Sunday, 26 June 2016

8.2 Norse cruise, pt 2: on my own two fins

Sitno some

Sorry about missing out the last few days. Long days. Also Bergen.
(I did something kinda stupid and dangerous. I threatened a pair of old English ladies. They were't our passangers, they were just some other rich tourists. I asked them, extremely politely, if they could move a little bit as I was trying to get the perfect vantage point for shooting a sunlit statue in the middle of the town square. They refused, looking down on me. A fucking DEMON took over and, from the bottom of my stomach, my face in 'do not test me today, bitches' version, a Slav in me boomed heavily: 'MOVE!..' They moved.)
So we're back to Southampton, (never seen it in the sun before), wrapping up the fjords experience, off soon to pastures. Same dance, same chaos, same fun. Maybe a little more fun of a less cynical variety, because SLSB is leaving after this cruise and is begining to border on cheerful, nigh happy, which is the strangest thing you'll ever see next to a blue baby chicken.(Nepal, 2008)

DOo left. He and the less scary nurse got their own driver, so they got picked up like an important person with his own driver leaves a scene, but left he did. The next Chief is supposed to be a Romanian, which, after knowing SLSB, sounds.... Ye, okay. Doesn't matter. Doesn't concern me - the hotel isn't really a Chief's domain, DOo just liked it there because the gallery deck was full of hot women. 
It wasn't at all a bad cruise. Not a legendary fun stuff, like the Mistery Maiden Calls, but it was nice. Some cool people, some cool sounding names, though it always surprises me how they seem to love being photographed and then they don't even come to look at the pics. Poor pics. Good thing they get reincarnated (melted and the paper gets remade.), would have been a sad fate otherwise.

So let's see. 
Come Monday, last time I checked in, Sitno 171, I spent most of the day slaving it away cheerfully, plus there were some good moments of pure ship fun.
If you're gonna look for someone else to keep me spitirs up, Tom the Host is your next best bet. He has the energy of a puppy Russel Terrier. Him and another host, Liam, which looks like someone who might have been a young Hobbit extra in Lord of The Rings, and I got into this ROFL situation we called 'Wolfing it.' Namely, they were just showing me an ultra no budget horror movie they and some of the dance hosts made on Tom's phone, with Liam playing the troll. (Unlikeliest casting choice ever.) Tom recorded soundback by whistling and growling and making thumping noise. It was so stupid and so cool we nigh peed ourselves laughing. I never met anyone so ready to use their face and voice before. He was awesome.
While laughing, Liam knocked over a full glass of orange juice, all over the pristine white cloth covered table and floor (and Tom). We froze like we just dropped a baby. We needed to pull a Wolf cleaning right away, before Larry, the super nice mess keeper ( who gets his short hair cut even shorter every week, because he has a crush on the dresser girl) comes in and kills us all. So, quite in a hurry, we undid the whole dining table, stole the cloth from another, made it look like it was just oddly placed, redid the table and mopped up the floor with it, then hid it in the laundry room amidst the towels, all within the span of a minute. That scene from Pulp Fiction when the three dudes are optionally dispossing of a body and the nurse wife catches them, coming home? That were we when one of the electricians walked in. It was the best moment of the day.
Tuesday, Sitno 170, was my first gangway of the cruise, drizzling but beautiful. Fjords really are outstanding. Doesn't matter where you're from, fjords are overwhelmingly beautiful. They are like magically huge walls of black rock with trees on it, and the Norwegians have this thing for waterfalls, so there are very many of those. Also, in every fjord you pass, there is bound to be at least one ferry smack in the middle, just to remind you of the year of the scavenger, season of the bitch. 
While we were staring at a particularly beautiful waterfall, a mighty thing indeed, the nurses came pass and stopped a bit to chat with the shoppies. One of them is an elder woman from South Africa, she is the strict, scary one. DOo rounded the corner, crept up behind her and covered her eyes and she was so embarassed she started turning red, when he took her in his arms and started dancing with her around the hallway, waltzing quite well, actually. Awwwwww, that could have been meee... Haha. Right. Ehm. The poor woman, red as a tulip aside, then there came the booming waterfall. Man, that was a powerful mass of frothing water. We parked right beneath it, too. Captain did his best to deliver a big speech about it. Good parking, that. When I saw the waterfall, I came looking for DOo in the shop and he finally said: I'll go get my camera. He has a good camera with a good extra lens, which look like they have hardly been handled.

Didn't really go ashore further than the seamen's lounge/garden shed. Noontime, after I managed to wake him up, I spoke to the General. He just started remodelling the kitchen. I admited I bought him the perfume and that I put a little bit of it on the T-shirt I sleep in, to remind me of him.

