Storytelling Cruise to Belize 2005

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Bil Lepp Cruise on Carnival Elation July 3-10 2005 Mary Garrett’s notes

Bad news/ the group was small, only 20 or so total, so it was hard to achieve
“critical mass” for story swaps and classes

Good news/ the group was small, so there was plenty of time for one-on-one
questions and work.

This report may suffer a bit from a two-week delay in writing it, but with only two days between cruise and conference, there was just time to wash and repack. (I still haven’t sorted through all the mail). I just took a look at the “Cruise Highlights” video, and I’m remembering how much I like the feel of a deck under my feet. One downside on the Elation was fewer decks going all the way around, but I did find plenty of places to stroll a bit and greet the ocean.

A highlight for me was swimming with dolphins. They seemed happy and well-cared-for as they performed their well-orchestrated tasks, swimming among us to be petted. We were told areas NOT to pet, just a matter of respect and personal space. These were all males, and I couldn’t help thinking of the dolphin subplot in Sharyn McCrumb’s If I’d Killed Him When I Met Him. The kiss and handshake at the end were very nice, but as Tom Lehrer sang, “better let it go at that.” I’m not a strong swimmer and can’t see well underwater, so this was tame enough for me, but perhaps not wild enough for some. I wore my oldest extra glasses, so if they were lost it wouldn’t be a tragedy, and did just fine — but I didn’t buy the photos, so you’ll have to take my word for it. (I keep wishing for masks that could hold glasses properly positioned within).
** Glad to report that prescription lenses in masks are now more common . . . and appreciated.

I loved the zoo in Belize, also, as natural a habitat as one could get and still keep the animals from eating animals (and people) they shouldn’t. The guide kept pointing out that they could get out of the enclosures if they wanted (I suspect the same was true of the dolphins), but with such regular meals, why would they want to? Mosquitoes were the real problem, and I kept passing my repellent on to people who hadn’t heard they should bring some — and it ˛kept coming back, not empty! It was like the loaves and fishes. I left the magic never-ending repellent in my cabin when I left, not wanting a spill in my overly full suitcase.

At Chichen Itza I discovered that I could only go a third of the way up the pyramid before a combination of fatigue and fear of heights sent me back down. I think it’s time for a fitness program. Another deeper issue is the blood sacrifice issue — perhaps because the world is filled with such destruction right now, I can’t tolerate the darkness of the history of the site (though it was so hot that I began to think fondly of the well of the maidens; at least it would be cool there).

A grand highlight for me was performing in the ship’s talent show. They were mostly looking for singers, but Sue Hinkel had already been assured that storytelling would be welcome. Unfortunately, there were 12 entries and only eight openings, so they drew names (I guess that way no one can get mad); I wish Sue had been chosen as well. It was fun, and I even bought the video, to go with my wonderful plastic trophy and medal.

I started my iguana story with Noah Lepp’s knock-knock joke. (Iguana who? Iguana eat you up!!) Noah was a kick! He’s five-going-on-eternity, bright, fun, charming! When the seas got a bit rough from tropical storm “Dennis,” the small pool became a wave pool, much to all the children’s (including Bil’s) delight. Noah wanted the captain to sail right back into the storm area; meanwhile, the captain was busy finding a course away from the storms and warning us all to use “extra preca-u-tion” while walking around the ship and especially on deck. I actually took ginger twice for a bit of queasiness.

Classes with Bil were enlightening. His crafting of stories is carefully planned, with no unnecessary details, moving from the real to the crazy idea to the completely ridiculous (that aha moment), and circling back to the beginning point, with several levels of meaning. As a lit. teacher, I admire his literary devices as well, including the puns, accidental, simple, compound, and puns of inference, to compliment the audience’s intelligence. He’s also clever enough to keep political references sufficiently non-partisan so that everyone can laugh and no one feels challenged on particular views — finding common ground. Check out http://www.buck-dog.com/ I just did, and highly recommend the Harry Potter essay. I’ve also requested (Bil’s rec.) _The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float_ from the library.

It was great to meet Paula Lepp, a super-charming woman, who told of a wonderful teaching/counseling/wilderness program she had been a part of, helping really troubled youth find their worth.

Sue and John Hinkel and sister-in-law Barbara were great fun. Kristin with the magic tiara, who is making the jump to full-time telling, was a constant energy rush! For a small group, we had a big presence.

