Sunday, October 20, 2019

Transferring to a new Blog

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am forced to close down this blog and open up a new one.  Please visit my new blog, "Dotting I's and Crossing T's" to see what is happening im my life lately.

I will be leaving this blog available for a little while, so that sporadic readers can find where I'm posting new entries.  After that, I will close it down for new posts and make it unavailable for public access.  This way, people unhappy about being mentioned in the blog will know that posts referencing them are no longer accessible to the public.

See you on the new site!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Day 08 - Disembarcation Day

Today would be a total disaster.  I won't go into every detail, because I've covered it in a previous post.  But if things were to go wrong, this was the day they would happen.

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Neither Lili nor I had much sleep the night before.  So the H.A.L.T. acronym (Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired) could easily apply to both of us.  Lili suggested that since we were already awake, that we prepare to leave the ship early.  This is unusual for her, as she doesn't give a damn about how she inconveniences the hard working, under paid stewards that take care of the cabins between guests.  So we left early, got confused driving around in Brooklyn, and had our blowout.  This made for a very uncomfortable ride home.

Would I have taken this cruise had I known what would happen between the two of us?  Absolutely not!  Does it bother me that this disaster happened?  Of course it does.  But I had a week away as Marian, and Lili noted that no one reacted as if I were a man in a dress.  Instead, everyone saw me as a lady - fat, but still a woman.  This is the most important gift Lili could have given me, and it had nothing to do with spending money or expecting any thanks in return.  Too bad that she'll never understand this.

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When I think back about how this cruise line (Princess) differs from NCL, I'd focus most on its target clientele - the senior traveler.  Everything has been kept simple enough for even a technophobe to understand.  Something I considered a design mistake (such as not being able to inspect one's online account from the TV) could have been a deliberate decision to avoid confusing older people not comfortable with modern technology.  Service in the restaurants may not be as good as NCL, but the food was better.  And, the much larger non-smoking section in the casino made it a pleasure to sit down and play the slots for a few minutes at a time - especially, when I was up $50 by the end of the cruise.  In short, you get what you pay for, and this line made me feel more comfortable while on the cruise.

But would I go to Brooklyn again for a cruise?  Definitely not with Lili!!!!  Whether or not we ever patch things up between us, I wouldn't want to risk ruining a patched up relationship by repeating the same circumstances which caused our post-cruise disaster.

BTW: I will soon be shifting my posting to a new blog:

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Friday, October 18, 2019

Days 05-07 - St. John, Halifax, and a Sea Day

I didn't get off the ship for the next 3 days of the cruise.  Given the weather in St. John, this was understandable.  But I had little excuse not to do so in Halifax, save that getting up late on a regular basis made a walk on Canadian soil less interesting by the time Thursday came around.

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Wednesday came, and so did our first port in Canada - St. John, New Brunswick.  This is a sleepy little city with not much to recommend it.  No, it's not a bad place to be.  But White Plains, NY has more going for it than this little city.  Having seen all the important sights here on prior visits, we figured that we'd leave the "do not disturb" sign up and sleep late again.

Eventually, Lili got up first and went to lunch.  I took my time getting ready, then called GFJ for a few minutes.  Up to deck 16, and over to the buffet.  On my way there, I met the Canadian couple again, and they told me that Lili was going down to the room.  However, I stumbled into Lili a minute later, and she was bringing me another sandwich I didn't want. Again, she was thinking that by doing me an unwanted favor, that she would get the "thank you" she desperately craved.  And again, I told her that I didn't want the sandwich, that the buffet staff was trained to deal with food waste.  This set her ill at ease.  Then she started to critique all the food offerings I was looking at, not trusting that I could judge what I wanted for myself.  When I got to the station where the beef tenderloin was being carved, she started to tell the man how to carve the beef.  This was really starting to bother me.  So I got my carved beef and sat down at a table.  As I started to cut the beef in front of me, she told me not to cut the beef that way - it would be tough.  And that's when I told her in a loud voice that I was an adult, and didn't need anyone telling me how to eat my food, nor did I need anyone telling me how to use utensils that I've been using for 60 years.  She got very upset, and stormed away from the table.  It was hard to enjoy my lunch after that outburst.  A little later, I went back to the room and found Lili there.  Since I wasn't going to leave, she decided to leave for the afternoon.  This made it possible for me to finish a book and start another. And I enjoyed not having to entertain Lili for the rest of the day....