Wednesday, Sitno 169, just before the second gangway, SLSB surprised me by barking what was that photo I wanted printed. 
... Er... 
 ... looks like someone must have said something. I thought that ship has sailed. Snapping back to reality, out of that stunned stillness, quite in a hurry, I pointed it out, edited the fucking plant that was ruining the composition in the background and got two copies, such as they were, free of charge...
... That is NOT the usual state of things in photo lab. Three days ago he wouldn't speak to me a work in four hours of being in the same room. But fine, whatever. Whatever this game is, I will play it along until things get ugly again. 
During lunch DOo, who in a half full dining room set almost next to me and spoke to the shops manager opposite of us, asked me suddenly how to edit the pics from camera to Instagram. I told him I will teach him. The trick is in makng them small enough to begin with. I called him later, asking does he want to nap or does he want to learn? He bargained for one hour of more sleep, during which I shot some more of gangway, got the photos of him from the lab and went to have a cup of coffee. The guest relations manager was telling the nurses, whom I sat down at the table with, about a really funny story involving today's drill. She is so busy she often overlooks that stuff and so she wasn't really paying attention when the drill started, as she had to deal with difficult passengers, her daily routine. Suddenly the phone rings and the Safety officer, a crazy Russian, yells: Code Papa, silent alarm! Inform the bridge!!... Inform the bridge, now!!... And hangs up.
Code Papa means there is a bomb on the ship.
Human natural instinct, when you learn of a bomb on a ship is to just fuck all and get the fuck off, swimming if need be. So for one second she just histerically flailed, headless chicken, before brain kicked in and she remembered the drill. Literally. 
The way she said it and replayed it was hysterical.
I wrote the Bukowski quote on the back of the photo: Find something that makes you happy and the let it kill you... and took it to DOo, but he was no longer in the cabin, which did not surprise me, and I was already dressed to go out in that case anyway. I had three hours to kill, so I could either sleep, explore or Skype. Fuck sleeping. We have so many inspectors on board all the time, sleeping and napping are just some trendy latest modern things you read about in beauty magazines, never actually find in Real life.
I only made it to the end of the ponton bridge - and that bridge was some pretty amazing piece of engineering, because it was a retracting ponton deal with floating joints with engines, so you could actually just extract it out into the fjords and then bend it at will, to meet the boats halfway... Anyway, I found wifi, skyped my lover. That's two ports I skipped completely, never leaving the quay.
It was British night, which went fine, although SLSB refuses to put up the first gangway shots. Maybe because he knows he made them look like crap. Or something. Or so that he'll be able to blame the no target thing on me again. Don't care, really. DOo walked by and grabbed me and thanked me in front of SLSB and FPP and I told him to go look for the Guest relations manager to hear the Code Papa story. 
Was the first off day I didn't buy the three chocolates from the bar. Firstly, because I am too much in debt and second, because I am fed up with chocolate. Never heard me say that before, have you? Ate some other stuff and drank juices I don't usually drink, which taste like liquid candy anyway. 
Also Anton Yeltzin died in a very Darwin Awards fashion. Waste.

Thursday, Bergen. 
Very nice town, fashionable and expensive, artsy and historic, posh and quaint. And raining. Gangway was all over the place - from full blown blazing sunshine blast, flash on 1/1, to deep, dark, bitter twilight of a winter storm. I went in an out three times to get the people leaving specifically on excursions, just to get SOME rollcount. Then crawled to mess to warm up nursing a coffee. There were just one of the security ladies and me in the corner, and DOo came to eat his salad and seafood, sitting right next to me and I told him my plan was to order him to grab his backpack, put the laptop and camera in and some human clothes on and meet me on the quay in twenty minutes, but of course it started to rain. He said he had to get up at six today and I mocked him aloud, oh, no, really, poor you, you had to get up at six? Nobody else on this ship has to get up at six! ...And when did you go to bed, at ten? We get to bed at three! 'And whose fault is that?' 'It's a LITTLE bit your fault, since you're the boss.' Anyway, he had another inspector to deal with. I saw the man outside, I asked him, a new face, if he is our new pilot. He said: you wish, I am here to inspect you. I replied, quite bored: ye, we get inspected, criticised, corrected and scrutinized seven times a day. Welcome aboard.
There is someone called a Designated Person Ashore, our DPA, a name we all must know. I never found out why, but he came to inspect us, too. So, designated person ashore aboard. Kinda defeats the purpose. But DOo said he's an okay guy, as he's been around long enough to know which rules apply to ships and which are there just to get more money out of the owners. (No ship can pass an inspection if an inspector decides he dislikes it for some reason. The rules are too surreal. I know the sanitation inspection people completely freak out if they see a single fly in the ship, though the General suggested that whatever fly is able to survive all our fumigations and desinsections is probably a radioactive alien..)
These two, one very tall, gray and bald and the other short and plump and crew cut, were the godfathers of a moment in which SLSB approached me conspiratorily, leaned to me (actually - tiptoed, in his case) attentively and whispered, secretively, almost intimately: These are the auditor AND the inspector..
LOL, no, but seriously, poor SLSB was so desperate to make everything appear proper, he threatened to fire me if I fail to clock in again and then went and made half a dozen clerical errors of his own and plenty of guests came back to complain about it. Not so perfect after all.

