Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tempestuous Mistress

So this is a very brief post because instead of spending the day out in Gilbraltar, which I have admittedly been to before, I spent the day in bed catching up on a pretty serious sleep deficit. But at 1:45 pm I made myself rise and head out the door to enjoy lunch and sunshine for but a brief hour before heading back to work. And boy am I glad I did. I step off the boat, out of the terminal and immediately am witness to the following exchange. A very nervous tourist fresh from one of the other ships walks timidly up to a stranger returning to the port and asks meekly, "excuse me, do you speak English?" Um,we're in Gilbraltar. Thank you universe, sometimes it is worth getting out of bed.

Enjoying some delightful lamb tapas and contemplating the Mission for Seafarers I passed upon approach. "Open to all with special services for Seafarers." I had never thought about it before but I am, for all intents and purposes, a Seafarer, at least for the time being. No, I'm no fisherman and I'm not running freight, I'm not risking my life for the love of that tempetuous mistress the sea. Instead I'm playing with plastic fish and running trivia on a big floating city center but I think I still apply. And I grew up around the sea-creeks, streams, lakes, bays and oceans which actually seems a bit unique among the shipboard crew. Anyway, I just got me to thinking how much my life has changed and yet come a little full circle. Currently the husband and I are exchanging emails with a far kinder and more loving tone than my first contract because I just couldn't take it anymore that everything sucks. So since my life is in a holding pattern anyway, no need to edge ever closer to the precipice of meanness. Instead, we speak in tones which indidcate an attempt at reconcilation which I know we shall not actually make but it is better than the alternative. Living off the grid again but at least we are being honest about it. I just want to be kind as long as it doesn't create a false sense of reality which will just cause more pain in the end. But maybe that's life. A series of exchanges which stave off pain until the threat is past. I hate to say it, but that's really what I need right now; to stave off pain.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Land Ho

Well, we survived the Rapture and at last made landfall and not a moment too soon. I am so grateful right now that I do have some wonderful people around me, one of whom happens to be a long-time friend from before my shipboard days. He, another friend and I all headed out and had a delightfully fun-filled day ashore doing relatively nothing. Taxi tour and taking really silly stupid pictures and suddenly, I was me again. Yes, I’ve a long way to go, but for a few hours, I wasn’t just someone who screwed up her life again. I was happy tooling around the world with friends, being silly and stupid and not caring what anyone else thought. And for a moment, I had once again touched my inner awesome. I didn’t have time to write. I was too busy doing. I need more of that. No more thinking. It does me no good anyway.

I have decided to stop calling myself a dirty ho and adopted the nomenclature Land Ho. No, not really; truthfully I'm back to practicing saying only nice things to myself about myself and have taken up a casual policy of leaving little love notes for myself. But I still do want to be a Land Ho for Halloween!

Day Five Without a Net

Day four sea day and day five of no internet or phone access is really starting to take a toll on the morale of the crew. Yes, we know we are at sea and internet it always tricky but as it is, we are all walking around decks like a bunch of zombies in a permanent altered state and feeling completely disconnected from anything familiar is depressing. I see it in myself, though I have been so depressed lately it doesn’t feel that different but my coworkers are short and cranky and very brash with each other, rather to the point that I am starting to take issue with it, despite the fact that I know I’ve been nothing but a pain in the ass since I came on board. I really just want to go home at this point which in a way is freeing because I’m rather fearless about everything now. I’m not rude with the guests or crew but I’m also not worried that if I make a mistake, they’ll send me home. It’s rather liberating. I am taking time out of each hour and each event to just breath and focus on opening my heart again, and releasing all the darkness and poison currently residing there, the aftermath of which is making me slightly woozy and a little nauseous, rather like the lingering effects of a really good deep tissue massage. Note to self: must remember to drink more water. I’m waffling between running on deck four and napping. Yesterday the nap won out and I missed seeing humpback whales by about 20 minutes but I’m kind of delirious and working until midnight so I think a nap might be in order again. Though running has a tendency to rejuvenate and free my mind as well when I’m this tired, sometimes I just end up crying. Perhaps that will be a challenge for tomorrow when we don’t have another time change. More and more, I realize I don’t really want to come back. Though there are infinite opportunities for me here, I don’t think a life at sea is for me. I like being able to see my friends and talk to my family and though they tell you that the crew are your family and friends now, I kind of learned the hard way my first contract that that is not really the case. Relationships of any kind are fleeting on a ship; you grow close to a person, take him or her into your confidence, your inner sanctum and then the contract is over, that person leaves and you swear to stay in touch and never do. It isn’t that different landbound and in theater, but at least there, you can be a little more selective about choosing realistically. I mean, am I really going to stay in contact with my friends from the band when they return to England or that shore excursions girl who goes back to Denmark or the guest services rep from South Africa? No, probably not. Our circles are too small and I have always preferred it that way. I don’t like letting people in and when I do, I need to know there is a reason and that they will be a good steward of my confidence. And I don’t want to be responsible to other people if it is just too hard. I suppose that is selfish, but I think perhaps it is also self-preserving. I only have so much to give and sometimes, I have to be sparing with it.

