Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Stephanie is the lovely English gal with the Aussie accent who taught me to dive. She was feisty and sweet as can be, and called everyone “darling” in her darling accent. She said she spoke that way from watching so many Australian soap operas growing up and wound up in Mexico quite unexpectedly. Her parents went on a trip there and spontaneously put a down payment on a house in Cancun and then moved there. Her father is a jolly, adventurous fellow and she only reluctantly came to visit, and well, that was the end of that. Fast forward seven years, 3,000 dives, and the overweight, pale english girl is now a fit, ebullient, dancing on the deck, scuba instructor, newly married to a Mexican musician. I imagine her diving all day and then relaxing in a cozy cantina sipping cocktails while her love serenades her while seemingly singing to the whole crowd. I asked if when she was young, when she was 18 or 20 she had any clue she’d live an adventure life, and she said “nooooooooooo”. She said she was looking forward to raising a family there, thought it would be the perfect place.

I watched a video in the dive shop, but my expert diver companion had already verbally walked me through the basics, so the information wasn’t overwhelming and then Stephanie took me under the dock while they guys loaded the boat, to practice four basic skills and then off we went. The first thing she asked was if I wanted to scuba dive and she was relieved by my jumping up and down, enthusiastic response because she said that often, when it’s the female part of a couple where the man already dives, they’re very often pressured into it, scared out of their wits and the day is a disaster. I am happy to say that I experienced not one moment of panic, fear or anxiety even when I suddenly ceased being able to breathe on my first dive and had to go up. The air in the tank is really dry and I didn’t know that you have to focus on making saliva and swallowing it, and since I’d not done that, all of a sudden my throat just closed up and I couldn’t swallow or breathe, so I went up, no big deal. Second dive was no problem and I stayed down for 50 minutes which honestly felt like 20.

When you're diving you use hand signals, and if someone signals you, you're supposed to respond. The  O.K. hand gesture is for, everything's o.k., which seems simple, but we're all so used to doing a thumbs up for that. Thumbs up means, "oh no, somethings wrong, I have to go up". Stephanie OK'd be throughout and I OK'd back and near the end she did it and I made the heart shape with my hands and she threw her hands up into the air and did the underwater equivalent of jumping for joy. I heart scuba diving, I heart sea turtles and I heart Stephanie.

I’m hoping to do the classroom and pool certification here and then go back to Mujeres and do my four requisite dives with Stephanie, that would be perfect! She’ll probably have an intrepid little baby in a wetsuit in tow. Sadly, I have no desire to plunge into the freezing Northeast water.

Along with my souvenirs, I brought back another unique chapter in my puking diary. I’ve never been seasick and neither had my friend who has dived and snorkeled around the world for decades. The 45 minute ride out to the whale sharks was really fast and choppy, but if you sat on the seat sideways it was like riding a horse, I loved it. I didn’t notice the choppy water when snorkeling, it was too exciting, but when I got back on the boat the queasies crept up on me. One woman, who seemed a bit worse for wear before she even got on the boat had already puked over the side, so that kind of planted the seed. I got through it though and went for another swim, we rotated, only going in the water in pairs, and swam really hard to keep up with some sharks and as I swam back to the boat, zowie, I started puking all over myself with no warning, vertically, while treading water. Blech, vomit and salt water {insert shudder here}, at least it’s easy to rinse off and I felt better immediately. Except that one of our boatmates was a know-it-all prick who could not stop pointing out what had just happened “ha ha ha, you sure fed the fish" {repeat ad nauseum, shameless pun intended}. I felt like such a wimp until we heard my seasoned travelling companion, still in the water doing the exact same thing! The third swim was the best, the whale sharks had slowed down and I was able to swim for a bit directly over one that was about a foot under me, with very little effort. I’m sure the puke diary will continue, but this was certainly my most worthy chapter.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The heck with dolphins

I could float in the warm, blue sea forever. Carefree. Weightless. No aches, no pains, just warmth and peace. There was so much salt in the water, the temperature of a warm bath, you couldn’t help but float, I tried diving in shallow water for some shells and couldn’t do it, kept popping back up. The currents were strong, so I could snorkel without even moving, the current carrying me along. Swimming against it is nearly impossible, it’s swimming in place and exhausting. Soft soothing sand on my feet, laying unter a thatched umbrella, someday, I hope, I will stop humming the theme to Gilligan’s Island.

