Merry Christmas 2013


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I hope everyone is having a fabulous Christmas.  my life of course is never without its adventures. And while last year I was on a cruise ship in the Caribbean this year found me spending Christmas eve by the side of the freeway.

I had gotten tickets for my mom, her husband and myself to see the Frozen Disney Show at the El Capitan in Hollywood.  I decided to take my pink van and leave early because the bookcase I had on lay away was ready to be picked up.  So as I am talking to my mom I hear this really loud strange noise. I tell my mom I have to get off the phone and sure enough my car was dying.  I was driving on the 14 Freeway south from Palmdale which is basically driving through the desert and no mans land.  But hey I’m not worried I have AAA.  I call AAA and get a dispatcher that can not understand what I am telling her or the location of where I am at. I have to repeat the information to her quite a few times.  I was told that the tow truck would  be arriving in about 30-45 minutes which is the usual. No biggie I thought to myself I’ll just put on my make-up while I am waiting. Make-up is finished, kind of that scary old lady make-up put on in  a car type of thing but still no tow truck.  No biggie I’ll just do my Christmas cards for my niece and nephew while I am waiting.  Christmas cards done and an hour later still no tow truck so I call AAA to get an update and I am told the dispatcher called a tow truck company in the wrong city and another truck was being dispatched which should arrive in 30 minutes.

30 minutes!!!!!!  You have got to be friggin’ kidding me.  I have been waiting on the shoulder of the freeway for an hour and it was now 2:30 pm and the tickets were for the 4:00 pm show. Now the anxiety is beginning to kick in.  Well I have to get dressed in the van as I was losing time now.  I had worn jeans and a t-shirt out the door because I was supposed to be getting the bookcase.  No biggie, I thought to myself. I have changed in and out of costumes by the sides of roads many times in career as a kids entertainer today would be no different.  I am all made up, Christmas cards have been done, and I am wearing my Christmas clothes and still no tow truck.  I call AAA to get another update, this time the driver was told I was off the freeway and he took a different route via the streets.  I’m like no I have been on the shoulder of the freeway for the past hour and a half.  Look for the bright pink van–you can’t miss it.  It felt like an eternity waiting for that tow truck to arrive.

Finally it arrived–what a relief!!!  We made it to the show by 3:45 pm, just enough time to park, get pop-corn and go to the ladies room.  The evening was cut short because now I needed to get a ride back home.  So I will see my sister’s kids on Sunday as I got tickets for all of us to see the ice sculpture exhibit and winter village at the Queen Mary as their Christmas gift.

Seriously I can not wait for 2013 to be over.  I can not believe all that I have gone through in one year.  It’s time for a new start and new beginnings.

Below are a couple of pictures of Christmas in my home and me at Frozen.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

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Christmas Caribbean Cruise….Part Nine Christmas Night


After all the excitement of getting out of face painting, journeying into Jamaica to procure rum and coffee then followed the dash to get back onto the ship for the first formal dinner on the cruise.

I think we had less than hour maybe more like 30 mins to get showered and changed into formal wear for Christmas Dinner.    I think I was the only one at my table who got dressed up in formal wear.  I had actually brought so many options because I had been informed that there would be 2-3 nights in which formal wear was required.  I wore a red sparkly top with black sparkly pants and my 4″ red satin heels.

The ship was so elegant that night as about 90% of the cruisers did get dressed up for Christmas.  The families especially got all dressed up and there were two areas on the ship set up for the formal picture-taking.

The Capt of the ship was also out and about.  I did get a picture taken with the Capt but then I did not purchase any.  The main event that evening was the Christmas Caroling on the promenade deck.  All in all it was such a lovely evening.

Below are the pictures from Christmas Night 2012 aboard the cruise ship.

 

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Christmas Caribbean Cruise….Part 7, Jamaica


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Our first day docked was to be in Jamaica on Dec. th–Christmas Day.  Really, wow, I thought that kind of sucked for the people of Jamaica forced to work on a holiday because a cruise ship was coming into port.

