Thursday, December 18, 2008

I did it..

Yeah. I did. And here's why:
It's not because I had a break down when I returned to the US and realized that I just couldn't keep up with showering daily. Even though when I woke up this morning after having not showered for two days and my hair was a greasy mess made - made all the more obvious by my DARK roots - I screamed that life would just be easier if I was *actually* blonde. No, instead I'm going to blame it on Love Actually:

More specifically, we're going to focus on a little trifecta in the upper right (or is that left?) hand corner of this scoring web. (Which, by the way, I must a bit more impressive than those made on teh boards of Kitt II way back when.) Here's that love triangle:
For you sinners that haven't seen the movie, man cheats on blonde wife with hot brunette assistant. That's right ladies and gentlemen, it's no longer hot to be blonde. The new hot ones are the mysterious, often overlooked brunettes.

So I marched right in to my hair appointment today and announced, "Frank, I want to go dark." The place went silent. The Jew in the back even dropper her bagel. Frank gasped. "I'm I'm sorry...what did you say?"

"Dark. Brunette. Hot. Mysterious. I want it."

"Eli, I cannot agree to this unless you absolutely confirm with me that this is what you want. Tell it to me in three languages now. Tell me that you want to go dark."

"Je ne voudrais pas blonde. Me gusta marron. umm...obrigada?"

Frank stared at me, armed with foils and scissors and then he called in the support team. One blonde woman rushed over, "I once went dark. Hun, it's all bad. It's different. People don't pay as much attention to you. I missed it. I went back. Real soon." "We don't want to lose your business. We want you to be happy." I explained to them that I'd gotten all the blonde attention I needed what...with traveling in China and all.

No. Blondes are the girl-next-door cute look. Brunettes are hot. I was convinced.

So I did it. Frank convinced me to keep a little blonde in there. But for the most part I did it. I didn't really believe the reflection in the mirror. Or the gasps of others as they walked into the north Jersey hair salon...shocked to see somebody going dark...why...when they paid so much to go light...

It actually didn't hit me that I am now a brunette until I was in line at CVS. And this little blond woman cut in front of me and I said something about it and she just turned and flipped her hair as if to say "excuse me hun, but did you see the hair...I'm blonde and you're not and that's just something that me and other blondes are allowed to do to you and other...ugly girls."

And then the guy at the pharmacy didn't flirt with me nearly as much as he normally would have.

And then I went to buy some wine at the Chatham wine shop and they carded me.

And then I marched right back to CVS and bought some blonde hair dye.

Let's call that one...a fun social experiment.'s a picture...and's not a wig:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Vagina Vagina Vagina – December 5

I think the most devastating part of my first term at St. Paul’s was getting that shocker of a C…in acting. I mean…I knew that a new school was going to be hard. But a C. In acting? Needless to say, this saddened me enough to end my acting career a few terms early. I ended up fulfilling my arts credits with art history.

It’s a true testament to the boredom on the ship (we’ve now figured out gin…any other cards games out there??) then for me to have auditioned to be in the Vagina Monologues. Either that or I like vaginas enough to overcome my fear of acting. Apparently in my years off the stage, however, I think I lost…what’s that word…my…talent in the field. After the incredibly stressful auditions (I was told to do a “mountain-top moan” on the spot), I was assigned a total of 192 words for the play.

And boy were they hard to memorize. I had to remember a list of things people’s vaginas would say if they could talk. And that’s not easy because they’re all kina the same (PS – 192 words right now to get a sense of how long my part was). How was I supposed to keep track of when “whoa mama” came relative to “brave choice” or “find me”??

My other big part was a short piece of female genital mutilations. This was properly titled a “not-so-happy-fact.” And yeah…192 words total…both pieces combined.

Oh I guess I didn’t count that I got to scream the “college moan” during the last monologue. I think it was supposed to be something like “myroommatemyroommatemyroommate” but I, in a very Ivy league manner, decided to change it to “I should be STUDYINGGGGGGGGGG!” It was great.

The only other time I had ever seen the vagina monologues performed was actually during my fifth form at SPS when Nash put it on for the Fiske Cup. For all you non-SPSers – Nash is a guys dorm. So it was a group of high school boys performing the vagina monologues. They did present it impressively well…but I’ve got to say, I’m not quite sure anybody can moan about studying quite the way I do.

The Second November 20

This blog is WAYY overdue but I figured I should at least throw it out there that way back when we crossed the international date line. So we had two November 20ths! Even cooler though…we were literally in a time zone that does not exist for an entire day. (Standard -13…look it up) This was because, rather than reversing our clock 23 hours, el captaino that I love so much decided that he’d have us reverse our clocks 24 hours…and then lose an hour of sleep the next night. Thanks for that. Because my body just LOVES losing an hour of sleep every other night. Especially when we get the day off from school on the second November 20th but not on November 21st.