Went out, at least for an hour, even if it was raining, but I started to need to pee and you need to pay to get into a Norwegian toilet, so I offed to find the so called Seaman's Mission. Funny old world, really. Back in the day, which is why I imagine this Missin exists (unless the tea was roofied and they're going to kill us all or sell us all in pieces), sailors looking for a place to hang meant cheap rum and scurvy hookers. Now you just follow the river of Philipino crewmen from the giant ships to a cute little place with free coffee, clean toilets and free wifi, where a nice couple will greet you with a smile and ask about your ship, while handing you a net password, a cute mug and a pamphlet. Nobody would be interested in a hooker if one was stripping on the floor. I had some black currant tea and coconut biscuits and posted some Instagram, then skyped G for two hours while most of my shipmates walked in and pass me and thise wom I've bothered about the General before, waved at him. A great afternoon. My life feels a little bit like it hasn't really changed all that much, now that I thnk about it. In a room with fifty expats... Twenty years ago I spent time like this in halfway and refuge houses all across southern Europe. Exact same mood. 

Friday, Sitno 167..
DOo came by the gallery and kind of froze, seeing me, my hair. 
"What is with that hairdo? You look like littlemi..."
"I look like a whoody what now?"
"Little My. It's a character in..."
"Oh my God! Snufkin's stepsister!... That is like the nicest thing you ever said to me, almost a compliment! Except that time you called me crazy, that was a compliment, also." 
As expected, I hadn't had the chance to get him alone again. Now that he is leaving, I of course have a dozen questions for him. What did his parents do? (an English teacher and an engineer. Makes sense.) Does he like indie rock? (Forgot to ask.) Did he ever try to kill himself? ... (No, probably because of the kids.) How long are our mooring lines? (the longest is 200m.) 
But I work all the time and then I have drills and education on top of it. He came by a couple of times during bazaar and I asked him to do another Dirty Uncle and bring me a mint candy. (They usually give them away at the reception and they are bad for your teeth, but they do help with the lack of saliva after you've spent two hours smiling at people...) I threatened a visit and he told me that I will NOT be coming to his cabin during nap time. I asked if he remembers, many moons ago (five weeks), when he was flirting with me and I would tell him that at night, when I cannot sleep and walk around the ship, I pass his door many times, but never knock? And he would say, back then, oh, but why you not knock? Today I said: you growl at me when I knock at one in the afternoon, can you imagine your reaction, if I woke you up at two in the morning? 
'Uu, hello and good evening, you sexy thing, may I ente--?'
'Get the fuck back to your cabin, it's the middle of the night.'
Reality versus fantasy? :D Haha.
Fuck, how I will miss hearing his voice over the securities' walkies. 
'Bridge, bridge..'
Who is going to tell me all the ship stories now? And interpret asshole actions of the new Hots? (oh, did I mention? Hotz left last cruise. "Goodbye, sir, hope to see you again soon!... Or never." Long live the next Hotz.) And do things behind my back, that make people stop trying to get me in trouble?
I would, obviously, I would knock and wake him up today at one. He can sleep after Sunday. But those fucking morons the British just abandoned the EU and the value of sterling plummeted, so I spent an hour running around, trying to exchange my money to Euros... I told the General yesterday,  in case something happens to me, that there is still a little over a thousand euros in my room. He said, yes, if your ship sinks, I will spend a multi million dollar salvage operation to get to your thousand euro little box in your little cabin at the bottom of the English Channel. 
SLSB seemed awfully cheerful tonight. He even used real curse words. Even almost kind of actually SPOKE to me. I wondered aloud if something was burning and he said:'Don't be afraid, you are safe. Nothing will happen to you. And we are close to land..' (was being ironic.)
After the first sitting was done and DOo and his date came out, DOo lingered while I photographed Liam the Host, and I gave him the 'you, come here' gesture from Dirty Dancing. 'What is it, why you want me to come here?'.. he objected, all the while coming to the stage.
'Because I want to take your photo properly, why do you think? Stand here. Shoulder aside. No smiling. No smiling!'
I turned off the right light and re-did the photo I did when we first met, when one of the lights didn't fire properly, which was a good shot and SLSB deleted despite it being locked safely and the card being my personal card. Then, because this card was not mine and would not be mine to take downstairs, and SLSB would never let me take the pics, I snuck into the bathroom with my whole bag, cabelled the camera to the iPad and transfered the pics, feeling like an internation cyber techno spy, like something out of a Gibson novel :D 8D
I told him not to go to bed at ten. He said something naughty to his date while upping the stairs with her on his elbow, who is a shy chubby woman, something like 'we can't go to bed until ten it seems, I've been forbidden..'
'Course by the time we actually finished (22:32) and I called him to wake the fuck up and let me in, he's already passed out. He just muttered something into the phone and after a few attempts managed to hang up demonstratively.
I will never understand how people manage to sleep on ships. Two hours later I am still wide awake in a bar, listening to the guys sing or joke around, dancers drunk dancing in flawless synch to every bizzare barn song that's played, (even the ones sitting down flailed their hands dancily), doing the blog and a letter and some coffee... 
Oh. Maybe that's why I can't sleep :D
I stared at my own reflection today, during one of the mini breaks... I should do another self portrait of me in watercolors, because a fairly strange woman was looking back at me from the glass. Oddly noble hair-do, a lacy black cocktail dress, a wristwatch and jewelry. Long arms, long neck. My nose is slightly bigger with age and my eyes were small with weary, but the jawline was fine and the lips full and sagged with the weight of lipstick on them... An odd woman. A darker, different woman. I don't want Paper to grow up.

