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Sous Vide Magic

On Saturday I drove the nine hours back to Orlando.
I like driving, usually. It's relaxing. It makes me feel like I'm between spaces, with no pressure and no deadlines and no expectations. Sometimes that feels really nice.

I got home in the evening and unpacked, and got caught up with Jameson before he left for his evening gig. He didn't return until late at night, and we both went right to bed.

On Sunday I got up "early" and spent some time catching up on job applications while eating breakfast. Eventually Jameson joined me, and after lunch I went to the gym while he got caught up on Kingdom Hearts. When I was finished, we decided to check out Lucky's Market, a new grocery only a few minutes from the apartment.

Dude. I am SO EXCITED for this grocery! It's like a miniature Whole Foods! The nearest Whole Foods is about 20 minutes away through horrible traffic, and it's always packed. The nearest Trader Joe's is even further away. This place has a bulk section, an excellent meat selection, a cafe, a sushi/ramen bar, AND they prepare and cure a lot of their meat products in-house!!

My sister Kate recently got me a sous vide cooker for my birthday, and we wanted to try it out! Jameson got us some beautiful salmon filets and some asparagus. The salmon was pre-seasoned; we sealed it in a Ziploc bag and put it in the water to cook!

https://instagram.com/p/BvH9-Blg4RL

While that was cooking he roasted some asparagus, and I got to work on some basmati rice. Oh my goodness. This was by far the best salmon either of us has ever cooked! The beauty of sous vide is that it cooks the meat perfectly and evenly every time. Even if you forget about your meat, it maintains a stable temperature so that nothing will be ruined. You can cook food for DAYS in there. Anyway, it was amazing and we're excited to cook some chicken with it tomorrow!!
https://instagram.com/p/BvIG4KPgC4h

After our wonderful meal I did a load of laundry and packed a lunch for my first day at work training tomorrow. I'm a bit nervous, but I'm always nervous haha.

I got up early, had a nice breakfast, and went to work. Most of the day was spent filling out employment paperwork and getting set up to clock in and such. We also spent significant time going over the company's nondisclosure/discretion/privacy policies, because this place is run by the FCC and hey, privacy is part of the job. We then learned how to use the Dragon dictation software that will be the main focus of our work each day. It took a little getting used to...much like the dictation program on your phone, the software often misinterprets what you say if you let your words run together or mumble. But after a bit of practice I felt like I was getting the hang of it. I'm looking forward to trying again tomorrow.

Back at home Jameson prepared us a lovely sous vide chicken dinner! The breasts were unusually thick, and while they were cooked through the texture of mine was a little too juicy for the psychological part of me that associates it with raw chicken. Still, the flavor was very good. I think with normal-thickness chicken it would have been great!

My second day at work was pretty good, there was a lot to learn. This job requires a lot of coordination and careful listening, so it takes some practice. There seem to be a lot of good people in our group, and our trainers are really good too. When my day was done I was supposed to go to the gym, but decided to pass because I ended up with a surprise job interview. In case you're wondering, I'm continuing to look for jobs that are related to That Thing I'm Working On And Not Telling Anyone About. The interview went well, and I'll be back on Thursday to do a little shadowing to see if I'd fit in. Of course, this creates a little problem because I've just started this job with CapTel...sigh. Hopefully it will all work out somehow, because I actually need both CapTel and this other job.

On Wednesday I had training again and learned more stuff. I did go to the gym this time, but cut it short because there was a fight outside that cut into my time and also I was just in no mood. I picked up dinner for Jameson and came home to try and pull some parts of my life together and get a little relaxation before bedtime. Jameson is sick right now, with aches and a cough. I feel bad for him. Luckily he's got a slow week this week so he can rest up a bit.

On Thursday I had work, then drove straight to the place for job shadowing. It was...interesting. I'm not sure I'd be a good fit there. But it's just as well, I don't need to complicate things at this point and there's still time to make decisions. ANYWAY, after that I came home and had some chill.

On Friday my first week of training at CapTel was complete, yay! I think it's going well, but I refuse to have any positive thoughts until A) training is over, because they could still decide not to hire me at any time, and B) my 60 day trial period is over, because of what happened with Full Sail, which I will never make the mistake of forgetting again. So as far as I'm concerned I only have a job for three months, and then we'll see. I wish I could be more positive, but these are the reasons why I can't.

After work I went to the gym and put in a real workout this time, then went to Lucky's Market to try some of their prepared foods. I ended up getting misc stuff from the hot bar...it was all decent, but nothing to write home about. Next time I want to try the pizza, it looked pretty good! I came home and got cleaned up...Jameson wasn't home tonight, he had a gig way out in Port Charlotte, so I had the apartment to myself. I did a little cleaning, reading, and other quiet activities like I like to do. It was nice.

Today I woke up late, had breakfast and got to work finishing my Flat Stanley activities. I took Stanley out to feed the ducks, and sadly they were not hungry, but I still got a few half-decent photos. Then I went to a craft store to find a little glass corked bottle to hold Stanley's Florida beach sand. Being in a creative mood, I also picked up a little compass charm and some cute labels. When I was a kid I loved stuff like this...hopefully he'll like it too.



Around then Jameson came home from his gig and splatted on the couch. He's still feeling sick and traffic was crummy. He has another gig tonight and needs to rest. I'm going to rest too, and just enjoy the fact that I have a weekend off!

Tags:

Visiting my Aunt

Man, Daylight Savings is a bummer, isn't it?

I thought I'd be cool and ignore it this Sunday. Turns out that's a bad idea because you end up waking up at 11am and eating breakfast at noon and lunch at like 3. Whatever, it's a dumb change.

Anyway, Jameson spent Sunday getting settled back in, unpacking and doing laundry and catching up on work and all the stuff you do after time away. He told me about his adventures in Arizona. I was happy to see some photos of the band guys "together"...Jameson and Tim together in Arizona, and Brett and Tom together in the DC area :) I miss this band.



I had a nice "brunch", then went to the gym while Jameson got a haircut. I'm trying to get into a fitness routine, because my new job is going to involve a lot of time on my a$$ in a cubicle. Every other day seems to be working well for me right now. I always do 30 minutes on the elliptical, and then choose between leg/arm/core day. We'll see how long this lasts. I'm also trying to eat as healthy as possible. I've always been good at tracking my calories, and now I'm trying to really lock that down and establish good eating habits so that when I get busy I'll still stick to my macros.


After "lupper" I enjoyed some of the tea that my sister Raven got me for Christmas. It's REALLY good, but of a higher quality that I can afford. I'll definitely have to wishlist it! For dinner Jameson and I went to SusHI and got bowls with brown rice, various fish, and lots of tasty toppings :)

On Monday Jameson had a lot to do, and I needed to reset myself for Daylight Savings, so we both got up at 9 and got to work. He spent the morning grading and taking student calls and questions. I continued my job hunt (does it ever really end?) and was surprised to get a phone interview from a place I'd applied to weeks ago. It's always so awkward when you've already accepted a job but you don't want to discount taking on a second...especially when it relates to something you actually want to do...I did my best to be honest, but I'm not sure if they'll want someone with a weird schedule like I've currently got.

On Tuesday I drove nine hours to North Carolina to visit with my Aunt and Uncle. It's been way too long since I've seen them, WAY too long. We had a nice dinner together before I crashed in their guest room.

On Wednesday my Aunt took me for an amazing Greek lunch at Taverna Agora in Raleigh. The restaurant has a beautiful outdoor seating area, which we enjoyed while sipping sangria and eating delicous traditional Greek appetizers. We both had salmon for our main meals, hers with toasted baklava crumbles, mine on a bed of gigantes.