Calm Blue Ocean

We are halfway to Madeira, the sea is a glass table with an impossibly beautiful view to the horizon; we’ve spotted humpback whales, sea turtles, and birds and it couldn’t be more lovely. So why can’t I just be happy? Heartbreak sucks. The current theory from my friends, male of course and by vast majority gay, that’s my comfort zone, is that the universe and my mother are working together to strip away all the ties I have accumulated over the years to hold me down and hold me back. My gays include Heath in the mix though I didn’t view him as a distraction. I saw him as a new path, though I think my fear was that he was another distraction and therefore I sabotaged it all. Boy do I wish I had a time machine, a recall button (for my email) and well, while I’m wishing, I’d also like a puppy.

But wishing isn’t going to change the past, the present or the future. I can only act and hope that things will work out as they should. I just hope they work out with me being happy and at some point, maybe not alone. For now though, I suppose I shall just have to muscle through until things start to feel better.

So I was staring out at the beautiful, calm blue ocean (not a cliché, it really has been a calm blue ocean) and thinking that I really needed my mom. I kept wishing she would come, would give me a sign that she could hear me, that she understood and that everything was going to be alright…and I saw dolphins, three dolphins. They weren’t breaching or dancing or signing autographs but they were there and that was enough. I stood at that window for thirty minutes willing my heart to open, willing it to unravel and release all the hurt and shame and pain of the past few months. Willing it to start to heal and forgive from the inside out. And I felt…something. It wasn’t a voice from beyond or some bright light of knowledge, but warmth and a loosening of all that tightness in my chest; deep breaths that filled my lungs and cleared my head, a softening of the crinkles which have taken residence on my forehead.

I don’t know why this is so much harder than before. You know, I was with Mr. Darcy for ten years and yes, it took a year to get over him, but it was still different. I saw all the signs, I knew where it was going and in the end, though it hurt like a b*tch, I knew it was over, definitively and there was a part of me that was relieved. And with my husband, it was similar. I knew our marriage was not really salvageable in its current state and I was just biding my time asking for a divorce so that it wouldn’t be ugly or awful and though I am scared and sad, I’m also still cautiously optimistic at the possibilities that lay before me. But with Heath, everything just feels wrong. You know how sometimes you have someone in your life where it feels like things aren’t done or they resolved themselves wrong, well, that’s how it feels. And maybe it is just wishful thinking but it just feels wrong trying to move on when I’ve no desire to and when I already know I’ll spend the next part of my life wondering what could have been. I have to trust that what is meant to be will be so I’m focusing a little on happy memories until I can make some new ones.


Worry, this is slightly out of order but I forgot this one. I left early Saturday morning to get the few things I needed before heading overseas. I ran a few errands in the morning before heading back to the ship and by the time I returned I was already running late and nearly forgot to leave my key for the person who will be driving my car while I’m gone so I bolted back to the ship, noticing an excessive amount of bugs in the air. These flying nemeses I later learned are called Love bugs, little lightning bug-looking things that fly around in pairs, mate for two weeks and die. So I quickly changed into my work uniform and headed upstairs to discover that we had been invaded. These little suckers were everywhere, all the way up the gangway. In fact we had to close two decks and postpone a deck party. Sweaty guests who’d mortgaged their homes and saved for years to be part of this once in a lifetime transatlantic passage arrived flustered and angry, swatting at the air and we had to hold back our revulsion and (ok, my inappropriate amusement) because several guests still had the interloping fornicators crawling across their faces. One guest actually attacked me and started hitting me shouting, “they’re all over you, they’re all over you, they’re on your neck.” Please stop hitting me!

