Blogs from the Oasis: Day 3 – At Sea

March 8, 2010 at 8:45 AM (Happenings, Musings) (, , , , , , , )

Lesson #2: “In Soviet Russia, waves ride you.”  Oh.  My.  God.  I cannot begin to explain the aches and pains I am experiencing after last night’s FlowRider lesson, but once I get the multimedia evidence, I can try to show you.  The FlowRider is one of the many experiences of Oasis.  It is a continuous wave that allows participants to surf or boogie board.  If they know what they’re doing, I guess.

Along with my general discomfort, I have bruises up and down my legs, covering my elbow, and scattered across my toes.  Folks, my toes are too small for bruises.  I did have a lot of fun, though.  Dad and bro gave it a shot and held their own pretty well while Mom caught everything on camera (in HD, I later learned).  Your trusty blogger took the most abuse though because she was determined to learn every boogie board trick the Oasis sports staffers had to offer.  I shall look upon my injuries as medals of achievement.

Central Park Oasis of the seas Royal CaribbeanThis morning I’m enjoying a Starbucks iced latte and a couple raspberry danishes (and licking my wounds) in Central Park.  Yep, remember those neighborhoods I was telling you about?  The only difference between this Central Park and the Big Apple counterpart is that there’s no loose rubbish.  Or drug-dealers.  Or crazies (but that may change once the bars open).

I won’t hesitate to remind you that Oasis is a gargantuan monster.  I think it can carry over 5,000 guests.  Not being a huge fan of crowds, the ship’s size is  a double-edged sword for me.  While there is a ton of stuff to do, most options include lots and lots of other people trying to do the same thing.  Sitting here a little after 9.00 A.M. seems to do the trick, though.  I’ve probably seen fewer than 200 people since leaving my cabin this morning.  It’s almost as if I’ve found a way to take a small vacation from this vacation.

Tomorrow we dock at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Today is another lazy day at sea.  I may attend a wine tasting, a Michael Jackson dance class or a diamond and gemstone seminar.  I may check out a fountain show.  I may show my face at the gym again, or even better, at the FlowRider for additional smack-down.  Nothing is set in stone for me.   All I know is that whatever I do, it’s going to be a heluva time.

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Rule #2 of North End Dining: Reservations Have No Value

March 27, 2009 at 11:53 PM (Happenings) (, , , , , , )

To start from the beginning of my North End culinary adventure, begin with Rule #1: Don’t Drive.

While I waited for my parents to find their way back to Francesca, I dashed inside to ask the hostess not to release our reservation: we were “there,” just unable to park.  She seemed unconcerned, so I shrugged to myself and headed back outside.  When I returned with my parents five minutes later, I soon realised why my reassurance had such a non-effect on our hostess: apparently, even if a party makes a reservation, said party may still have a 10- to 15-minute wait before being seated.

As we were herded to the bar to wait, which was packed, I glanced over at my dad, dreading the fumes coming out of his ears.  Although normal human beings would have just seen a displeased man, my Daughter Senses were far past tingling: those fumes were fast, furious, and for all I knew, noxious.

Tonight’s Tunes
“Dreaming of You,” The Coral
“Soul Sauce,” Cal Tjader
“The Crunge,” Led Zeppelin
“To Be a Lover,” Billy Idol

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Rule #1 of North End Dining: Don’t Drive

March 27, 2009 at 10:50 PM (Happenings) (, , , , , , )

I had a busy weekend scheduled: my parents were coming into Boston to visit me in my acclimated habitat.  The following day, we would all trek over to Hartford, CT for Family Matters.  When I asked my Mom if she had any dinner preferences, she mentioned that she and my dad had an interest in trying something new.  Something new?  Fantastic, I knew just the place.  I suggested Solea in Waltham, a delightful restaurant and tapas bar.

“I don’t think your father will be thrilled about tapas.”

Funny, I thought, last time when I suggested tapas to Dad, he said Mom wouldn’t want to drive out to Waltham . . . I let it slide.