After that we walked off our meal at a local farmers market! I saw a ton of stuff I'd like to get...typical...and I did pick up a few little things. For Jameson, some honey with comb included. For me (and possibly him, if he wants it), some flavored honey sticks, pear butter, and farm eggs. There was some awesome-looking produce, especially beets and sweet potatoes, but not knowing how much time I'll have to cook next week I decided to hold off.


Later in the evening we played a few games with Uncle Andy. I lost the first game, it was sort of like dominoes where you match colors or shapes in rows of six. I won the second game, which was kind of like Rummy and more familiar to me :) We had a great time together!


The next day Aunt Chris and I went to a yoga class! She's been taking yoga more often lately and offered to bring me along. I was nervous because the last yoga class I'd been to had been pretty involved and pretty fast for me. But I was happy to be with my Aunt, and it turned out to be a lot of fun! I felt refreshed afterward, even if only for a little while! We ate a light dinner together and went to sleep excited for Friday!

Why were we excited? Food of course!
We had an amazing breakfast at La Farm Bakery. I think it's a local place...they bake their own bread and sell a variety of pastries, coffees, food/drink mixes, and granolas. My Aunt had a goat cheese salad, and I enjoyed a half-sandwich with eggs, bacon, cheddar, and fresh bread. Afterward she gifted me a La Farm gift card and stood by while I lost my mind choosing between all of the goodies. She spoils me!! I ended up choosing the weirdest bread I could find (turmeric raisin buckwheat), two massive chocolate almond meringue cookies, and two hand pies made with an heirloom rye, stuffed with hazelnut chocolate spread and strawberries. Good grief! Who is going to eat all this!!

Oh but that wasn't all. In the afternoon we were scheduled for High Tea at Duke University's Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club! Fancy!

I've never been to a real "high tea" before. We went with several of Aunt Chris's friends whom I'd met before, and all got caught up with each other as the tea and delicacies were served.



Everything was delicious! My favorite was that little pie-looking thing on the bottom tier with a flower petal on top. It was a lemon meringue, but possibly the silkiest meringue I've ever had. And I think there might have been a little flower water in it as well, because I tasted something floral (besides the petal haha). It was beautiful and tasty! The tea wasn't bad either!

We had a wonderful time. And I ate too much. But full disclosure, on Thursday we had fasted and only ate 500-600 calories. So, I think it evened out :P

Later that night we had a quick meal with my Uncle, then spent the evening relaxing.

Tomorrow I have to get up a little early to start my trek back to Florida. I'll have Sunday to get my life together before beginning my job training on Monday.

This week was full of food, and indulgence, and getting spoiled. It was also full of conversations, and catching up, and sharing love and stories and emotions and perspectives. I love spending time with my Aunt...not because she spoils me, or because of the fancy food. She grew up in a rough neighborhood under rough circumstances. I lived with her for two years way back after graduating college. And I think we share a connection that goes beyond just Aunt/Niece. She's like a second mother to me, and the one person I know I can always talk to, no matter what. Even though I don't spend time with her nearly enough. Which I always hope to change.

Anyway. I had a wonderful visit, and I hope my Aunt and Uncle did too. I'm grateful that I was able to visit my parents, siblings, and Aunt and Uncle before my life becomes potentially crazy again. I'm looking forward to visiting Kayle in California after she has her first baby. And I'm hopeful to start a new chapter in my life sometime soon.

See you all back in Florida.

Flying Solo

I woke up ungodly early on Monday. Drove to the rental car drop lot. Took the shuttle to the terminal.

The first flight was fine. The crummy weather moved out quickly, so the morning flights were not affected.
As we landed I was startled by a series of notification texts from the airline telling me that my next flight was delayed. By a LOT. Like, six hours. Even before the plane got to the terminal I started frantically looking up flights. I've often wondered why I make myself get up at the crack of dawn for these early flights. Well, today I had my answer. An earlier flight means that if I get delayed, I'll have a better chance at booking another flight instead of having to camp at the airport overnight. Had I taken the later flight, I would have had to sleep at the airport. Gotta remember that.

Anyway, I found another flight that was leaving at exactly the same time as my delayed flight was supposed to, and got on that. While waiting for the plane to arrive I had a nice bagel with lox and chatted with people on facebook.

The second flight went smoothly, and before I knew it we were in Orlando! Jameson was at a gig, so I got an Uber home. Family visit, complete!

I had a lot of energy for some reason, and before Jameson got home I unpacked, washed the shower curtain, dusted the living room, and vacuumed. I emailed my tax preparer with some new information. I ate dinner and wrote out plans for the week. Because even though I'm not working (or even because I'm not working) there are a LOT of errands to run!

On Tuesday morning I had breakfast while Jameson graded his students. Around lunchtime I gave my trombone a bath, ate something, and paid attention while Jameson showed me how to use the Blu Ray player and access the Overcooked game we're playing while he's gone. Then it was time to take him to the airport! We are taking turns traveling it seems lol.

After seeing him off I drove to Trader Joe's for some of the things I just can't get anywhere else: Chomps jerky, non-sorbate prunes, and affordable almond butter. I also grabbed some coffee as it was on sale for $3(!) and a tub of Greek yogurt because why not, it's the same price at Publix. I ended up hitting two more grocery stores in a quest for cranberries and coarse sugar (I wanna make scones). Finally I came home and unpacked, then went straight to the gym.

Next was a shower and dinner, and printing out a bunch of paperwork I'll need for the next few days. I also started prepping some activities for a project that my sister Kayle sent me on behalf of one of her students. Have you ever heard of the book Flat Stanley? It's a popular children's book in which a child is squashed flat through some mishap, and sends himself around the world in an envelope to meet new friends and see new places. Well, there is now a whole project built around the premise of this story! Many teachers and school programs use Flat Stanley as a sort of penpal learning program. In this case, my sister's students each made a "Flat Stanley" version of themselves, and sent it to a friend or relative living in a different city, state, or country. Kayle has asked me to complete the project for this student...I forget why, but either he doesn't have extended family or they all live somewhere where he can't send his letter.

Anyway, all of this means that I'll be showing "Flat Stanley" around Orlando for a few days!

Actually, he showed up at a good time. On Wednesday I had to drive out to St. Petersburg for...stuff...that I am not disclosing yet...so I brought "Stanley" along! Once my business was finished I started looking for somewhere to grab lunch. To my surprise, there was a Food Network-featured restaurant not ten minutes down the road! Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish! I had to circle the tiny parking lot a bunch of times before someone gave me their spot. Because it was such a small joint I ordered to go at the bar. Several people noticed that I was holding a "Flat Stanley"...I was surprised that other people knew what it was! One gentleman offered to take a picture, and I agreed, knowing full well I wouldn't be sending this to a kid (beer clock!). So I guess y'all get to see it instead!



I took the food to a nearby public beach. After all, if you're going to drive all the way to St. Pete, you may as well enjoy it! I had meant to order smoked mullet, but accidentally said "mackerel". Not that I'm disappointed. It was amazing!!


And gigantic!! Who eats a whole one of these?! And it came with German potato salad and slaw and a piece of bread! I ate a filet-worth and took a bite of each of the sides, and did a little photoshoot with Stanley. I had also gotten a piece of Key Lime pie solely because I thought Stanley should have a true Florida food. I think he appreciated that much more than the giant fish.


