Monday, March 25, 2013

Reasonable Update


It's been a while and I've aged another year since I last wrote.

I feel that I haven't had as much to write this time around.  It could be that this is my sixth contract in seventh years and so it's all old hat and that is what I'm chalking it up to.  Others will tell you, that it's because I miss Hawai'i (I do!) or that I've always been a bit neglectful of my blog (Guilty as charged) or that I'm easily bored with being on the internet (Also true).  I really feel that it's because I've been to many of these ports and there's just not that much to do that's new.

Working on a ship sounds very glamourous and there are some wonderful perks.  The warm weather, access to beautiful beaches, performing for thousands of people and having gainful employment.  But it can be so very boring and stressful, I know that sounds unlikely but it's true.  This week we have 2,956 passengers onboard, 800 of which are children and the ship is nose to ass with people.  Next cruise, we're to have 3,300 passengers, 900 of which are children so it's going to be worse.  I find myself hiding in our room and eating a lot of hard pretzels and drinking water.  I just don't want to go out into the public areas during peak times.  Not to say that passengers act like animals but they act like animals.  I have never been pushed by, stood overly close to or just ignored by so many people at once.  It's overwhelming.

Perhaps I've written less because we've been moved no less than five times this contract which is the first time that's ever happened to us or to anyone on a ship that I've worked on.  I mean people get moved once (maybe) but we've been moved five times.  Many times we are told we're going to be moved but they then tell us that they're moving us with no where to move us to.  It is, to say the least, stressful and disappointing.  The upside?  We've gotten to see five different rooms on this contract and with a sixth pending!

We have had a few adventures and I have some photos to post.

My Birthday!  We went to Water Island on my Birthday which is just off of St. Thomas.  We were told we'd have seats on the 10:30am ferry but it turned out it was full.  I texted back the person who had confirmed us and it turns out it was the owner of the ferry.  He came and picked up for free in his high speed boat and took us over to Water Island.  It was quite pretty and we saw a turtle!

On that same cruise, my friend Andy visited!  His boyfriend, John, is in our cast and Andy came to visit John.....and got us in the bargain!  So we went horseback riding in the Dominican Republic.....
We voted the Jo had the best horseback riding ensemble.  Finally, her Southwestern themed clothing pays off.....

John, Jo, Jen, Matt & Andy at our final destination a waterfall!

The ride back was very eventful.  My horse got tired and I didn't blame it until it ran me into barbed wire fence.....but I was fine so I still didn't blame it.  I offered to get off the horse and walk but they wouldn't let me.  

We saw a Sasquatch!

Larrance and I went to the MoMA and we saw the bee pollen exhibit.  Have you heard about it?  I have to say that standing on the same level as it, I was like "Okay."  But then seeing it from above, I was like, "Wow."  We also saw Munch's The Scream which was fantastic.  In fact, the whole exhibit was great.  We had an odd encounter.  Larrance and I were standing there and chatting about Munch when this woman turns and walks over to Larrance and hugs him.  Hugs him like she knows him and I can tell from his face that he doesn't think he knows her.  She pulls away and hugs him again.  I am stunned and sure that she has mistaken him for someone else.  Then she says his name and she says it correctly.  So, we know that she knows him.  Turns out that she was his neighbor when he lived in Jamaica Plains and they were just at the MoMA and the Munch exhibit at that exact moment.  Wild stuff.

Then we ate frozen yogurt - we know how to live!

Now random photos....

Jo gives advice while getting drunk on water.

Puerto Rico Graffiti!

Sasquatch follows us to PR

Larrance at Sunset near one of the two old Forts - I think San Cristobal.

Sunset and Kites in PR

Sculpture is everywhere in the Old Port of San Juan.

Larrance at night

My camera went to outer space

Dawn Beach on St. Martin

I'll have another post to write about this contract but it will have to wait.  I must got eat blueberry bread pudding.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Butter your Flies!


Last week we went to a Butterfly Garden on St. Thomas.  Here are pics!

Butterfly Bar

Don't know the name but very pretty!

Drunk Blue Morpho

Cool looking plant

Another drunk Blue Morpho

Larrance after he had a drink at the butterfly bar


Tiny Butterfly

Still Butterfly

Candle Flower

Monarch in the Native Garden

Blue Morhpo Resting

Owl Eyes!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hi All,

We're almost half way through our contract.  Well, about a week away from that but I can't believe it's going so fast.

We haven't had a lot of adventures which has been a bit frustrating.  A cold went through the cast and snorkeling doesn't sound awesome when you have a fever.

I have been researching snorkel excursions on St. Maarten and St. Thomas.  If you know of any good ones, send me a note!

Larrance is working on his music and I have been finishing up the first draft of my second novel.  I'm about to begin work on my first book.  I hope to walk off the ship with a solid second draft.

We've been hitting the gym a lot and walking up all those flights of stairs.  Especially since we aren't swimming, going to the gym is important.  I've been trying interval running which is challenging.  I've never been a runner and I remain confident that that will never change.

