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Journey's ending



Another boat day and an overwhelming feeling of sadness at having to leave.

During one of our shows, we sat next to a woman whose cruise was free, as she had been a passenger on a cruise boat heading from New Jersey a while back that had to turn back due to rough waters. “They locked us in our cabin for ten hours,” she said. “The beds rolled back and forth all night long and we couldn’t get any food during the entire storm, except what was in our cabin. I didn’t sleep a wink.”

That would have been a cruise I would have been happy to leave.

Not this one. We ended the night falling asleep in what we call “cuddle cubes” on the deck, listening to the sound of the waves and the distant chatter of other passengers.

Can’t wait for next year and some new adventures.

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Cozumel


Remember how I said Dunn’s Falls was my part of the trip so far?

It was eclipsed in a big way by our day trip to Xcarat this morning.


What always is somewhat tedious about Cozumel (at least, the two times we have been), is the 40 minute boat ride across the water followed by a bus ride to wherever it is you are going.

Both times it’s been so worth the effort, though. Our trip to Cozumel last year led us to a Mayan ruin in Tulum and this year to a huge eco-archeological park in Xcarat, which the tour guide described as the “Disney of Mexico.” I’m not sure if that’s really true, but I have to admit, the high point of this trip--or really any one I’ve taken traveling-has to be the 120 km glide through a massive water tunnel, both above ground and under, that took us one hour to complete.

It was like one humongous lazy river, only so much lovelier. Being such a water lover, and surrounded by the lush tropical vegetation and exotic animals, I was in absolute heaven. At the end of the river, I forced Corb to stay in for twenty minutes more, because I honestly didn't want to leave.


Yes, that. Take THAT photograph in your head. It blows yesterday's waterfall away.

It reminded me of when I was ten years old, and a lovely inlet in Cape Cod that I would swim down for hours. I love feeling like a kid again.

At the center of the underground portion, you looked up to see the following tiled ceiling. It was like a cathedral.


On the way back, we tried to stay awake while our boat tossed rather violently to and fro. An older man and woman tried  in vain to get people to buy jewelry and rugs. Behind us, an older man kept up an ongoing racist dialogue to his wife about the Spanish people around us. I wanted to say, “Dude, life under Trump does NOT give you permission to be so obnoxious, especially to people in a Spanish-speaking country where you are definitely the minority.” But I decided it was best to hold my tongue.






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A day away.


“You don’t know how to relax.” Corb said this to me this morning, as we were eating breakfast.

And it’s true. Each night after he’s gone to bed, I’ve worked on Young Frankenstein, so I can be ready when I get back from the trip. I didn’t sleep that well when I got to bed at two in the morning (even with the blankets, it was freezing!). This morning I worked up early because I realized I didn’t put my away message on at work and spent about an hour sorting through emails. At breakfast I spent a good time sorting out what we’d do today. 

Okay, so relaxation it is.

On the schedule today: nothing much. Just resting on our balcony, a few drinks here and there, maybe catching up with my journal, maybe reading…maybe catching up on sleep.

See you in 24.

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Jamaica


Dunn’s Falls. Favorite excursion of the trip so far. Although I heard some people say they didn’t like the artificiality of the port we docked at in Jamaica (which had been funded by Royal Caribbean expressly to accommodate the large cruise ship we had taken), I was happy to overlook that because I thoroughly enjoyed checking out the underground caves in the morning and especially, spending the afternoon climbing up a 1,000 foot waterfall.

I think the more active adventures are the ones that mean the most to me. They’re the ones that actually create an impression. I mean, that of course stands to reason, right?

But it’s the experience of swimming with dolphins or getting lost in a public bus or checking out an Aztec ruin that provide you with the greater return. Not the sitting around or walking from here there or waiting at a food line to gobble up the next round of buffet style food, like pigs at a trough. 


No, it’s the thrill of the chase. Feet cautiously moving forward to find the next safe stone, hands linked with Corb to move up to the next spot in the waterfall, warmish blue water cascading down and splashing your legs. A quick dip into deeper hole created over thousands of years by nature.

I’d give anything just to hang out by the waterfall at Dunn’s Falls for a day or two.

I think it may become a go to spot in my mind. Like sitting and dreaming at King Arthurs Seat in Scotland, years ago, when I was an actor at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

It’s good to have connections in your mind from all across the world.




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Take the plunge


“I am so not looking forward to this I am so not looking forward to this I am so not looking forward to this.”

“Shut up and take off your clothes, Corb.”