To keep us entertained during our day off from school on the Second November 20th, we had a World Food Summit on the ship. It was kind of like a model UN except different. I don’t really know how it was different because I’ve never actually done Model UN. But I represented Japan and we wanted to find out a long term solution to the food crisis (which was that like 70% of the world’s supply of rice was wiped out in an out-of-season tsunami). Another group focused on the short term solution, which was especially fun because Japan was the only county unaffected by the “crisis” so we had all the power in that group. For the long term solution, as Japan, I got to repeat the refrain “environment” many many times while everybody else talked about population control and opening barriers to trade.

It was actually a fun hands-on learning experience. We had people representing the G-8 plus all the countries we’ve been to on this trip and a few other. There were also “lobbyists” and special interest groups running around trying to push their agendas. It was almost representative of how policy-makers go about solving international crises. Except that we’re a ship full of idealists and when “Condoleeza Rice” agreed that the US should stop investing in biofuels in order to provide food security to SE Asia I had to step in and just tell her that she simply could not agree to that.

In the end though, I’m pretty sure that Japan won.

Panama Canal - December 11

You can watch me! I'm on a webcam somewhere. I don't know the address for it but I'm pretty sure if you google "Panama Canal webcam" you should find the link. And then look for the MV Explorer. We're about to go past the first and then we go past the second one this afternoon!

Friday, December 5, 2008

YES! – December 5, 2008 – second time around

And as today’s maybe-not-final reminder that we ARE at sea: I just witnessed the best ever slow-motion collision of girl with full plate of food with girl walking past her. We all saw it coming. There was enough time for the entire dining hall (which is actually not that many people…just the nerds studying and not tanning) to turn and watch as the boat rock catapulted them into each other and food went flying. Followed by a waiter coming up right behind them and exclaiming “Crash!”

I tried to start the slow clap but I don’t think it was slow enough or something? I don’t know, nobody else joined in.

Just a Reminder – December 5, 2008

Life at sea was definitely getting too easy. I haven’t been sea sick since the Indian Ocean (I love being able to refer to time periods based on oceans or countries: “Yeah we talked about that before Malaysia…”) and people now seem to only fall out of their chairs because they’re clumsy (Carly, that’s your reward if you actually ever do read this), but of course…it was getting too easy. And the captain obviously felt like something needed to be done about that.

So he drove straight into 10 foot waves. I’m pretty sure it was just for fun. But I was suddenly reminded of the days of slamming into walls as I walked down the hall. Actually, what was really unique about these ones were that we were going really slowly so the rocks were slow, but HUGE – and I would suddenly stop as I was walking side to side on the ship because the incline was too big (yeah I know…skiing is going to be miserable this Christmas. Poppy, please please don’t buy me a pass for every day. I will not be able to do it). And then I would suddenly be falling/sprinting forward as the boat rocked back the other way. My new challenge became keeping a steady pace rather than avoidingwalls.

Our rooms are pretty well configured for rocks like this. Unless you put something on the very small space on the very small “dresser” (more of a bedside table), then it’s secure. And the beds are configured so that you rock head to toe. It’s some great fung shwe or whatever. But I also just realized this morning – upon talking with a professor – that the professor’s beds are configured in the opposite direction. So they rock to side to side. And when waves are like this…they rock side to…floor. Oh the terrors of having a larger room with a balcony, queen size bed, couch, walk in close, and a full sized dresser. I feel terrible for her for falling out of her bed. Really.

And today’s second reminder that we actually are at sea and studying for my exams right now cannot be *that* bad because I’m getting at tan too…WE SAW DOLPHINS! Literally, finally.

It would have been a grave disappointment to sail almost-all-the-way-around-the-world (disappointment about that one in the next blog) and never even see a dolphin.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Japanese Toilets

After the India-Malaysia-Vietnam-China stretch, almost everything in Japan came as a relief. Hotels had wireless, public transportation was clean, it was safe to brush our teeth with tap water…and then we could even drink the tap water afterwards! Etc etc etc

But nothing was quite as wonderful as that porcelain goddess that I love so dear. Because toilets were not only raised back up to Western standards…they exceeded them. I first saw all the buttons at our hotel. But I was too nervous then to use them. But there were so many options: they would spray your backside, spray your frontside, you could change the water pressure and temperature, they would heat the seat for you, send out a little puff of powder on your bottom, start the jets in the bathtub, call your boyfriend and break up with him for you. It looked incredible.

But it of course took me a few drinks to work of the confidence (or stupidity?) to actually use one of them. So yes, the first one that I used was in a public bathroom at a bar in Kobe, Japan. Ostracize me for that one after I tell my story.

Okay so I pushed the button…and I liked it. Damn did I like the feel of that water on my butt-icks. So I changed up the pressures and the angles and the temperature and then I realized that I had probably been in the bathroom for an awkwardly long time. Keep in mind that I was travelling with two guys in Japan. This is when I found out that my magic toilet was missing a critical button: the stopping one. Oh shiza. I pushed every single button and nothing would happen. And somebody was knocking…umm…vashinglibatten? I knew I should’ve paid more attention during Road Trip. *Knock*Knock*Knock*

Okay I was starting to get desperate. With apologies to the next person, I quickly jumped off the seat and slammed down the lid. Washed my hands because there was actually a sink and then ran out, only to run into one of the guys I was travelling with. Oh god. He wouldn’t know how to fix it…should I tell him? Of course not. So instead I just stood outside and told He-li to laugh with me. And that is my story of toilets in Japan.

