Monday, January 26, 2009

A little faith

So I’m all settled in with my laptop at the Coffee Shop – I have a proper Cappuccino at my side (properly hot and not too frothy); Xtorrent is quietly downloading a movie in the background; Limewire is locating some more Café Tacuba and I have Facebook at the front – but none of my friends appear to have done anything interesting recently! There’s a friend request from someone I haven’t seen since 1993 – isn’t it a funny old world? A few years ago, these people would have been nothing but fading memories and smiling faces in an album that rarely saw the light of day. However these days everyone re-surfaces on Facebook eventually – looking suspiciously like an older and fatter sibling of their former self... but then they probably say the same or worse about me ("I knew she never amount to anything!" Yeah, well, we all knew that!)

I hoping a friend will 'show up' online for a Messenger chat, but first, I have a conundrum: I need the bathroom.

What to do? Do I pack everything away and take it all with me, potentially loosing my seat (and my coffee)? That just seems so unnecessary and petty for a two-minute pee.

So then do I assume that this is a civilised place (it is) and that I’m far enough from the exit (I am) for one of the staff to stop someone trying to stroll out with my laptop? I’m only going to be out of my seat for two minutes after all. On the other hand, am I really going to leave my most beloved and treasured possession (my laptop – yes it is) sitting on a seat, unattended, in a coffee shop? Even for two minutes? One can imagine the reporting the theft to the police:
“So you left the laptop on the seat? Do you think that was a good idea? Really? But you’re insured obviously?”
"Errrrr, well, no actually..."
"But the computer was backed-up?"
"Well yes... I have backed it up... a while ago... I really must do that again actually..."

So perhaps it would be better if I ask someone to watch it for me?

Who? The 20 year old, with the large lotus blossom tattoo – the lotus blossom is a yoga symbol – if she’s a yogi then she must be a good person, right? Yogis don’t lift laptops from coffee shops. Is leaving my laptop in the care of someone, purely based on their choice of tattoo a good idea? But then what should you base an instant personality evaluation on? Clothes? Attitude? Age? At least tattoos are permanent.

Or how about the young, skinny waiter with the artfully styled mohican. He seems very sweet and very hard-working. A decent chap. But then I know what waiters earn around here... perhaps a laptop would be too tempting. On the other hand, I’m broke, and I wouldn’t steal someone’s laptop. I don’t usually tip much. Will he remember me do you think? That women who doesn’t tip much - so why take care of her stuff. Goddamit, you should always tip well – when will I learn! I have 10 years experience behind the apron – I should know better.

So who then? How about the middle-aged man with the very serious face. He’s using one of café’s computers. That means he doesn’t have his own and he might want his own. But he’s middle-aged, and smartly dressed and serious – people like that are reliable aren’t they? Or the rich, older man with the very young girlfriend? No, definitely not: no scruples and no shame.

Ok, so I could ask the waiter to watch my laptop. Now what about my bag? My bag is cheap, but what about my purse? If I take it with me I am clearly stating to the waiter that although he can’t walk off with my laptop in the middle of his shift, he might consider lifting my purse. He’ll definitely hate me then. To be honest the only thing I care about is my laptop, so if I’m leaving that, why worry about the rest?

Do I have faith in the decency of my fellow human beings or should I be an arch realist, assuming the worst? Obviously it feels better to trust – but if I loose my laptop?

Oh well, I can’t put it off any longer - it's decision time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Overheard in the Dive Shop

"Are you a certified diver or a beginner?"
"What does that mean?"
"Are you certified? Do you have your certification, your license to dive?"
"I don't know... how would I know?"
"Well... have you ever taken a diving course?"
"I don't know"
"You don't know?"
"If I had done the course, what would I have done?"
"You would have learnt how to dive"
"Oh right, then no, I haven't."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sparkling White Bright Light

"Lean against the wall" she said, "because we’re going to be here a long time. In a moment you’re going to see a Sparkling White Bright Light spiralling around your body, think of it like a plunger – just as you" (she motioned) "pump a block sink to get all the bad stuff out, so this Sparkling White Bright Light is going to enter your body through your nose and remove all that you don’t need."

'Just because I don’t need it, I still might want it' I mused to myself as I adjusted my position, trying to imagine what might be comfortable for the next hour of total stillness. Yes, I attended my first Meditation Class this week. The teacher was a slight, blonde woman with a mid-Atlantic accent. My guess would be Home Counties via California. She seemed nice in an intense, hippy-dippy, oh-so-serious kind of way. But when she told us how long she’d be teaching (nearly 20 years) I realised that she was much, much older than she looked and I am oh-so-impressionable by women who have, somehow, managed to hold back the onslaught of time (my yoga teacher is another) – for these miracles, I will happily do as I’m told.