Clothes removed. White fluffy robes placed upon our bodies. We shoved our feet into silly plastic sandals that didn’t feel comfortable between the toes.

Couples massage. I planned it as a surprise, because Corb is always saying he wants a massage. To my surprise, however, Corb has been dreading it ever since the day I told him, because he is very uncomfortable about people seeing his back. Ever since he had been whipped by Captain Randall for trying to steal a loaf of…oh, wait. That’s Outlander.

No, Corb just doesn’t like people seeing his back for other reasons. I'll let those reasons be mysterious so he doesn't threaten to kill me if/when he reads this.


We make our way down to the waiting area. “I am so not looking forward to this,” Corb says, as we reach the reception desk.

One hour later.

“When can we do that again when can we do that again when can we do that again?”

And that's all I hear for the rest of the trip...

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Traveling men


"We made it!"

When it comes to traveling, with us, half of the struggle is getting there.

Especially with cruises. The past two years we’ve scheduled cruises in February, and both times, we experienced major snowstorms that have caused our flights to be cancelled. Last year we were lucky and the delay only involved us leaving from Boston instead of Providence. We weren't so lucky this time around.

This year, a big snow storm hit New England two days before we left, on Thursday. And that Thursday, I woke up to find our flight for Saturday had already been cancelled, and the rescheduled flight would get us to Fort Lauderdale an hour after our boat took off.

Corb’s mother, who was also going on a cruise that was setting off in Fort Lauderdale that same day, rather smugly (I thought) chastised us for not going direct from Boston to Fort Lauderdale through Jet Blue. “Everyone knows you’re supposed to take Jet Blue,” she said. Gee, thanks.

Frantic scrambling. We figured the easiest thing would be to book a flight that day from an airport as far away from the storm as possible, and ended up choosing a flight taking off in D.C. That meant a seven-hour train ride on Friday.

Which didn’t start out well. As we parked the car in the train station garage. I grabbed the ticket and said to Corb, “I’m putting this right behind my passport card,” at which point he said, “Oh shit” and remembered he left his passport on our bed.

Two hours later, we were settled in our train. Arrived in DC at 11 at night. Our flight was scheduled to leave at six, meaning our wake-up call was 3:30 in the morning. You know, because of that whole “make sure you arrive at the airport ninety minutes early" thing.

Only problem: after all that careful planning, after all our theories about taking a flight far away from the snow storm, this flight was rescheduled due to mechanical failure (something about the breaks, I don’t know, do I look mechanically inclined?) This time, the reschedule would get us into Fort Lauderdale a half an hour before our boat took off. If we were lucky.

More frantic scrambling. I jumped on the phone, Corb stood in line to get the first available attendant. After a completely miserable hour and through the help of a lovely service agent who personally went to grab our bags before they were moved to the wrong plane, we finally were able to reschedule to Ft Lauderdale with three hours to spare.

“I still can’t believe we managed to board at the exact time we were scheduled to,” I said to Corb that night, as we settled in to bed, slightly drunk from all the liquid refreshment we had consumed.

“I know, I know,” Corb sighed. He was exhausted.

“But you know what? It’s totally worth it. Even with all the freak-outs, even though I felt like giving up last night when we arrived at DC so late. The minute I arrived all of that was swept away. I love our adventures together, Corb.”

“Me too,” Corb mumbled, eyes closed. He was already half asleep. Those getting there adventures really can really take a toll.

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WWLMD?


The other night, lying in bed. I'm still reading Outlander and still loving it. Corb is still playing Clash of Kings. Not loving it so much, any more.

And suddenly and without warning, he lets one RIP.

You know what I'm talking about, right? The kind of rump roaring you only get to experience when you're either dealing with a really old person or someone you've been involved with for a really really long time. It was loud. It was rank. It was an explosion. It shook the walls. The hills were alive with the sound of sphincter. The cats ran for cover. The dog whimpered in her cage. The stucco on the ceiling started to fall apart.

After the explosion, after I had recovered from having part of my nose burned off as a result of the odiferous discharge emanating from his anus, I calmly closed my book and turned around to look at him. Corb lay there, eyes wide open, trying not to laugh.

"Corb, I have a favor to ask."

There may or may have been tears in his eyes. They may have been the result of the horrible Dutch oven he had just created. Or maybe, it was just from sheer embarrassment over his rectal turbulence. Who knows? "Yes?"

"From now on, when we are in this bed together, I want you to ask yourself one thing. It's a very simple question, actually: What would Lady Mary do?"