One Exam Down – December 2

Two more plus one essay to go.

I’m sorry for the constant academic updates…but suddenly…they’ve taken over my life. Remember how I told you that the ship ran out of paper during midterm? Well this time, it’s worse, much worse. We’ve run out of Red Bull. I have never needed Chi Gam’s rent-a-bro service more in my life: “Hi, yes, can you please deliver five cases of Red Bull to the MV Explorer? Location 115 degrees 37.4 minutes west and 18 degrees 4 minutes north. Thanks!” I don’t exactly need the Red Bulls* – but damn, that profit would be INCREDIBLE!

Time at sea is really not all that interesting. The highlight of my day today was when Micah – the three year old bombshell on the ship – got on the ship’s speaker system and wished us all good luck as we were starting our exams. So to make up for that I’m going to try to use this time to fill you in on a few stories that I’ve left out during the voyage. Mostly in order of what pops up first:


The first non-western toilet I encountered was in South Africa. But I didn’t have to use it so it really didn’t matter that the toilet at the school I was visiting was literally a bucket in a room.

But then in India, I found the same thing. Except this time I had my period. Let’s make a quick list of worst places EVER to have your period:

1. Rural Indian village

2. During a one night stand – in the guy’s bed

3. When you’re in eighth grade and think you’re all cool swimming with the boys at Storr’s Pond and then you get on the raft and one of them points at your leg and is all like “eww you’re bleeding!”

4. While working with a group of guys in Mississippi who tell you that you should just squat behind a tree if you need to go to the bathroom so badly because no, they’re not stopping before lunch and no, they won’t give you the keys to drive to an actual bathroom

5. When travelling with a group of guys in Japan

I guess I’ve told you all about my bowel movement this term so I might as well not hold back now…

Onto Malaysia. During our first night there, Cory and I found this fantastic local celebration/performance/outdoor club. All the locals loved us and our blonde hair and kept us dancing and drinking all night long. At one point I asked where the bathroom was and this one lady walked me to a secluded door and said she’d stand outside. She closed the door behind me and I was left staring at a hole in the ground. Not any old hole though…it was literally a toilet bowl, dug into the ground, complete with liftable seat. Which was quite humorous because the only way one could sit on the seat would be by lifting their legs straight up in the air and I really didn’t see any reason for that. So this was all about good aiming. There was even a little spout and bucket in the corner for me to wash my hands with! (cue for laughter from all that have been to a Southeast Asian country – but that’s what I did with it) And then of course when I left there was a guy standing outside waiting for me, holding a fresh, unopened beer in his hand. Umm…thank you?

And then Vietnam…oh Vietnam. Most of the showers in Vietnam were actually in the same room as the toilets, which meant that most of the time when you went to go pee the seat was completely soaked. You were guaranteed to get some part of you wet in some way. And we continued to run into the Malaysia type of hole-in-the-ground toilets too. On our last day at the Mekong Delta we stopped at a truck stop for lunch. The two other girls in the group ran off to the bathroom and when they came back they informed me that they were “not western” toilets. I kind of assumed as much but didn’t ask them for any more details. Then right as we were all about to leave I figured I should just make one quick stop in the bathroom. So I hurried over to the bathroom – I didn’t want to keep anyone waiting – and let myself in to the first open stall. That’s right about when the confusion began. I turned around and saw only a showerhead and a drain in the corner. Okay. I knew that they had told me these weren’t western toilets…and I thought that it was a little strange that they would point it out…but they could’ve told me that there weren’t any toilets! What were my options? Was I supposed to just squat in the center and then use the shower head to aim it all into the corner? Or could I stand in the corner and “lift my junk” (is that another Chelsea Harris reference? Shit…she might be winning at the reference game or something) and aim for the drain? No no no…this could not be right. There had to be some form of a toilet. Convinced that I was wrong, I exited the stall, noticed that I had inadvertently cut a huge line of people, ignored that fact, and ran towards the next open one. Victory: there was a toilet. By toilet I obviously mean a toilet bowl cut into a hole in the ground but that’s much much better than a drain in the corner of a shower. Whew.

And finally onto China (because Japan deserves its own entire blog on its toilets). It was basically the same idea as Vietnam in Malaysia. My favorite was that porta-potties at the Olympics venues were labeled “Squat” or “Western” on the door. Oh and I also thought it was hilarious when I went to the bathroom at a five star restaurant – the bathroom was sparkling marble with big thick doors for each stall. It was super nice. And then the toilets were the same hole in the ground technique. But at least these ones had a handle to flush.

*I was smart enough to stock up on Starbuck’s double-shots in Hawaii. The first thing I said to my roommate: You drink, you die. Caffeine is something I’m NOT willing to share.