I had many cocktails on the beach and thought I could suddenly hold my liquor until we realized they pretty much just waved the tequila bottle over the drinks or as R said, maybe had a spritzer bottle. Apparently you need to order a “double with a floater” which means, obviously a double shot and one poured on top. I was pretty happy though, with my frosty, fruity drinks and probably better off without any floaters. And if you’ve read David Sedaris... you don’t want any “floaters” in your drinks.

We snorkeled with whale sharks, inches from them, almost tangled up in them. Slow moving, peaceful, gentle giant creatures. swimming near the surface. Incredible to swim along with a fish, four, five, six times my length. Swimming right above them, whale shark, me and it’s gang of Remoras, living symbiotically. Each shark with it’s own groupies, it’s own enterouge.

We saw a giant sea turtle come up on the beach at midnight to dig a hole, lay her eggs and then stumble back into the black sea. We had a full moon, otherwise we’d not have seen a thing. I fell down on the jagged rocks trying to get a better look and as my leg lit up stinging I thought, that was soooooo worth it.

I scuba dived for the first time. It’s been a lifelong dream and a few years ago I thought about the fact that I’d never done it, never done so many things, bogged down in my life of minutia, of surviving each day, one by one. I thought, well, that window has closed, I don’t even know if I want to do it anymore, I’m so much more fear-based, claustrophobic. But I did it, was bouncing with excitement as we left for the boat, no fear, no anxiety. It was thrilling. Thrilling. And I was a rock star for a beginner. I loved it down there, no panic, just breathe in, breathe out. I was so disappointed when it was time to come up. I’m still intoxicated from it. My goal for this year is to learn spanish and get certified so I can do it again {and again}.

I’ve transferred my dolphin obsession to sea turtles. We saw a beauty while diving, and went to a hatchery the next day. You’re not supposed to touch them, but one of the turtles kept coming over to me in the open tank, so when no one was looking I put my hand in and touched his back and his flipper which he held out for me, seemingly intentionally. He looked at me as I stroked his head and now I have magic sea turtle healing power, I’m sure of it.

R had an underwater camera, so I have discs of pictures and videos to look at and show my boys who will hopefully be glad to see me when they get home tonight and also be impressed. Certainly, they should be impressed with the giant black sombrero adorned all in silver that just fit into my suitcase and awaits the next dress up day or halloween trek or movie set.

I’d like to say I’m happy to be home, but I’m not. There are dishes and laundry and dust bunnies and clutter. Bills to pay and an upcoming six weeks of dental appointments in preparation for losing my dental insurance. And regret, pointless regret that it took me this long to realize such a simple dream, that I’ve squandered so much time being bogged down. I am dreaming of the deep blue sea and my carefree floating self, my sore feet being massaged by the sand, and I am dreaming of sea turtles.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Oxford Comma

Summer seems to be winding down, only two and a half weeks until school starts which is unfathomable. I feel like I never got into the rhythm of summer. There were fits and starts but it never felt fluid. It seemed to always be too rainy or too hot, otherwise I can’t quite figure out why all those summer BBQs and get together’s never happened. Why the projects never got done. Where the warm summer nights roaming around the city went.

Nine months after treatment ended and I’m at loose ends, I’ve not settled into a new normal. I’m still fighting against a tide that is slowly pulling me in, to someplace that looks like, I know not, and it’s a little scary. A good portion of my income came from selling my work at shows and events. At the time I got sick, I was wanting to do this less, in favor of building up my wholesale business, I was sick of schlepping stuff around, but we do what we have to do. While friends kept my seasonal shop open, providing income while I was sick, my wholesale and consignment accounts dried up, my website became more and more out of date and overwhelming to deal with.