Corb squinted his eyes, confused. "What would..."

"That's right! What would Lady Mary do? Five simple little words. What would Lady Mary have done while she was lying in bed with Matthew at bedtime? Before they kissed goodnight and the Downton Abbey music played? Now, here's a scenario: Would she have let rip with one of the vilest farts known to man? Would that have been proper? I think not, my friend. I think not. And if you cannot answer the question with a 'Yes, this is something that Lady Mary would do,' then I no longer want you to do it in the bed as we go to sleep at night. So, I am going to let that fart go for right now, but..."

"I beg to differ, my good man," Corb replied. "I happen to know that Lady Mary let out some of the stinkiest farts ever known to Downton Abbey."

"Oh really?"

"Really! Lady Mary was a huge air biscuit bomber. She could boom-boom with the best of them! In fact, her butt yodeling was so amazing that people would visit from far and wide, just to hear her heinie hiccups up close and personal. And I'll have you know that Matthew loved them, in particular. When Lady Mary played her trouser trumpet, her panty burps, that man would kick his heels in glee and beg her to let her sphincter siren sound again! So, fine, Ted, FINE! If it's good enough for Lady Mary, it's good enough for you, and I think I just might have some thunder from down under ready to rip again! Ready? One..two..."

It was at that point that I threw off my blanket and headed out of the room, screaming with fright. It all grew dim and hazy after that. And all I could think, as I started to lose consciousness, was: this is NOT something Lady Mary would do...

My fond heart is breaking.

My friend Bob passed away this afternoon.

Thankfully, I was able to see him that one last time, Saturday afternoon. When Ashes and Annie wanted to visit.

I can still see him there. Spread across on the couch, restlessly moving about. Eyes fluttering closed, then open. Country guitar music filling the room. Every so often he'd reach out his arms and start playing air guitar. A lazy smile on his face. Always trying to entertain, to keep our spirits lifted.
One song that played that day fits my mood perfectly right now:

"From this valley they say you are going,
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile,
For they say you are taking the sunshine
Which has brightened our pathways a while.
Won't you think of the valley you're leaving,
Oh, how lonely and sad it will be,
Just think of the fond heart you're breaking,
And the grief you are causing to me?"


I was glad to be able to sit by your side one last time, Bob. To hug you and have you say goodbye. You were truly one of a kind, and I know you're up there with Sandy and the Lees and all our other friends from Fufolatia, looking over us for eternity.
Happy trails, pardner. The shadow you cast in this Red River Valley looms large and will never be forgotten.

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Trapped in Amber.


Last night at bedtime, Corb put down Clash of Kings (which he is totally obsessed with, may I add) to say, "I enjoyed the show tonight."

I wiggled my toes under the blanket, pleased. "That's so funny. You don't usually enjoy shows at that theater."

I will spare you the dialogue that followed, seeing as it involves a recitation of the various shows we have seen at this local black box theater and Corb's review of all of those shows. Suffice it to say: yes, he has actually enjoyed quite a few. But to my point, there have been quite a few he has really, really not liked. This evening was different. We went to see a production of Our Town, a show Corb's never seen before.

"I went there expecting to hate it," he replied. "Especially when my mom said how boring it was. But I really thought it was excellent, especially the final act in the cemetary. I like the idea of people sitting in chairs next to each other at their graves, forgetting their humanity as time goes by."

I dog-eared a page of Outlander and closed the book. "It reminded me of my visit to Bob this afternoon." I closed my eyes.

I had gone with Josie, once again, although this time, we brough Annie and Ashes along with us. Bob, who by the way is suffering from pulmonary hypertension, had been medicated by his nurse about an hour before we went, so he was not half as animated as he had been before. He sat there on the couch, listening to country music and pretending to play air guitar every now and then. The girls didn't say that much. We simply traded small talk and stories about camping until Bob finally said, "Well, I hate to break this up, but I think I'm going to take a rest."

And that was that.

But as I look back at the play we watched, the overwhelming thought I have involves about all the memories I have struggled to bring up with Bob every time I have gone to see him, and how far short my attempts to communicate have fallen from the actual experience. These experiences meant something. They were a big part of my life. Acting, camping, game parties. And yet, when you get right down to it, what do they all boil down to? "Remember when we did this?" And fumbling half-remembered stories that everyone has a different interpretation about (and I, of course, have a tendancy to embellish.)

