Describe yourself as someone else would
From Jennifer’s viewpoint:
Brian is a kind, loving, smart man with a large but quiet heart. He cares for me and supports me through all of life’s challenges. He has a subtle, dry wit that often borders on being politically incorrect. For instance, he’s hoping to find some deck chairs on the ship that he can have his picture taken of as he rearranges them.
Brian was late to love in his life, not knowing he was saving himself for me. He likes to say that our personalities are ‘complementary’ rather than opposite. Our differences sometimes clash, but in the end I know that he loves me and will spend the rest of his life caring for me.
Think of a period in my life
List drill-down exercise
They’d searched for missing planes many times before, but this time they could tell that something was special about this mission. Why the urgency? Why all the support from all the other organizations? Never before had they seen such intensity to look for one plane and one person. Then they were told, in a hushed tone. It was Jimmy Carter’s friend, and he may have had something with him that the President wanted.
Write about an encounter with something wild
There’s a difference between the speculative ‘what would you do if you see a bear’ and what you actually do. Everyone you talk to has or has heard different techniques to keep from becoming a bear snack. Some say that to avoid them you should carry bells and keep talking. Others swear by bear repellent, which is really just an expensive, industrial-sized pepper spray, or they say to carry a big gun. But when it comes down to it, luck and good fortune are your best bets.
Mom and I had decided to take a walk to the top of Satulah, the mountain she lives on in Highlands, North Carolina. We parked her car near the top and walked the ridgeline to the summit, enjoying the clear air and grand vistas. But on the way back, as we neared the car, there he was. Maybe he was the same guy Mom had encountered in her mud room earlier, staring back at her while he rummaged through her recycle bin. She had chased him off by yelling at him as she looked through the front door.
But as we slowly backed off, abandoning the car to walk home via a different path, it didn’t matter. This time, the bear had won.
Writing Fresh Descriptions
The food carver worked magic with 6 or 7 fruits and vegetables. He built a cute bunny out of a base of pineapple, a body of melon, and a head of orange. His eyes are cut into the orange with radish slices and purple grape halves for eyeballs. The ears are slices of melon, just like you’d eat, attached with sticks at funny angles. Arms are carved out of the melon body, and feet are made of carrots sliced flat. His mouth is a slice of melon cut to resemble a buck tooth.
In front of the bunny are fruit flowers, with corrugated melons as the outer petals, oranges cut in half with zigzag edges, and grapes in the center. All of it rests on a dinner plate, and it stands about a foot tall overall.
Write the first draft of a scene – a mini-story – from something that has happened to you on the ship so far, using what we’ve talked about this morning about writing well.
Bow of the Ship
It was supposed to be a discrete, romantic visit to the bow of our ship. This wasn’t the Titanic, and we were nowhere near any icebergs, but Jennifer and I were looking for our own Titanic-style view off the front of the Freedom of the Seas as we plied the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
We’d just finished a fine meal in the dining room located in the rear of the ship, sharing it with our great friends Cory and Carole. As we parted ways, we mentioned that we were heading forward to check out the bow of the ship, since we hadn’t been there yet on our cruise. “Can we join you?”, Cory asked. “Of course not!” I retorted playfully. “We want that moment for ourselves”. “We understand,” he said, as he pressed the button for the elevator to their room.
The dinner had been grand, as usual, and ran well past dark. We found our way through the massive ship, past the life boats and forward to the bow, and lucky for us, it was deserted and dark. Just a lone beacon shone into the ink-black sea, as the lights of Jamaica slipped past us. They dimly shimmered atop the waves, as if to wave us goodbye and fair travels on the next leg of our cruise.
I took the opportunity to tell Jennifer how much I love her, and how happy I was spending my first cruise ever with her. We shared a kiss, then gazed out over the seas and up into the stars. How bright they were! Finding our way to the benches, we both laid back, head to head, discussing the wonder of the constellations. Then I heard a noise.
Looking over, I could just make out another couple quietly moving along the rails up to the bow. I alerted Jennifer, and we lay quietly, continuing our star-talk in a murmur as they lingered at the bow.
Why were we not surprised when through the rustle of the wind we heard “Good evening, Jennifer and Brian”? It was Carole! And Cory!!