Lili cooled off before dinner, and we had a nice meal with a couple from California. (There was another couple there from Florida, and Lili chatted with them, as the wife was born in Vietnam.)  The conversation was pleasant, and I enjoyed having the chance to chat about places I've visited with people who knew the area more intimately than I did.  In a way, it was like "old home week", as I was able to enjoy memories of a California trip I made with my late wife almost 30 years before.

After dinner, it was the normal routine - Lili went off to gamble, and I went to the stateroom to relax. Actually, I went to the lounge to listen to music, then to the stateroom.  But it was the usual script - Lili and I each went our own ways for the evening, then stayed up late watching films on the TV.

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The next day was Thursday, and we ported in Halifax. Again, we got up late.  But Lili had a shopping run to make.  She wanted to get her favorite Canadian brand of tea and a few other things to give away.  So we went our different ways at lunch time, and I enjoyed a quiet day by myself, finishing a second book.

Late in the afternoon, Lili returned with her boxes of tea and other things she meant to give to her son and daughter in law.  She even replaced a package of beef jerky we ate late the night before.  And then we both went to sleep for a while.  Around 7:30 pm, I woke Lili up telling her that we had to get to the dining area by 8 to get a table.  This was a lie.  But she'd have resisted my entreaties even if we went to the restaurant a little later, and we might have missed dinner.  That was not going to happen, as I did not want to hear her complain about missing the big meal of the day because she decided to oversleep.

So, it was off to the dining room we went, and we met another couple at dinner.  I can't really say too much about this couple, save that the woman didn't have kids of her own, and that the gentleman had a son like my step nephew - not good for anything useful.  And, as usual, once finished with dessert, Lili rushed from the table and off to the casino where a seat was waiting for her.

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Friday was our last day on the cruise ship, and it was a "Sea Day".  Not having gotten to sleep until late in the morning, it was lunch time before we went to the buffet for lunch. And then I got to packing my suitcase while Lili went to the casino for some uninterrupted gambling.

Later on, we went for dinner and chatted with one last couple.  This time, it was another couple from California, two people with whom I could have developed a good friendship if they lived nearby.  One thing I noticed tonight, that I didn't bother with over the past few nights - Lili was bringing up her ethnic heritage (her family was Ashkenazi Jewish from Belarus) with almost every couple (or group) with whom we shared a dinner table.  No one else was bringing up their ethnic heritage.  But I digress.  Something has been bothering her through the entire cruise, and I think it was related to not having her ex boyfriend with her to share in a cruise that he selected.  

After dinner, we went to the ship's stores to look around, and Lili started prodding me to buy souvenirs for GFJ.  Lili is a food addict, and she kept pushing maple sugar sweets - one important thing that GFJ is avoiding on her diet.  Then, she tried to push me to buy some overpriced jewelry for GFJ - again, something GFJ doesn't need and would rarely wear.  I again told her to stop telling me to spend money - this time without raising my voice.  

Shortly afterwards, Lili went to the casino for a few hours while I went to the room to catch up on the news.  When she arrived, we selected a movie from the ship's offerings, and couldn't get to sleep.  This would set us up "nicely" for the next morning....

BTW: I will soon be shifting my posting to a new blog:

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Day 04 - Bar Harbor

As you can guess, getting up late has become a habit on this cruise.  But it is one I easily break when cruising.  If there's something I really want to see, I'll get up early to see it.  Unfortunately, this is not possible when traveling with Lili. This is something that would become a sore point when I want to get up and out early, and she wants to sleep late and hold me back.