Docked days were the days that I did not have to face paint–at least that is what the initial contract stated.  But hmnnn according to the schedule I was given I was supposed to face paint a two-hour shift starting at  a.m.  And I had already purchased on excursion that departed at 11 a.m.  Hmnnnn…this was not a good thing and really went contrary to the agreed upon contract.  I checked with the tour desk and I would be able to get a refund if I was not able to take the tour.  Hmnnn…okay but the whole point of my even taking the face paint job on the cruise was the stop in Jamaica.  I had run out of my favorite Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee and my Wray & Nephew, “CocoMania” coconut rum that I could only get on the island, not even on the internet.

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Oh no, this was so unacceptable to me.  The cruise director had decided that Santa would visit the children on the ship and give them all a present.  There would be hot coco and cookies and face painting–oh lucky me.

I was also advised my the excursion desk that I would be able to take the excursion even if I was a bit late.

Okay my, ” I love Lucy” brain went into gear–how do I pull this off?  Well rather than wear my regular face painting gear I wore my beach gear with a cover-up and a skirt. I mini-sized my face paints to only the essentials for a faster clean-up and my excursion bag was ready as well.

I get to the designated location, which was the ice skating rink—hmnnn kind of chilly when you are dressed for a tropical beach. Per usual there was not table and no one really knew where I was supposed to be.  Here we go again on the one day I am not even supposed to be working.  I also noticed that the kids were just doing a quick take a picture with Santa-grab your gift and go.  No one was hanging around.  These kids and parents had cabin fever as much as I did.  And while there are activities on the ship kids and myself included need to be in the great outdoors running and playing–in my case sitting on the beach relaxing and getting a tan.

So, I am walking around the rink trying to locate a table and someone who knows what is going on when I run into the head Entertainment Director and I asked him where he would like me to set-up.  Boy, was I so happy and relieved when he told me, ” Go leave, Merry Christmas!”  “Really”, I said, “Are you sure I wont get in trouble?”  His response to me was, ” I AM the boss and if you don’t leave now I will change my mind.” Wohoo, that’s all I needed to hear.  I ran back to the room dropped off the face paints and got my excursion bag and went to meet Father Tom at Mass.  Yes, we were supposed to go on this excursion together.  We were supposed to find each other on the bus after his Mass and my face painting. So, I went to mass because I wanted to see him do service and to make sure we got out on time.  There were only eight people at the service.  I nearly fell out of my chair when Father Tom, says, “Since I am sure many of you have excursions to go on we will keep service short today ” Right after the service I immediately go to Father Tom and say, “Do you have a moment to talk?”  This was to ensure that we could do a fast getaway.  Of course Father Tom had to take his priestly paraphanaila back to his room and change into tourist gear as well.

My main objective at that point was to buy coffee and rum at one of the duty-free shops. I also realized that I did not have any sunscreen.  I figured it would be cheaper to buy in Jamaica than on the ship.  I found a small shop and got “Jamaica Browning Tanning Oil SPF 15”. I think I may have paid like $10.00 USD for a 4 fl oz bottle.  And yes it did smell like coffee extract.  So instead of laying on the beach smelling like coconut I smelled like a fresh pot of coffee.

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One I got the tanning oil it was off to get the rum and coffee.  That ship could not deport without my getting my coffee and rum.  I get to the duty free shop and I get talked into buying 3 bottles of rum.  As you all know I already had a problem with excess baggage weight and now I was adding 3 bottles of rum.  I thought I will cross that bridge when I get to it.  The prime directive, to get the rum had been fulfilled.  I believe I bought 2 bags of coffee beans (last longer that ground).  I am all set to pay only to find out the computers are down–seriously?!  Well, it is Christmas after all, even the computers didn’t want to be working. Now what do I do?  It turns out they were able to hold the items, which was great because I did not want to be carting around 3 bottles of rum and two bags of coffee with me on the beach.  I would have if I had to–but it was much nicer this way.  After the coffee purchase Tom and I went to get something to eat before we got on the bus to go to the beach.  Below are some of the pictures of the Fallsworth Port and of one of the beautiful beaches in Jamaica.