As we were still debating how we were going to sing without swallowing at the sail-away and the proper usage of streamers as flyswatters, the skies grew dark and the waters began to swirl and foam. We were overtaken with a storm that drove the bugs southward to the ground where they continued their gruesome love dance as they drowned in a mass insect orgy. I told our security staff if the waters turned red and started to boil, I was heading down the gangway. I offered to set an impromptu confessional…you know…just in case anyone had anything he needed to get off his chest. No wonder we had so few children…tradition dictates the slaying of the firstborn male so…and of course, we were approaching the Rapture.

But of course, all this happened before the coast guard required outdoor guest drill. I have never been so happy to be in the interior auxilliary overflow area. Who has two thumbs and is thrilled for the inconvenient indoor space? This girl! I didn’t know it at the time but I learned we did have a third plague of brush fires in the parking area.

The Dream

So I had just the loveliest day yesterday and went to bed, very tired, slept through the whole night and woke up in the best mood after a beautiful, sensual dream, still warm and happy feeling his arms around me, his breath still on my neck, his skin against mine and…it was just a dream, I was alone and he wasn’t coming back. Why is my subconscious plotting against me? My current theory is that my subconscious and my GPS are conspiring together. You know how she has it in for me and GPS is satellite so they’ve no trouble staying connected, unlike me and my struggling ocean bound internet connection. It made me question whether I’m really getting over this and moving on or whether I really have made a huge mistake in not just going for it when I had the chance. Please tell me that this will not be my life’s regret forever. I have imprinted on him in a way I didn’t think was possible. And it sucks. Is it wrong to enjoy the dream? To indulge a bit in the memory, is that just picking at the wound forcing it open; not letting it heal?

So how do you change the filter? My first time onboard, I was so happy, after a time, knowing that I was having an amazing once in a lifetime experience that I was then going to take home to another once in a lifetime experience. I know intellectually that there are infinite combinations of completely suitable partnerships and that partnership is not even necessary for happiness and that quite frankly romantic love is irrational and monogamy goes against the natural order. These are arguments I made to Heath early on which he later parroted back to me when things went south. So why is it my heart says, no Laurel, you’ve made a mistake. A mistake you need to work to rectify. And is it possible? As Heath said, a relationship will never move forward if only one person wants it. How is it so possible for him to so completely have moved on and yet I am still in love with him? Am I forgettable, pathetic, just not worthwhile or am I, as he first teased, truly nothing but a dirty ho? Is the universe just cruel? I have to stop drawing inpriation from movies like "The Holiday" and "Chocolat". I mean, Kate Winslett is brilliant and all, but if I hadn’t assumed my love was unrequited, would it have been in the end? And will I have to spend my life wondering what could have been? When does pain end? How do we speed up the process so it feels manageable? And is it possible truly to stay friends with an ex-love? I have to stop living my life like I’m in a movie or some terrible Victorian novel, seeking out the most painful outcome possible. Or if I’m in a movie, can it have a happy ending?

And then there is my poor husband, whom I have fallen so far out of love with, and who has fallen so far out of love with me, yet we both question if there really is anything better out there. Maybe it’s just better to settle for the devil you know, being that we are good friends, fantastic roommates, great travel companions. Maybe that’s enough since love seems fleeting and tempestuous anyway. The man I love is gone, why look for another? Yet, being on this ship, surrounded by newlyweds, new families and octogenarian couples who youthen in front of you when they hold hands and smile at one another; who push eachother around in wheelchairs and assist eachother in their hardships, it seems impossible to think that it is all so unattainable. Maybe that is the dream, to be so happy with another that a hardship, a burden, a sacrifice seems fleeting and meaningless in the face of the joy you share together. I have one couple whom I have truly grown found of and look forward to seeing each night, he's in a wheelchair and she aids him nightly with a smile that would light up an eclipse. I mentioned to her one night how great her smile was and she said, "we're just happy to be here. I mean, still here." G*d I long to find that solace, to be happy just be happy to still be here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

No More Crazy B*tches!!

So just to warn you, now that I don’t have regular internet access, these posts will be grouped together, but understand time has passed between them. That is important.

