Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Cruise 3.2, German waterways pt.2. Almost through.

Sitno >>222<< or >>221<<

Bad poetry #6
I'd sell my soul for my weight in cakes
But I am my own strager here.
This smiling is hurting my eyesight
And I'm thinking about cutting my hair. 

General never allowed me to cut my hair, so I may take this secret opportunity to get a bob. One of the girls is a former hairdresser, still got the scissors... Hmmm. :D Tempty, too tempty.

Not sure what day it is today - I know it's May 1st in the Real World, because a marching band back home woke my babe up at five - but yesterday was a good day, as good as they can get on this ship at this hour. SLSB was being minimally assholish, even permitted me to go on a tour as an escort, though he made a big deal about me having to work the next time... What do you mean next time? When am I not working? He's the one who opens in the middle of the day for no reason, then signs up all the requests people made via the request box (which we have for when we are not at the counter) and tells everyone how much money he made for opening... Dude. The requests were already in the box; you would have made that money anyway. Anyhoo, tour means I will not be working the precious two hours tonight and will instead go around some Hamburg lakeling with a little boat. All I have to do is make sure nobody gets lost or left behind. Help old ladies up ramps and if it gets too cold, just distract them with pleasant banter. No worries. Am looking fotward to it. 

Hamburg has a load of cannals, did you know? I had no idea. I've never thought anout Hamburg before in my life. But it's a fun town. Big buildings, lots of red brick or, better yet, brown clinkers, the double baked tiles. Lots of bridges, up to 2500 I think. They are very proud of this fact. "Lil'Amsterdam" and' all. Maaaaassive merchant dock and an old harbour, which is now being dried up and remade into a posh residential area. The dry dock is used mainly for repair of the big Aida cruise ships, Germany owned, with lips on the bow. Did I tell you about the time I asked at the reception on which deck the front of the ship is? :D Retarded questions galore :D I was referring to where the bell and the pole are.. Anyroad, went out last night, just to get off the ship, to photograph the city, but didn't find any fun places, just the big red storage buildings from back in the day, when the Dutch had colonies. Got back and Skyped G for a good long while in the seamen's lounge, then had drinks with a guitarist singer, then slept a bit and in the morning did gangway for two and a half hours. *I* thought I did good, though I am certain SLSB will find a way to completely belittle the effort. If not to me, then to the PowersThatBe. Hopefully along with their scolds, they bring my package.

The life rafts were being taken off for maintenance; captain and his entourage came out to look for something. Not sure what is up. The flirty old officer who ranks high up enough to be able to go anywhere and not look suspitious - and never misses an opportunity to talk to me, won't tell me what's the haps - he just says 'I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill/shag you...' (i tried explaining that if he's shopping for a mistress, they should always be young and uncomplicated and I am a) neither and b) unseducable.) I wouldn't think much of it, but the singer I hanged around with today, looking for Beatles, told me that last year while he was onboard and a storm hit them in the mediterraneum, the ship was THIS close to being toppled over and that would be the story of it. The draft is very shallow here, and no keel to speak of as for the last century or so all ship keels are flat. Kinda really defeats the purpose of a keel, though, doesn't it? That's supposed to be the heavy bit that drags us back into the proper possiting if we capsize. If the balast fuel in the double bottom and the balast water sway with us, we'll have At The World's end situation on our heads. I really don't want to be entombed and burried here, in these so called watertight compartments. What good is a watertight place if you're sinking to the bottom in a big iron grave?

So, as the singer suggested, we offed today to explore Hamburg and look for it's infamous red district - to see where the Ultimate Boy Band had such a good time, got their hair cut and mingled with hookers, tweakers and pennyless artists, ah, the fifties.. At first it was cold and nothing much interesting except big and bigger architecture, (Germans really like their big.) but then it picked up. Most of everything here was rebuilt after the carpet bombing. The reason UNESCO won't register the beautiful red storage buildings as a heiritage site is because they should be at least 75% original and these are only half. My mate was a Brit and he said he still feels like he should apologize a little bit. That was a thorough bombing. Still. These days. The town hall is tremendous, with a fountain in the yard with some Greek Gods that just so happen I thank a lot lately: old Pan was there, my Hermes and Ship God, probably Poseidon. They were all young and beautiful and cool looking. Lots of goats. It was a hot fountain. Me gusto.