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Christmas Caribbean Cruise….Part 6


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This is the spot where I was face painting, right across from the statue, under the bridge.

The second day of cruise I was scheduled to face paint in the afternoon from 2:00-4:00 PM, so I was able to work out in the gym and up for a yoga class in the morning. That gave me enough time to grab lunch, shower and change or maybe it was shower, change grab lunch and then go to face paint, honestly I don’t remember exactly.

Now being a vegetarian traveling and eating is always a challenge. And while the carnivores had plenty of variety for their breakfast and lunch meals the herbivores did not have the same variety available.

And I am used to having my soy bacon or soy sausage in the morning. Be that is it may I did find food that I could eat. Now if you wanted soda or drinks or fresh juice that was an additional fee that even I had to pay. I am not a soda drinker so that is not a problem but it certainly meant I wasn’t going to be doing any drinking of liquors on this trip. And once I found out that the flavored waters were no more than soda without the carbonation I figured $4.00 for a fresh squeezed orange was not so bad after all. Yes, I did ask to see the cartoons so I could read the ingredients lists. I am one of those people. I like to know what goes in my body.

Lucky for me I wasn’t a vegan yet on this cruise as I am now. Breakfast and lunch were okay but to be truthful I much prefer the variety of food when I have gone to Jamaica all-inclusive resorts.

I fared far better at dinner where there was always a creative vegetarian option on the dinner menu. Of course I did not realize I could order more than one entrée until the last couple of days of the cruise. But when I did find out I was ordering like two desserts for dinner. The first time I got a chilled fruity soup it tasted just like a smoothie to me. Hmnnn, so from that point on I asked the waiter to bring me the soup in a wine glass and I would have myself a fancy dinner drink sans the alcohol. I did not take pictures of dinner. I guess next time I will have to do a better job of journaling, especially if I want to write about my travels. But when I am hungry I am thinking eating and not documenting.

As for my first day of face painting it went something like this. I went to the spot on the promenade deck where I was to be face painting and there was no table or chairs anywhere. Hmnn, this is not good, I thought but I was about a half hour early. They asked me to be 15 mins early for my shift but I like to be super early. Of course no one was around that knew anything of my tables and chairs. I somehow managed to locate someone who could get me a table and two chairs. I like to start on time and end on time. The young kid that came to assist me did not really seem to know much of what was going on. I think he was an assistant entertainment director 4th down the line. It’s like ten minutes to my start time and still no table.

I am quite perturbed as it takes me about 15 minutes to set out my face paint supplies and they are the ones that stressed that “I” had to be punctual. I think I may have said something to kid like, “I am a professional and this is unacceptable.”  They had me face painting where they would have tables set up with items for sale.  I guess the thinking was while I painted the kids faces mom and dad could go shopping.

Other than the missing table the second day of sailing was rather uneventful. Honestly I don’t even remember if I went to see a show that night. I think I went in search of a piano that I could practice on.

Below are some samples of the face painting I did on the ship. The kids were really cute and I would have my regular customers show up for each shift.  I brought extra sparkles, jewels for princess faces, and made sure I had lots of christmas themed designs.  I had about 15 lbs of face paint supplies with me.

There was a single dad that came up with three children.  The kids mother had recently passed away and she was a face painter.  She would paint her kids all the time.  And they had not been face painted by anyone since the mother died.  Talk about putting pressure on me!!!!!  This was the first Christmas without the mother which is why dad and the grandparents and uncle and his kid were taking this cruise together.  My heart just broke for these kids and I so wanted to make them feel a little bit of joy.  And Dad was pretty handsome as well.  He showed me a picture of his wife and some of the things she had painted on the kids.  Wow, truly not the kind of story you expect to hear at Christmas.

 

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Christmas Caribbean Cruise 2012….Part 5


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The next morning I got up early to have breakfast, check out and start my cruise adventure.  I was told to be at the port by 12:30 pm to check in.

Checking in was quite a lengthy process and I am glad that I got there early.

Of course as you are boarding the ship you stop to have an official picture taken.  And no I did not buy the picture.

