Posted by: cydlee61 | June 23, 2009


So, I suppose my fellow shipmates are wondering what has happened to me right?  I mean, one minute she was here on board the SS Vulcania and the next….POOF!!!!  Gone!  No more journal entries, no more letters home, and no more news reports on the superb dining to be had at the Red Apple Tearoom or the divine spa secrets to be divined at The Riversleigh Apothecary!  I can just hear E now, “Where HAS that girl gotten to THIS time?”  I didn’t mean to disappear truly I didn’t.  It was just that, well, ummm, you see, sigh.  Take a deep breath, Cyn.  Okay, so did L’Enchanteur warn the rest of you about that little ummmm “glitch” with the walnut shell?  Do you know the one I mean?  The one where if you happen to be the world’s biggest klutz and you trip and fall on the gorgeous evening gown you are wearing on your way to perform your super fantabulous magic act for E while carrying a magic walnut shell, a rabbit hole will open up right in front of you and suck you down into someplace akin to Alice’s Wonderland?  Sigh.  I guess I should stop questioning why whenever anything happens to me, people say “Only to you Cyn, only to you!”  Double sigh.  I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised.  I mean, E did warn us about potential side effects regarding this particular enchanted walnut shell, didn’t she?  Sigh again.

From the moment that the walnut shell hit the deck and that blinding flash of light came bursting forth from it, I knew that things were able to change.  And change they did!  I am not even sure where to begin to describe the experiences of the past several months but I will certainly try.  I suppose, just like with every good story (although I am reluctant to preface this by assuring you it will be a good story, I will try my best to keep it entertaining), I should start at the very beginning. (A very good place to start…when you read you begin with A,B, C, when you sing you begin with…..oops sorry….do you ever have that happen? Someone says something and you just HAVE to burst out into the song it reminds you of? No? Really? It’s just me and my daughter who do that? Huh.)
Anyway, back on topic, umm yes where was I?  The beginning.  Right.  Okay, so there was me falling, the dress ripping, body parts and various magical accoutrement flying in various directions (hey when I fall, I fall BIG…don’t worry though…my white rabbit managed to get away without a scratch….HEY!!!!!!!!!…falling into a rabbit hole, Alice in Wonderland, a white rabbit….coincidence?), and the walnut shell hitting the deck and bouncing and bouncing and bouncing until it finally broke right through forming a rabbit hole.  At that moment, there came the burst of light and a whirling vortex sucked me right in!

I was pulled further and further in.  It was a dizzying ride!  My body was spinning and twirling and whirling about, turning me nearly green with nausea.  I was surrounded by brightly coloured lights and they were flashing in strobe type fashion, making my movements look even more spastic than they were.  I could hear music, growing louder and louder as I fell.  It had an unusual melody, a strange arrangement of chords in harmony but despite this, it was really quite beautiful and striking.  I could hear it playing over and over again in my head for many days following this journey.  Its sound is nearly indescribable.  It sounded instrumental and yet I felt like I could “almost” make out the loveliest voices I had ever heard in it as well.  I couldn’t make out any actual words though; it was more like tones or perhaps someone singing in some language unknown to me.  It sounded like a chorus accompanied by a full orchestra and yet like one intensely gorgeous voice singing solo and a cappella all at once. I don’t think I can adequately describe it to anyone who hasn’t experienced the wonder of this music for themselves.