We visited the French side of St. Maarten/Sint Martin.  It was a day of pastry!

The casting process for the Tenth Season of ImprovAcadia has begun.  I'm checking in with alumni performers to see who wants to come back.  Then I'll start casting new actors!

Hopefully, John's partner and our friend Andy Eninger will be onboard at the end of February.  It will be wonderful to see him.

A few weeks ago, Larrance and I went to Central Park and I took a few photos.

I think that's it.  Not a lot to share but still happy to be here.



Saturday, January 5, 2013

Back to the Same Old Ship

So I haven't written in a while….I think a full update is in order.

In the last two months, we've held auditions, rehearsed two shows for the ship, board the ship and installed two shows, had lots of safety training and gotten sunburned once.

That's an overview.  Here are some details….

We held auditions for our Tenth Season at The Playground in Chicago.  Almost 100 people showed up and we're excited about many of the people we saw.  We'll start figuring out who will be coming up for the 10th season in February…..we hope to have a good mix of returning alumni and new faces.  

During our auditions, we also were quite the social butterflies and saw a lot of our Chicago friends.  We found a great new restaurant called Native Foods which is like a fast food place for Vegans.  It was amazing and we went four times in one week.  We also frequented a French Bakery call La Boulangerie - which was also stunning.

I also bought new tennis shoes.  No details shall go unmentioned.

After four days of that, it was time to report to The Second City for rehearsals for the ship.

We had to rehearse both our Best of Sketch Show and the Murder Mystery.  We started with the Murder Mystery which was fun.  The Best of Show included a whole ensemble song called Questions which is quite funny.

We knew most of the cast except one gentleman - Chad.  So we spent some time getting to know Chad.  The cast gelled very quickly and has been getting along well.

Rehearsals continued when we boarded the ship on Dec. 13th.  Larrance and I have been on this ship before so it was all very familiar.  For the first timers, Matt & Chad, it was a bit overwhelming but they did really well adjusting.

We had our first show in the Stardust theater on the 3rd night of the cruise.  It was a packed and very appreciative house and it went so well that our director gave us the next day off!  A rarity for sure.  We all enjoyed the beach in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten and a delightful lunch at Roasted Rooster.

Later in the week, we had two improv shows (aka scriptless) and the Murder Mystery.  The Murder Mystery is a lunch show and we do it on the final sea day of the nine day cruise.  On this particular sea day it was very rough and grey with waves topping out at 27ft.  The boat was rocking the windows on deck 6 (sea usually sits just below decd 4) were occasionally blacked out by waves.  It went over very well even though it was so rocky. 

The next day our director and producer left and we were on own.  In some ways, it feels like that's when the contract really begins.  

Ship Life

The first post rehearsal cruise was spent resting and recuperating from the two weeks of intense rehearsal.  Also we all needed time to settle into ship life but first we had to deal with Christmas.

Christmas can be quite depressing on the ship.  It's sort of an event but it also sort of like every other day.  The holiday cruise was particularly busy so we had to eat at the buffet every night….we couldn't go to a dining room….I know, I know boo hoo.  But nothing says holidays like a buffet…..I tried to keep my spirits up and was helped immensely by our cast gift exchange.  We had organized a Secret Santa before we left.  We met for drinks in our favorite lounge, Star Bar, and exchanged our gifts had a few good laughs.  Then I went and judged Dancing with the Stars… for a moment we had a holiday atmosphere but then the ship reasserted itself.  

Christmas Day was spent on Puerto Rico.  We also had a show that night.  I love performing on holidays so that was fun.  The house was super packed and very lively.

The rest of the week we rested and played games.  Settlers of Catan is very popular with the cast and we've played it several times already.  Hooray!

The second cruise was the New Year's Eve cruise.   NYE fell on the same day as embarkation so all the passengers had just gotten onboard.  So the holiday was….anti-climatic.  I did have fun with Jo, John & Matt on the dance floor. 

We're still on the NYE cruise and I have to say that these may be the most singularly rude people I have ever experienced on a ship.  Daily people walk into me….I mean they see me and don't alter direction… a whole group of them will take up a whole hall and refuse to move.  I have to admit it's made me very obstinate.  I'm trying to temper it with politeness but I wonder where they think I will go when we're in a narrow hall.  I guess they think I should melt into the wall.  I'll try it next time.

On Puerto Rico, we went to the San Cristobal fort.  It's an now defunct fort that is a National Park site.  Here are some photos….

Yesterday on St. Maarten, we headed to the French side and ate our favorite bakery Serafina's!  So good!  Then we went to Orient Beach and although it was very windy it was still nice.  I bought a new dress and then we went home.  I seem to be coming down with a small cold.  SHIP LIFE!

We hope to snorkel next week…..Oh, I also hope to win at Settlers of Catan.  So far the count is Me - 1, John - 1, Larrance - 1.

~ Jen