Luggage can take up to three hours after boarding to arrive to the state-room.  I was given an inside state–no port-hole, no window–oh this is going to be fun I thought–I am claustrophobic.  I highly recommend if you are taking a cruise to get a state-room preferably with a balcony but if not at least a port-hole.

This is what my room looked like but was not my actual room I took of off the cruise’s website.

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(I think they used a lens with a long depth of field because this picture makes the room look bigger than it actually was.)

Those first three hours before the ship departed everyone was just running around like little ants discovering the in’s and out’s of the ship.  I was also waiting for my face painting schedule so that I could arrange the other activities that I wanted to do on the ship.  At some point an envelope arrived with my schedule and a meeting with my contact person on the ship.  I was to do five 2 hour face painting sessions while the ship was sailing.  When docked at port no face painting, however as I looked at the schedule I was set to work Christmas Morning.  Seriously, that was the day the ship docked in Jamaica and I had already booked my excursions via the T.V. hook-up in my room (seriously I was not about to stand in a long line to book anything).  I didn’t say anything at the meeting, since it was my first trip and did not want to make a fuss on the first day before the ship even left the dock.  Yes, Ivonne was displaying quite a bit of self-control here.

After that meeting it was dinner time.  I went back to the room to get dressed for dinner as I had the early seating at 6:00  PM and I was excited to see who my dinner companions would be for the next week.

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Albert & his daugher                                      Josh & Sarah

 

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Tom

The first night was  casual dress for dinner.  We all introduced ourselves. My dinner companions were a lovely young married couple, Josh and Sarah, Albert and daughter and yes there was one single man seated at my table.  His name was Tom.  Tom was a Catholic Priest but he was dressed normal.  The first words out of my mouth to him were, “I don’t know if you supposed to save me or if I am going to take you down the road to perdition”……………. to be continued……

Here are some pictures I took of the ship.

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Christmas 2012 on a Caribbean Cruise…Part 1


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I believe it was sometime last May 2012 when I received an e-mail stating that there was a face-painter opening for a cruise departing from New Orleans to the Western Caribbean. About the same time the shit was hitting the fan with Jay Scott Berry and I decided I needed something happy to look forward to. I tried to book this trip the year prior but somebody else beat me out. The way this company works you and a guest for $40.00 a night plus face painting sessions get to take the cruise.  Not a bad deal if you are bringing someone and like cruises.  I had never been on a cruise so I had no idea if I would  like it or not. But my friend Lisa, may god rest her soul did about 4 of these cruises and she loved them. And New Orleans was on my bucket list-so why not I thought.

I tracked the weather in New Orleans and it was on average about 10 degrees colder than where I live so totally doable. I booked myself on a flight that arrived one day before the cruise departed as I wanted a buffer day in case my luggage got lost and the returning flight I booked for New Years Day so I could spend 3 days and New Years Eve in New Orleans.

My next door neighbors teenage daughter was going to take care of my two kitties and Missy would be at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, where she is spoiled and does things she does not do at home.

lens17839579_1302580231pink-suitcaseI of course travel with pink luggage. Seriously did anyone think it would be a different color.  This trip I decided to use the large suitcase, which I have never used ( and know I know why I don’t) before because I had to pack winter clothes for New Orleans and summer clothes, in addition to formal wear for the cruise.

Yes, you get a big list of do’s and don’ts when you take one of these cruises as you are considered a representative of the company.  They stress how you must always look upscale and never wear shorts on the cruise. Of course that meant I needed matching shoes and of course I needed my face painting supplies as well.  I decided I would take my face paints in my carry on because God forbid something should happen and where would I be without my face paints.  Since this was my first time I wanted to make a good impression.  I packed my brushes, glitter, stick on jewels, sponges, glitter gel you name it-everything I needed to make little kids fantasy face dreams come true.

Of course December thankfully is a busy month for my business and what with school and finals it did not give me a lot of time to pre-pack as I like to do before a trip.  I even wanted to clean my home a bit as my next door neighbor is one of those clean freaks and I did not want her daughter to go back home and say what a mess I left the place in.