The red district, where I had some ice-cream and G helped us regroup and find the spot, located in St.Pauli, is really a poor, shithole after-party looking few streets, lots of soul and vomit, just near the docks, where in the sixties the five or four boys transformed from British nobodies to bohemian success and then slowly took over the world. We found a statue to them, their silhuettes, and if Keiserkeller is the place they played at, there were many other famous people who once performed there as well. Not sure, though. I was always more of a David Bowie kind of a person that the Beatles. My music-savvy companion said he will sing the Space Oddity to me sometimes. I'd like that. The brothel street was just a long, empty street with lots of windows and mostly everywhere there were broken bottles and garbage in the corners. Past are the days when the mafia used sex slaves to please the sailors, the guide ensured us. My other shipmates went out and didn't come back until dawn. Not at all tempted to disco nor rave, I AM the nerd who goes to the red district at noon to photograph the architecture, but I could see why this part of town has appeal, still. There is something fundamental to us, seamen. We are adressless and timeless and at the mercy of an element that is quite unforgiving. Fire will annul your existance back to the top of the periodic table, but water will consume your soul. You go back to primordial soup. Hamburg is the kind of a city that exist because clever water traffic and they pray and tribute to it aplenty. Lots of different nations come through here. Chinese slowly taking over. Arabian kings with their harems of wives, their sisters and mothers in law taking over the most beautiful hotels. A philharmonica building the size and shape of an ocean, also with flats for sale. It's got a good vibe. It had it for a long time, especially St.Pauli, transients and hookers and everything artistic in between venting here, and now it has it because of young ones looking for fun. I am not exactly a tourist. When our big ship rolls in, sometimes for everyone to see and wave at us, the first question an outsider gets is: you work on that ship?
Back to the waterfront, at the massive parallel ponton promenade at this point all of the city came out to bask in the sunny day, building and ferries brilliant and the bridges bustling, the occasional riverboat Luisiana-style spraying by for tourists' amusement. G called to check if I was okay, mwaaaahahaing his anouncement of an of day (McDonald's!) and several texts arrived, saying my postcards have landed. Looks like some took their time anyway. We got back and I went to sleep a little. My tour starts in two hours. Will go eat some, check the field photos and read a little, mayhap. 
Sitno >>221<<, let's say.

Offed away from Hamburg before dawn, and towards Bremen. I think I remember that name for the photos after the second warld war, where there was no Bremen. Uh, second formal tonight; I'll need coffee... I've taken a shower and if I wear a dress again, I should got up to the higher deck bathrooms where there's free hand lotion and get my skin smooth and oily. 

Also, found out what's bugging the High Ups. I tested my theory on the horny old devil, which we shall call DOo for good reason, and poking around and putting clues together will probably get me killed in the night some day. Ah, well. It IS a good way to make a man stop following you around and flirt all the time (don't these people have a ship to run or something?) : I wish I could say what I found out, but we'll see what happens during our infamous Maiden Mystery Cruise. If we end up in the news, we end up in the news.
Whatever happens, save the camera bag first! The bag is buoyant! :D

MOTHERFUCKING little  *** erased my private photos from my personal memory card. No, he did not incidentally clear the card. I use that card to shoot this ship stuff, but is it MY card, and if he just formatted it and cleared everything, saying I should keep it empty always, I would understand that. No, he left some test shots with me on them, some ship landscape and some land band photos and erased all the pictures of my ship friends, the photos of the Seascape guy, DOo's portrait which I liked, because one of the lights didn't fire at first and it was all in cool half-shaddow, and some pictures I locked to safety that I took during the formal evenings that I was proud of. He couldn't incidentally have done it, because I secured them. Fuck me LEFTWAYS. He just went and deleted my private photos. Probably armed with an argument that what I take for the agency is not mine and he can do with them as he pleases. Well, no, because the shot of the Seascape guy was a random test shot for the lights in the dining room and some of the shipmates coming down the ramp were never going to be company property. Naw, man. That was my property. Un fucking believable.

I hope he was expecting a reaction, because he got nothing. What I got was my ship friends telling me that even before I came, he was telling people he will get me fired in a month if he doesn't approve of me. Why the fuck would someone say something like that about someone, before they even met them? I got that same shit in the army because I was married too much for their preferrance. What kind of freaking agency are these people running here? If they didn't want me, why the fuck throw me at this character to mistreat? I could have just gone to some place they clearly think I deserve to go, like Celebrity Cruises (waaaaay beneath them or so I hear), make twice as much money and have a party while doing the exact same thing. Here I'm in a virtual tomb, working for dirty looks and a constant threat of being sent packing. On a private ship with a really questionable itinerary ahead of us. Fuck this. The only time - the ONLY time he speaks to me like I am a human being is when instructing how many Seascape booking we should attempt to get and how many he's gotten. Yes, I know, you are a genius, you are a hundred times better at this job than me, you tell me every day.