So time moves in mysterious ways on the ship, a good week can feel like a day, a bad week can feel like a year. Yesterday I spent the day in mourning, longing for someone to hold me and comfort me and let me be vulnerable, and then last night when I said it out loud, I realized I didn’t need it anymore. I am a very capable woman who has been far too self indulgent of late and I am just getting really annoyed with myself. I got a wake up call from a dear (and very blunt) friend of mine last night who said that I am not a girly girl and that I am starting to get on his nerves because my self-doubt is entirely unfounded especially on the cusp of one of the coolest experiences of my life. I have been feeling bad and responsible for everyone of late and really indulging in the crazy but I know this crazy is not me, so I’m just going to let it go and stop feeling bad about not feeling bad. Time for an attitude adjustment…again. I even talked to my husband today and asked him if he was ok with my just letting this go for a while and not feeling bad anymore. His response? “Yes, please.” Why is it so hard to just move on? I guess I felt like with as many mistakes as I have made, I shouldn’t just be able to walk away but, what’s done is done and I can’t change it. I can only learn from it and strangely enough, the people who have been directedly affected by my rabid swath of destruction all just want me to move on and be happy because, despite my best efforts to be a horror, they all still appear to love me, and perhaps, after a time, even still like me. So, time to love and like myself. Time to find the fun again and laugh at my foibles. Au Revior, Mon Ami. Mark this day. Today starts a new life for Ms Laurel Spears. No more feeling bad, or holding tight to what has already past. No more crying in electrical closets. I'm free! I'm forgiving myself and moving on. And now I'm going to the Med(iterranean).

Day One Without a Net

So today was a rough one. I feel awful because I keep lashing out, making the same painful error as before. I seek approval from those who would withhold it, and I lambast the ones who would until they can’t even remember what they liked about me in the first place. I have of late been equally hard on both myself and Heath who has entirely moved on despite my desires to the contrary. And somehow, I seem to think if I just keep pushing and prodding and denigrating that somehow he will come to his senses and realize what a prize I am!! G*d, what is wrong with me? And in the meantime, I am trying to find the fun again. I have taken up Spanish and am reinstructing myself on juggling and belly dancing and finally after seven weeks recovery I am able to run again. One more breakup and I’ll be able to start my own circus school.

Here’s the sad thing I’ve realized in retrospect. When I went home, what I really wanted more than anything was for Heath to hold me and stroke my hair and tell me that everything was going to be ok. And I didn’t want to tell him because I wanted to respect his wishes and I was conflicted about my own feelings and I didn’t want him to see me weak. So instead I let him see me crazy. Really, really crazy! Not really better. I have gone from my first shipboard experience feeling happy and secure and for the first time in my life, beautiful, looking forward to starting a new life, to spending these first few weeks crying in the middle of sail away parties and hiding in electrical closets, racked with supreme blind terror that not only have I no idea how to be alone or even happy, but that I have ruined three lives with my indecisiveness, over analysis and misguided caution. I think maybe I was so worried about losing myself in another man and making sacrifices that it never occurred to me that maybe I wasn’t making a sacrifice at all. Maybe it’s ok to change directions if you are heading towards something better. I have made so many sacrifices over the years because what I wanted and who I actually was didn’t align with what my partner wanted. But here’s the great irony; this time, it didn’t feel like a sacrifice. I was ready to just walk away from this if Heath had asked me and because he loved me, he didn’t ask. Holy cr*p, maybe that’s what love really is. It’s making compromises not sacrifices because ultimately the reward is so much greater than the loss. Boy do I wish I had understood that before. And maybe, it jsut was what it was, a moment in time we both needed. And it's ok that it wasn't more than that, because that was still a lot. I think somehow I thought if it wasn't forever, it wasn't real. I don’t know if there will ever be another beautiful Demon in my future. There will be others but I’ve now had three great loves in my life; each unique and each I think perhaps an improvement and compliment to the previous, I don’t know if you can really ask for another. Now if I can learn to love myself again, perhaps I will have a chance in the future of finally getting it right if I ever meet someone who wants only me. For now though, I need to change focus.