I departed on Dec 21 coming back home on Jan 1 2013.  Yes, I was forgoing Christmas with the family.  a conscius choice as I could not deal with yet another phony Christmas–maybe I’ll do a post about that someday.

So I have my large suitcase, my small carry on size one, a purse, and my guitar.  Yes, I brought the guitar assuming I would have time to practice my guitar.  And I figured the ship must have a piano somewhere on the ship that I could practice on while I was away.

I put my luggage on the bathroom scale and according to it the large suitcase only weighed about 37 lbs–awesome I thought as the weight limit for the airlines was 50 lbs.

I was departing FRiday at 1 am so I arrived with luggage and Missy sometime on Thursday afternoon to my moms’.  But we still had to get the costumes for the weekend all set before I left.  To say that it was a hectic day is an understatement.  My mom lifted my large suitcase to put into the van.  Yes, I know my mother is 71 however she is under the impression that she is the only one that knows how to put a suitcase into the car as she travels back and forth to Puerto Rico at least 4 times a year.  The first thing she says is that the suitcase weighs too much. I tell it doesn’t I weighed it on the scale at home.

Well it was time to head to the airport.  I said my good-byes to Missy and gave her lots of kisses. That is the one thing about traveling that I don’t like, having to leave Missy behind.  And once the puppies arrive I guess I won’t be going anywhere for a while.

We get to the airport to check in.  As luck would have there wasn’t a line and hardly anyone at the airport.  They check in the guitar and then we put the large suitcase  on the airline scale thingy.  I am 20 lbs over weight–that will be an extra $100.00–what.   And of course there is my mother saying, ” I told you so!”  Really this was not the moment to be smug. It is suggested that I remove items and the woman at the counter says she has to check on something and will be back.

Well, like I said earlier it was quite the blessing that the airport was not busy because there and then I am now opening the large suitcase to see what weighs the most that I can take out.  Now normally I have my backpack that I use as my carry on because it can hold a lot of items including my laptop and I have a purse.  Yeah no back pack this time.  I sent my mother and her husband back to the car because I thought I saw a bag that I could use.

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Out comes the music binder–hand that to my mom.  I only keep a few pages of practice music.  The roll up keyboard for the lap top comes out.  Three pairs of 4 inch heels come out of the suitcase I will carry those on. The power strip comes out-that goes to my mom.  Oh yes, the extra sweater I put on, the suit coat from my new just had to have tuxedo got put on, along with the coat I was already wearing.  The electric throw blanket–that I had to have because I can’t stand to get into a cold bed even in the summer I decided to carry that on and hope TSA does not stop me ( the wires in the blanket).  Seriously it looked a scene from a bad comedy.

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I am trying to ignore my mother as she goes on and on about how we should have weighed the luggage and how much she knows about traveling and that I don’t’ need three pairs of 4 inch heels or so much clothes for just a ten day trip blah blah blah. My focus was did I get rid of the excess 20 lbs.  The carry on with the face paints now had to be checked in the russian roulette game of re-do the packing on the floor of Los Angeles International Airport.

Mission accomplished but now there was another woman at the counter and a line was beginning to form. She spoke Spanish my mother spoke spanish and said something to her in Spanish about how she tried to tell me about weight.  Oh just for information’s sake I am not a first time traveler.  I have been to Jamaica 4 times, 3 times by my self, I have been to Europe as well two times by myself and of course there was the glorious life changing trip to Malaysia.  However my mother is under the impression that she is a more seasoned traveler than I am. But I have to admit her talking to the woman in Spanish got my luggage clearance.  The problem wound up being that the women who had walked away had already charged me the $100.00 fee-possibley it was for the guitar?!!  Seriously, if I had been told the guitar was going to cost $100.00 that too would have been going back home with mom.

Finally got all checked in made it through security and finally at the gate.  Of course I had to call my mother and let her know I made it safely to the gate.  You just never know when a hijacker might just randomly take a hostage at the airport.

And that is how I started the Christmas Holiday whose purpose was to help me clear my head of the magician and get on with life….to be continued……

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