Monday, June 30, 2008

Love Affairs...

I liked this quote from Mma Ramotswe:

"..far too many people are permanently miserable because they allow love affairs to dominate their lives. Its only one thing, that business between men and women, and there are many other more important things, including food"

Onset of Panic!!!

Well perhaps a little dramatic. I am exhausted. After teaching Eric almost every night last week, I taught an advanced class this weekend. Today I feel like crap and like lying in bed all day would be a very attractive prospect (actually calling in sick would be nice - but every day is $$$). Being so drained has really made me feel a bit jittery about this move. I feel urges to buy loads of things - like my favorite shampoo or a million pairs of sunglasses, or baby sunblock - then I remember Allie's words of wisdom ' Remember that you can buy things in Mexico too'. It is starting to worry me that I have nowhere to live (I really should call Jose and Miguel or even Julio). I am making sentimental attachments like crazy. This new dive shop I'm working for has super nice staff and I'm thinking - what a nice bunch of people and I'm never going to see them again; Alex the guy who watches the water at the quarry; just the quarry itself and teaching people there; Jose and Fernando; Carey; Michele; Jeff; the people at work; my apartment; sushi. I'm in a crazy worry spiral. I have high hopes that a few good nights sleep will bring me back into the land of the sane.

Also last night was my last, last dinner with Cat (She leaves today and does not plan to be back in NYC til December). Actually Cat leaving, although sad, is kind of one of the things that keeps me feeling OK. I remind myself that she is managing a move without the world falling apart. It also reminds me that the good friends I have in the States are dwindling (hell two of them are in Mexico).

I do still think it is rational to stock up on Joico Shampoo and perhaps a few more good quality bikinis:)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Private Student - Eric

Charlie referred a private student to me this week. Its been tough because he lives about 40 mins, kick ass, drive from here and I've been heading over after work. Its been kind of nice though. The guy works in the shipping business - possible contact for a return to NY I'm thinking. His house is awesome. He has a lovely wife (Camile), who keeps wanting to feed me - I like women who try to mother me, a son Eric Jr and a cute Golden Retriever dog. The pool he has is salt water so doesn't dry out my hair. He seems pretty excited about scuba and my awesome teaching skills:) So much so that he says that next time he and his family/ friends charter a yatch around the Caribbean he'll pay for me to fly out and be their dive guide. He wants me to do check out dives for him and for his son to audit. Nice homey night.

The other thing I like about this place is the drive home. The fire flies are amazing - they light up the trees like Christmas tree lights. Then there are the deer. Tonight I slowed down and stopped as I passed a doe and she spent about a min looking into my car at me. Really pretty. I'll have my camera tomorrow - but inevitably the deer wont be out then.

I guess I'm a city kid - not used to these exciting country sights:) Ah Bed Time ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz


Sometimes when I'm a bit down - someone pop's up and says exactly the right thing to cheer me up and I think - yup that's my guardian angel at work. Like today I was having a panic attack about moving to Mexico (I was tired and I always feel a bit insecure about things when I'm tired).

So I'm standing waiting for the PATH when a pretty good looking young man walks up to me and says - you work for Hoboken Dive Center right. I said grumpily that I used to but we'd recently parted company (then I realized, hold on good looking guy - grumpiness no good- smile and be cute). So I say more cheerily, well I did work there but I'm moving to Mexico in September and they decided they wanted to build customer loyalty in their new instructors (bla, bla bla - niceness...). So turns out this guy - Matt just handed in his resignation that day to go off for 6 months traveling around the Far East/ Australia, with an open mind on whether or not he would be returning. This guy then went on to give me exactly the talking to I needed about offices not being healthy places for anyone really and how great it was that I was doing something I loved, that I could always come back etc....