Peering through those flashing lights, I can actually begin to make out some shapes.  At first, I can see the “passing scenery” as it goes by…the lower decks of the ships (oh my there are some strange characters on board! And the things that some of you were doing! Shocking!)…then the ocean beneath the ship (such sights as I have never before beheld!…mermaids, giant squid, those funky fish with their own “headlights”)…and then finally we sunk deep into the ocean floor. My view then was quite obscured and it was difficult to make out anything whatsoever.  The lights had become brighter and even more vividly coloured and I squinted my eyes in protection.  Raising my hands over my eyes to shield them and narrowing my eyes in an attempt to focus more clearly, I begin to recognize the images swirling about me.  In horror, I attempt to shut my eyes but I find that I cannot.  It is like forces outside of myself are holding my eyes open. I reach my hands up and use my fingers to try to force my eyes shut, but still I cannot.  My face, chapped from the wind lashing against it, starts stinging as tears begin to flow freely.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see my walnut shell just ahead of me, bobbing and weaving in the wind. In vain, I reach out for it.  Perhaps if I can just touch it, I can will it to take me back to the safety of the Vulcania and escape this torture.  The wind seems to reach out a hand and knock that shell away from me, as one would reach out a hand to bat away an annoying house fly. I realize then that there will be no reprieve from this journey.  I sob freely.

To be continued…

Posted by: cydlee61 | February 1, 2009

Just In Time

I can’t believe it. I actually made it up to the deck in time to throw streamers and confetti at those poor unfortunate souls (or wait….are they the lucky ones?….I mean, I bet THEY have beds to sleep in! I, however, have an empty cabin!) who had to stay behind on shore. Looking around at my fellow passengers, well, let’s just say that for some of them, the term “motley crew” seems to be quite fitting. Perhaps instead of laughing and waving, throwing confetti and streamers at those “poor unfortunate souls” wishing us a Bon Voyage, I should be jumping overboard and swimming my way back to join them. This voyage looks to be rather, errrrrr, odd and perhaps just a bit (ok more than just a bit) frightening. I fear that too much will be asked of me, too many expectations and I am just not that brave. 

Perhaps it’s not too late. Perhaps there is some sort of a small boat, a dingy maybe, that I could take back to shore. Yes, that’s it. I will go back to shore and find my way back to Riversleigh Manor. Ohhhhhh, I am picturing my room at Riversleigh. The bed with its lovely thick soft featherbed. Ahhhhh to be sinking down into that comfort tonight rather than the cold hard floor I seem to be faced with if I choose to remain on board. Perhaps I could call the, now what do you call them on a ship, the steward? Maybe he – or she – could provide me with some furniture. Surely they must have something down in the ship’s holds for just such emergencies (or completely different but equally odd predicaments – I mean, really! L’Enchanteur invites, no rather INSISTS, that I tag along on her great high seas adventure and she doesn’t even have the common decency to provide me with furniture? What kind of a hostess treats her guests like that?) But wait. I have peeked into many of the cabins on board and it seems that I am the only one who has been left with nothing. In fact, the cabins I have seen are quite nicely outfitted and comfortable, some of them even luxurious and extravagant!

BOOM! CRACK! I jump and my mind is shocked back to my surroundings as the fireworks burst in the sky. I didn’t miss them either! I guess that’s something to be grateful for, I told myself, trying to push thoughts of how much my back was going to hurt after spending the night on the floor of my quarters out of my mind. Would I even be able to get up off the floor without help? Oh now that’s an event I would prefer to skip – SS Vulcania crew members rush to passenger’s aid only to find her lying on the floor, face contorted into terrifying shapes, body sprawled into the most unflattering and un-ladylike of positions. When they arrived in her cabin, they found her attempting to crawl across the floor like an animal, making grunting and gasping noises to accompany her movements. Oh no, it would not be a pretty sight and I fear it would be the talk of the ship for weeks to come! Another loud bang, crash as more fireworks burst through the sky. My but these are the most beautiful fireworks I have ever seen! The colours are so rich and they gleam and glitter like they are made of diamonds. Even the sound of the fireworks is different than any I have ever heard before – more pleasant, almost musical. Leave it to E…even the fireworks are more artistic!