Next we hit the beach. I felt like a complete weirdo walking around with this cut-out doll, sticking it in the sand and photographing it. Most people were probably trying hard to ignore me. But then from across the beach a dude yelled, "FLAT STANLEY! HEEEY! THAT'S A FLAT STANLEY!!" and he and his girlfriend waved frantically at us. Nice! Someone else who gets it. :)


Once we were done on the beach I started driving home, intent on beating the rush hour wave. I made it back to the apartment in a reasonable amount of time. After a light dinner I got to work assembling and editing the Flat Stanley photos, and writing a little journal entry to go along with them. I spent the rest of the evening relaxing.

Because Thursday was an early day at the Toyota dealership. My car has needed new rotors/brake pads for a while now, among other things. I was surprised when the Toyota associate offered to give me a ride home even though I'm two miles outside their normal shuttle range. And I definitely said yes, there was a lot to do! I cleaned the bathrooms and the patio, ate lunch, and took a little break while waiting for the refrigerator repair technician to show up. Our fridge has been running strangely lately, and since I was suddenly faced with a day at home thanks to not having a car I figured why not get it checked out.

Luckily the "repair" didn't take all that long...I'm still not 100% clear on what was wrong, but it seemed like the main issue was a lot of dense ice built up around the heating element. Jameson has thawed the fridge out at least twice since I've been here, but the repair tech said there was ice just densely packed around the coils from buildup over time. He managed to thaw the ice using hot water, then tested the heating element with a diagnostic device and told me it was working properly. Yay! A much easier repair than expected.

And much faster than the car. I had dropped the car off at 7am, and didn't get it back until 5pm. To be fair, it had needed a lot of work. The cost made me flinch, but it's got to be done. I need this car to last.

I ran a few errands, ate dinner, cleaned both bathrooms, and spent the rest of my evening relaxing.

On Friday I went to the gym. The rest of the day was dedicated to scones!
While on the cruise ship, I came to enjoy the daily Tea Time and the little scones that were served. I thought it would be fun to try and make my own scones! My first batch, which were cranberry/orange, did not turn out great. They LOOK great, but they were very dense and kinda bland. I decided that I hadn't handled the dough properly, and also hadn't included enough orange zest or juice.



The second batch was blueberry lemon. I changed how I managed the dough, and made sure to add plenty of lemon. These had a much better texture and flavor!


They were supposed to have a lemon glaze as well, but that didn't turn out as planned :/ It was super wet, and nothing I did seemed to thicken it up. I probably didn't get enough of the water out from the lemon juice. Anyway, I got it as thick as I could and when the scones were cool I poured it on. It was still too thin, but hopefully they'll still taste all right tomorrow.


I want to send some to my siblings, and maybe take a few to my aunt when I visit her next week. And of course I'm setting some aside for Jameson and me!

The scones took up most of my day. Tomorrow I plan to make more, but it should go a lot faster now that I know what to do.

Saturday:
First thing in the morning, I made the scones. Figured get 'em over with. I changed a few things...first of all, no glaze, just coarse sugar. Also for the cranberry scones, I cut the cranberries in half so they'd integrate better and also added cinnamon and orange juice. I think both batches turned out great. Once they had cooled I wrapped them carefully and took them to FedEx to ship to my siblings. Hooray!

By the time all that was done it was already pretty late in the day. I cleaned the house a bit and packed for the trip to my Aunt's next week. I chatted with Jameson during his layover, and worked on my Flat Stanley journal. Later tonight I'll go get Jameson from the airport, and we'll have two days together before I hit the road.

I got a lot done this week...not as much as I wanted, but a lot. Hopefully it's enough.

Visit Home

I spent this week home with my family in Pennsylvania, and because I was having quality time with them I didn't really track my doings for this blog.

I flew in on Monday. It was very windy with gusts up to 50mph, so it was kind of a rough ride! I got a rental car and drove it to my hometown. After getting caught up with my parents and making plans for the next day, I went right to bed. I was VERY tired!

On Tuesday I had a phone interview, then Mom and I ran a few errands. In the evening I had a nice dinner with my Aunt Nicole, we got all caught up and shared the woes of the unemployed.

On Wednesday my sister Kate came over and we all went to breakfast at Muffin Man, a local favorite breakfast/brunch spot known for their quiche and variety of flavored coffees. I've had the quiche many times, so opted for the baked sour cherry oatmeal. It was really good, tasted like a loosely packed hot granola. After that Mom and Kate left it up to me what we should do, and since I can't make a decision to save my life I took us back home to just hang out and play games. I just want to be in the room with the people I love; I don't much care what we're doing :)

During breaks in the games I worked on filling out a second application for CapTel, a telephone captioning company for the hearing impaired. I had applied to this company in January, but couldn't make their training session this week, so they advised me to reapply near the end of February.

Later that night my parents went to Bible study, so Kate and her husband Pat and I went to The Blind Pig Kitchen for dinner! It's a really small restaurant with locally sourced food...simple stuff, but very flavorful and cooked to perfection! I got the wild sockeye salmon with ginger cider sauce, grilled bok choy, and ginger turmeric carrots. Everything was VERY good!



Kate and I did a lot of catching up. I talked about my job woes, and she told me about some of the things she's been up to lately. We are both excited for our new niece/nephew, who will be born very soon! Can't wait!

On Thursday I had a phone interview with CapTel, and was offered a job. FREAKING FINALLY. I'm sure because it's a sort of "call center" and the work is redundant, the turnover rate is very high. No matter. I will do my best. The scheduling is very flexible, the work is something that I know I can do well, and the environment is casual. I'm even allowed to do schoolwork during down time. Hopefully this will work out. There is a 90 day trial period, so at minimum I've got three months of work. Assuming I pass the four week training.

Anyway, after the interview I drove to Bloomin' Bagels for brunch with my friend Kristin, who I haven't seen in years. We ate and talked, getting all caught up. It seems like we've both been through a lot lately, her with relationships and me with unemployment. It was awesome to have someone to vent to, and we both listened and provide some support to each other. It's good to know that some friendships are stronger than distance and time. Thank you Kristin :)



Mom and I drove to Kate's house where we played games, ate snacks, and just chilled. When it was dinnertime we drove downtown and met Dad at Filet 18, a nice little restaurant that's fairly new here. I had seared tuna salad, it was pretty darned good. Dad and Pat talked politics while Kate and I compared medical notes (she's a nurse and I'm...more to come on that). We drove home full and happy, and Mom and Dad and I spent the rest of our night relaxing and doing computer work.

The next day we were supposed to have lunch with one of my mom's friends, but she backed out. It was just as well since my rental car was experiencing problems. Mom and I drove the car to the nearest Firestone in Lewisburg, and had lunch at Country Cupboard. Country Cupboard isn't just a restaurant, it's also got a bunch of shops attached, so we enjoyed ourselves looking around. We spend an especially significant amount of time near the baby items...Kayle's baby is coming pretty soon!

After that we went to the mall because Mom wanted a spiralizer, then we drove home, picking up Thai food for dinner on the way. I feel like I'm doing a food tour of PA haha.

On Saturday we got up early to run an errand with our parents, but it unfortunately didn't work out for us. No bigs, they went home to relax while I went over to Kate's house to visit with Raven and Jonah (my brother and sister who I hardly every see any more!!) We played games together and talked a lot, getting all caught up on each others' lives. When we got hungry we decided to make our own pizzas! Each of us got a ball of dough and decorated to suit our tastes. Each of our pizzas looked and tasted different! Kate's was a white pizza covered in veggies, it was very good, but the crust was preeeetty hard haha. Raven's was a good cheese pizza, mine was all right too, but Jonah's won the day with mozzarella stuffed crust and a chewy texture (the rest of us ended up with crunchy dough).

After we ate we watched Birdbox and The Incredibles 2 while eating mochi ice cream. Too soon it was time for me to go. I loved catching up with my family this week, it was much needed after four months at sea and a very frustrating, fruitless job hunt.