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Fire Island

This weekend Cat, Beth and I decided to go to fire Island. It had been that or Woodstock. I had thought the weather might not be that good and so had suggested Woodstock, but as it turned out it was beautiful. The trip was ill planned and we had nothing to put into my GPS so I entered the name of the town Beth had said the ferry left from and found a bar address to put into my GPS. When we arrived at a ferry stop we had the choice of going to 'The Pines', 'Cherry Hill', or 'Sailors Haven'. We asked for some advice on this from a guy who immediately suggested we might enjoy Cherry Hill, on closer questioning it became clear that this was the Lesbian beach; The Pines was gay and Sailors Haven was a nature reserve with no bars and restaurants (definitely not for us). The Pines it was. I like watching gay men and we certainly weren't off to the beach on any kind of man hunting mission. The ferry ride was lovely (and very gay - there was no doubt where we were heading). I was distracted by a sex conversation, between two cute French men, behind me when I was trying/ pretending to read my people magazine. When we arrived we decided to stop for lunch and a few glasses of wine. We talked about our plans for summer and life, men, the usual things a group of girlfriends discuss over wine. Here are Beth and I waiting for the food to arrive:
Then we grabbed some ice creams and walked down a typical little boardwalk path to the ocean side of the Island: A few years ago, Cat and I had done a house in Kismet. The Pines is much more well kept than Kismet. All of the gardens are impeccably manicured: and the boardwalk all neatly repaired - yes we were definitely in Gay town. The beach was lovely - clean, breezy, crashing waves. I had two swims, Cat came in once and Beth was too much of a baby to get in. The water was cold but I don't mind that when you can get out and warm up in the sun. I like the ocean here, lots of waves to play in. I had a good afternoon snooze before cat decided to spray my stomach with sunblock. Then tragedy hit. In a moment of madness I decided to try some of Beth's neutrogena sunblock on my face rather than my own baby sunblock. Yes the nasty neutrogena got in my eyes, onto my contact lenses, burned my skin around my eyes. The pain just got worse and worse. Beth wanted to go to the bathroom so I went and washed my face and took my lenses out/ replaced them, bought some visene etc. We then went back to the beach where I took the lenses out for 20 mins. My eyes felt better but I am blind with out contacts so I had to put them in again. It was OK for a while. Long enough for me to document the parade of guys walking along the Ocean front. Let me tell you gay guys certainly look after their bodies!!

I also took some vid of the waves crashing - one of my favorite sounds in the whole world (I also like the sound of scuba tanks clanking together when dive boats get loaded up in the morning, and rain on car roofs and tents):

The walk back to the dock was painful. We found a restaurant and I had to take out my lenses all together and sit blindly and in a fair amount of pain. I hate to be a wet blanket but imagine putting fingers in your eyes after cutting chillie peppers - they were burning! A (straight) couple on the next table were having a very vicious row which made everyone feel on edge. We moved seats and managed to get back to a nice conversation, despite the pain in my little eyes. I had Pizza and white wine. It was very nice and then we headed back to the ferry. The disco scene was just heating up as we left. This is probably a fun town to party in if you have some gay friends. Jerry is too old for this I figured so I have no one. I am generally good at staying awake in cars because I dont like it when passengers fall asleep if I have to drive BUT on this occasion I decided sleep was the only way my eyes were going to stop hurting. Today (Sunday), I am happy to report my eyes feel almost back to normal. Lessons learned 1. Only use baby sunblock on face; 2. bring spare contact lenses to the beach.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rainbow Rooms

I'm generally not tremendously into corporate events but my company's Annual Dinner at the Rainbow Rooms in NYC was quite nice. I guess my days of cocktail parties will soon be over. To be honest though although they are kind of nice, I'd rather have a picnic on the beach:) Not a huge fan of people who blart on about how successful they are/ how much money they earn - in all fairness they may not enjoy my conversation either (highly unlikely as my cocktail chatter is pretty dazzling). Here are the views from the cocktail hour:
Central Park

Empire State
I have to say I do quite like dressing up in a cocktail dress - this is me with one of the daughters of our shipowners - Cigdem (pronounced 'cheekdem'). She's a really nice person - Turkish - also very beautiful. There was also dancing to a pretty cool Jazz band - Vicki and Eddy:

At this point in the evening I took a look around and decided that there were a lot of people at the American Club and in the shipping business who are pretty darn nice - Hell I love some of these guys!John Karpousis and Gina Venezia:
Gina and Muge ('Moogay'):After dinner we had a hard time getting a cab - so John Dorothea and I took one of those bicycle cabs it was actually pretty fun and one of the things that I always meant to do in NYC - would also like to take a horse ride through Central Park:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lovely Weekend...