“I was thinking maybe the North End.”

I wholeheartedly approved of this suggestion.  Boston’s North End features some of the best Italian dining in the city, and rightfully so: it is the Little Italy of Beantown.  There was only one problem:

“Mom, I’ve only been to one restaurant in the North End, Pompei.  They have awesome calzones, but it’s going to be packed -”

“And I’d like something a little fancier than calzones for dinner,” Mom interrupted,  “Maybe one of your roommates can recommend a place to you.”

Suddenly I had a mission: my parents were due in Boston in three hours, and we had no place to eat.  Well, there were plenty of places to eat; we just hadn’t picked one.  I consulted the Little Wanderer, who recommended a place called Francesca’s.  I consulted a coworker and former classmate, who suggested Fresca and Fiore.  Fresca was booked solid and Fiore no longer accepted reservations after 3.00 P.M., so I made a phone call to inquire at Francesca’s.  Reservation for three at 7.30?  Bing-o.

I was pretty stoked when I called my parents to inform them of our newly made dinner plans, and I was pleased to hear that they were equally excited.  They arrived in Boston shortly thereafter, and after dropping some goodies off at the apartment (Mom makes the best pasta sauce on the face of the planet), we all piled into the car to head out to Francesca’s (normally we’re T riders, but Francesca’s website advertised free valet parking).  Mom plugged the address into the GPS, and we were on our way.

It didn’t take long for Dad to decided that he hated the North End.  For those of you who don’t know, there’s no such thing as “going around the block” in the North End.  This is due, as far as I know, to two things: many, many one-way streets, and the lack of planning that went into this historic part of Boston (streets evolved from horses’ walking paths, if I remember correctly from my 7th grade field trip to Boston).  That, combined with an overwhelmed GPS made locating Francesca’s a bit of a trick.  Dad had no patience for tricks.

After nearly 10 minutes of exploring the North End, we finally found Francesa’s: no valet in sight.  Dad was noticably unhappy, and told me to go inside and find out how we were supposed to park.  By now, Mom was also losing it: Dad was stressing her out, and it was 7.25.  I escaped from the car and toodled inside to find someone to pester about the valet parking, expecting that my parents would remain double-parked outside of the restaurant.  I picked off a waiter and inquired about the valet.  He quickly tracked down the valet manager, and both manager and I headed outside to find my parents . . . who were no longer outside of the restaurant.  Trying not to let my teeth chatter in the windy, 36-degree weather, I phoned my parents to figure out where they had gone.  After a slightly tense exchange, I learned that my parents had once again tried to “drive around the block.”  I had no choice but to wait outside for my parents to once again find the restaurant.  Ten minutes, or perhaps a brief lifetime later, they made their way back.

“Next time we are not driving!” my mom proclaimed immediately.

Dad simply responded with “There won’t be a next time.”

And on that note, we finally walked through Francesca’s front doors.

Today’s Tunes
“Mais Um Lamento,” Céu
“Escondite Ingles,” Shakira
“Green Light,” John Legend feat. Andre 3000
“The Rain,” K-OS
“Secret,” Maroon 5
“The Scientist,” Coldplay
“Wait,” The Beatles
“Flower,” Moby
“N.I.B.,” Black Sabbath
“Poison Pushy,” Stanton Moore
“I Need,” Alicia Keys
“Good Life,” Kanye West feat. T-Pain
“Miles Apart,” Madonna

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Good News!

March 3, 2009 at 1:55 AM (Happenings) (, )

My grandfather was discharged from the hopsital this afternoon!  Oh, happy day!

Here’s to his continued progress on the road to recovery!

Tonight’s Tune
“Dreamworld,” Robin Thicke

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The ICU Is No Place to Spend Thanksgiving

November 25, 2008 at 7:38 PM (Happenings) (, )

My grandfather landed in the hospital last Friday.  At first we thought it was a stroke.  Then I was told it was pneumonia.  At long last, the cuplrit has turned out to be a nasty urinary tract infection (UTI).  Although a UTI is certainly the least of all the above-mentioned evils, when you’re in your eighties and you’ve been avoiding doctors for years, it can take a toll on you and whatever other secret ailments you may have contracted in the last decade or two with age.