You know, people say to me all the time, “I wish I was like you.” Or “I want to be you when I grow up.” But you know why people want to be me? Because they aren’t…and they shouldn’t be. People envy me because they see what they want and they see a better sense of themselves reflected back but they haven’t experienced what it is to be a muse. People think I’m funny and interesting, cool and most of all, untouchable. But the truth is, it’s lonely and kind of pathetic unless I can share it with someone else. They don’t understand, what I want is what they already have. I want love and babies and holding hands in public and I want to find a musician who just wants to sing stupid love songs with me and cabaret around the country in little dives while our four year old sits playing in the back with the babysitter and we laugh at all the little foibles in the world because we notice them even if no one else does. Ok, maybe that’s not exactly the American dream, but it’s a close proximity. And it’s what I want. I thought that was going to be my life with my husband. Now I don’t know what to think. He would reconcile if I would agree but my g*d, I am so tired of living a lie and we both deserve better. I don’t want the double and triple and quadruple life anymore. If I’m in love, I want the world to know, and if I can’t have that kind of love, then I suppose I’d rather be alone and just love, wait, that came out wrong. Though I gotta say, right now, alone sucks an awful lot.

Right now, I’m just white knuckling my way through my life and trying desperately to find my sense of humor again because that has carried me through so many times before while not wearing out my friends. I have become a drama queen, something I can’t abide in others and something that doesn’t actually sit well with me either; it’s not who I am but I am physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted from the effort of trying to stave off the fear. I thought maybe just embracing the crazy for a bit would be helpful-it was something new to try but it isn’t for me. And for the second time since my mother died, I don’t know what to do and I can’t ask for her help. I’m out of resources and I’ve depleted my reserve. I don’t know how much deeper I can dig before I hit China. And now, back to work. Smiles, everyone, smiles!


Sitting in a coffee shop feeling sorry for myself, I am slapped on the back of the head by the universe. “Snap out of it, you whining b*tch”, I think might be an accurate abbreviation for the actual events. As I sit, typing voraciously on my netbook, a couple of women sit behind me and begin a conversation about “the shower”. They are so excited; it will be beautiful and so much fun. And, “So, do you love being married?” Oh my yes, tales and tales of how great it is and so worth the wait and how she couldn’t have even imagined life would ever be this wonderful. Seriously, shut up! And then as if it isn’t enough that her happiness is seriously grating on me, more women arrive and start discussing the party and how excited they are about the facepainting station, like they are solving world peace or doing brain surgery or something. I mean, really, facepainting? Are you really contributing to society? Are you really this exuberant about some fleeting acrylic tagging ritual? And they are rapidly encroaching on my personal space and definitely polluting my aural airspace with their incessant chattering. Enough already, you petty, boring, overprivileged…oh, the party is for orphans? Um, well, I freeze mid-turn, the snarky comment frozen in my throat. Returning to my writing I continue to open an ear to the conversation.

“I am so excited for what g*d has in store for me. I never know when he is going to turn up and test me, like walking around in a haunted house, waiting for him to pop out.” Really, a haunted house analogy? Something I can actually relate to? Maybe I need to look into this g*d person. Perhaps, insipid blond histrionics aside, there might possibly be something there. And then they continue with all the talk of love and babies and perfect lives and the moment is gone. I pack up and, irritated, retreat to the restroom to gather my thoughts and websurf in private.

But I am haunted, not by g*d, but by this sudden awareness that I have become jaded. It is a strange revelation. I mean, I question all the time the contribution I make with everything I do, motivated by self-fulfillment but always with an undercurrent of mild altruism. I am an educator and inspiration for those around me and I am used to throwing myself on the sword for the benefit of others, even if I know it will cost me in the end because I have always believed the reward would outweigh the sacrifice but never have I let my own pitfalls make me jaded. My positive outlook has been my defining characteristic, a true Pollyanna with a kookie vibe and a splash of self-deprication, blending with completely unfounded arrogance. My own weird cocktail but it has worked for me. And I really thought I was doing something for myself this last time but in retrospect, I got involved once again with someone who, despite his overtures to the contrary, never once announced to the world, “I love this woman. I want to walk down the street holding her hand. I want to kiss her in public; I want to irritate jaded ex-lovers with my sappy happiness.”

Until now, I’ve never questioned it, but I have historically been involved with people who wanted to keep what we had private or wanted to get involved with me secretly, whether it was because they had a girlfriend or disapproving family, or they were married, transgender or socially inept. And I always thought it was a sign that they were somehow cooler or more private or that I was gaining access to a side of them that no one else did or giving eachother something we both needed, but I think perhaps I may be the one everyone wants to sleep with and no one wants to actually date. I’m not a muse, I’m a blight; a seven year itch, a curiosity… an intrigue. And I’m sick of it. Knowing is half the battle, right?