The weather was lovely this weekend. I spent the whole weekend helping an instructor, Bob Marks, from Lehigh Valley Dive shop teach Open Water and peak performance buoyancy dive classes. Fernando came too to finish up his DM dives:
Fernando and Bob

I really enjoyed teaching and Bob was a good instructor to work with. His OW students were 16 and 20, and nice kids. The girl Vicki seemed a little nervous and I enjoyed helping her with her buoyancy and mask skills. I had decided to camp at the quarry. It had been 85 degrees all day and after the classes were done I set up my tent. Bob had asked me to join him for dinner and we went to a diner close to the quarry. As we left the restaurant the heavens opened. I drove back to Dutch Springs and my little tent in typhoon like conditions:
Happily when I got inside the tent all was cosy and dry:
I could hear from the conversation outside that Vicki's (the 16 yr old student) tent had not fared so well. A little angel appeared on my left shoulder saying 'Anna let Vicki sleep in your tent', but then an angel wearing a red dress, on my right, reasoned that I would get no sleep sharing my little tent and that in the long term only Vicki could suffer from the diminished instruction she would receive from a sleep deprived instructor. I decided to let things play out and happily, Chris her co-student's parents came to her rescue and let her stay in their hotel room. I read some Spanish poetry, listened to the rain on my tent, listened to a meditation pod cast and fell into a wonderful deep sleep. I heard someone say that a bigger storm was forecast before they all headed off in their cars.. but I cant say if that happened or not, because I was out cold within 30 mins. The next thing I new I was waking to birds singing. I got up and took a hot shower. Before going to Wegmans for coffee, I wandered down to the lake. I took this picture of carp swimming under some thistles and also the old quarry stacks - reflected in the lake, almost like a perfect mirror.

Fernando came back on Sunday with Catherine and the baby and I decided to do the first dive and then have a catch up with Catherine and sit out in the sun. I also met a nice DM from Lehigh Valley named Jennifer who lives in Edgewater and a guy Trace who is a tech instructor for Lehigh. Cat called to say she was in from Germany for the next three weeks and the day ended perfectly with a glass of wine and a snack with Cat and Beth. Sounds like Cat is still in the difficult stage of her move (which as I recall can last for quite some time), but I'm sure all will be awesome when she gets into the groove of the place.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heat Wave....

Summer has definitely arrived. Yesterday the temp gauge hit 95 degrees! I washed my car, took out most of my scuba gear and picked Jeff up to go to the beach.
In New Jersey you are not allowed to drink on the beach and for years I have obeyed this ordnance to the letter. Jeff, however is a bit of a rebel so we snuck beer and Kahlua onto the beach in slurpy cups. It was a nice afternoon. It was unbearable hot in the parking lot - less than 400 meters from the beach, but on the beach there was a really nice breeze. I soon gave up on the Kahlua and fell into a deep beach snooze. I had been a bit sloppy in applying my sunblock but was having such a great snooze that I threw caution to the wind. Today I'm a LITTLE bit pink, but its not too bad. The only down side of the cooling breeze is that it was a little too cold to go into the ocean (temps are probably still in the 50s which is OK if its hot on the beach so you can thaw out after your swim).

After the beach we went to Union Landing for some Alaskan crab claws and shrimp, then drove to Staten Island to have a drink with Jenn who is a friend I used to work with, who's now living in Florida.

Ant attack

Every year a bold band of ants try to take over my bathroom. The first year I was a novice. I'd also begun reading about Buddhism and didn't want to kills creatures for fear of opening murderous doors in my Karma. I figured I'd let the little guys be. So long as they occupied territory to the south of the actual toilet I felt we could live in peace (in fact I kind of enjoyed watching them on my windowsill). This all changed when they took ground on the sides on my bath tub, making it impossible for me to take a bath without risk of getting ants in my hair. I also managed to kill a good handful every time I took a shower. This was the last straw. I reasoned that killing say 20 ants in the process of spraying the bathroom with insect spray would be better than killing 5-10 every time I took a shower. So I went out and purchased 'Raid'. A few lives were lost in the initial onslaught but I try to scare them out of the areas I'm going to spray before I open fire. Ultimately I was victorious and once again supreme ruler of the bathroom.

We go through this routine every summer. One or two scout groups at first and then after weeks of recognisance missions a bid is made for take over. This year however I suffered a sneak attack. A take over play without warning. I got home from the beach/ dinner in Staten Island and the bathroom floor was a sea of ants. Luckily, I had Raid left from last year. I'll be honest it was a bit of a blood bath. Many good souls perished, but harmony once again reigns in the bathroom and I like to think that I may have helped speed those little souls to a reincarnation as more enlightened beings.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Canada - And I'm Advanced Nitrox Certified!!!!