It’s been particularly hard for me because I’ve not been home fo any of this.  The only updates I receive are the erratic, ambiguous E-mails and voicemails that my mom leaves me.  “Things have gotten ugly again.”  “Your grandfather is not doing well.”  Define “not doing well.”  As far as I know, that could mean anything from his left toe itching to his falling into a coma.

Unfortunately, it was defined more like the latter.  My grandfather became unconscious last night and needed to be moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).  When he went into the hospital last week, the doctors took the opportunity to run an assortment of tests on him to make up for all the avoided visits in previous years.  Not only is he suffering from a UTI, but he also has heart and breathing problems, and Heaven knows what else.  Again, I’m not there, and I’ve been getting precious little detail on much of anything right now.  Luckily, as of this morning, my grandfather regained consciousness, but he’s still in intensive care.  I go home for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and I’m anxious to see him.

I’m harboring a lot of frustration right now.  I feel stranded right now, whereas my parents and grandmother are able to visit my grandfather daily.  I feel sidelined, totally dependent on what little information my parents divulge to me through voicemails and E-mail.  I understand that it’s not intentional; chances are, THEY don’t know too much that’s going on right now, but I still coiuld do without the extra degree of separation.

In addition, I have never before lost a loved one.  Death has mostly stayed away from my family – a few distant relatives have passed away, but none that I could really consider voids in my life today.  I’m trying so hard to prepare for the worst: after all, my grandfather is no school boy, and he isn’t the healthiest of people, either.  There’s a natural order to life, and we’re all bound for that final stage in our own time.  That certainly doesn’t mean that I’m ready to experience it myself, though.  I have been blessed with grandparents who care the world about me, and have been eager to be involved in my life as much as they could.  Hearing the excitement in their voices and the seeing love in their eyes whenever I’ve visted has always brought a smile to my face and a certain warmth to my heart.  Even when I went away for school, my grandparents have been close to me, even if I’ve not seen them as much.  I have been told to prepare for the worst, but that will not stop me from hoping and praying for the best.

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Good v. Nice

August 4, 2008 at 2:22 AM (Musings) (, , )

I don’t remember who said it.  Whomever it was, I agree with him or her, and I try to be mindful of it: being nice doesn’t necessarily make one good.

I suddenly recalled that it’s one of the few intelligent things that Goldilocks says in Sondheim’s Into the Woods (“Nice is different than good.”).  Back on topic!

It goes hand-in-hand with “Actions speak louder than words,” a cliché that, as nagging as it may sound, is still true.  A person may say the most flattering things to my face, but if that person turns around and speaks ill of me, then how could I possibly count on that person to support me for any given reason (personal gain, maybe, but that doesn’t so much make a person good)?

A good person, I feel, is one who may not have the kindest of things to say, but rather be truthful with and respectful of others.  I would prefer to keep the company of the blunt person who will will support me unconditionally than that of the hollow yes-man.

Luckily for me, my brother is the former.  Of course we get into snarky tiffs over absolutely nothing, but at the same time, I know I can count on him for anything.  Over the past few days, I’ve been under the weather pretty consistently.  I don’t know if it’s because he has a sixth sibling sense or he just has great timing, but he’s been determined to spend time with me for three out of the last four days.  By no means would I say that my brother and I are great friends, and we certainly don’t have too many common interests, but he’s still been a welcome escape from everything else that’s been bugging me as of late.  He’s not even had to say anything sympathetic.  In fact, he’s probably teased me more than anything else over the past few days, but it has been good-natured.  Everything is so down-to-earth with him; I know he will be the LAST person on this planet to bad-mouth me (or try to flatter me, for that matter).  It was refreshing to spend time with someone who is the paradigm of genuine goodness, even if he isn’t a total ray of sunshine.

Thanks, man.

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