I also admired the older couples I saw dancing together — years of love — and the large African-American extended family being photographed on the stairway, about 30 very elegant people. The photographer had to go to the balcony to frame the shot, and onlookers (including me) applauded the feat.

Food and latex — good food is part of a cruise experience, but the use of latex gloves complicated that area for me. I got to be best friends with Mandy and Katrina, who helped order meals in advance for me (like eggs Benedict most mornings) so that they would be safely prepared. The buffet was off-limits to me because there was no way of telling which gloves had been used, so when the dining room was closed, they arranged room service. Far from a deprivation, it was “ask for whatever you want,” “no, you need to order more, how about (various indulgent foods). . . . ?” I couldn’t help thinking of the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man,” “We wouldn’t want you to lose weight, Mr. Chambers.” They were splendid, and by the end of the cruise, like sisters (I even brought them back chocolate and strawberries from the afternoon buffet, but that’s our secret).

Perhaps it was just the mood I was in (or perhaps storytelling at Earth Day this year), but I couldn’t shake the feeling waste and excess. The day I came home, Marilyn Vos Savant had a brainteaser — PAEWLGS — in the Parade Magazine.
Yep, the seven deadly sins, and they did seem to apply, mostly.
Pride – probably some of that
Avarice or greed – maybe so — lots of shopping going on . . . .
Envy — hard to avoid; perhaps we were also target of this one
Wrath or anger — naw, we were pretty mellow
Lust — oh yeah — lots of opportunity for that one
Gluttony — the big winner!!! I have pictures of the midnight buffet; with
the latex issue, I was saved from eating it, but I stumbled out of bed to take
a couple of photos (and had my drowsy photo taken with lovely Mandy).
Sloth — being pampered felt so good: no housework, beautiful surroundings,
and towel-animals as entertaining decorations.

Conclusion? I’ll do penance for a year and look forward to next year’s “occasion of sin” — we don’t know where yet, but it’s sure to be fun! (any hints, Marsh??)

I wrote down this line from the comedian — for Mike A’s nose flute introductions perhaps? “If I had a nose full of money, I’d blow it all on you.”

Notes from class — might make no sense to anyone else . . . .
Elements
Character — develop (grow, learn) in some way
can develop as a composite of real people
name fits character Miss Crankberry, Sheriff Hasbro
Setting — general
Theme (Donald Davis — “All stories are about two things.”)
Rising Action — Climax (falling action sometimes)
Conflict to resolution

Story is evolutionary — develops its humor/Will make a funny story
— slapstick, irony/sarcasm, puns, situational, human nature.

Wife calling husband on walky-talky “Where are you?” — “In the cabin. In bed.” — “No, you aren’t, not in OUR cabin!” Oops.

Writer’s block — use different approaches — say the opposite to clarify meaning.
graphic organizer, sketch, webbing
Research — include some facts, real numers, amid the tall tales.

Notes that turned into the Carnival Elation story on my Frogs and Friends CD
mini plane — smaller than Prius
lost luggage
lunch buffet — complimentary drink
lifeboat drill — hot, so have some ice cream
midnight buffet, still looking for clothes
breakfast from room service, waiting for clothes
breakfast in dining room, friends (and strangers) offering to lend clean clothes
Finally, clothes delivered, but somehow shrunk — so if you could lend some?

swimming pool full of waves — but fun until that one big wave flipped me over the side of the ship
grabbed rope — barefoot water-skiing — Wow!
flying fish hit me in head — off balance and fell
but grabbed a snorkle and enjoyed the underwater view for a while
until shrimp stampede — all those little pinches made me drop the rope.
Who knew I could swim so fast?

Additional thoughts:
My recurring teacher nightmare has been not being able to find the classroom
in a “these stairs don’t go there” situation which usually led through
downtown Minneapolis (where I worked when there weren’t any teaching jobs)
and finally to a park. It used to be a panicky dream, but now that I’ve
mellowed, I generally figure the kids will be fine without me, and I enjoy the
park.

While on the cruise I dreamed I was calling into school, “I won’t be there . . . . Yes I know classes have already started, so you’d better hurry and send a substitute because . . . I . . . won’t.. be . . . coming . . . in.” Hah!

Love and peace (+sunscreen & big hats),
Mary Garrett

(St. Peters, Missouri)

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