Just got back from an awesome 4 days in Canada. I passed my Advanced Nitrox Course which was a big personal accomplishment, and had a great time hanging out with Jose, Fernando, Charlie, Howard and Rich (I feel the need to go and do something very girly this week though as I have been one of the guys all weekend). The diving in Canada was FANTASTIC!!
Jose, Fernando and I drove up Friday in my little Honda. She did very well with all of our gear. We talked for a solid 6 hours and Jose and Fernando educated me on Spanish music (The Classics - Julio Iglesias and some Meringue). We'd listen once and then I'd get a translation, pretty cool. I learned that Meringue starts with a story (generally of the unrequited love variety), you are left hanging as to the outcome and then they end with an instrumental section where the dancing is meant to get crazy. We listened to one song about a sailor who had a night of a passion with some woman he'd met in a bar, he promised to return to her port and she waited outside of the bar for him. Allie would have loved this Spanish lesson. They tried very hard to get me speaking more Spanish. We met Charlie, Rich and Howard in a restaurant 1/2 an hour South of the border, and followed them to our hotel in Canada.
Our dive boat was owned and operated by Captain Tom (who enjoyed making fun of me, in a nice way - not sure how many girls dive in the St Lawrence) but was really helpful - he would help me stand in Jeff's double 120's - OK, OK the seat was low, and grabbed my manifold and helped drag me on to the boat as I struggled up the ladder iron man style :

The St Lawrence looked very peaceful on the surface but not so in/ under it's calm facade:
The training dives were very tough both mentally and physically. Here is an extract from my log book on dives 3 - which I think was my favorite:
"JB KING" June 1 2008, St Lawrence River, Advanced Nitrox Dive #3
'33 lives were lost when this 140' wooden drill barge was struck by lightening and exploded on June 26, 1930' Depth 90' - 100' temp 48F
I was a little apprehensive about this dive. We had to jump into the water two at a time and swim like hell against the current to a little bay where we did our bubble check and share air drills. We descended from the bay into about 20' of water and traversed northwards against an extremely strong current over a bed of rocks with very few places to get a hand hold. There was one point where I started to loose ground against the current. I'd managed to get to a small crevice in the rocks but it was very slippery and I just couldn't get a hold on anything. I was trying to work out how I was going to make it back to the shore when I felt Fernando come up behind me and start pushing my knee forward (this was a very timely rescue let me tell you). Charlie also notice my plight and popped back up to show us a shortcut off to the right around a rock avoiding that last 5' of flat and cutting right onto the first shelf. We then descended over a series of drops and ledges. The current was still head on and at one point I got pinned to one of the ledges. I saw the group descending in front of me and as their lights almost faded into the distance I managed to pull myself over the ledge and descended as fast as I could to join them (phew - near miss #2). Then my primary flashlight failed, its OK I reasoned - two back-ups here. Back up #2 - no joy - BUGGER! My little back up #3 came to the rescue. From here on in the dive became more familiar/ fun. The wreck was really cool, the current subsided to fun manageable levels. We found ourselves on a big wooden skeleton of a ship, wooden beams cast eerie shadows under the beams of the divers flash lights. 18 mins of bottom time and we followed Charlie to a slow ascent. Bit of a clusterfuck (technical diving term) trying to shoot a lift bag (in my defense, my fingers were very cold and not really functioning). Jose and I also did a buddy breathing drill on deco gas.
The last dive was also cool. Highlights were: a no mask swim against a current of 3-4 knots while sharing air with Fernando (1/2 the time I was pulling along the chain, the other 1/2 he was dragging me along the anchor chain by my manifold) and a 15 min drift in a ripping current along the rock wall of the river. Charlie gave me a 'GOOD JOB' for my no mask swim and hovering skills - which in view of my performance last summer, were very treasured words of praise.
In short I had a great time this weekend. I was really put to the test. I'm now exhausted!!!! and aching everywhere - good kind of tired though:) Charlie (pictured center below with Howard to the right and Rich to the left) was an awesome teacher and I learned a lot.
Jose and Fernando were also excellent driving companions and dive buddies. These guys are two of perhaps 5 people that I would trust to buddy breath with, or lead me on a no mask swim, Hans, Jeff, Allie and Michele or others but J & F are unrivaled in the field coming to my rescue!!