Landed in Bremen, but you need to take a tram to town. The only thing near by is a bar in someone's house and a massive shopping mall with all the shops closed, a movie theater where I got some Warcraft promos, a weak wifi and a Pizza Hut. We have a drill tomorrow, so we'll see how much time I have to actually discover Bremen. I only have a few Euros left. Like, literally two. Either for one postcard, one tram ticket or one ice-cream. Ah, decisions :D

Have decided to start rating my days, so that I don't get too obsessed with SLSB. From 3+ to 3-. I rate this day 

Sitno >>220<<

Rain and expensive cruise ships do not go well together. And these are Brits. Imagine they were Arabs - would they just melt and sue somebody for this horror of a drizzle? Stood in the rain for two hours and got exactly a dozen gangway photos. That's be an earful when SLSB finds me. Can you imagine it? I'm sure he would get 400, the magical number of all agency high rollers. But can you imagine it? Cold, rainy day, buses are a mile away and I am standing at the bottom of a trecherous, slippery ramp for the FOURTH time this cruise, fourth time in a welk, very old people with walkies and usually two canes in hands really carefully coming down, wrapped in raincoats, and I'm repeating: "Hello, w...?"
"No, thank you."
"Hello, sir, would you like...?"
"Not today, dear."
"Good morning, madam, a nice pictu...?"
"No, thank you!"
You would think these people have never seen rain before. SLSB will probably write to Powers ThatBe to get me fired again. "There is no bad weather, there is just bad photographers.."

I look at my photos from time to time, my old ones on the iPad, to see if I really ever was any good... And ye, from time to time I really was pretty fucking good. I wish I could show you what sort of photos are being done here. Though I can tell you what his comment would be if he ever saw my work: This is nothing. This kind of photography would never sell

That part was almost right. To amuse myself, I imagine my life before the ship and his life before the ship. True, I didn't often earn a grand with just the portraits. Though there was that National Geographic cover once... 

Offed to the mall place to spend my last two bucks on a bad coffee and cheap ice-cream in McDonald's, in exchange for three hours of free wifi. Gotsta be back at four. While I stood outside in the rain, trying to keep the camera dry, the captain came by with a tiny pockett snapshooter and shot the hull. Owners decided they want to paint it differently, he said, so now he, the captain, has to come out and photograph the test paint job they did yesterday. I said: "Yeee.. If only you had a photographer onboard.." He gave me a dangerous over-the-shoulder grin. I think this was the first time we talked like normal people. He now winks at me from time to time. I wonder... Did he NOTICE there is a photographer on board? Or what did he think those people with strange black machines in their hands bothering people are?... :D

DOo asked me what is the difference between taking photographs on ship and taking photographs out in the Real World. Though I did have to think about it, I only though for a second. The truth. The difference is the truth. I wouldn't know how else to explain it. That's exactly how it feels. 

Skyped with the General for an hour, and the day brightened. Gods how I miss his face. Am almost ready to tape his photo to the top of my bunk. Almost. Lately I only choke up when I see a fat old beagle. I make such a face that people probably think I will eat it, they pick it up and hurry away. :D

So far the first half of the day has been nice indeed. Nothing much happened, but it was nice. I like Land. Land is ful of simple things, simple people. I am somewhere, lost in the world, feeling good. Won't see Bremen this time, looks like. The port belongs to some filthy rich individual, some fourth richest character in Germany, and he doesn't care much for cruise ships coming to his yard; he makes no effort to make it appealing. Were it not for the rain, I would find the town on my own. If I had money, I would buy some pretty pretty things in the mall. Instead, I just sit, write, read, listen to the Hobbit soundtrack and caress and old Lego I keep in my pockett, which I call *foundation*. Two more days and this cruise is over. Am working on picking my mood up still, and write in a more... Well, *me* fashion. Gimme two more days. I'll get there. Only been on the ship for 23 days, two hours and 37 minutes, but who's counting :P

Returned to ship, because needed to pee. Took two sips of that bad coffee and half an hour later I have a full bladder and no money to afford precious German restrooms. Not sure I can loiter at the cafe on the sixth deck, but so far nobody's told me off yet. Had some coffee and some yogurt dessert and sat by the window looking out at the poetry that's salty lines down the glass and a stormy skies behind them, with old gray and moss covered shipping halls in between. Wish had my camera. It looks really good, for all it's imperfection. The Truth, you know? And seaguls. 

Began making an itinerary of the trip I wanna take with G, when we have the time and gold coins to afford it, stopping at towns I didn't get to see enough and would like to. I should buy myself a notebook big enough to make a scrapbook and put all the pamphlets in there. Now slowly I'm gonna go down into the gallery and see what happens. Might take a pill today, to avoid any story seaday epiloques same as before. Last days tend to be odd. Or maybe that's just the English Channel being loud. And full of leaking oil rigs. 

