Archive | July, 2011

The Ten Commandments of Camping

22 Jul


I am a Traveler, as are many of my friends. One thing we all agree on is that when people ask us what we do on vacation our answer is usually the same – sleep. There are few things better than sleeping in your own bed after months away. Well, I’ve done that for about a month now. And while I’ve enjoyed every minute, it’s time to get back to nature.

You see, although I work on a ship, I spend the majority of my day inside. Much of it in an office with no windows. In fact, I have spent a week on board without ever going outdoors. A big difference from my former career as an Adventure Tour Guide where I camped for six months at a time. This weekend I will escape the Phoenix heat and head up to the cooler temperatures to camp at the Grand Canyon.

Before I leave I have decided to be environmentally friendly and recycle an old piece from a tourism column I used to write. So, with permission from, well, me – here it is:

Many people would like to try camping yet, if they have never gone before, the idea can be intimidating. After all, if you are lucky enough to have a home, why rough it? Aaaahhh. . . for the experience.

As a Camping and Adventure Tour Guide I tried to impart my love of camping onto many a “newbie.” After all, anybody who has camped was a “newbie” at one time. In fact, before becoming a guide, I had camped for a total of two nights, not consecutively. Thanks to wonderful training by my company it was love at first night. From then on, I wanted to impart my love for camping to others. Dirt? Good. Smokey smell? Good. Bugs? Hey, it’s their house.

I have had campers say to me, “I don’t like the outdoors. I just took this trip for the price.” I considered this a challenge. I knew their camping experience had to be great for them to realize that maybe there are other reasons to camp besides the price. After three weeks of tent living, one of these campers came to me looking to plan her next camping trip. Mission accomplished.

Camping need not be intimidating and, in fact, can be quite a wonderful experience. Just follow the Ten Commandments of Camping and you may find yourself scheduling weekend escapes or week long trips throughout the year.

Ten Commandments of Camping 

1} Thou shalt not sleep well on the first night; this is why God created Ambien.

2} If thou must watch television, thou art not a camper.

3} Thou shalt not feedest the wildlife. Although we are all God’s children, they are called wildlife for a reason.

4} Mother Nature cannot be controlled, for few women can be.

5} And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. . . and noise. Thou shan’t complain if thou has neglected to bring thy sleep mask and earplugs.

6} Looketh thee up, turneth thine eyes towards the skies.

7} Wherever thou art sitting, there shall goest the campfire smoke.

8} The sounds that you hear are elk bugling, coyotes howling and birds chirping. Sit thee back and enjoy their music, for God loves all creatures great and small.

9} Once thou hast tasted the wine and beer, do not believest that thou can walketh on water, fire or glass. For although sleeping outdoors might maketh thee feel closer to God, thou art still a mere mortal.

10} Taketh thee only photos, leaveth thee only footprints.

The Joys of Colored Underwear

16 Jul


Now that I’m home for two months I am feeling a bit like one of those LWL’s (Ladies Who Lunch, for those with real jobs). You see, when I was so under-employed and poor, I didn’t shop. Heck, I couldn’t even afford the gas it took to get me to the store, let alone the actual purchase price of an item (even with discounts and coupons because, after all, I am a Jewish girl). So now, it’s time to play catch up.

First item on my shopping list – lingerie. To be more specific white bra’s and white panties. I hear ya, sounds uh, sexy. Let me explain. I am an officer on the ship I work on. That means that this redhead who loves color must wear white – all the time. Yes, white pants, white skirt, white shirt (with very impressive gold stripes), white belt and white shoes. And while they don’t specify what my under-garment color should be, it’s generally accepted that well, you don’t wear your purple underpants with the word “Juicy” written across the back.

Now let me first say, I see nothing wrong with this. We all know that people wear underwear (well most do anyway – and if you’re wearing white pants, you really should). So why is it such a problem if people see them? I’m not talking about VPL’s (Guys – that’s Visible Panty Lines). The look should be smooth, but colorful, yes? Apparently I’m out voted. So, in the interest of soaking my unmentionables (another phrase regarding underwear I don’t understand. Why not mention them?) in Woolite in my bathtub a few less times, I went shopping for white bras and panties.

I scavenged through the racks of bras. There were lace, satin, cotton, sports, underwire, T-shirt bra’s (what is that?), T-back, strapless, push-up, miracle, wonder (these last two cause me to think that the next big craze in bra’s will be called Yowza!). I grabbed whatever white, off-white and nude colored (doesn’t that imply see-thru?) bra’s I could find. I tried them all on. Only one word came to mind – blah. While I know my uniform does nothing to show that I actually have breasts (and mighty fine ones at that), I want to at least feel like a girl underneath.