I reach into my satchel and pull out my offerings, the necklace and the horse statue, for Vulcan and Neptune. I nearly forgot them in all the excitement! I look around carefully, ensuring that I am not being watched. I remove the offerings from their wrappings, the finest of cloth woven by master weavers from the Island of Temple People, and throw them overboard, whispering my fervent hope to the Gods for a safe journey. They hit the water with a relatively loud splash but it is lost in the sounds of the people, the ship, its horn, and of course, the fireworks. My eyes glance around me again, darting to and fro, searching the crowd for any unwanted attention on myself and my activities. No one seems to have noticed a thing. I breathe deeply. The sea air feels good in my lungs.

From behind me, I hear voices excitedly discussing something….something about a performance….on E deck….oh E not again! You do so love to make us “sing for our supper” don’t you? You are the performer E, not me. You know how I despise performing in public. Oh, my hands are damp already, I can feel beads of sweat on my upper lip, and my heart is beating faster. Why must you insist on drawing us out of our shells? Some of us are perfectly comfortable in there you know. Yes yes I know, I can already hear your voice in my head E. It’s good for you Cyn. New experiences! Taking a chance! Putting yourself out there! As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Putting on a performance in my fabulous Princess Theatre would certainly fit the bill now wouldn’t it? Laughter. Much raucous laughter ensues. Suddenly I realize that I am not simply imagining E’s voice in my head. I look around quickly but I don’t see her anywhere. More laughter. I suppose I had better come up with some sort of performance and quick!

I sulk my way back to my cabin, dismayed by both the upcoming performance and the lack of furnishings in my cabin. Then a thought enters my mind. L’Enchanteur always provides for her guests. She is the most gracious of hostesses and her staff is uniquely gifted with the ability to sense and fulfill your needs. Such a woman wouldn’t leave me with an empty room. No, she was simply making some sort of a point. E does that a lot! I am sure that by the time I reach my cabin door, I will be thrilled to find that my cabin is indeed outfitted in exactly the right way for me, with just the right things in it. Oh yes, it will be wonderful! I shall be so comfortable that I may just stay in there forever! Excitedly, I skip the rest of the way to my cabin door. Skipping? When was the last time I skipped? Oh never mind.

Reaching the door, I find that I am most enthusiastic about what I am about to see. For effect and to show just what a momentous occasion this truly is, I fling open the door with a flourish, louding proclaiming “Ta da!!!!!!!” for all to hear. I am standing there, poised, like Vanna and her board of letters (do you suppose asking E if I could buy a vowel would do any good whatsoever at this point?), arms outstretched, smiling broadly from ear to ear. A couple, passing behind me, have paused for a moment and I hear the man’s voice declare, “Well would you look at that? She must be a magician! She just made all her furniture disappear!” Of course that was when I knew that my cabin, was indeed, still empty, save the bags I have brought with me. No furniture. Not one stick of it. Made it disappear eh? Oh, if he only knew!

Sighing heavily, I walk inside and sink to the floor in the middle of my cabin. Sitting there, lamenting the state of my cabin, I keep recalling the man’s words and suddenly it dawns on me. My performance for E. That’s it! I shall teach her a couple of magic tricks of my own. Smiling with satisfaction, I decide that it’s time to finally unpack my belongings and try to make this cabin into some sort of a home away from home since clearly I am going to be living in it for quite some time. Picking up my duffle bag, I hear something hit the ground with a “clink”. Bending down to pick it up, I see that it is a walnut shell. A note tied onto the walnut shell identifies this as a gift from E. Knowing E, I am sure that this is no ordinary walnut shell. I have the feeling I won’t understand its true potential until later in the voyage, likely at the moment when I need such knowledge the most. That’s how things work around L’Enchanteur. I flip the note containing E’s signature and wax seal over and there is something written there as well, in E’s hand. It says, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” (Wayne Dyer) I peer closely at the walnut shell. There is something more there but I just can’t quite make it out.

A voice crackles over the PA system, announcing that it’s time for our performances on E deck. Taking a deep breath, running my fingers through my hair hoping to tame some of the curls into place, and smoothing my hands over my skirt, ironing out the wrinkles with my fingers, I turn to face the door to my cabin once again. This time there is no dramatic opening of the door, no flourish, no “Ta da!”. There is simply me, opening the door to my fear and facing it with courage. Save me a spot on stage E! 




