Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confession Time

We all have little things we think or do that we inherently know are a little crazy, right? - little secrets that we keep to ourselves at the risk of appearing "off" to others. I think it's totally normal and acceptable. But sometimes it feels good to confess your little idiosyncrasies to others. Who knows? Perhaps someone out there shares a quirky quality? Or maybe they will laugh and point, and shout, "That's crazy!"It's a gamble.

On that note, I have a confession to make.

Well, actually, I have a few weird secrets and since I've decided to confess something at the risk of appearing crazy, I may as well lay them all out there. Why not.

Here it goes:

1) Sometimes when I am alone, I mix together butter, icing sugar, and cocoa in a small bowl. It's called "Kirstie icing." I eat it. Just like that. I can hear you "ewww"ing. Whatevs. I'm not ashamed. Well, obviously I am because I only do it when I'm alone. I wouldn't want to gross out Evan. It actually tastes delightful and makes me incredibly happy. In fact, it makes me a better person. I know it does.

2) Until I was about 12-13 years old, I actually thought that if a male and female were naked in close vicinity, sex would just happen. Like the male parts would just "find" the female parts. Like a magnet. Boom. You have no choice. You are naked and suddenly it happens. I don't know where I became misled. I'm pretty sure my parents and school provided me with the basics. For whatever reason, I was slightly confused.... and terrified of getting naked in change rooms that were within a few meters of a boys change room. Perhaps it is a brilliant teaching method. There was no way I was taking off my clothes anywhere near a boy that might even be thinking of getting naked! Ack! In case you're wondering, I'm got it all sorted out now, thank you very much.

Finally, the point of this blog post:

3) I have this irrational fear that a tidal wave/earthquake/asteroid/major destructive force is going to swallow this beautiful little island that I live on and we will all be sucked into the sea, never to be seen again.

I blame the following disaster flicks: "Armageddon," "The day after tomorrow," and "Deep Impact."

This thought first occurred to me as I saw the island for the first time from the airplane's window on descent. I knew the island was small, but seeing it from 10,000 feet solidified the fact that this island is small, people. Fricken small! It seemed so insignificant from the air. We could have easily flown past it and if I had been struggling to open my bag of crap airline peanuts, I would have completely missed it. An entire country!

I don't suffer from constant anxiety about this "issue." It just occurs to me from time to time. Especially at night when I'm looking out to sea and can't see anything. Nothing. Eerie. I've mentally tried to prepare for the tidal wave/earthquake/asteroid/destructive force by mapping out an escape route, but so far, I've got nothing. Where would I escape to? The highest point on this island is about 60 feet above sea level. That's not so high. And wouldn't all 60,000 people on this island be headed to that same location? Ugh. The bottom line is, the risk of tidal wave (so I've been told) is very low and an asteroid could hit anywhere, I suppose. In addition, there is no evidence that we're under attack by unidentified flying objects (they only attack major American cities like LA and NY anyways - so says Hollywood). My fear is totally irrational.

See - terrifying, right?

Now this is ominous. Disaster is imminent. 

So after almost 3 months on the island I thought that I had conquered this irrational fear and could live in peace in paradise. Not so much.

On Thursday, I was driving out to my schools on the north side and east end of the island. The East End is the furthest distance from where I live - approximately 22 miles away. This drive typically takes me about an hour in the morning with rush hour traffic - (there actually is "rush hour" traffic here. For real). I had driven about half the distance only to come to police road block. The police motioned that the road was closed and diverted me to a secondary road. I obediently followed the traffic and quickly came to a standstill. On an unknown "back" road, I sat, unmoving with hundreds of cars for 2 hours. Police cruisers whizzed past us in both directions, and people began turning off their vehicles and walking down the road. Initially I imagined a bad traffic accident, but I couldn't understand why we would all be required to sit and wait for 2 hours. Unmoving. Suddenly it occurred to me. Picturing the scene in all the disaster movies where Manhattaner's angrily get out of their cars in traffic only to be smashed by giant wave/asteroid/UFO, I thought, "Dammit! It's the tidal wave/asteroid/major destructive force. My little Japanese care, EDO Japan, does not pick up any radio signals (why would it, it thinks we are in Tokyo!), so I quickly went to my phone to text Evan: "Go online. Is there something bad happening on this island?" When he didn't reply and it was apparent that none of my texts were being transmitted, I was pretty positive that it was happening. I hate being right.