On Sunday I went to church with my parents, then we all went home to eat lunch and spend our last few hours together. As the first flurries started to fall, I packed up my rental car and drove to Philly. Hopefully I'll see everyone again soon. <3

Now I'm in a hotel near the airport. I drove out here the night before because the weather was supposed to be bad (and it is) and I'd rather face it tonight than worry about a 2.5 hour drive at 4am tomorrow morning. Soon I'll be back in Florida...just as Jameson leaves to check out Cubs spring training in Arizona! I have an entire week to myself, but there's a lot to do. Stay tuned.

Just a Week

Gosh, what even happened on Sunday? I've had yet another sinus infection, and it's fuzzing up my brain.

Oh, yeah. I had one Ain't Misbehavin' show. That's about it!!

On Monday I had my final "work" for the "thing" that I'm "doing". It was a very busy day, but I learned a lot. The whole thing has been a great experience. I thanked everyone who was involved, and promised to keep in touch should my plans work out. With the work and documentation that I needed, I came home and sent in the final parts of an application. Now I have to wait and see what happens next.

Jameson and I had a nice dinner, then spent the night playing Kingdom Hearts and just relaxing. Neither of us slept well last night, and we need the rest.

On Tuesday I had a whole day off and it was glorious. I did laundry, and wrote a little, and just enjoyed myself. Jameson beat Kingdom Hearts RE: Chain of Memories, which was fun for me to watch. I cooked dinner for the first time since getting home from the ship. I made a spicy honey mustard pork loin with roasted potatoes and peas. I've made the pork loin before and it's pretty darned good. With the potatoes I was out for vengeance because last time they came out soft and mushy, and they stuck to the bottom of the baking tray. This time I definitely got them right with the help of the broiler setting. Yessss.



Wednesday, I had volunteering at the Audubon. It was a windy humid day so there was more work than usual...the sand was wet and hard to move, plus leaves kept blowing everywhere :/ But hey. Any day I get to spend watching caracaras is a good day :)
https://instagram.com/p/BuHOOGUAhul

After that I had a job interview, it was pretty far away but at this point if they're willing to interview me I'm willing to go there. I think the interview went well, but they said they've gotten close to 1,000 applications and will only be holding ten interviews. On one hand I'm grateful that they interviewed me at all. On the other hand, well, that sounds pretty hopeless. It's nice that statistically unemployment is low. Where the hell is the data being gathered for that? Are we counting a single hour of work as "employed"? Or multiple part time jobs? I don't get it.

Anyway. On Thursday I had one Ain't Misbehavin' show, it went well. At home Jameson downloaded Overcooked 2 for us to try. I get really stressed about gaming because I'm pretty much not a gamer at all, and I don't want us to lose a team effort because I don't know how to operate my character and such. But Jameson is patient and it's just a little cooking game, so it was fun :) I'm hoping to get better at it!

Friday, two Ain't Misbehavin' shows. We're on the last four. It's been a lot of fun. Jameson had a gig with Barfly, it went pretty well. He didn't get back until pretty late, and I was already asleep.

Saturday, exactly the same as Friday except I set an alarm so I'd have enough time to go to the gym, shower, and eat lunch before the shows. Our last two shows! They both went very well. After the last one we packed our things, then shared big pieces of cake and drinks together in the lobby. The cast presented the theater owners with a beautiful collage of photos from their time together on the show. Because this show took place in Winter Park, a traditionally affluent WASPy neighborhood, this presentation of Ain't Misbehavin' was pretty groundbreaking. The cast had a lot of amazing things to say about the theater, the show, and their experiences performing in this venue in this time and place and political climate. I had meant to peace out pretty early, but ended up staying late because I wanted to hear everything the castmembers had to say.

Well...eventually I said my goodbyes. This was a fun show, and these were wonderful people to work with. I'm very grateful.

Friends Food Fun

Hmm, let's see.

On Sunday Jameson and I had a date night! We had a nice dinner at Marlow's Tavern...Jameson got a tasty black-and-blue burger with a side of jalapeno grits, and I had the shrimp and white cheddar grits! Freaking delicious!



Then we went to see the second LEGO movie! It was good, but not as funny as the first one. I think it might have been geared toward a younger crowd. But it was still well done and very enjoyable.

On Monday I had more "work" for my future life plans or whatevs. I got to see a lot of cool stuff that I wish I could share with you. Oh well. :p
Once that was done I picked up dinner and came home to do more work, watch TV with Jameson, and look for jobs. Any jobs. You know, I was all excited to have more interviews this year, yet once again I seem to be getting passed over. I wish I had any idea why. I'm trying to be positive, but some of the frustrations are creeping back. What is it? Am I not good enough? Am I doing something wrong? This is supposed to be a good economy right now...why is it that I can't find a job? Just, why? Honestly, I'm still upset. It's upsetting. I mean, I'll bite my tongue and try not to, like, aspire to anything and be grateful for whatever I end up with. But just, why?

Sorry, some days are harder than others, and today as I'm typing this it's a hard day.

Anyway, on Tuesday I didn't have anything to complain about because I got to spend the morning relaxing and the evening going to Disney with Jameson and Tom and his wife Jennifer! Tom was a keyboardist in the circus band, and we have a lot of fond memories together. Time to make some more!

We met them near the tram station, and after a quick meal, it was time to ride some rides! We hit Haunted Mansion and that train mine ride, and the new Snow White/Seven Dwarves mine ride which was very similar but more modern. All of them were a ton of fun, I screamed like an idiot on every turn! Of course Jameson and I had to have our Dole Whips, delicious as always. When it was time for the fireworks we found a spot in front of the castle. Because this was a special event for Disney Vacation Club (Tom's wife is a member) the crowd was light and we were able to get quite close!

I didn't record the whole thing because I was busy experiencing it, and I know that there are already many high-quality videos of this out there. So here are both of the fireworks shows, "Once Upon A Time" and "Happily Ever After". I was absolutely blown away by the holographic mapping of the castle. There were times when I swear the towers were dancing, or burning, or even launching into space! Really! Check it out.



After that we had another snack, then rode some more rides like It's A Small World, Pirates, and the Buzz Lightyear shooting game (I won for once!!).


Too soon we had to leave because I had to get up early the next morning for a thing. Tom and Jennifer walked us back to the entrance, and we parted with hugs and promises to see each other again soon. What awesome people.


The next morning I felt exhausted and like another cold was coming on (didn't I JUST freaking have one of these?? God.) There was a lot to do and I went and did it. I learned a lot and had a good day even though I was tired. Back at home I was surprised to find a large package for me. My parents had sent my Christmas stocking, and a birthday present! Look at this quilt!! It was handmade by one of my mom's friends. The coloring is exactly my style, and there are little blue clovers sewn into the edges. I absolutely LOVE it!


In fact, because I wasn't feeling well, I bundled myself right up and fell asleep on the couch wrapped in it!

On Thursday I still had to get up early for some volunteer time at Audubon. They'd sent an email asking for help, and since I'm missing my volunteer time because of my Secret Activities or whatever, I felt bad and decided to step up. And what do I get for scraping rat guts off the perches and bird poop off the walls? A threat display from this vulture. C'mon man! I'm doing you a favor! ;)

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Seriously though, it's easy work to do and doesn't take long. I cleaned the hawk mews and logged all of their food, then drove home to eat lunch and get changed for Ain't Misbehavin'. The show went well, and there were TONS of treats in the green room because of Valentine's Day! I had a piece of cake made by Musical Director Chris...this wasn't just any chocolate cake, it was Guinness stout chocolate cake with whiskey fudge icing! So freaking goooood


I snagged a piece for Jameson, then went to The Coop to pick up dinner as both of us were feeling tired and in no mood for eating out. Back at the house we enjoyed fried chicken and catfish, sweet potatoes in a spicy glaze, cornbread, and other goodies. As we ate we watched Bohemian Rhapsody. This was Jameson's eigth time seeing it(!) but he's a massive Queen fan so he didn't mind! It was my first time seeing it, and it was amazing. There was no one like Freddie Mercury. As Jameson said to me after we watched it, thank God he lived in a time where his music and abilities could be recorded and shared around the world. What an incredible influence on ALL of us.

