Sunday, July 10, 2016

Alice in Ship Land: Oof (Cruise Fifteen!)

Friday started with a trip to Mike's Pastry. I didn't feel well--fajitas at 2 AM with the guys after empty glasses filled up the table and they started a game of "Real Housewives of the Cruise." Tail talked about his new Pilates studio and mimed sloshing wine on everyone. Still, I ordered the largest pastry in the glass case (a lobster tail) and gobbled it down. I was anxious to hear the diagnosis of my laptop at Apple (had to be sent away). I spent the rest of the day getting lost, drinking a disgusting overpriced smoothie, and as a result of my phone dying suddenly, having to get back on the ship an hour early.

I showered in our overflowing bathroom. I talk to Puhg and think of him at home. Chicago in summer. The people there. The ship crawls away from all of them, while I lay in my bed under water. The one day in port is so important. A reset. I do not feel refreshed. I'm not ready.

Our room steward avoided our cabin for four days so I was no longer able to enter the bathroom. I would reach for my toothbrush, brush my teeth outside, and do a push up on the sink to spit. When I had to relieve myself, I took three flights of stairs to a public toilet in the atrium. I went to the gym on Monday and when I came back I realized I couldn't shower. I had been using Folds' in dire times but his wife was on board last week. I called our manager and pleaded for a place I could simply get clean without stepping in urine. She said I could use her room. I went up to her SUITE WITH A PORT HOLE AND A COUCH and cried in the shower.

My favorite thing to eat on board is a staple in the restaurant menus--a vegetarian lasagna roll. Stuffed with spinach. It's the one thing I feel is actually healthy and nourishing. I haven't been able to eat it since we've been denied from restaurants every time we attempt to be seated. Folds' wife made us a reservation! I licked my lips! I sit down at dinner, open the menu, and realize it has been revamped. There's only one vegetarian option now and it's a pesto dish--which gives me heartburn. I cry. I cry at a restaurant while wearing wedges in front of Folds' wife because I can't have a spinach roll. I eat a lot of cheese and bread. I avoid everyone, go home early, and watch Transparent on MB's computer. This is what I do every night all week (sometimes after buying Skittles, sometimes not). I finish the first season in six days.

I start developing what some might refer to as "depression." Oh, just trying to oversleep, finding myself saying things like, "I know I used to find this fun, but I don't feel anything." Those types of cool developments. MB found a beetle in her salad. Everyone's stomachs shrink. No matter, my body is finally rejecting boat food. I am going number two around eight times a day. Sometimes dramatically. At midnight Sunday ZPill calls asking I go with him to a bar in Bermuda where he orders Dark and Stormys. I shuffle to land like a zombie. We talk about comedy. Cliche sad clowns.

I am scheduled for a three hour training at 1:30 PM, smack in the middle on our only full day in port. 4th of July. Everyone else goes to the beach. I learn about how to direct passengers up stairs in the event of an emergency. I wonder who in our cast would actually muster at our station in an emergency since we're useless if something actually went down. I think about the musicians on the Titanic playing as the ship sank. I imagine us playing short form improv games on the deck as passengers scream and scramble for lifeboats.

An officer calls because I made a sexual harassment claim last week. I meet with him and share my statement. He is very nice but keeps referring to the incident (an officer leading a training  making sexist and suggestive jokes at the expensive of women) as "silly comments." I keep correcting: "sexual harassment." He dismisses me. Happy Independence Day.

MB and I are assigned a new room! Then we are unassigned it. Then she and I go to the office and ask what on earth is going on, she uses the phrase "we're eating turds" repeatedly, we leave with a promise to return, we are reassigned! The room is still small, but literally twice the size of our old one. AND THE TOILET WORKS. This was such a battle--way too long to bore you with here--but long story short, huge win. Tail calls us Norma Rae.

During Crew Drill we razz ZPill about how much shrimp he eats at the buffet, which eventually devolves into all of us singing pop songs and shoving "shrimp" in them. IE "I like big shrimp and I cannot lie/ You other shrimp can't deny" or "Im so shrimp-y/ you already know." etc. This entertains us for a solid hour while we wear life jackets in the blazing sun. 

My mom knows my week has been crummy. She emails me a very generous offer. She wants to treat me to a massage! They're expensive on board but in port crew gets 40% off. I forego Bermuda for an appointment. Its truly wonderful. Moms, you guys. I sneak into the spa and read in the relaxation room, write in my journal, lay on a hot stone. I sit in the steam room and feel the mucus drain from my face. Everything is really okay.

The shows are still great. 3000 passengers makes for a cut-throat line at the toaster, but fantastic houses. In my favorite scene, Tail and I joust, and at the end I divulge I have been riding a piglet the whole time. In rehearsal we play a game called "Alice Said It Best" where someone gives a long-winded opinion and then I distill it to a sentence thats usually optimistic. I wish we rehearsed every day. Everyone would hate that (except for me). Dreams become work. I am excited to go back to Chicago where people love it again. I still love it. I love it so much. I miss comedy when it's not around--even for a couple days.

We do a 4th-themed family show and end with a historical rap battle. I throw down as Michelle Obama against Ronald Regan. I rhyme "you make me frown" with "trickle down" and "lets move, lets hustle" with "my arm muscle." I kiss my biceps a lot. I get second place, losing to Paul Revere who does a pretty good "one if by land, two if by sea" rhyme. There's a fantastic sunset that stays pink for an hour. A huge egg yolk. Tail and I watch it sink while comparing and contrasting our job to Grey Gardens. I ask him to pose by the orange sky, and he says he feels like an Olin Mills model.

I spend a few hours writing a rap outside, the ocean chops past. Its a Thursday--midday. These are the moments I am still so grateful. After our adult show MB and I head back to our room to find our key cards have mysteriously stopped working. We track down a security guard to help us in, but our keys are still broken until Personnel opens in a day or maybe two. This means we have to leave our room open any time we leave. MB hugs me, goes to the bar, and I leave the door ajar so she can get in later. The boat rocks and the door flies open. I debate which is worse, having to scuttle down from my top bunk or potentially be robbed in the night. An urgent bout of diarrhea makes the decision for me.

Boston. Ahh. First things first, I immediately pick up my computer. It's intact. It's clean. I'm a happy camper. I meet with Malt--an old friend from college--at his v corporate job. I love Malt. funny and smart, a link to the past. He is tired and a little grey in the face. He describes his career as "soul crushing" and I know I would not switch places with him. I wouldn't even entertain it. I waffled about posting most of this update. MB says I shouldn't censor sadness, but I know if I had heard someone "complaining" (emoting) this way a year ago I would scoff and say "Are you kidding? It's worth it." And the truth is I know that! Is it okay to feel sad over dumb things? Is that a valid question? The week was hard for fluke reasons but also because without my computer I couldn't write very much. During shows I felt great! But then after we bowed and took off our mics, I felt like a purposeless balloon. In some ways, this realization is a blessing, a reminder that I really really want to do this Thing. It pains me not to. Perspective. Grace. A new week.

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