You’ll have to ask them whether they were trying to join our venture, or hoping we were gone so they could have one of their own. Either way, we forgive them. Sometimes the lure of the seas is just too powerful to overcome.
Find something small to observe in the natural world, e.g., one tree or flower, one small area in the water, and commit to ten minutes of watching that area. Take noes of what you observe. Then write a couple of paragraphs about your experience, what you saw, etc.
Snorkling in the Harbor
There are some places where beauty is unexpected. Here we were, maybe 80 snorkelers crowded onto a dive boat, hoping for a mix of adventure and scenery on one of the world’s most renowned diving locations, Grand Caymen Island. The cruise excursion brochure had sold us with promises of a “short scenic cruise” to snorkel a wreck, then another ride to a “majestic” reef, “where you will have a perfect opportunity to swim with multitudes of colorful tropical fish and
marine life.” Sounded great.
Imagine our shock when the boat’s engine stopped just a couple of minutes away from the pier, in the middle of Georgetown harbor. “Here we are!” said the dive master, weighing anchor just yards away from our cruise ship, and equally as close to the shore, bustling with tourists and salesmen hawking their trinkets. We could have jumped from the ship into the water, and saved all the trouble of going ashore and working our way to the same spot!
But our disappointment was tempered when we dove in, because fish apparently don’t care what’d going on above the surface. Down below, we found a teeming underwater habitat. Colorful coral, a wide variety of striped fish, and even a large school of blue-tinged black fish greeted us. The wonder of underwater life had immersed us, washing our skepticism away.
Make notes on one aspect of a place you visit or one activity you participate in during the trip. Put together some facts, impressions, details, sayings, etc. of your experience in that place.
Haiti Harassment (First Impression)
It wasn’t something that I had to do. We’d ridden past the Haitian artisan market on the trolley, and I could do that again, and avoid the gauntlet of hungry vendors trying to sell me their cheap but colorful souvenirs. But I was on one of my ‘quests’, looking for a simple eyeglass cord, to avoid losing them in the water.
The flanking rows of ramshackle wooden stalls loomed, and I knew what I was in for. As I approached, the hawking began.
Haitian Harassment (Full Story)
Any tourist to the third world knows or quickly learns of ‘the gauntlet’, that oppressive, unavoidable assault by vendors of cheap souvenirs when visiting their beautiful country. “Come here my friend”, “Hey, what’s your name?”, “Please look at this”, and a thousand other similar chants pepper you. It’s even like that in Royaln Caribbean’s ‘Private Compound’ in Labadee, Haiti, where you’d expect they’d coerce the vendors to be a bit more civil.
This is one place, though, where I give them a bit of a pass. These people are probably more than poor. They’re desperate, and I’d rather they try to sell me a cheap wooden bowl than delve into crime.
Haiti, the western third of the island of Hispaniola, just east of Cuba, is the poorest nation in the Hemisphere. Crippled by a long history of corruption and natural disasters, Haitians still suffer greatly. They have a toxic mix of disfunctional government, drug trafficking, HIV infection, water-borne diseases, and a host of other health, economic and social issues.
So if a controlled mob of Haitians want to do their best to sell their cheap souvenirs to relatively wealthy cruise-ship tourists, I think I’ll give them, and just them, a pass.
Write about Spirituality — give an example
I’m not much of a spriritual person. I observe my religion, but am not very religious. But I do believe in morality, and in the goodness of all people. My hope in interacting with people is to take from my relationship with them the goodness within, whilst acknowledging but disregarding their bad characteristics.
Write about one of the spiritual moments from the 3 exercises above.
A Burst of Color
After a long, cold winter in Atlanta, Jennifer was down. The trees were leafless and seemingly lifeless, We hadn’t exercised enough, her friends hadn’t visited enough from Florida, and we hadn’t visited them in Florida enough. 17 years in Winter Park weather had softened her, and she was more than ready for spring, and it was running late.
The first sign of spring was the pear trees. In about a day, it seemed, they had burst open, bold and bright white. Then came the dogwoods, the azaleas, the tulips, and many other trees and flowers we couldn’t identify. By the time our dear friends Connie and Carole showed up for Atlanta’s Dogwood Festival, the city was reborn, vibrant, and beautiful. And so was Jennifer. What a difference just a splash of color can have!