On Friday I had two shows. I was supposed to go to the gym but my cold was kicking my a$$ so I skipped it in favor of extra sleep. Both shows went well. I decided to record some of my solos, for the memories.



On Saturday (today) I'm typing this in my pajamas. Just finished breakfast, and Jameson is just now eating his. In a few minutes I'll go to the gym. Jameson is going to hang out with some friends at Epcot, and I've got one Ain't Misbehavin' show today. Tonight we'll probably have a simple dinner and just enjoy each other's company :)

Birthday Week

This week got off to an interesting start.

Poor Jameson has some sort of eye irritation going on, and it's causing him a lot of pain. He went to a doctor on Monday, but was referred back to his primary care for evaluation. It's frustrating, because if a solution can't be found in the next few days he'll likely have to cancel his gigs for the week or until they figure out what's wrong.

Monday was my birthday, but I was kinda too busy to celebrate it. I've been debating whether to tell people what I'm up to...you may have noticed that in a few previous blog posts I’ve mentioned a “project” or that I’m doing something “for the future”, etc. Well...it’s still not certain, so I’m still not going to tell you what it is. But I spent eight hours on Monday finding out if it’s something I’m even capable of. I’m happy to say that the results were good, so hopefully by the end of the month I’ll be able to share what’s going on. Don’t get too excited, it’s not a big deal. Just a big change for me personally.

Anyway, my day was busy, and since Jameson wasn’t feeling well and since it was my birthday we indulged in some King Bao! Sooooo goooood :)



On Tuesday I had a day off, which was super convenient because Jameson’s eye is causing him so much pain he doesn’t feel safe driving :/ I was really glad that I could drive him to his eye appointment and to pick up his prescription, and later on to his gig at The Villages! He had to play the whole night with sunglasses on. But hey...sounded great!
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I feel bad that he is hurting and there’s nothing I can do to take that pain away. But I can be there at least. He has done the same for me! Cuz he’s awesome!

Wednesday, eight more hours of figuring out my life. After that I went to the store for a cooler and dry ice because the fridge is acting up and we want to let it thaw. Sometimes when it's really humid ice can accumulate around the motor and it causes problems. I rescued as much food as possible, then we made sloppy Joes from some ground beef so we wouldn't have to throw it out, and watched TV together.

On Thursday I had one Ain't Misbehavin' performance, which went well. When I came home we plugged the fridge back in and went grocery shopping. I received a surprise package: a whole chocolate flourless cake from my sister Raven! Wow!!! We enjoyed some of it after dinner and let me tell you, it was decadent AF. I know we can't eat all of it soon enough so I've stashed a big chunk of it in the freezer for later enjoyment. Thanks Rave!



Friday, two shows for me. Before that I went to the gym. My, uh, cruise ship weight is already starting to come off just from returning to normal eating habits, but I do want to stay active. All of the machines are new so I spent some time relearning, then I got a phone call, so I didn't exactly work out that much. But that's ok :)

So then, two shows. The first one went well, we had a high school group that put out a lot of energy and enthusiasm! That felt nice :) I don't think anything else amazing happened that day.

Saturday, the same, two shows. In between I came home and brought dinner from Subway. It was just a nice normal day.

Tomorrow I have one show, and then I hope Jameson and I can go see the second LEGO movie!

Normalcy and Job Hunting

I'll try to avoid boring you with my back-to-average life.

On Sunday Jameson and I went looking for patio furniture (his parents got us a gift card for some!) We got some ideas, but since it was pouring rain we didn't buy anything just yet. We'll wait for the sun :)

Instead we had a nice pizza from a local place. Four different mushrooms on cheese and pesto. Yum!



Then we watched RENT live. Jameson was disappointed to say the least. He's played the musical before, and apparently there were a ton of edits and cuts, many of which didn't make sense to the storyline. Personally I don't know RENT well enough to get disappointed haha. The staging was nice. Some of the "vocalists" were weak.

I don't recall doing anything special on Monday other than visiting Target. Jameson made us chicken breasts and roasted brussels sprouts, a nice healthy dinner that we've enjoyed together many times. I applied for jobs while he played Kingdom Hearts and graded his students' work. Later on we watched British Baking Championship, followed by The Good Place.

Tuesday, we decided to order the patio furniture! We also got a rug for the deck. We had a nice lunch at SusHI, then came home to rest a bit. I took some clothes to the thrift store, then bought a few things that I'll need later in the week and got ingredients for meatloaf. I made the meatloaf and we enjoyed it while watching TV and doing internet things.

Wednesday, I had volunteer work for the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey early in the morning. It went well. I'm still getting harassed by the cara caras, as you can see.

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When I was finished there I got cleaned up and drove out to Apopka to interview with a pet cemetery and cremation service. You might be thinking, "That's weird and morbid". Well you know what I was thinking? "That's a job, and one of few places that has actually responded to my application". And I've worked stranger jobs than this. The interview went well and I think it would be a nice place to work. Before leaving I went out back to see the cemetery and take a few pictures.



This German Shepherd statue is to memorialize service dogs.


This was the oldest headstone I could find in the cemetery, for a dog named Bon Bon.


I drove back home and arrived just as Jameson was heading out to the gym. I want to start going to the gym too, but first I need to get this work thing settled. While he was gone I looked up some scholarships and made a few phone calls, and had some nice tea :) In the evening we ate leftovers and watched the finale of British Baking Championship together.

Thursday, I had a job interview first thing in the morning. It's with a Closed Captioning company, so there were some tests involved. First I had to read out loud, then I had to dictate a recording of someone else speaking. Next there was a typing test, followed by a spelling test. I did very well, but it was nerve-racking! I will have a phone interview with this company tomorrow.

I came back home and had some lunch before heading over to Winter Park Playhouse. The show went well. Afterward I met up with Jameson at his workplace. He and two of his coworkers wanted to try an Escape Room together! We had a quick dinner then went to the room. It was called "The Woods", and the storyline had us exploring the woods to find cryptic messages left by an astronomer who had mysteriously disappeared. Fun!

We got off to a great start. Each of us found great clues, and between our four brains we were able to complete the first room and enter the second. But right at the second-to-last clue, we got stuck. We asked our room monitor for clues, and that got us a little further, but then we hit a serious snag. A frustrating snag. An issue that had nothing at all to do with our abilities. In fact, we had the correct answer, but were unable to open the lock. We tried and tried, but after several tries we had to assume that we had somehow gotten it wrong.

In other words, we ran out of time and lost the challenge. The room monitor came in and opened the lock for us, using the combination that we'd had and tried ourselves several times. That was more than a little annoying. This is the first Escape Room I've lost and to be honest I was not pleased that the reason we lost was due to something so stupid. But, whatever. The process was fun at least, and we were a great team! Yay us!!

Friday, I had two shows to play. Jameson and I spent the morning chilling out. After my first show I came home with dinner and we ate together while watching The Good Place, then and assembled the table we'd ordered from Target for the porch. The chairs will be arriving soon too, and then we can hang out outside more often :) The evening showing of Ain't Misbehavin' went well, we got a standing ovation!