Finally after 2 hours of preparing for the tidal wave/asteroid/UFO/destructive force to take me down, traffic began to move. I glimpsed out to the ocean only to see calm, turquoise waters - no tidal wave. The sky was clear - no asteroids. No UFO's appeared to be entering our atmosphere. Reaching my destination, 2 hours late, I learned that it was, indeed, a very bad traffic accident that had caused the diversion.

Moral of the story: I need to avoid disaster movies, remain fully clothed in all public places, mix up a bowl of Kirstie icing... and calm the frick down.

This is where I ate lunch that day - Whoa! Scary stuff. 

Evan says, "chill out...ewwww, you eat butter and icing sugar?"

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Diving for cheeseburgers

Happy Thanksgiving Canada! Today I'm thankful that I spent a third of my weekend underwater. After battling (and winning!) this stupid bacterial infection, and then cancelling a dive last weekend due to Ev's newly acquired cold, we were so thankful to finally get beneath the surface this weekend. It's kinda silly - we spend all winter planning and waiting for a 1-2 week vacation, where we typically smash out 2 dives a day; yet, we've been here for 2 months and haven't been underwater once! Thank goodness we managed to get our ass in gear and oxygen tanks on our backs. Yesterday we attended my new friend, Katherine's snorkelling birthday party at a beach called Smith's Cove. This beach is awesome! It's hidden in a little cove, there's excellent snorkelling with tons of fish just a few feet off shore, and there's lots of shade for my buddy, Ev, whose freckles are beginning to join to the create the "ginger tan."We spent an hour or so snorkelling and then Katherine and I pulled up our big girl bikini bottoms and went cliff diving jumping off a 5 foot rock. It felt more impressive than it looks. Haha

Ready for it!

Go! yes, that's the paparazzi taking pics from the water

Today we did a shore dive, aptly name, "The Cheeseburger" because of its location directly in front of Burger King (how do we have BK, yet no Starbucks? How? What I would do for a pumpkin spiced latte...) A buddy notified us that the "Silversides" were in town. After realizing that he wasn't talking about a band, we researched ( that the silversides are little silvery fish that arrive in the thousands - typically between June and August here in Grand Cayman. For whatever reason, they just happen to be in front of Burger! Not just "The home of the whopper," people!

The dive was pretty incredible. It was shallow - we never descended further than 40 feet. We entered a long swim through (like a cave, with an opening) to discover a curtain of thousands of sparkly silver fish. In order to see where you were going, you actually had to reach out and spread the glittery fish with your hands - imagine thousands of tiny silver fish all moving as one, swirling around you as you swim through a narrow cave. Super cool! On the other end of the swim through were huge Jacks, just waiting to snack - on the silversides, not us!) Overall, great experience. I'm glad we were able to witness that, especially given that it only happens a few times a year.

This isn't actually from our camera - it ran out of batteries 10 minutes into the dive but this dude got a great pic

found this perfect conch during my Thursday lunch on the beach
In addition to some great water time, we had a pretty good week on the island. I'm not going to complain about the heat...ever...I promise (watch 325 people defriend me instantly on Facebook); however, I must say, I do miss some variation in the weather. Weather is such a huge part of our lives back home. We have hundreds of adjectives to describe the weather: "blustery," "frosty," "heatwave," "coldspell," "frigid," I can go on and on. The weather is always changing. It can be hot and 30 degrees Celsius one day in May turning to blizzard-like conditions the very next day. It gives us something to talk about - something to praise and something to bitch about. Here, we have hot, hotter, hot rainy, hot breezy, and finally... a brand new one this week...wait for it...."windy." I woke up at 6:30am on Wednesday for my daily morning walk with Dundee and I immediately noticed that something was different. There was a strong breeze and it felt almost...well, almost "crisp-ish." It was still like 28 degrees celsius, but the wind was actually refreshing. I came bouncing inside, "Ev! It's different outside today. It's like windy, but kinda cool windy or something!" Wowsers. If this doesn't make, then I don't know what will. haha.