Saturday, Sitno 166
Second bazaar. I think we're doing well. No idea what the target is supposed to be, but I think we're there. SLSB is using full sentences to tell me what to do. Fascinating phenomenon, really. It's like he's been taking a double dose of a happy drug and he is about to start handing out baloons to the people he meets. He nearly exploded into unicorns shaped candy fluff yesterday when DOo told him to mail him the pic. Being noticed by the Chief Officer?! Where's the parade??!
There was a woman in front of the elevator door, who asked me how to get to the upper floor using this thing. Inthough maybe she was just being awkward, but no, she was actually angry with me. I've never operated one of this things before - what do I do?!... 
Er... You step in and push the button with the number of your desired floor. 
And then what? What button?
It literally insulted her that she was forced to sink so low as to speak to someone like me about this filthy device.. Course her legs were fine, steps were just a step away and she was only one floor going, so... Another passanger came to help and said she will take her.
I said ye, but let her push the button, clearly she's been too babied for too long and should stop being afraid of mundane things...
This ship.
I ate some banana for breakfast to see if it actually works against cramping. 
Reading Bryson, happily, though the library has many books I can still get my hands on. Hold up. Lemme see if I'm early enough to....
I was starved for lunch, but they only had that weird Asian something soup, which I don't like neither hot nor warm, so I was gonna eat a salad, except the crew mess had a waffle stand. So I ate a waffle with LOTS on top. Man, free food is the worst. Only thing worse is GOOD free food. 
I thanked the chef for the waffle and he said I am not allowed to eat in the crew mess. I'm not? 
No. He prepares food for me in the officer's mess. It insults him. 
I promise I will never eat in the crew mess again.
(This was a joke, not serious talk.)