On Saturday (today) I had a nice fairly slow morning, getting tax paperwork together and making a writing sample for another interview. I went to Target for a few things, then came back home to write this blog. Later I've got two shows, and Jameson will be coming to the later one! I'm also going to have dinner at The Coop, a local Southern restaurant with chicken and waffles!

It's been a good yet frustrating week. I've had lots of job interviews, which is great, but no official offers yet. Maybe that's for the best, as February is going to be a busy month. I'm just tired of always being in limbo. For the longest time, I was able to hold every single job I had for a minimum of two years. I guess those days are gone in this economy and with my skills set...but sometimes I wish for a little stability.

Back to Life

Hi Everyone!

Let's catch up from last week. After Stacey and I cleaned our cabin and walked out for the last time, we went down to the mess for breakfast. I typed up my blog as the other band members slowly filtered in. We killed about an hour sitting and talking together, then made our way to the Princess Theater for disembarkation. While we were there, Doug (our boss's boss) came onboard to thank us and wish us the best. Doug has been an awesome boss and an awesome human being, I'm very happy to have gotten to know him during this contract and I hope to see him again soon!

Our passports were distributed while we stood at the top of the stairs yapping. I got to meet the onboarding trombonist, his name is Narding and he's awesome! I'm glad to be leaving the Disco Deck Party in good hands!! LOL

And then...it was finally. FINALLY. Time to go. For reals.

Jane hugged us all and tried not to cry. Many entertainment folks came to give hugs and farewells. It was amazing. And so was stepping through the door on deck 7, and onto the long zig-zag guest gangway, and walking down to US Customs. Here we go!!

First we went through customs screening, basically talking to a border agent while they looked over your passport and other documents. Having no contraband, I was quickly admitted to the luggage screening area. I heaved my 50lb bag onto the scanner, and then my trombone and backpack. After just a few minutes I was given the all-clear to collect my things and head to the pickup area. I stepped outside into the sunlight. I'm freeeee!



I enjoyed waiting in the sun for Kayle and Skylar to come get me. It was a lovely day!
Eventually they pulled up, and I loaded their car with luggage and my ass and off we went! Kayle knows a great Jamaican place and Skylar and I had never been, so we went there for lunch. They had stuff that I am not yet brave enough to try like cow's feet, chicken feet, and gizzards. But they also had jerk and curried beef and chicken. We got that, and some really tasty pasties. Each meal came with rice and beans, slaw, plantains, and a sort of hush puppy. It was delicious!! I'll have to look for Jamaican food in Florida!



After our meal we drove back to the house for a little rest before going for a walk to the pier. I forgot my phone so there are no pictures, but it was very nice. There were lots of people out because the weather was so nice. We watched the waves roll in to shore and admired the way the sun made them look like shining teal glass. We saw a whale spout several miles away, but although we stared and stared we were unable to see the whales. Still, it was cool!

We wandered back to the main pier area which had lots of restaurants and shops. Kayle gave me the choice of getting an ice cream sandwich from The Baked Bear or donuts from Blue Star. I have lactose intolerance, but c'mon. You've got to LIVE. I chose the ice cream!!!



Ooooh my goodness. It was SO GOOD. We tried pieces of each others' sandwiches. Kayle got a donut sandwich (I forget what kind of ice cream she had!!), Skylar had a brownie sandwich with the signature Baked Bear ice cream, and I had oatmeal cookies with blackberry crumble ice cream. All of them were fantastic, but I liked Skylar's combination the best! What an amazing treat :)
Post-ice cream photo!



Too soon it was time to walk home and get ready to go. We enjoyed a Portal session with our parents while resting and digesting. They're excited for the new baby!


Then Kayle let me weigh my luggage, and I was dismayed to see that it was overweight. This was easily solved by leaving a bag of crap at Kayle's house, but I felt bad dumping stuff on her. Then, of course, I weighed myself and was disappointed to see that I've gained a few pounds since joining the cruise. I mean, the food was really good, and they served dessert with every meal!! I'm talking only 2-3 pounds, it'll probably come off simply by returning to my normal eating habits. But in that moment I was harsh with myself. I need to form a more positive self-image.

ANYWAY. Kayle let me take a quick shower, then she and Skylar drove me to the airport. I hugged them goodbye and got started on getting back to Orlando! Molly (drummer) was on the same flight as me, so I met up with her and we chatted while waiting to board the plane. I was worried (as usual) about being allowed to take my trombone as carry on, so tried approaching the concierge desk to ask about it (sometimes they'll let you board early, and they always appreciate knowing what I'm trying to do in advance). The concierge told me to "try my luck", so I did...and it fit in the overhead! YAY!!!

The flight was fairly smooth but there were moments of turbulence. It's winter after all. When we landed in DC, I hugged Molly goodbye and we went to our separate gates. My second flight was on time and less turbulent than the first, though the landing was rough because it was windy. The clouds looked like whipped cream.



Once in the terminal I began heading toward the luggage area. Jameson intecepted me in the lobby. I almost ran over a person in a wheelchair and a small child to get to him!! I squeezed him very hard. Finally. It felt very good.

We fetched my luggage and drove back to the house, stopping at a new sushi place that Jameson wanted me to experience (it was REALLY good, more on that the next time I go!). Then we had Christmas! I felt bad because I didn't have any actual physical present for Jameson to unwrap :( but I got us a gift card to Del Frisco's Steakhouse! This particular steakhouse chain is special to both of us...we've been there twice in Fort Worth in 2014 and 2016. I can't wait to revisit this place with him for an amazing meal!!

The presents that Jameson got me were much more interesting! Stocking stuffers included a plunger-shaped wine stopper and a wind-up piece of sushi that would run around on the floor! As well as chocolate of course! I was surprised and touched by the gifts he got me: a copy of my trombone professor's new album, the entire Sandman/J.H. Williams collection, and an absolutely gorgeous tea set from Harney & Sons featuring their best looseleaf black teas and a stainless steel strainer! Wow! Among other things! I feel very loved and very lucky :)



After that we drove out to Jameson's gig at The Villages! It was very cold, especially for Florida, especially for me having just come from hot Mexico! But I didn't care. I was just happy to be on land, happy to be outside, happy to be with Jameson, happy. I danced around like an idiot and had a great time.
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I barely made it to bed when we got home, I was so tired! We wanted to see the lunar eclipse/blood moon, but both of us were exhausted.

The next day I had rehearsal at 10am with the Winter Park Playhouse for "Ain't Misbehavin'"! I was excited and a little nervous, but everyone was friendly and the staging is AWESOME!! The band is going to be on stage with the performers, and the horns will be lofted on a narrow balcony above the stage!



A picture after they put some more detail into the stage. We'll have little bandstand thingees.


What it looks like up there.


Rehearsal went really well! And I'm sure it'll get even better as time goes on! I mean listen to these amazing vocalists!! I was blown away!!
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After rehearsal I came home, and Jameson and I went grocery shopping. While I've been gone he hasn't done much home cooking, poor guy! He's just been too busy. We had to restock our empty fridge! When that was done we relaxed and watched tv together. It was great.

The next day was very similar, another rehearsal that again went really well! Afterward I came home to find that Jameson had made us his famous enchiladas! Yum!! I scarfed them down while we watched Kids Baking Championship.

On Wednesday the cast of Ain't Misbehavin' had a photoshoot in the morning. The band wasn't really involved, but we had to be present in case of wide-angle shots. Afterward I got some lunch and we had rehearsal, which went so well that we were let out a little early! I came home to relax and watch Jameson play some video games, then he took me out to dinner at The Melting Pot!!! (He'd gotten a gift card from work!)