I closed to eyes and tried to imagine a spirally bright light. Catherine wheels and sparklers, toffee apples and bonfire night at Godswell House with a massive bonfire; fear that there might be hedgehogs inside it (I’d seen it on Blue Peter) and my mother assuring me there was not. How did she know?

"Feel the light moving down through your lungs and all the way into to your body, focus on anything you want to get rid of... anything that made you worried or uncomfortable this week..."

Oh that horrible awkward silence on the bus. Why couldn’t I have sparkled then? I should have been wittier. "L’espirit de escalier" they call in it in France: the spirit of the stairs – all the interesting and amusing retorts that you think of just as your are making your way towards the exit. Damnit. If I’d been wittier I bet he would have called me...

"Now I want you to imagine a golden light and as the Sparkling White Bright Light is released from your body, a Golden Healing Light is going to enter..."

Oh yes, I’d forgotten about the light. Sorry, what colour are we on now? Oh yes, releasing the sparkly stuff... my neck hurts, what about if I move a little. Oops, I opened my eyes... that girl over there looks weird, why is she leaning so far forward like that? She can’t be comfortable – do you think she’s asleep? I wonder if she’ll fall over and crack her head on the floor...

"and the golden light is going to fill your body, like a warm syrup..."

I’m not buying any chocolate on the way home. Some rice and cauliflower and that’s it. No chocolate and no cookies... I really need to eat more vegetables. Did I buy oranges yesterday? If I did, I didn’t eat any of them... again. What?

"You might have strong emotions as a result of this session, you might feel very vulnerable, but accept that people who make you vulnerable are teaching you something about your own strengths and weaknesses and appreciate them for that..."

...and I’m going to do all my Spanish Homework tonight, I’m not going to leave it till tomorrow and I’m going to read through all my verbs and I’m going to switch my phone back into Spanish... oh? Have we finished? Oh right.

"Thank you so much, that was very interesting. Yes, of course I’ll come next week! Thanks again!"

I wonder how old she is really...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sunday Morning Coming Down

I woke up Sunday morning with a filthy hangover. Drinks the previous afternoon had ended well into the early hours of the morning and during the course of the night I had rediscovered my love of Caribbean Rum. I had a moment’s peace, thinking I might just stay here all day without moving... then I remembered! I had to be somewhere in... oh no! Forty minutes! Because we were going out looking for Bull Sharks!

I hadn’t given much thought to where we were meeting, but was surprised when I realised it was Downtown. Still, I found a place to sit and patiently waited for my friends to arrive and wake me up again. J had his truck, which was fantastic, so our tanks were carried down to the beach whilst we staggered. All but two of us had been out the night before, so we made an odd, reservoir dogsish, kind of crew: swaggering down the street in dark wetsuits, dark glasses and self-pitying grimaces.

Arriving at the beach we geared up and started walking to our entry point. I can’t tell you how hot it is inside a 5mm rubber wetsuit, walking on soft sand, carrying a 20 kilo tank and full gear at 10.30am in the tropics, with a hangover. I have rarely been so happy to finally get in the water. And it was only once I got into the water that I really paid attention to where we were. Basically right out the front of the main beach in town. We swam along to Pier to get to our dive site. For the first part of our surface swim we were accompanied by excited children, but not for long. It was a good half-kilometre to our dive site. Which is a long way.

But finally we got there, and after a quick wave and head count someone shouted “are we going then?” and we quickly slipped beneath the surface. It was clear and cool down there, and as always, all became right with the world. If you don’t dive, then I cannot explain to you the feeling of absolute tranquility that comes over you as you drop gently beneath the waves. It’s still my favourite thing to do, ever, anytime, even (and in fact, especially) on a Sunday morning with a filthy hangover.

Photo from Cancun Aquasports

It didn’t take long, to find what we were looking for. Within five minutes we came across our first Bull Shark. They’re fat, monstrous, medieval looking sharks! With large mouths and a fabulous sinuous swimming motion. They were very relaxed that morning; just cruising the area and we were able to watch them for some time. The nearest coming within three metres of me, and at one point we were watching three at once. I don’t think any of us wanted to come up, even on our safety stop we could see the sharks circling below us! Once we reached the surface, after many excited squeals, and ‘oh my god”s and ‘how cool”s and ‘how many”s’, it was W who finally said, “We should probably get moving, it seems there are sharks in these waters!”

And so began the long swim back to the beach, needless to say, the hangover kicked back-in fairly quickly. When we finally reached the shore, I was reminded of Amityville Island and felt a bit reluctant to answer when a young father, with bucket in hand, asked me what we’d seen. But R was too excited and strolled cheerfully back along the sand shouting, “Sharks! Sharks! Lots of really big sharks!” to anyone who so much as looked his way. I couldn’t help thinking the holiday spirit was slightly dampened by our presence.

After carrying back, breaking the gear down and rinsing, I felt my last ounce of energy slowly drain away. I waved my goodbyes and was back in bed by lunchtime.