DOo poked me in the ribs as I was setting up the bazaar table and I slapped him across the shoulder a few times, snapping I can't believe he went to bed without me.... Which sounded really weird; I think everyone on that floor stopped talking and began to listen. At least he walked away laughing. I wasn't sure if maybe this time he will be angry with me for being TOO familiar. He gave me his pager and inter-phone numbers to find him after I'm done with work. Sometimes I think he doesn't care much for my company, as he never took up my offers for photo-sightseeing trips or movie nights, but sometimes he just finds over an hour when he should be working and we just sit and talk about cool stuff.
Or in this case, he was packing. I mocked him about the cute color of his neatly stacked undergarments and he shooed me to the other side of the room. 
"Stop mocking me about my underwear. Show me yours if you're so clever."
"You know I don't wear underwear; I literally have NOTHING to show you."
We looked though the photos I took of him and then at the photos on his laptop and tried to get the program he had to arrange them so that he could post them on Instagram. He takes nice pics of the places he goes to, sometimes the exact same things as me when we're passing photogenic locations. He actually takes loads, just doesn't post them enough. They are not half bad, either. He likes winter. We spoke before about the good old days of developing things at home. He used to love doing that. I used to love the smell of the developer. But ye, he does shoot. Different ships, coworkers, crew, different scenes from ship life, his own beautiful boat, its sisters, his family, their trips, his house and the people he likes or is forced to work with. He told me about an African lady who was his Chief Officer when he captained something or other, very good and very clever, but of course an African female, so captainship was a long way away for her. He made sure she got the last stripe, she is a captain now. He told me he worked on an explorer as a captain, something I would want to do (not captain in my case, I would want to be a photographer. Possibly something to do with exploring and measuring glaciers or deep water archae.). He told me how frustrated the new captain is that DOo is more experienced and above all more calm than him. Doen't need to shout to be heard. I told him of my theory of three men's different walks: if they have tiny bodies and some inteligence, they walk with their pelvis, quickly and pathetically, wanting to be bigger. If they are big and manly, but dumb, they walk with their chest, like gorillas. The smart ones, they walk with the face. The body is just a machine to move them. The doctors on this ship walk with the face, and so does DOo. (Old doc came to replace the current one for two days, as the current was quarantened. He was quarantened with Noravirus the exact same day I asked the nurse how come they never get sick? That explains why she gave me a VERY dirty look. Whoops.) I was surprised to see the captain walks with the chest... DOo explained why, and also told me some other things I promised not to tell on. But they did not surprise me. Weren't even news to me, in fact.
I asked if he hated me for being a turist, for being of mind that I can leave at any time. He said no, he can leave at any time as well, he's just doing this because he was bored and they asked him nicely. I do suppose that sort of tranquility comes with age and experience, because I can see glimpses of it when people ask me to teach them photography or when we talk about prose or hitchhiking. Or chocolate. I feel calm and confident about some of those specialities indeed.
He said he doubts I will still be here if he decides to come back in two months.
I said he once doubted I will stay chaste for two months also, and how is that working so far? 
He admitted, true that.

At three he said he officially started work at two and should really return to bridge as oppose to talking bullshit with me. I bargained for him to give me another five minutes, saying I won't be able to rest my brain in this room anymore and will miss it. I probabyl wouldn't be able to do it if he got promoted to master, either. Would be kinda weird. And a queue outside the door.
Fifteen minutes later he got up. I said hold up, I was planning on kissing his face again.
Well, you are not going to be doing that.
Will you kiss me? 
Friends don't kiss. 

Back in the morning, when I was at bazaar and he came by for the second time, he tried to be funny, but ended up insulting me. He wanted to ask if I shagged the refrigeration guy, as the man started speaking to DOo again. He wouldn't even say 'good morning' back for a while. He asked me out again yesterday.) That genuinely insulted me, insulted my good taste. It was supposed to be funny, but I took it too seriously. 
While the serious silence lasted, I asked how come he didn't try to kiss me when he had the chance. 
He began to say something about how I said I was married, how I had a husband, and so on, but stopped. He said, corrected himself, no bullshit: "Because I didn't want to. There."

Back in the room (sorry, cabin.) we stared at one another for a long time while the ship rocked and rumbled on. The ship was moving, we weren't moving. Just breathing. 
I could see what he was thinking. I think he was thinking: she is here. She is beautiful. She has red hair, great tits. Great lips. I like her. She likes me. Also, she has the mental stability of nitroglycerin.
Of course nothing happened. I knew he wouldn't, that's why I am so bold to stage these things, say such things. It was a deliciously tense moment if NOTHING happening. I wouldn't talk like this to a single other person on this ship and in the remote chance that it did happen, that he would move in to kiss me, I would make sure it would be on the cheek. But he would never do that and I know that. Regardless of my crazy shit, I am still the constancy - even if this wasn't midsommer. Midsommer is an important date for me. Many important dates, not least of which is my wedding anniversary. Even if I do need some stories to be my own, some wild tales of woe to concern only me and not the me that belongs to other people, at the end of the day, I am still the me that plays a dangerous poem too honestly and the honest truth is - my heart would not be in it.
DOo knew this. My heart would not be in it. My heart is in General's chest pockett. DOo would not gamble on the relationship he has going on now by kissing a woman who would never really be his. The math didn't add up and he's a pragmatic. Also, we were kind of cool bussom buddies. Two old ship rats on a raft of the mad.

I smirked and offered my knuckles poutily, ordering: fine, then at least kiss my hand like the gentleman that you are. 
He laughed and grabbed it, pulling me up, into his embrace: Come here.
This time he actually hugged me tightly. I kissed his cheek a couple of times. He hugged some more. He chuckled: "Try to survive."
"Oh, I'm going to be okay! Don't worry about me. You trained me well. You gave me a ship sense of humor. I understand my footing now. You are leaving me in good hands. My own."