Oh my goodness. Everything was delicious of course! There were some fancy new meat options, including duck and lobster! We really enjoyed our meal, but dessert was the best! We got the bananas Foster, only with dark chocolate instead of white! It was SO DANG GOOD.

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We both went to bed a bit early tonight since Jameson has a work meeting tomorrow and I have some interviews, and opening night for Ain't Misbehavin'!

Thursday. I got up early and had a job interview. It went....ok. I'm not entirely qualified for the position, but I do have skills that could be helpful, so they might consider me for general office work instead. Which would be great. I was a little disappointed...the optimistic part of me hoped that I'd be a better fit. But perhaps I can work up to it. Or maybe my approach needs to change.

Anyway, then I had another interview, one that I knew was not going to lead to a job but that might be good just for local arts involvement. Then I went home to rest a bit before the show. When it was time I packed up the car and went to the theater. The show went very well, and I'm looking forward to two more tomorrow night!

On Friday morning I had a nice breakfast, then did some work online. Gathering my tax documents and such too. Bleh.
After lunch it was time for the first show of the day, which went well (a few mistakes, but it was a preview show after all). Afterward I picked up dinner and went home for a bit to eat it with Jameson, then drove back to the Playhouse for our ACTUAL first show! It also went well. And if it's this good now, I'm sure it'll be great in a week or two!

Well, this has been a pretty long blog post as I get back into "life on land". It's Saturday and I'm eating breakfast before doing some chores and getting ready for another round of shows. I'm not sure that there will be any "adventures" other than trying to find a job again. Hopefully this time around I can maintain a better attitude. Thanks for reading :)

I'm Freeeeeee

**DISCLAIMER**: The views expressed in this blog are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer!!




01/12 cont'd

Kayle and Skylar picked me up from Hojas and brought me to their house. I was still pretty wet from walking in the rain, so they gave me a towel to dry off. Then we just hung out together, and it was great. Kayle graded some papers while I looked for jobs and Skylar made us a beautiful lunch of baguette, apples, greens, and this amazing gruyere cheese made—a better word would be “crafted”—by one of his friends. It was simple yet so good I could have eaten it all day! Then we enjoyed the carrot cake I’d gotten from Hojas.

All too soon our visit was over, but I’ll be seeing them next Saturday! They’ll be picking me up from the ship to spend the day before my late night flight. I can’t wait!

Back at the ship I unpacked and got ready for the passenger drill. The last one I’ll ever have to do! It felt pretty good!

After that Nia and I took our phones to the nearest crew area to try and soak up the last bits of wifi as the ship pulled out of LA. Eventually we went out on deck to watch the sun set. There was an impressive line of thunderstorms moving across the area and over the mountains, pretty cool to see. The next time we come back here, it’ll be my last time.




01/13

At sea today. It was a fairly slow morning. I had breakfast and practiced, then had a look at the disembarking information packet that Jane had dropped off. Basically we will need to have our luggage packed the night before disembarkation, and bring it to security to be inspected. Early the same morning we will sign off at the crew office…I assume this is when we’ll receive our passports back. Finally on Saturday we’ll gather in the Princess theater and disembark together. I was glad to get all of this information in advance!



But reading all of that made me feel restless. I didn’t feel like going to the gym, or relaxing and reading a book. In fact I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do. Probably because what I want to do is go home!

Rebeca feels the same way, she misses her boyfriend and the foods that you can only get in Argentina, and her dogs. Molly wants to have a real honest-to-god sandwich and graham crackers, two things you can’t get on ships! Nia is looking forward to seeing her boyfriend and her sister’s dogs, and going on vacation. Stacey will be happy to see her family and play some gigs. Paula found love while she was out here on the Ruby Princess, and is looking forward to a visit from her new beau, who is coming to see her in Argentina after his contract ends! Jane still has a few more weeks on the ship and a lot of work getting all the new musicians settled in, but once that’s done she’ll be playing with her brother’s band in Canada and hopefully getting some much needed R&R!

And me, you already know. I am going to see Jameson, and start a theater gig, and have job interviews, and visit my family. I’ll be very busy, but I’m excited!

Oh wait, where were we. At sea. Haha.

So I couldn’t decide what to do with myself. I ended up walking around outside on the promenade deck, taking photos here and there.



The deck is a public area, so I was stopped several times by guests who had questions. This kept me occupied and killed time nicely too. I showed one woman how to get to deck 5 via the nearest elevator, then answered a question about laxatives from another woman (yeah I don’t know either you guys). Another person wanted to know whether the neck pillows sold in the shops on deck 6 came in sizes. And finally a woman asked for help figuring out whether she was on the port or starboard side of the ship.

I was glad to help people, but after a while I decided it was time for lunch and some quiet time before the Welcome Back show. The show went fine, it was more fun because it was our last one. I think every show will feel that way! Kind of like letting everything go piece by piece.

Next we had Brian Cheatham’s Motown/Disney shows. Both of those went well and we had a lot of fun, Brian is a fantastic singer and his energy got us all moving and playing our best!

Now I’m enjoying some anime and a little reading before bed. Tomorrow is Cabo, but I’ve taken IPM for Alex (dancer) so I’ll be on the ship for the day.


01/14

It’s an overcast day in Cabo. I wonder if more people will stay on the ship because of that.



I had breakfast and practiced. Had a nice view of the Grand Princess anchored next to us.


After that I went down to the crew office to let them know I wouldn’t be taking the company-provided transportation to the airport on Saturday. I took out some trash and did some light cleanup on the company music tablet, then had lunch. I went to the gym even though I didn’t feel like it, and visited the medical center because my sinuses are killing me and I think they’re infected. They gave me a saline spray (I already have Flonase) and that’s probably the best they can do since I’m leaving at the end of the week. I thanked them and went to my room to read and have a nap.

In the evening we had two back to back dance sets in Explorers lounge. Both went pretty well, though it would have been nice if more people were there! Afterward we stuck around for a bit to watch the new party band perform. They’re very good!

Tomorrow is Mazatlan. The ladies are planning to go ashore to hang out at the beach and have offered to find someone to take my IPM, but honestly I’m not feeling the beach. We’ll see.


01/15

Mazatlan. We had a crew drill in the morning, our last one. Yay!
After that the horns had a sound check for Disco Deck Party, which took a little longer than usual because we needed to work the transitions with the new party band.

After that I think the girls were heading out for their beach day, but I decided not to tag along. I know it’s lame, but hey. I’m lame.

Instead I had lunch at the buffet, then did a load of laundry and packed more, as much as I could four days out. Then I went exploring. I was trying to find the ship’s main laundry room to get new bedding for the next musician to use our cabin. After wandering around for quite a while, I finally figured out that it was on Deck 2…I’d never been there before! I was able to get clean sheets and a towel. Another thing to check off the list.

Nothing exciting happened in the afternoon. I made the mistake of checking the ocean forecast for the end of the week: Thursday looks pretty tolerable, Friday looks like it could be the worst sea day we’ll have for the entire time we’ve been here. Great.


01/16

At the Vallarta Mall for the last time, doing my weekly job hunt. I don't have anything until 4:30pm, so there's plenty of time, but I still got up early so I'll have time in the afternoon to relax. I applied for many jobs, and signed up for one open call audition, and took care of all the mundane stuff that a land-based person would do throughout the week but I've got to delegate to a few hours.

So this is the last port before we head back to the US. My last port as a cruise ship employee.