This summer I did what has always been my best show, figuring I could get through it to provide some desperate summer income. Turns out I made about a quarter of what I usually make there and got so over-exhausted I couldn’t lift my tent into my car for the first time ever. E-Z up tents really aren’t very heavy and this thing I’ve lugged around for years with ease was suddenly cemented to the pavement. I was so overheated, I threw up when I got home and could barely function for days. I shared a tent at a different show with a friend, to avoid the tent lugging but again, didn’t make much at all, not worth the work and exhaustion. Then they started an “artists pavilion” at WaterFire, our famous downtown event that draws tens of thousands. They were offering spots with tents, weights and lights already set up, so I figured that was perfect, I could manage that, and it’s a five minute drive from home.

I worked that last night, from 4p.m. to midnight, sales were just o.k. despite the throngs of people and packed tent from start to finish, I know some folks did fabulously, so I can’t blame the event at all, it just seems to be me. I feel like the Elves when they’re leaving Middle Earth, their time there is over, it just is. My time doing this is over, for so many, many reasons, and mostly because it just is like it or not. It's really not a decision any more, it just is.

After the event, I was rush, rush, rushing to pack up because the staff was hurrying to break down tents, and I didn’t want to hold them up or be in the way. I got my car loaded up, checked and double checked that everything was in safely, slammed the door and promptly, and quite efficiently took out my back window with a piece of metal gridwall that was sticking out an inch too far.

The creepy part is that I checked that it was in. Did my eyes trick me in the dark? Or did my eyes send the wrong information to my brain? I didn’t forget to check, I checked and still got it wrong. The sound of that tinted glass shattering was like the King of Gondor saying, and don’t let the door hit you on your way out.

My building has taken away a third of the space I use for Craftopia, and is charging me near the same rental fee, refusing to budge an inch, so there goes that income stream. The winter farmer’s market traffic that I depend on for my store’s foot traffic is losing the same space, so they’ll now be split into another part of the building which will dilute the foot traffic I get, also not good, not good at all. Each and every income stream I’ve spent years building is dwindling and I don’t know what my other options are.

I tried to apply for disability, but while from my whole working life I have a nice heap of social security credits, I don’t have enough credits in the past ten years because of being a stay-at-home mom, and then biz on the side thing. I love how politicians pay lip service to “being a mom is the most important job you can do”, but you're fucked if anything goes wrong, you are no more than the sum of your credits.

The whole social security system is rigged {like so many other things} against anyone that stays home with their kids for a good chunk of time. One’s social security payments will be based on a consecutive 35 year block of work. If you’ve been a stay-at-home, then likely, your work history is an income/no income sandwich with the zeros in the middle, therefore cutting into your 35 year block either way you slice it. Divorced former stay-at-home mom, and you are seriously on your own.

The tall one came home from camp yesterday, finally, I was so excited to see him, but I was working the event. He called and told me that a bunch of the counselors were hanging out at one of their houses in Cranston {a nearby suburb}, and could he go and sleep over. I was sad I wouldn’t see him yet, but I’m not gonna inflict that on the kid, so sure, of course he can go to Cranston as long as he gets a ride home. After unloading my glass filled car which entailed stomping back and forth through the perpetual puddle that is my sidewalk due to summer-long water main work, I sat down, now in the wee hours of the morning to confirm that my teenager was indeed where he was supposed to be. I recently put a geo locator on both the kids phones, both for safety and for truth checking and oddly, his phone was turned off which is very unusual and raised my suspicions. After a sleepless night of excruciating leg and foot cramps I checked this morning and lo and behold, Mr. when-have-I-ever-given-you-a-reason-not-to-trust-me is two and a half hours away in Connecticut.

Let the senior year games begin. While I’m disappointed in him, I’m mostly disappointed that I don’t get my perfect moment of seeing him, seeing him in my state of I-really-miss-you, with accompanying full and happy heart. I have a very pissed off heart right now.

Pissed off, demoralized, generally befuddled, and scraped up by little pieces of window glass.

However, on the topic of the Oxford comma, I use them. I didn’t used to, I rejected them entirely and didn’t even know they were legal. But when I discovered them, I started to use them more and more and now I absolutely, positively always use them. I like them a lot.