Even my buddies - the other new recruits noticed! At The Wharf bar and grill during Friday happy hour, my American friend commented, "Did anyone notice that there was kinda, I dunno, almost like a cool wind the other morning?" "YESS! we all chimed in. Exciting times. Exciting times. I have been told that the humidity will fall around November and the air will feel cooler during the "winter" months. My scarves (I only packed the "tropical" scarves!) are waiting patiently, hanging with anticipation in my closet. Stay tuned.  I look at pictures on Facebook from back home - colorful leaves, pumpkin patches, pumpkin-spiced lattes (sorry, I'm obsessed), family Thanksgiving dinners, and I definitely feel a bit homesick. It's only been a few months, but I find myself having to really remember what Fall looks, smells, and feels like. I'm so thankful for skype/facetime, which at least allows me to see everyone I love and miss. There's always a strange balance between missing the familiar and yearning for something completely new - so we're embracing the balance and eating our Thanksgiving meal out by the pool this year.
Happy Thanksgiving! Cheers!
mmm...stuffing from a box

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Reunited and it feels so....TERRIBLE! I need a Doctor!

Last we chatted, I was excitedly preparing for Ev's return to the island. He was flying in at noon on Sunday, so on Saturday, I prepared by buying his favourite groceries (MEAT!), purchasing some Czech beer, and tidying up the house for his arrival. Every now and then I would turn to my captive audience (dog and cat) and exclaim enthusiastically, "Evan's coming home tomorrow!" Their ears would go back, the dog wagged his tail and the cat looked at me expectantly. Exciting times.

Things went downhill quickly.

By midnight Saturday, I was laying on the bathroom floor, dripping in sweat, experiencing what I could only guess was a case of food poisoning.

I took some meds and set my alarm for 11:30am so that I could pick up my man from the airport.

A romantic reunion of lovers (ew, I hate that word) beaus embracing lovingly after 3 weeks of separation -  it was NOT. Hunched over the steering wheel, perspiring profusely, I slowly drove up to the terminal, rolled down the window, and muttered, "Let's. Go."

Poor Ev.

By Monday evening, things had gotten worse and I was experiencing severe stomach pain - the kind that doubles you over and takes your breath away (ginger ale ain't fixin' this!) Ev and I decided to visit the hospital - I mean, may as well try out that free healthcare.

Because I am a government employee, I am entitled to free healthcare. Unlike Canada where our tax dollars pay for our healthcare, the Cayman Government foots the total bill - which is great; however, I was a little concerned what my free healthcare would get me. First, I knew that the insurance only covered me at one of the three hospitals on the island. I envisioned the hospitals in the US (as seen on TV) for peeps with very limited or no insurance - crowded chaos.

I was pleasantly surprised. Within an hour and a half of entering the hospital, I was in an emerg bed, was examined by a doctor, had IV fluids, and had just returned from an ultrasound. Boom. Not bad.

Once it was determined that I had a bacterial infection (I haven't a clue how I got that but most google searches reveal "ingesting feces" - awesome) and IV antibiotics were administered, I chilled out and we took this picture: romance at its finest.

Hospital selfie. Some people tour the beaches, I prefer the ER

I felt pretty rough for a few more days, but I dragged myself to work on Wednesday, concerned that my schools would be searching for me, needing me, wondering where the h their new speech therapist went (for the record, no one noticed that I was missing).