Sitno >>219<<

For some reason (maybe because it was the last day) there were parties all over the ship at midnight. We, some of the shoppies, finished at eleven (I swear every night the hands on the clock get stuck for AGES on four to eleven..) and first went to the Crew Show thingie, in which the housekeepers and waitors and repairmen put on native costumes and performed, either very funny shows or very, very good music numbers. That'll teach me to underestimate the Polinesians. One lady sang like Aretha freaking Franklin. Then we went on the other side of the ship, where the ship band sang to a mostly empty room and one lady dancing hardcore. We drank virginPinaColadas and murdered a bag of marzipan chocolates. One of the hosts fooled around and danced and cheered and we cheered and danced from our seats. The band finished with a King of Leons slow song, very intense. They're really good. Their lead singer weights like 60 pounds and has a voice that carries across half of the ship. This ship has good musicians. They're friendly, too, unlike the dance ensemble, who are too good-looking to talk to anyone. Last was the downstaits party with cake, chips and a DJ, which was still booming as I passed out at one, across from my room in the Crew Dayroom. It made me think of the Hotel Manager, who promised a party for the employees some day... I thought - mister, you have no idea. Though I tried texting G about it, we are too far out in the sea already. I send him my own little kind of a prayer: one tear, lots of chuckling, and orgasm and a sea sprayed salty postcard of the day..

Sitno >>218<<

Another uncomfortably good day. This is the third in a row. I am starting to really worry.
It was an off day, so I ate like nuts:
Salad with some pasta and freeench friiiies I haven't had since boarding, yummeh
Coconut flan
A slice of pannacota with vanille
A soufle ball
Tiramisu cube (3x3x3 cm)
Yoghurt cream with fruits of the forest
A spoon of banana bread
A spoon od something they call pudding but is actually bisquit
Another yogurt cream with berries
Three coffees
Four praline chocolates
Probably something else. It sounds like a lot, but trust me. A mouthfull each, and I have a small mouth. 
It was last day, so people were slightly unhappy, or nostalgic, and again - several nice people and some emails exchanged. We had a bazaar in the morning, which was fun, I think. I don't like to stand in the main lobby, from fear of someone dropping or letting fall down on my head. We probably sold enough to meet whatever target we had this time, since SLSB was almost in a good mood, even offered me a piece of chocolate. He stressed for the eleventh time that we will next have two targets, one for Seascape and we need to book at least ten. Buddy mine, for the eleventh time you only get this face: I booked over 20 last time and you gave me 15 bucks out of it. Oh, you think I should make an effort just to prove myself? So that the company can make a grand and I make 15 bucks? The last shoot I did two cruises ago, wasn't even acknowleged as my shoot, because I didn't yet know how to do the editing. You just ignore my efforts when it comes to the dotted line, so book your own and continue telling people how I'm an ignorant bitch. 

Gods, if ever there's been a NOT ink-worthy subject... Until he does something ugly again, I won't mention him again, deal? 
Starting now. 

Had some pleasant short dialogues with DOo, who opens, like: 'So, how are your nightmares? How is you miserable life?'.. And I am like: 'How is YOUR miserable life, you horny old bastard?'... Hehe. Dunno, for some reason we just click. Mayhap as he is almost as lonely as i am. And I am the loneliest person on this ship. Except maybe Larry, our mess keeper. I had several longer conversations with guests, who think us, eastern Europeans, are to be given a medal for being able to speak and read English... I've given up on trying to explain how Europe is, geographically, structured, since they think anything pass France is Eastern and still eating with a wooden spoon, and I don't really blame them anymore for the tone. You get used to it. There's just something weirdly, purposefully aloof about the Brits that makes you pity them a little. I could start responding to their: oh, but you speak such good english!, with 'We were taught in our schools to speak at least three languages flawlessly and a few dozen others politely. Do you speak Welsh good enough to fool a Welshman?'
Did have a nice conversation with a woman who would hardly dare say Hello to me before, and we talked about tattoos. She asked me if it hurts and I said it hurts like a biiiiitch. She then used that dirty word again and said she doesn't dare, though is increasingly tempted. I told her she should take a page from my book - try everything at least twice. 
I bought a book, some random crime novel, just because I really wanted to. Will now go read a little. Been to the gym and showered. Almost out of Nivea. Not good. Nivea is really important. My skin HURTS from how dry it is, it actually aches from cracking. It's almost half past one in the morning... If I don't go to sleep, I could go out at five and watch the pilot come meet us and drag us to Dover. But I should get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be another long day. Inspection at 9 or 10 or whenever they feel like it, embarcation from eleven to four and shop till eleven in the eve, or so. 

You know, the hours themselves drag like you wouldn't believe. Like, for the love of all that's photogenic and shiney, would you fucking MOVE, it's been 14 past 8 for am HOUR!!... I pace up and down the very short passage of the gallery six hours at a time. It really, really drags.

The days, though... The days freaking fly.