I’m having a hard time reconciling everything that has happened and even questioning whether divorce is the answer. Truth is, we never gave marriage a real, fighting chance because we decided we would define what a marriage was for us but not for years have we actually tried just being honest and in love. And I thought that’s what I wanted because that is what I was offered. But it never occurred to me to say no; to just say what you offer isn’t enough and maybe what I have to offer isn’t enough either. Same with Mr. Darcy. I wanted so much to be a part of his life that I was ready to walk away from my marriage, too late of course, but I never questioned what he was offering, which had nothing to do with what I really wanted. To him and his life I was just going to be a part, not a partner. I have always wanted the person but I never questioned the fact that I really wanted the whole package. I suppose that’s the lesson I learned from Heath. I wanted to be with him, I loved every minute of it and he made me question everything that had come before and really define what I wanted for myself without compromise. Problem was, once defined, he couldn’t actually offer me that; he already had the life he wanted, there wasn’t a place for me in it, no matter how much I loved him. And I was ready to compromise because I thought that was what love is, compromise, but I think perhaps true love is the whole package. I need someone who wants to be with me, publicly, who’s faults are bolstered by my strengths and whose strengths compliment my shortcomings. A partner, not a puppet. Someone who wants to be a part of my life in all things, someone who wants the life that I want; a life so surprisingly fulfilling that anything else feels like a compromise. I want the package, love and happiness and babies and sappiness and cool, stupid adventures that pale in the retelling to how exciting and fun they were in the doing. And if I can’t find that person, then I shall continue to be my amazing self under the radar no longer. No compromising. I leave for Europe this week and I shall spend the summer finding myself again, building myself back up, piecing myself back together. If I can’t have the romance of a lifetime this lifetime, I shall seek the perfect romance with myself and make up the rest. Maybe there is a place in the world for a muse like me. And for my readers, the next chapter begins. Without my marriage to define me, without a husband or boyfriend or lover I shall have to define myself. And I want to be a billboard, a novel, an arc of lightning across the heavens, not a secret anymore! I just don’t quite know where to start. So here is to another new beginning.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Make Believe

I can’t stand being on the ship right now; two weeks on this beautiful floating iron prison feels like an eternity and I keep hoping for the onset of Stockholm Syndrome so I can at least get warm and fall asleep…wait, that’s freezing to death. I am going to fabricate my own romance, I think. I don't need it to be real, I just need something to get me through, especially on the long and mindless days of our private island purgatory. How I long for Alcatraz or the Green Mile. Like finding adventure in mundane tasks again; which I always seem best at with company. Living in the land of make believe and wishes and beautiful babies and happy families is killing me right now. I keep hearing that, “no matter how your heart is grieving…” and I want to yell, it's all just bullsh*t, the mouse lied to me!!! But I remain...optimistic.

Word is starting to spread like wildfire that I am getting divorced and the uncomfortable meat market that already plagued my first contract as I pushed away attackers who felt a marriage was not a barrier so much as a landmark goal, is compounding upon itself. I have been assigned twice this week to singles lunch, a generally innocuous event intended to give adults traveling with family but without a companion someone to pal around with. However, the first time this week, when I arrived there was but one gentleman, around 3o or so, eating ice cream. “Starting with dessert, I see?” I queried innocently. “No, I already had lunch. I just wanted to see who’d be here. So, are you married?” Funny that. “Yes” was my only response. Second singles lunch, blessedly I share with another cruise staffer, this time one older woman in her fifties arrives, looking for a hookup who won’t steal her money-she doesn’t want food, just a glass of wine and has her family in the restaurant poised to take pictures. That’s just weird. “So, do you have a significant other here?”, she asks, while my partner is crime is off at the buffet loading her plate with crabs. “No”, I answer. “But, you’re so young. You don’t have anyone in your life?” F*ck. Fine, I confess, “Oh, I have a husband but he’s back home.” My co-pilot returns. “How does your husband feel about you being on the ship?” Oh boy…before I can respond, my cruise staff partner in overeating drops the crab on its way to her mouth and chimes in, “well, my boyfriend understands I have to work and he travels a lot as well.” I throw her an appreciative glance and make a quick departure. I am once again the Universe’s punchline.