I went back to work too soon. I was tired. I was weak. I was incredibly cranky and totally "over" this whole experience - I just wanted to be back in my house in PA surrounded by familiar things. I knew I had had it as I watched the vicious dogs (they're baaack!) tear apart a snake from my treatment window (no lie!) and asked the 8th child of the day, "What does a policeman do?" (we're working on occupations) Aside: Best response ever from a second grader: "You pay them to go away, ma'am." I'm assuming that kid has seen way too many movies...yikes.

The day just escalated from challenging to "What am I doing here? "quickly. I was told by the ER physician to make a follow-up appointment with a Doctor as soon as possible, so I was frustrated when my island cell phone completely failed to power up. I immediately took it to the nearest cell dealer and the woman oohed and ahhed and stated matter-of-factly, "You need Kirk Sullivan."

Um. Ok. I don't know Kirk Sullivan. Tell me more.

"You need to call Kirk Sullivan about your phone," she continued.

"Great. But I don't have a phone to call him from," I responded.

She directed me to Kirk's office in downtown Georgetown and told me to hurry, as the office closed in 1 hour. I high-tailed it in EDO Japan (my little foreign car), feeling rotten. I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the rearview mirror. Skin sallow, eyes dark and sunken in, I was not the poster child for Cayman Island living. And I just needed a working phone to make a Doctor's appointment, dammit.

Georgetown is the area where the cruise ships dock. Pretty cool when you first arrive on the island, but a total pain in the ass when you're attempting to get anything done. Cruise Ships equate to hundreds of lost tourists, aimlessly wandering the streets, looking for rum cake and cheap booze (tip: there is NO cheap booze on this island. Trust me, I have looked) In addition to the tourists are the tour buses lined up and down the streets, leading to excess traffic and complete chaos. There just happened to be 3 cruise ships docked on this particular today. Ugh. Turning onto the main street downtown, I became angered by the lack of rules these drivers were adhering to. You can't just wave someone through a 4-way stop! There are rules! Annoyed and overreactive, I finally found a parking spot and raced into the office building. It was 4:45pm and my greasy hair was pasted to my sweaty face as drops of sweat dripped down the back of my legs.

"I need Kirk Sullivan!" I stated.

"Yes, this way ma'am."

I was escorted to a small room with a ticket window - no one was behind the window.

"Kirk!!!!" yelled my escort, "He'll be right with you, ma'am."

I turned around and was shocked to see 9 other customers, waiting in chairs.

"Are you all waiting for Kirk Sullivan?" I inquired.

They nodded.

"Is there a line?" I questioned

They shook their heads.

How the h do we know who is next without a line?

As more and more customers entered the room, with the escort yelling, "Kirk!!!" I seriously began to wonder if this was a joke. Is there even a "Kirk" ? Does this phone whisperer even exist?

After 45 minutes of waiting - yes, the office was actually closed at this point, a man, who could only be Kirk Sullivan appeared behind the window.

"So whose phone is broken?" asked Kirk from behind the window. Five out of nine people began talking simultaneously, waving their phones in the air, explaining their phone issues.

This is how he fixed the phones. There was no line. No one person was served before the other. We were all kinda "served" at the same time. Wow.

Frustrated but satisfied that my phone was in working order, I left after a 2 hour wait at the office.

At this point I had worked an 8 hour day, battled cruise ship traffic, spent 2 hours waiting in line a non-line, and was feeling sick, exhausted, and fed up. I decided the only thing that could cheer me up was a Smoothie from Smoothie King. I entered the Smoothie shop to a room full of customers wandering aimlessly around in circles...or squares...I'm not sure.

"Is there a line?" I inquired.

15 people, perplexed, looked back at me and shrugged.

Good Gawwwwd. I'm done. Done, I say!

The bacteria, the snake-eating dogs, the lack of traffic rules, and the absence of lines had completely sent me over the edge. I felt like the Cayman Islands had officially flipped me the middle finger.

Cranky, miserable, and defeated, I arrived home. Evan led me to the pool area and encouraged me to chill out. And then this happened:

Ok, CI's - I forgive you

And I took a deep breath and began to settle down. Tough week. Remind me not to ingest feces. Maybe lines and traffic rules are overrated? Next week will be better.