This seems like a good time to mention a few pet peeves regarding bra shopping; why do bra-makers insist on adjusting the straps to the shortest possible spot so that when you put it on, the cups are around your ears and you can’t lower your arms (my ears, by the way are a B-cup)? And why do stores insist on putting the plastic string thing that holds the tags (I’m sure they have a proper name) through the strap so you can’t adjust it without ripping off the tag?

I spend 10 minutes painstakingly placing the vast whiteness lying on the bench in front of me back onto their individual hangers. And while we’re speaking of this, one more pet peeve – hangers. Not like Mommy Dearest wire hangers, but the plastic ones that never, ever hold a bra in the same manner in which it was original placed on it during the manufacturing process. It’s like a Christmas present that doesn’t fit back in the box it came in, no matter how hard you try. So I walk out of the fitting room with my head held high muttering something about tags and hangers. I cannot bring myself to purchase any of the snow-white, nude or beige models I have tried. I’m a woman of color after all (no, I’m definitely a white girl but, give me a purple, red or bright blue anything and I’m halfway to the check-out line).

As I’m walking out of the lingerie department, dejected and partly snow-blinded from all of the white I’ve just experienced, I see it. It’s lace, it’s aqua (or maybe turquoise, I can never tell the difference), it’s beautiful. I must try it on! After I get the cups down from my ears, I look in the mirror. Oh, you had me at aqua. It’s lovely. Just the right amount of lift. The black trim and lace add just a touch of naughtiness. My girls are thrilled – and so am I. I don’t even bother messing with the dreaded hanger. She’s mine, all mine. While I’m at it, I pick up that pretty black Wonder-Bra that makes my girls look even more impressive and head for the check-out line.

Next week I will put on my beautiful aqua and black lace bra along with my black underwear and head out to the store to, once again, shop for white lingerie.

45 Is The New 70

6 Jul

Well, hello. Yes it’s been a while and I’ve missed you. I’m hoping you missed me just a bit. That being said, let’s get on with it.

When last we spoke, I was just about to start my new job working on board a cruise ship. While there could be an entire book based on that, I will not be writing it here. As you can appreciate from my past writings, I am happy to have a job and would prefer top keep it for the time being. As my writing involves my life in so many ways, my job will of course be reflected in some of my writings, but names and such will be changed to protect. . .well me. So, here goes. . .

I celebrated my latest birthday on the ship. In order to honor my special day, I only worked 11 hours. What’s funny is that I was only on board for 5 months (on vacation now – yay!), but I seemed to have aged 25 years. That actually happened in the first 3 days of training before I boarded. I like to compare it to how a new car suddenly loses its value the minute you walk out of the showroom with the keys. That car immediately becomes a year older. That’s about as quick as my value dropped.

You see, I had taken 15 years off from the cruise industry. As you may know from my past writings, things got pretty desperate when it came to the job situation and well, pardon the pun but, any port in a storm. Or should I say, hope floats.

Anyway, my ship had come in (ok, really, that’s the last one). When I arrived at my training it was clear that the youngins didn’t know what to make of me. One kept poking me in the ribs and saying, “Aren’t you excited?!!” While she was excited about the whole ship and adventure stuff, I was just excited to have a job. You see I’ve done the whole ship thing before. I know that it’s a job (Her adventure ended within a couple of months. I think she was too excited to actually think about her ability to do the job).

Anyway, while the twenty-somethings in my training class went out and played on a free day (while still trying to “figure me out”), I was in my hotel room working to clean up my old life – house, writing clients, meeting planning clients, financial stuff and, oh yes, the infamous mortgage modification (got it!). I E-mailed my friend Stewart for advice as I was feeling very antsy about my new role and Stewart had done the whole off/on ship thing before. His insights provided me with a bit of perspective – “Well. . . some of them will calm down. You, you will remain a novelty to many for quite a while.” As I had become used to being called many things throughout my trials and tribulations these past few years – snarky, scrappy, quirky and Elvis (long story) are a few that come to mind – “a novelty” was now added to that list.

Once I boarded the ship I’m sure there was talk. There were certainly looks. I decided to embrace my new found geriatric life. I became the mysterious and wise older woman. OK, maybe that was just in my head. My staff called me Grandma. Really? In the spirit of my newly embraced older-woman identity, I decided to comment to a staff member celebrating his 23 birthday – “Hey Frankie, in June I will be exactly twice as old as you.” His cute 23 year old grin made me think the proverbial Cougar might not be a bad thing to be.

I was a bit taken aback when my staff decided to throw an 80’s party – the decade in which most were born (one could have been my child if my 1983 prom date hadn’t turned out to be gay). One had a T-shirt that read, “I remember the 80’s. . . all 10 days I was there.” Ouch, waiter, some Metamucil please.

So now I am on vacation. I will enjoy times with my friends – both younger and older – while not being concerned about a number. After all, I’m still 28 in my head.

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