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Bar Harbor is always a pleasant place to visit - even when it drizzles.  As much as it would be a nice thing to go into Acadia National Park, a quick bus ride through the park would do the park an injustice.  So our plans ended up being a walk through town to have a lobster lunch at a restaurant and to visit a few stores that we've been to before.

The first thing one notices after being tendered to shore is that Bar Harbor is filled with shops selling the usual "tourist crap".  There are only so many T-Shirts, Jackets, Sweaters and the like that one can look at and not retch at the sight of this stuff.  Yet, there were a few stores on the strip that sell interesting stuff, and those were the ones I wanted to visit.  Specifically, there was one store which I've visited from which I bought a handbag and a scarf - and I wanted to buy another scarf or two from that store.  Then, there was another store that sold women's wallets at half price - and I wanted to see if there was a wallet there that fit my current needs.  Other than lunch at the Side Street Cafe, any other place along the way would be incidental and have little of interest for me.

Once on our way, we looked into a store that was closing at the end of October.  It was stuffed with Windbreakers, Sweaters and T-Shirts all emblazoned with "Bar Harbor, ME". I rarely (if ever) wear any garment advertising a place, so it was unlikely I'd buy anything there.  But because a windbreaker looked like a good buy at $40, I put it on my list of places to visit on my return down Main Street.  Next was the "wallet shop".  Nothing there really interested me, but I decided to take a more in-depth look on the return trip. And then, we killed some time inspecting tourist crap before going to lunch.  Again, Lili decided to buy something for someone - a cheap 2 liter bottle of Whisky for the fellow who was taking care of one of her dogs.  (She hadn't asked him what he wanted - he later told her about a $25 bottle of whisky that she later bought for him.)  And then it was time for lunch - the most pleasant part of the whole day.

When we were finished with lunch, we meandered around town.  After indulging in an ice cream cone, it was back to the ship.  Lili and I stopped at store where I previously bought a scarf, and I bought two of them plus a pair of gloves. Then it was back to the shop where the windbreakers were. And this is where Lili and I had another spat. Lili seems to think that since I have a reasonable amount of assets for a semi-retired person, that I have the freedom to spend those assets without any discipline.  This would be a big mistake, as I have few ways to replenish those assets once depleted.  So I look at buying things much more carefully that I used to do, and default to not buying things that I don't really want or need.  So when we reentered the store, I should have been prepared for disaster.  I looked at a few jackets in my size, and Lili prodded me to try one on.  Although it had a tasteful appearance (unusual for a tourist garment), it didn't fit right.  Lili kept prodding me to try on other jackets, as they were "marked down" 33% (the "Lower East Side haggler in her couldn't resist a "bargain"). I said "NO'. as all the jackets came from the same manufacturer, and would have the same fit problems.  She kept prodding me, and I told her in no uncertain terms - "it is my money that is being spent, and if I don't feel it's right for me, then I won't spend it just to make you happy."  She got upset at me, but it was easy to tell that her resentment would linger.

Back to the ship we then went, and I went off to dinner.  (I was hungry around 6, but she was wasn't feeling well enough to eat then. So she told me to eat without her.)  I was seated with 2 people from the South and we had a nice chat.  Then Lili came - and I found out that she knew these people from the 3 card poker table in the casino.  The chat went well until we stumbled into politics - and then their "Trump is the greatest thing that happened to America" line came out.  At that point, I wanted to change the subject, as there would be no way to have an honest discussion of facts with these people. (I'm sick and tired of hearing Trump's lies being regurgitated by people.)  But Lili kept feeding them lines to which they would respond with bunkum from Fox News commentators (and not their news reporters). I couldn't wait for dinner to end - and it did on a more pleasant note.

At this point, all I wanted was to get alone, strip off my clothes and go to bed.  And that's what I did before I caught up on the news on the BBC and put my CPAP on for the night....

BTW: I will soon be shifting my posting to a new blog:

Please bookmark this new site for future reference.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Days 02-03 - Newport and Boston

Newport, RI is known for Yachting, and the view from our balcony the day we arrived didn't disappoint us.  To me, this day and the day in Bar Harbor would be the two favorite days I had on this cruise.