Posted by: cydlee61 | January 7, 2009

Finally On Board

Late. Again. The ship very nearly set sail without me. Set sail? Is that what you call it even when the ship doesn’t have sails? Does this ship have sails? Hmmmm. I am deep in thought, pondering such crucial matters when BANG!!!!!!!! I feel another’s hands slamming hard into my back. “C’mon!!! Move along!!!! It’s no wonder you nearly missed the boat, stopping to consider every blade of grass as you do!”. The voice was loud. Very loud. When I turned to look at the source of both the voice and the body slam, the sight of her silenced me in shock. She stood barely 4 foot 11 inches tall, weighing a mere 80 lbs., looking considerably frail and fragile, which clearly she was NOT. Her hair was pure white, not even the tiniest hint of gray in it, with one black streak beginning over her right eye. Ahh, her eyes! Her eyes were pure black. I saw not a trace of colour, nor light, nor tiniest gleam in them. Just black. Darkness. I continued to stare and she met my eyes with her own. We stood like this, locked through our mutual stare, for several moments. The blast of the ship’s horns (horns? is that what you call them? hmmmm……) “Now don’t start that again!” she sputters at me and shoves me aside. “Oh and for your information, I am 4 foot 11 AND ONE HALF inches tall I will have you know!” Now how could she possibly have known…?
Barging her way past me, I notice for the first time, the entourage she has following behind her. There are 5 of them, each uglier than the previous one. Stunned again into silence and inaction, I feel hands, this time a much gentler grasp, taking hold of both my arms by the elbows and pulling me safely aside as the five stomped their way past me. Each of them turned to snarl and glare in my direction and had it not been for the quick reflexes of my newly acquired assistant, I would currently be bearing the spit of at least 3 of them. I turn to thank her but catch only a glimpse of her as she hurries away from me. I call after her, waving my arms and generally making a fool of myself, in an attempt to get her attention but she runs off without so much as a glance back in my direction. I am sure she heard me. Why wouldn’t she stop to talk to me? To allow me to offer my thanks to her? Perhaps she is shy. Or humble. Or….I take a deep breath considering the other possibilities. There was something very familiar about her. I turn to look back in the direction in which she disappeared, trying to memorize her appearance in hopes that given time, I would be able to place my finger on just why she seems known to me. I picture her long black gown, Spanish in appearance, and her black lace mantilla, which served to obscure her appearance quite efficiently. She wore long black gloves; I felt the velvet of them on my arms as she guided me to safety. Perhaps she was in mourning? Then, I recalled her footwear. It didn’t seem to “go” with the rest of her clothing. Under her exterior of black, black dress, black mantilla, black gloves, she wore bright red knee-high combat boots.

I am considering these two women, the harsh and the gentle, as I continue to make my way through the ship. Sigh. I do hope that the fireworks display and general festivities occurring on deck will continue for some time or I will surely miss them all. Cursing my bad habits, my inability to be punctual just one of many, I vow to find my cabin quickly. I adjust the duffle bag more squarely onto my right shoulder, the laptop bag on my left. I find my cabin quite quickly and without any additional trouble whatsoever. Looking around (peeking into cabins’ whose doors have been left open – surely if they hadn’t wanted me to look they would have kept them closed right?), I can see that many of my fellow passengers have clearly been here for some time ahead of me for they have unpacked and organized themselves into such lovely cabins. Homes away from home, they certainly are! I frown at the thought once again of my bad habits, this time a lack of preparation being my top concern. Oh well. I shall quickly deposit my items into my cabin and then make my way back on deck. I’ll view the fireworks and wave goodbye to those staying behind (not that there is anyone in particular there to wish me Bon Voyage but it shall be one of those fun moments only seen in movies to date). I shall have all the time in the world to unpack and settle into my cabin. Just wait and see! My cabin will be a lovely home away from home. I think I might have, in my exuberance, said those last words aloud. I glance around to see if anyone has noticed but if they have, they are far too polite to make it obvious.