I've learned quite a lot, and while I wasn't the most outgoing or adventurous, I've gained a great deal from this experience. Musically I was forced to step outside my comfort zone, especially concerning jazz improvisation. I'm still not comfortable with it, I still don't like it. But I'm better at it, and I at least know more about it than I did, and this will help me in the future I'm certain!

I learned how to lip trill, or at least do a "shake", which is just awesome! I've been trying for years to master this skill, and finally I can do it. Thanks Princess Cruises!

I've met six wonderful women, who I hope to keep in touch with in the future. I can't wait to see where our paths will take us.

I've learned how to deal with all of the physical and mental challenges that come along with working at sea, and found that overall I am capable of handling them.

As I sit here getting all pensive about my time on the ship, a few things that I've learned come to mind. I'd like to share them with you as recommendations, in case you decide to cruise for leisure or work! Take 'em or leave 'em :)


  • Don't expect to be able to walk from one end of the ship to the other on every single deck. In other words, just because a restaurant or shop is on, say, Deck 6, doesn't mean you can get to it simply by walking on Deck 6. You may have to go up a deck, or down a deck, or use an elevator. Don't complain, just do it!

  • Go to Tea Time at least once on your ship. On the Ruby Princess this was between 3:30pm and 5pm. It's great food and a lot less crowded than the lunch/dinner buffet!

  • Whether you're an employee or a guest, treat yourself to one of the fancy restaurants on the ship! They are WELL worth it! I can highly recommend the Crown Grill steakhouse!

  • Remember that the VAST majority of ship employees and crew do not speak English as their first language. You may have to repeat yourself or wait while the employee grabs an English-speaker. Please be patient...regardless of nationality, everyone is there to help you and will do so asap.

  • Expect periods of limited/slow/absent wifi and phone services, especially on sea days. The technology is improving but hasn't quite reached anyone's expectations yet.

  • Be prepared for motion sickness, even if you've never experienced it before. Anyone can get motion sick. My boss has been working ships for twenty years, and I saw her struggling with nausea and headaches. Bring whatever you need to bring, and/or visit the ship's medical center for some Meclizine. You never know.

  • If you know that you'll be motion sick, it's best to book a cabin that's midship (literally the middle of the ship) and as far down as possible (I recommend deck 8 or below).

That's all I can think of for now. What an interesting experience this has been for me. I feel like I've gained a lot of perspective out here.

After a while I decided to call it quits and head back to the ship. Once on board I took a shower and had lunch, then relaxed until it was time for rehearsal.

Rehearsal was fine, Brian’s shows were fine. We had a fun moment where he came over and danced with me, which was a lot of fun! A great memory for my last show with him. He’s a great guy and I hope he goes far in the entertainment world. Honestly, almost all of these guest entertainers have been wonderful to perform with :)

Then we had a late entertainment Christmas/New Years party! It was a little weird because, well first of all it’s way past both of those holidays! And also we’ve got a combination of people leaving very soon, and people who have just arrived and don’t even know anyone yet. But it was a great party, great people and awesome food!

The party took place in the Youth Center up on Deck 17. There was an air hockey table and Skii-ball, and games and music. The music managers had collected baby photos from most of us and put them together into a slide show! We had a lot of fun trying to guess who was who! We were some pretty cute kids ;)

And partway through we had a nice surprise. Nia (trumpet) had put together a slide show of our band featuring video and sound clips from our shows, and photos and memories of our time together. It was thoughtful, heartfelt, and just beautifully done. Jane (our boss) was crying at the end of it. Once we leave she’s going to have to go back to working with those darned male musicians :P Of course there’s nothing wrong with that! But, you know…we’ll miss each other! We had a big group hug and it was really a wonderful moment. Thank you so much Nia, and all of you ladies. It’s been so awesome.




01/17

Today I gave myself the gift of sleeping in, followed by my last breakfast buffet here on the Ruby Princess! I had smoked, fish, roasted tomatoes, French toast, muesli, and fruit. As I ate I did a little networking and was excited to possibly line up a gig with a NOLA-style brass band! Yay! I’ve never played New Orleans-style before, and honestly, before this ship contract I would not have been confident enough to put myself out there for something like that. Despite my complaints here and there about working on this ship, I am extremely grateful for what I have learned here. While I’m not a great jazz musician and probably never will be, I can at least look at jazz music and jazz gigs and say, “I can do that”. Something that was not possible for me before working here. So thank you Jane, for forcing me to play jazz. Thank you Nia for coaching me and leading by example with your freaking sick playing! Thank you Stacey for the jazz lessons and insights, for listening to my whinings and forcing me to get over my jazz hang-ups. You have all made me a better person and a better musician. Thank you.

Anyway, haha. Next we had Voice rehearsal, it went well and quickly. I went back to the room and packed some more clothes and started my last load of laundry. Then Jane called me to her office for my final appraisal (basically an employee evaluation). I was happy to find that she’s been satisfied with my work and every aspect of my being a part of this group. Again, I’m incredibly grateful. It’s been an absolute privilege!

Later in the evening we had our last dance set together in the piazza. For whatever reason, there were a TON of people dancing, possibly more than we’ve ever had. It was really, really awesome. As we took our bows I looked around and saw Jane and Paula tearing up again. You guys! Stop that!!

Tomorrow we have a VERY long day. We have to get up early to do all our sign off paperwork, then we have the Voice followed by two of Dwight’s shows, followed by checking our luggage with security. Among other things. Woo!


01/18

Today started early with signing off at the crew office. We had to turn in our employee IDs, and in exchange we got a Seafarer’s Certificate and a letter stating that we had successfully completed our contracts without incident. Yay!

Next we had Voice rehearsal and show. The ship was moving a lot and it was a bit of a struggle for me, but the show itself went well! When it was finished I was happy to pack up my company-issued music tablet for the last time. Yay!

Then we had two of Dwight’s shows in Explorers lounge. These were our last two shows, ever. Dwight made a point to address us during the show and share with the audience how much he enjoyed working with us. What a stand-up guy. When those shows were over some of us were a little teary-eyed. We turned in our music, and that was that…our last work on the Ruby Princess. Yay!

After that we had to get our luggage inspected by security and loaded onto a cart, to be distributed to us when we disembarked the next day. This didn’t take nearly as long as I thought, but it was still around 11pm before all of us were finished. I went up to crew bar for a little bit to spend time with the girls and other crew members who wanted to say goodbye and wish us well. It was nice to have this opportunity to say goodbye and have a drink with everyone, but the ship was still rocking a lot and I wasn’t feeling it. I ghosted out pretty early.

Tomorrow, we disembark. It’s been a wild ride.


01/19

My eyes popped open at 6:50am. I began tearing the sheets off my bed. By the time I was finished Stacey’s alarm was going off.

We got to work packing our remaining things and cleaning up the room. Although disembarkation isn’t until 10am, we needed to be out of the room by 8am because the new band is moving in right away. That’s a quick turnaround, but that’s normal on ships I’m told!

Soon we were ready to leave. The room was clean, all we had to do was take our linens to the laundry room and trash to the incinerator. Goodbye cabin. It’s been fun.



We dropped off our garbage and dirty laundry, then went to the mess for breakfast. I was very happy to have phone signal! I’ll probably treasure that small pleasure all week haha. We ate and did internet stuff to kill the hour. We were joined by Nia, Molly, Paula, Rebeca, and others a little bit later. We all enjoyed killing time together, for the last time!

In a little while I'll go through customs before setting foot off the Ruby Princess for the last time.
There's so much that I could say, that I'm going to leave unsaid for lack of time. I don't know if I'll be able to post later today, so I'll do it now and have a follow-up post later on.
Mostly, thank you everyone. It's been a pleasure. See you down the road.

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