the culture and her life from inside her car. The south side is broken, the north side corrupt. I drink lime juice and eat a grilled conch from lunch. Plus plantains. Oh plantains! I ask about feminism. She tells me men used to say “Jump” and they’d ask “how high?” Now, men say jump and the women climb.
-We rehearse, he have long lingering dinner, we do our show, late night cheesecake, the first upset, the patching it up, the sleep. The glorious sleep of being in the belly of the sea.
-Our “family friendly” show. Woof. It was my first time hosting and thirty seconds in a spring breaker screamed “gynecologist” at me. I did make two horrible puns and got literally boo’d by hundreds of people, but my third joke was pretty good, and I was cheered like Rudy.
-It took me two weeks to do a total revision of my musical. Cheers to the ship library. When MB wants to find me she walks in, says deadpan, “You’re so hard to find.”
-During the Murder Mystery the audience participates in questioning the perp (me). A big ol’ southern boy asked for my number in the middle of the show.
-The adult show was BONKERS. There were hundreds of people packed into the bar. Our perfect demographic. Afterwards the high fives were endless. A girl came up to me on the dance floor and said she loved us and when she turned around and thought I couldn’t hear: “Y’all, my heart is beating so fast!” The truth is, we’re good, but we don’t warrant this kind of affection. But, still, it’s a fun experience for a week at a time.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Alice in Shipland: Week Two

-Sunday afternoon felt strange. I put on my new pink tank from Forever21 to feel like a normal human who can exist off the sea. We bumbled down the Mississippi. Am I doing this again? Oh, and then ten more times? For the first time in what feels like my whole life I wonder what I will do with all my time. I have buckets and buckets of time. I have like six projects I’m working on, but I only have two rehearsals and five shows a week. So. I do four miles at the gym and sit on the floor on our tiny room in the corner by the wardrobe. It’s a two foot by two foot open space of tile. We’ve dubbed it the “yoga studio.” I write a new scene for my new play. ZPill and MB come in giggling about the huge (free, always) dinner they ate. We put on face masks and pore strips and talked for hours. Something incredible is happening to me, which is, I really don’t care what time it is almost ever.
-Monday we had a cast dinner. We sat talking with nowhere else to be until the dining room cleared out. Savage Garden played quietly from the speakers. Someone started half-heartedly singing along. Then two. Then all six of us at a table in the middle of the ocean were screeching, “I WANNA STAND WITH YOU ON A MOUNTAIN.”
-I invited a word: shissed. It is short for “ship pissed” which is a hilarious and terrible inevitability of living on a vacation machine. Like, everything is gravy and then someone on cast will not be able to pass the ancient couple walking (are they even walking technically at that slow speed?) in a hallway, and suddenly a demon is unleashed. The demon says things like “Why do I live here? I hate people. This is the worst.” If you’re doin alright, it’s hard not to laugh at shissed people. If you’re the shissed, oh boy. Different story. I got shissed for this first time this week when security blocked off both hallways in front of and behind the exact staircase I live on. I wandered all over the boat for half an hour trying to find the one roundabout way in. It’s not like I was in a time crunch (that is never), but I got fussy. Shissed.
-I know exactly when and where the cookies are set out in the buffet each day.
-Cozumel port day was the bees knees. Four of us found a cultural wasteland of a beach that we got into for only the price of one drink and the cab ride there. I slurped coconut water out of a giant green coconut and ate fistfuls of nachos and swam in the ocean like a dang mermaid. I sat by the pool and listened to Coldplay. I left hot pink. It was worth it.*
-One night we huddled in a conference room to watch a stream of the Oscars. I feel full of confetti when Adam McKay won Best Adapted Screenplay. Here we were, a cast of SC, watching an alum of SC win an Oscar.
-I might already be in overload of beauty. I walked around Honduras Wednesday and if I really focused I would notice how absolutely breathtaking everything was, but only a minute later…poof, I was back to planning out the essay I’m working on.
-I have been spending at least a few hours every day in the library to write. Without fail, every hour some older person approaches me and asks how I get online. I say I am only writing—not online. They pause, ask, “So can you help me get online?” It’s as if I have “Millennial—Ask Me Anything” tattooed on my face.
-It’s a very confusing feeling to do a sketch for the umpteenth time and still get a giant positive reaction. I get that to me it’s very old and to the audience it’s very new, but man, it’s weird.
-Costa Maya = an hour massage for thirty bucks, swimming in an ocean pool, drinking summery slushies out of palm tree glasses. MY LIFE!
-Yesterday I got to teach an improv workshop in the lounge of the ship. About 40 people came out, and my heart exploded with joy. I have really missed teaching. I’m glad I get this mini outlet here.
-Saturday night is a barrel of fun. Everyone is getting one last wild ride in. We do an “adults only” set, which obviously very quickly (at the whim of the audience’s suggestions) spirals out of control into a trashy blue comedy blob. New friends are made! Fans even. We dance, we sing, everything is loud, we scream over the music. Everyone will disappear in less than ten hours.

At least twenty times a day I am filled with immense gratitude that life has taken me here.

*Don’t worry, Mary, I am wearing sunscreen!