Opening the door to my cabin, I briefly close my eyes. I feel like I am making a wish on my birthday candles, or the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey, or perhaps a wayward eyelash. In my mind’s eye, I can picture what my cabin will look like. I imagine it will have much of the homey flavour of my room at Riversleigh but anticipate it being a bit of a “cleaner” look, perhaps something with an Asian influence, a more Zen space. ‘Well this certainly is cleam and I don’t suppose you can get much errrrrr “Zen-er” than this!’ I muse as I look around the empty room. Shock turns quickly to irritation. “What kind of a joke is this Enchanteur?”, I say, this time aloud. “It’s not very funny!” I continue. Sighing loudly, I drop my bags to the floor in the middle of the room. The empty room. And when I say empty, I mean EMPTY. There is nothing in this room. No furniture. No bed. No chair. No desk. Nothing. Any excitement I had about this voyage, all of mystery and intrigue, the anticipation of how much such a trip would mean to me and to my personal growth – it all momentarily disappeared. All I could think of at that moment was how I was going to survive, much less thrive and grow, on a long ocean voyage with not even so much as a bed to rest my weary bones in!!!!!!!!!! I survey the room again, taking in very aspect of it with my eyes. For an empty cabin, it is truly lovely. The walls are plain unfinished wood. That doesn’t sound lovely but you would have to see the wood to truly appreciate it. It is the most beautiful specimen of wood I have ever seen. Each plank has been sanded to such a smoothness that it feels nearly like glass but the character of the wood, its lines, knot-holes, texture have all been retained. There are these glorious glass-paned French doors leading out to my personal balcony. The balcony itself is a work of art. It is made of black wrought iron and is adorned with curli-cues and scrollwork. There are two portholes. OHHHHHHHHHH portholes. I mean, real official ship’s portholes. Like you see on those old movies. Swoon. Ok, so maybe this cabin has its charm but really, no furniture at all? I don’t recall there being a BYOF (bring your own furniture) notation on the invitation (if you can call it that) I received.

A knock on my cabin door. “Is everything to your satisfaction Ma’am? Are you getting all settled in?” one of the ship’s maids is addressing me. Colleen? Is that Colleen? I just left her back at the manor didn’t I? She didn’t mention coming on this cruise. Is that really her? It looks like her and sounds like her and yet I am not sure enough of myself to speak up. I suddenly realize she is staring at me. And waiting for something. Ummmm am I supposed to tip her? Oh yes, right, she asked me a question. I look around at my cabin, empty save the bags I have just placed there on the floor. I am sure I must look as confused as I feel. Is everything to my satisfaction? Can she not see that my cabin is, uh, lacking a few things? Like a bed? She continues to stare at me, a wry smile forming on her lips. “Uh, well, this certainly is a lovely cabin,” I begin. “But, well, I was just wondering about….you see I kind of expected…that is to say I thought there would be….I mean was I supposed to bring my own because I wasn’t informed of that and well I do have a bad back and…..”my voice trailed off as I realized that her smile had turned into a chuckle. I am not sure whether to be amused, offended, angry, or whether I should pinch myself very hard because I surely must be asleep again. OUCH! I pinch myself several times as hard as I can. No, I am definitely not sleeping and Colleen’s (if that is indeed her) laughter is getting louder. I swear I can see tears running down her face. Well I am certainly glad that my predicament is causing her so much amusement. I can feel my face flush with anger as I gather my thoughts and try to decide precisely what I want to say. Before I can open my mouth again to speak, she says, “This cabin is a room of your own. You must furnish it yourself. Only you can make of it what it needs to be. You will meet many along the way who will help you, inspire you, drive you, but it is ultimately a task you must take on for yourself.” She repeats, “This cabin is a room of your own.”