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As it is always when cruising with Lili, we didn't get moving until it was time for lunch.  This resulted in it being impossible to enjoy touring the mansions that Newport's rich once lived in.  There was no way that we would be going to The Breakers when we only had 3 hours on shore.  So, instead, we decided to walk in the area near where our tenders landed and do some window shopping. This would be the only "Warm" day we'd have on the cruise, and I was glad that I had appropriate things to wear out of doors.  The only thing I forgot was to take my sunglasses with me, and this was the only day that I missed having them around.

On our walk, we stopped into a couple of art galleries, and saw the difference between high end art, and the stuff one sees at "Starving Artist" sales.  There was no way that I'd spend the tens of thousands of dollars being asked for the high-end art, but I knew that the price point was very reasonable for the quality, and was only a starting point for some serious negotiation.  Later on, when we walked into the low-end gallery, I was appalled by the lack of quality in these mass produced works.  I guess that years of going to museums has developed my taste for quality artwork.

The two of us became disconnected at one point, and we reconnected across the street from where I was - at a high end chocolate shop.  Both of us bought some candy there, and Lili finished hers before we were two store fronts away.  As for me, I waited until I was in our stateroom to enjoy my candy - and it was worth doing so.  (Sadly, I couldn't justify buying the ten pound chocolate bars on display.  At $100 per bar, it was not the type of splurge that either my wallet or my doctor would want me to indulge in.)

Next, we walked to a tea shop where Lili spent the better part of 40 minutes trying to decide what to get for her son and daughter in law.  This would not be the only time she spent a lot of time buying presents for others - and this is when she started to prod me to mirror her habit of overindulge in buying unwanted and unneeded gifts for others.  (This would be the start of a series of actions which would eventually catalyze the destruction of our friendship.)

Finally, it was time to get back to our ship and get ready for dinner.  Since this was the first "Formal Night", I decided to get into my LBD and get dressed up for the night.  When we went to dinner, we were seated with two other couples - one American and one Canadian.  And we had a great conversation.  I noted that the Canadians must be the saner of the two North American countries, as their political scandal isn't making their nation a laughing stock of the world.  They agreed, but not in a way that would make an American upset - they realized that sometimes, a nation can go nuts - and this was our time for doing so.

All too soon, dinner had to end.  I went to the theater where a comedy show was going on, and Lili went to the casino.  She was upset at me for not getting her for the 10 pm show, but when I said that I left after 15 minutes because I didn't laugh, she was glad I didn't disturb her.

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The next morning, we arrived in Boston, with the above vista visible from our balcony.  If I didn't know how nice this city could be (until one gets pegged as a Yankee fan), I could easily have written off this stop.  Instead, the two of us decided to stay onboard, as there was nothing compelling us to go into town for a short afternoon excursion.

This would be the first day that Lili had a temper tantrum. And it involved lunch.  I normally take about an hour to get ready - beginning from the time I start my shower to the time I finish getting dressed and applying my makeup.  This day, I took longer, as I took the time to call GFJ.  By the time I went up to the buffet, Lili was coming back with a sandwich I didn't want.  As much as she was thinking of me, she has rarely had an idea of what I like, and has always wanted thanks for things she presented me that I didn't want or need.  She was upset that I didn't want her sandwich and that food was going to waste.  And she was not happy that I didn't show her any appreciation for being unwantedly helpful.  So we ended up not seeing each other for most of the afternoon.

Later on, we patched things up, and went back to the dining room for dinner - and met our Canadian friends again.  This was a nice way to end the day.  Afterwards, she went to the casino for a while, and I later met with her to see the second comedian - who also was a waste of our time.

BTW: I will soon be shifting my posting to a new blog:

Please bookmark this new site for future reference.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Day 01 - Embarkation

Little did I know that when I started out on this cruise, that this would be the last time I'd be with Lili.  But that will not be the focus of my next few posts.  Instead, I plan to focus on the ports, the time at sea, and the embarkation/disembarkation process.  There were more pleasant times than bad ones on this cruise, and I'd rather preserve their memories than the bad ones.