Our Town is so right. Humans are so bad at details. We never pay attention to the mundane, never are truly in the moment, never appreciate what we truly have, until it's often too late. And if we could go back? The rich fabric, the waste of so much potential, would overwhelm us.

If I could go back in time, what day would I pick? The play asks that, and advises people to pick a mundane, average day, if any day at all. I kept trying in the moment to think what day I would pick. If it can't be overly special, then there was one sumer day I spent swimming with Theo our little pool in the backyard, which might be fun to go back to. I have often thought about the heat on my back and the sheer joy of swimming back and forth with my little guy.

Or, I was thinking, some sexual moment. That might be kind of fun, right?

That's another reason, by the way, I think it's so helpful to journal. At least when we journal we attempt to trap in amber some of the days we have spent. But I also have to admit, it can be difficult to go back and take a look at what you have written, years later. At least, for me. Ah, such imprecise words! Such misplaced anger. So many gaps. Our Town is right: it's the mundane that so often gets lost and discounted. And makes up so much of our lives.

My first journal entry was written on August 16, 1979. I was 14 years old at the time. It reads as follows: "A day of changes. Laurie is going to Nana Hall's because Mom and Dad don't want her around. Dad is planning to go to Block Island today, and Ted begins band."

I used to write about myself in the third person. I know, that weird. But hmmm, I guess those are all pretty big things. But the next entry reads: "Kerrie informs Diane and Michelle that Laurie won't "be here." Dianne doesn't like pears, so Kerrie and Michelle exclude her from them. Nana and Mom enter. Mom had to pick up Nana."

Well, that is certainly a bit more mundane. I couldn't pick Dianne out from a police line-up nowadays if you paid me, but I certainly do remember that she doesn't like pears, even after all these years. Captured in amber, that fact was. I wish I had more of that.

Soon after, I picked up my book and Corb went back to playing his game.

There are so many things I would like to capture in amber. Night times with Corb spent talking over the days mundane events? That certainly goes to the top of the list. Things like the fact that he turns his side of the heating blanket on to full for about ten minutes. I tend to put my side on five, but let it stay that way for an hour or so. Either way, it takes the cold out of our feet and makes the bed a welcome place.

For the record: I love pears.  

Tales of the Anal Conductor


I laugh and place my book onto my lap (Outlander, btw. Really enjoying it!)

"Can you believe it when Tony called himself an 'an anal conductor'?" I ask out of the blue to Corb, who's relaxing next to me in bed, conquering the world through his phone. Clash of Kings. It's our nightly ritual.

"Oh my God," Corb says, putting his phone down. "I was trying so hard not to laugh. I looked right across the room at Coco and she totally didn't get it. She has no sense of humor, sometimes."

This evening, we held the first production meeting for Young Frankenstein at Green Victoria. Everyone was in attendence, including Coco (art and artwork) and Tony (music direction).

"I mean, I know what he was trying to say: he's really detail oriented and a big pain in the ass, but really? The anal conductor?"

I couldn't help it. At the time, I gave everyone my best Groucho look and said, "Sounds like a really bad porno movie."  Cue laughter. I guess everyone else had been thinking the same thing.

"I can just see the movie, too," Corb says, stretching out his long legs under the covers. "Guy is on a train, turns to conductor. Says to him, 'I can't afford to pay for my train ticket. The conductor moves closer to him, places a hand on his shoulder. Gives him a dirty look, licks his lips. 'I can think of a way,' he says. Boom chicka wah wah."

"See, I was thinking of a totally different movie. Hunky guy is a saxophone player in a symphony orchestra. He bends over to take his instrument out from its case. His firm buttocks are hugging his tight pants. The orchestra conductor moves over and reaches his baton out to stroke the crack in his buttocks. The sax player looks up, turns his head. Eyes meet. 'I've got an instrument for you to play,' says the conductor. Cue music. Boom chicka wah wah."

"That could be the sequel." Corb pauses. "But I like my dirty conductor story better." He squints his eyes, contemplating, then shakes his head. "I don't think there could be another scenario, do you? So, only two Anal Conductor movies. What a shame."

I chew it over for a minute. Then, excitedly: "Sure there could be another. After a freak accident at the local electrical plant, this weird blue jolt starts zapping people in the ass as they are sitting on their Barcaloungers, making them inexplcably horny for anal sex!"

Corb smiles and then shakes his head. Picks up his phone. Back to Clash of Kings. "I'm really not sure how well that one would sell..."

I pick up my book to go back to reading. Hmmm. Well, he may have a point there...  

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