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Driving to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal isn't fun.  It is located in the Red Hook section of the borough, an area poorly served by mass transit.  This means that one must either drive to the terminal and park there, or be driven to/from the terminal.  Getting to the terminal using private vehicles is a pain, as one has to zig-zag through narrow streets to reach the terminal.  Then at the terminal, signage is not clear on how to find the parking lot, or where/when one has to pay for parking.  So it is easy to get very agitated before one even reaches the ship for a week of relaxation.

When Lili and I arrived at the terminal, most of the prior week's cruisers were starting to leave, and there was a several block long line of cars waiting to exit the lot. The cars being held back by a traffic light that only allowed for a small number of cars at a time. So I knew that in a week, that we would need to get off the ship early enough to avoid this mess. But this was not the issue of the day.  Instead, it was to find the parking lot, get our "Medallion", and board the ship for a week's worth of good times.

Unlike previous cruises out of Manhattan, the check in process was very quick.  This was a result of us downloading Princess's app to our cell phones, filling in the information, uploading passport data, and taking a selfie.  Almost everything was ready to go for us, including a "Medallion" which we'd use to access every service on the ship, as well as enter our room.  Kudos to the Carnival Corporation for integrating so much functionality into a system that interacts with a wearable device.

Once onboard, we found our room, had an enjoyable dinner in the dining room, then I passed out for the night. The evening's onboard entertainment didn't look that interesting, and the live television offerings left a lot to be desired.  So sleep was the best way to use my time....

BTW: I will soon be shifting my posting to a new blog:

Please bookmark this new site for future reference.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Before I start to talk about my cruise....

Before I start to write about my recent cruise, I wanted to mention one thing.  Lili and I had a major blowout, and I doubt that we'll be friends anymore, much less going on any future cruises together.

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I had decided to travel with Lili, as she needed someone to be with on this cruise, following the breakup with her boyfriend.  This was a big mistake.  Lili was much more moody than usual, and needing more of an escape from her usual life than a cruise or her best friend would allow.

Going to the Brooklyn cruise terminal isn't easy.  It is in a section of Brooklyn that is not easy to navigate.  One has to zig-zag through a series of narrow streets to get to the terminal.  Just before one gets there, there is a traffic light that becomes a major bottleneck for both incoming and outgoing traffic.  And if one takes the wrong turn, one may find him/herself going through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel - when one doesn't want to bother driving into Manhattan.  It is this traffic disaster zone that catalyzed the termination of a friendship.

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Lili was a little more of a pain in the neck than usual on the cruise.  She kept trying to get me to buy things that I didn't need (or that GFJ wouldn't eat).  In Bar Harbor, she kept pushing me to buy a souvenir windbreaker "on sale" that didn't fit me right.  When I said that the one I tried on didn't fit, she wanted me to try on others.  I noted that they were also from the same manufacturer. and that I really didn't need to buy something that didn't fit right because it was (supposedly) marked down, she got upset - especially when I told her in no uncertain terms "STOP telling me to buy things I don't really want or need."  She got pissed at that, and left me alone for a while.

Later in the cruise, Lili started pestering me again.  This time, it was to buy a gift for GFJ.  GFJ is on a doctor prescribed diet, and all Lili could do was to suggest buying foodstuffs. In particular, she was pushing Maple Sugar Candy stuffs.  This is the last thing GFJ needs, gven her blood sugar levels.  Although I have enough to retire on (if I carefully manage my resources), Lili thinks that I can spend money carelessly.

The thing that made me say "Never Again" for another cruise with Lili was one of our lunches from the buffet table.  I started browsing the offerings at the buffet table, and she was critiquing them as I passed by each one.  (This wasn't too bad, but I wanted to make my food decisions on my own, and not based on her input - we have very different tastes.)  When I got to the point where beef tenderloin was being carved, she started to tell the carver that he was carving the end piece wrong and that he shouldn't serve it to me.  I didn't care, and had him put it on my plate.  But when she started to tell me how to cut my meat to best enjoy the piece of beef, I told her to stop.  I did not want to be treated like a child - and she was doing this without realizing it.

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The last few nights of the cruise were marked by neither of us sleeping well at night.  Both Thursday and Friday, we left the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door, so that the steward would let us sleep.  Unfortunately, we didn't have this option open to us on Saturday.  And neither of us were able to get any sleep.  This was a perfect recipe for disaster, and that's what happened.

Saturday morning came, and Lili was Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. (Lili's anger was hidden beneath the surface, bottled up and ready to explode.)  After 3 nights of sleep deprivation, she was primed and ready to blow.  Even though she hates leaving the ship early at the end of a cruise, she agreed (actually, suggested) to leave early for a change. (It was already 6:30 am, and she would not be able to get any sleep before having to leave the room.)   She was not in the best of moods, and I was likewise easy to become upset. So, when we got on the self-assist departure line, she started her negative comments about standing in line and leaving early.  I kept my mouth shut.  When I made a mistake about which turn to make to exit the parking lot, she got angry at me saying that I never admit making mistakes.  (I do, but I don't say it directly.) But when her car's GPS give unclear directions in how to get to the Battery Tunnel, we triggered each other's worst instincts - and she blew up at me.  (I'll admit that I was partially at fault here, but won't go into details.)  Later on, when I tried to say I'm sorry, she shut me down.  And then, I said that it's wise not to say things she'll regret - she said that she never regretted anything she said.  (No healthy human can live a life without some regrets - they represent the mistakes we have learned from.  Without regrets, we never learn - and I think that's true with Lili in this case.)  So it was a noisy (radio music) but silent (no conversation) ride home from the pier.

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When I got home, I called GFJ before she started her drive to a Meetup being held near me. It allowed me to decompress.  I'll miss Lili very much. If we ever are friends again, I doubt we'll be as close as we once were.

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A few days later, Lili tried to reach me, but I had block her on my phone.  I didn't respond to an email she sent, as I didn't want to say anything I couldn't take back.  She sent an email to me (via GFJ) requesting that I purge all references to her from this blog.  That is why I will be shutting down this blog as soon as my readers have had the chance to find out about my new blog.  In response to her, I drafted an email from which the following clip is taken:

I will miss you too.  Not because you gave me things - that was not important to me.   Instead, it is because you accepted me, warts and all.  None of these people I meet at meetups are close friends, nor was I looking for close friendships from them.  Sometimes, one has to have activity partners in addition to true friends.  That's why I seek them out.  And this is where we differ a lot.   You do not seek out activity partners, and lean on a very small number of people for a large number of things.

Sometimes, one has to have dreams that will never come to fruition.  I'd love to lose 100 pounds, but I am not willing to have the surgery to do so.  I remember how you were feeling on the first cruise we went on after your operation, and I said that's not for me.  Everything one has in life comes with a trade off, and we value things very differently.  You mentioned life 24x7 as Marian.  I'm doubtful that will happen because I'd lose many of the things I want much more than that.  Would you live with a man who is severely allergic to animals, forcing you to get rid of your pets?  I doubt it.  We all make trade offs in this life, and I'm aware of mine and accept them as a price to pay for having the people, things, and experiences I really care about.

Finally, I am very much aware of my grief in losing a close friend.  I, too, am heartbroken. Is there a way to patch things up? I don't know.  But I don't want to screw things up any further by saying the wrong things in haste.

When I spoke with GFJ again, she noted that I didn't really want to go on this cruise.  I was doing it as a favor to Lili.  And she noticed that I have certain reactions when I'm not really enthused about doing something, as she has similar behaviors.  Luckily, we are better able to communicate with each other than either of us in our prior long term relationships.

BTW: I will soon be shifting my posting to a new blog:

Please bookmark this new site for future reference.